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How A Single Character Can Make A Keyword Difference

As we have said before in a past blog entry on KeywordSpy —while caps on keywords do not make a difference in the search, misspellings (key word instead of keyword) and extra punctuations (key-word instead of keyword) do.

For a more timely illustration, we shall use the recent celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the context of this keyword research example.

The word St. Patrick’s Day, when used as a keyword, has a lot of ways to be searched (some would type in the whole day name “st. patrick’s day”, but others would also type in just either “st. patrick”, “saint patrick” or “st patrick”. All of these search variations would definitely draw in different results, so there’s always a probability that people would or would not take notice of a St. Patrick’s Day-related PPC or SEO campaign.

For this article we narrowed down the search to just the keywords “st. patrick” and “st patrick”, to show how a punctuation can make a difference. To that, we turn to our keyword research tool of choice, KeywordSpy. Let’s first look at the results for “st. patrick”:

keyword research

We can see on the top left that the cost/click is $0.43, the clicks/day is 59, the cost/day is $30 and the paid advertisers are three. On the time chart, we see that March is the top month for the most paid advertisers, which is a given. Also, all months have at least one advertiser for “st. patrick” except April, September, November, January and February.

In the paid competitors’ list we can see that that Tafford.com/StPatricks tops the list, followed by CafePress.com, and lastly, Discover Ireland.com.

Now, moving on with our keyword research, let’s try using “st patrick”, without the dot:

Now if we check out the first three statistics for this keyword in this research, they come out identical to our first search. But if we look at the search results, we see that it is at 64,100,000, which is a large leap from the number we saw in the earlier search.

We also find out in the time chart that there are more months wherein “st patrick” had more advertisers bidding on it for their PPC campaign. In fact, in September, it even had two advertisers for it. This is a clear indication that “st. patrick” and “st patrick” will pull up different results.

This is reflected even more in the paid competitors list. While the number 2 and 3 competitors remain the same, at number 1 now is the domain Proposition317.com.

If you would like a little more verification, try searching for both “st. patrick” and “st patrick” on any search engine. Even if there will be very similar results between both those searches, the domain results will be in a different order, and sometimes they may appear on different pages of the search.

As an Internet marketer and PPC dabbler, it is important that you take note of these differences in punctuation in your research, much as you would in the spelling of a keyword. Since it would lead to two different searches, a simple punctuation can spell the difference in the price you are bidding for, in the placing that you will have in search engines, and in the number of people coming to your site.

In this case, since both variations offer the same price for the keyword, you can go for either variation should you decide to bid on it. But since “st patrick” without the dot lends itself to more search results, it might be a more viable option.

Such knowledge is a benefit that keyword research tools can offer you. If you had to rely on the searches on Google, Yahoo or MSN alone, you would have to go through every single page of the searches and hardly come up with information useful to your PPC or SEO research and campaign. On the other hand, through KeywordSpy, you were able to easily compare the viability of “st. patrick” with “st patrick” in a matter of seconds. You could also get a glimpse of the sites that are bidding or ranking high for the keywords with their corresponding stats—information that would evade you if you chose to use mere search engines.

So, in the future, should you ask, “To punctuate or not punctuate?”, let a keyword research and tracking tool do the dirty work for you—while you sit back, relax and enjoy that nice, cold brew. Or in the spirit of the holiday, shall we say—Guinness?