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Categories: Bad reviews, How to, Internet. Tags: , ,

Google’s spelling problems are worse than we thought

January 15, 2010 18 Comments

Updated with search trend data

There have been various posts about Google returning results with the American spelling (search engine optimization) when people search for optimisation.

But it's got much bigger problems with spelling than just -ise vs ize.

Whether vs weather

I wonder whether the weather will be inclement today? If you're Google, the second definition for a search on "whether" is the BBC Weather site.

whether vs weather

whether vs weather

You can maybe see why from this date from Google trends, suggesting no one searches for whether.

When stationery isn't stationary

The way to differentiate stationary from stationery is to note that a car is stationary (both have "ar" in) while a letter is stationery (both have "er" in). So if I search on stationary, I don't expect to see a load of letter and envelope suppliers:

  • First up it suggests that funky stationary and office supplies are related searches to stationery. Only among people who can't spell.
  • Then it gives office supplies companies Rymans and Staples.
  • Then Wikipedia on stationary - the meta description of which ironically says "not to be confused with stationery"
  • Before a map of local stationers.

stationary vs stationery

stationary vs stationery

The Google trend data here is interesting as there was recently a switch in the most searched for term, and the two terms have relatively similar search volumes. Maybe showing me stationery results is based on user behavior - people may be more likely to search again after searching on stationary with a letter a?

Licence vs License

With -ce and -se versions it can be hard to work out which is which. The best way to remember is that people advise (verb) by giving advice (noun). This is one of the few -se/-ce examples where it's pronounced differently.

So I don't expect Google to give the Wikipedia definition of license when I search for licence.

Here's the google search volume data:

Deer vs dear

What a dear deer. Do people get this SO wrong that after the first three results for "dear" I have to be shown results for "deer"? Apaprently so.

dear vs deer

dear vs deer

And here's the search volume data:

To sum up

I can spell, Google. Please add an option in preferences something like the following:

  • Yes, I can spell - show me results for what I actually searched for.
  • No, I can't spell - you work it out for me, and reinforce my low literacy standards.

Yes, yes, you've spotted a misspelling somewhere. Don't point it out.

You might also like
  1. Google autocomplete now fixes spelling problems
  2. Google: We spell it colouring here
  3. Google and Apple eat each others spelling corrections
  4. Has Google redesigned the header of its results page (for the worse)?
  5. Final proof that the Google Adwords keywords tool is useless in the UK

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