Search Engine OptimiZation? Or Search Engine OptimiSation?


Showing results for search engine optimization. Search instead for search engine optimisation.

I’m in the UK. I think you spell SEO as ‘search engine optimisation’ but Google in it’s infinite wisdom wants to refine my search and give me what it wants, what is frankly, arguably US spellings –  (search engine optimization with a *z*). Cheeky.

seo results in google

And then it’s got the cheek to even ask me again if I actually meant Search Engine Optimization when I specifically tell Google again I really did mean search engine optimisation the first time…..

“Did you mean: search engine optimization

Way to help the US sites in UK results…….

UPDATE – Probably as a result of user data, this glitch is fixed in Google in 2013.



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32 Responses

  1. MarkH says:

    The Google Suggest results totals are US too. Remember the number of results from Google.co.uk homepage suggest, then click through….

  2. Pete says:

    Same thing happens down-under. I run an SEO company in Australia and we spell optimisation the same way as in the UK, yet Google still suggests spelling optimisation with a ‘z’. As you could imagine, all our content is targeted to the Australian market, so there is no mention of ‘optimization’ with the US spelling anywhere on our site – yet Google ranks our site higher for the spelling with a ‘z’ than it does with an ‘s’.

  3. Terry Van Horne says:

    Shaun, blame personalization I assume you’re on a network… IME, anyone on that network can affect your search. For instance my brother always uses google.ca, I set up in the advanced search pref to use US, if my brother was searching then once in a while I see my default be Canada. IME, personalized search goes beyond using a Cookie and if there are multiple machines using the same IP/router… Google will start bringing up results based on other peoples search. Personally, personlized search is whacked and is pervasive to the point of degrading Google’s results in networked scenarios. Which is awesome because nothing drives people away from a SE faster than fcked results.

  4. Bill Marshall says:

    We used to talk about “The Microsoft Way” when they paternalistically tried to force their ideas on us – maybe we’ll now talk about “The Google Way”. Strangely this doesn’t happen if you add another word to the query – “search engine optimisation scotland” and “search engine optimisation uk” give you what you asked for, so why just on the three word phrase? Some other oddities going on with the results too, my old web design site is ranking above my SEO site for “search engine optimisation scotland”, which it hasn’t done for about three years. Wonder if this is Caffeine related temporary weirdness.

  5. Gary Trotter says:

    I am seeing the same thing on some of my keywords (personalized napkins versus personalised napkins). Any ideas if this is a permanent change or just something google are trialing? What a pain if it is permanent!

  6. Oisin says:

    Had the exact same problem only yesterday when searching for an urbanisation, it asked me if I meant urbanization or if I REALLY meant urbanisation (yes I did, that’s why I typed it), then when I told Google that yes indeed I did mean to search for what I typed it again said, did you mean Urbanization. I’m beginning to get the feeling that it thinks it knows more than me about what I am looking for, SkyNet beware!!!

  7. David says:

    Which country’s spelling of maddening have you used? “{UPDATE 2 – Even more madening, is the above modification only happens on the Gogle UK search, not the .com search lol}”

  8. Robert says:

    I feel your pain! Here in South Africa we have a similar problem with Google.co.za. While Google are ahead of the other engines when it comes to localization, they remain an American company. In my experience so far that means that they give preference to American anything.

  9. Gregor says:

    Yuk – how depressing. What’s the point of having regional offices (and regional websites)? At least they haven’t yet tried to change Aluminium to Aluminum!

  10. Tom says:

    I was going to blog about this (God knows our blog needs a new post!) but checking blogstorm, davenaylor then here, seems I’ve been beaten to the punch :D Its more a curiosity ranking for us since we killed off taking on any client jobs to work on our own sites, but a bit annoying! If Google was correcting that spelling in google.com I could see their argument and wouldn’t be upset. But its disgraceful to auto correct “optimisation” when the viewer is on Google.co.uk from a UK ip address. Bigmouthmedia have dropped from 1st page, as have ourselves and blogstorm. I don’t pay enough attention to the serps for that search term to know who else dropped. Not a good day if you’re actively selling seo services and you’ve just found Google wiped out your rankings like this! I do expect this to be temporary – I’d expect google to add in some exceptions for “optimisation”, “colour”, “favourite”, “memorise” and lots of other words that I can’t remember right now !

    • Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

      Hi Tom

      Its more a curiosity ranking for us since we killed off taking on any client jobs to work on our own sites, but a bit annoying!

      We have something in common….

  11. David says:

    Slap the occasional zed in :) I recently came back from the US after 15 years and realised pretty quick I was ranked with an s or a z so didn’t sweat too much on changing the characters.. David Plymouth

    • Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

      David, the annoying thing was up to last month I was no8 in Google UK for “search engine optimization”…. then I tweaked lol

  12. Ravi Kant says:

    Google totally depends on the SERP i think that’s the only reason anyway its shows the best result on the world wide web.

  13. Joanna Butler says:

    While I don’t agree with Google being the English spelling decision maker here, it does pose some interesting questions about the way spellings are headed! Internet will always have a massive affect… The last big tech influencer was probably MS products with auto correct and spell checks. It’ll be fun monitoring the effect on SEO and SERPs following this test…

  14. James says:

    While I do agree it is stupid that Google is trying to correct the spelling of search engine optimisation, I don’t agree that the Z usage is an Americanism as people have suggested on Twitter. There are a couple of pages discussing it here: http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/ize?view=uk http://www.metadyne.co.uk/ize.html I do realise I am being deliberately awkward here, especially considering I am dyslexic and to be quite frank I don’t give a damn in the first place. However, if anything, it would appear that Google are trying to correct our bad English rather than force Americanisms on us :) Watch everyone point out all my spelling and grammar mistakes now :(

  15. matthew says:

    i will add to what James said by pointing you to these links at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_spelling http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences So really it is what universtity did you go to in which country! But I do agree Google is going down the are you “really really really sure you want to press this button path”

  16. Paul Allen says:

    This is yet more Americanisation sadly *sigh*. Next thing you know we’ll be going to the “bathroom” instead of the toilet, sitting on a “couch” and not a sofa. I’m seeing the following on Google: Showing results for “search engine optimization”. Search instead for “search engine optimisation”. Really the big G ought to recognise that the search is from the UK and use the UK specific results. Ditch the auto corrections, you know we aren’t American! I’ve had enough of spelling colour as “color” in CSS too but that’s anoother story! Paul

  17. David says:

    The things is that after 250 years they are still smarting that the name of their language is ‘English’. My favourite/favorite of the changes I have heard suggested was to take the ‘w’ out of ‘wring’ because it is antiquated. Then instead of: ‘she stood anxiously wringing her hands’ we would have ‘she stood anxiously ringing her hands’

  18. Rob says:

    Shaun, interesting timing that you bring this up – I noticed this just yesterday here in Canada on Google.ca. Being so physically close United States we face this kind of thing all the time, and tend to use American and Canadian/British spellings interchangeably anyhow. But it’s very frustrating! Seems to me it would make more sense for Google to merge the results for both spellings, since neither are really incorrect.

  19. sherie driscoll says:

    LOL! I go to war with graphic design customers on a daily basis over American spellings V’s UK spellings – thing is the web is international and everyone uses default spelling set up that comes with their Word Doc… It’s not ‘Americanisation’ its laziness on our part!! I’m sure if enough people searched for the correct spelling Google would make the effort to integrate it into their results pages. Thats aside – your findings are good to know for when I’m optimising (or did I mean Optimizing?) my sites… Thanks for heads up Sherie

  20. Tom says:

    Rob, how can you say “since neither are really incorrect.” If you are on Google.co.uk, searching from UK, then one of them IS incorrect. I think Google should credit searchers with a bit of intelligence. If we are searching for a correctly spelled word, they should show us the results for that word and not assume we were looking for something else. Fair enough if I search for “otpmisation” then correct it to “opimisation”, thats good for user experience. But switching out perfectly spelled phrases for their american counterparts is doing nothing but pissing people off.

  21. Tom says:

    damn and I made a mistake in my “correct it to” :D

  22. Joseph says:

    I have noticed the same behaviour in Google India as well. And incidentally the top 2 results are the same. I think that Google does this in all countries that use UK English spellings. And by the Way ….. Your Spell Checker uses American Spellings as well!!!

  23. Tom says:

    I just put a post on my own blog, seems the change has been rolled back thankfully!



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