Does Keyword Capitalization Matter to Google or SEO?

There are two types of people out there, those who capitalize and those who don’t. When you search for something, do you bother capitalizing your query? Whether you do or don’t, capitalization would seem to be an important characteristic of a search engine query.

Keyword capitalization gives insight into the user’s intention. For example, if I search for “Apple” instead of “apple”, I am probably interested in the company Apple. Before you compare for yourself, what’s your guess on how Google handles results from capitalized or uncapitalized terms?

capitalization and symbols in search queries

If you guessed what I assumed, you are wrong. Google doesn’t care if you capitalize your search or not. There are really only two noticeable differences:

1) In very few cases the estimated number of results found were different by a few thousand.
2) In all cases I tried the order of the “related searches” were switched around (see bottom of the listings).

These differences have no real significance and may vary from data center to data center even. From a quick check with Yahoo, there are also no differences in results.

The Big Question

So if capitalization doesn’t matter to Google, should it matter in SEO?

Certainly there is the potential for capitalization to have an impact on search engine algorithms and results, especially because Google is always tweaking their algorithm. They aren’t right now, but that doesn’t mean someday they might. Here are some ideas of how capitalization could have an impact in SEO:

Links – I wrote about the importance of anchor text last week, now think if not only the text, but the capitalization mattered? A link to your site could pass more or less link juice depending on if they meant some type of brand, sports team, trademark, slogan, product, or service.

Content – Content is obviously an important part of Google’s algorithm, especially when it comes to 3, 4, and 5+ keyword phrases. What if our content was weighted differently because you were referring to some type of brand, sports team, trademark, slogan, product, or service?

Can SEO’s Capitalize on Keyword Capitalization?

Probably not, not at this point at least. I don’t think Google is going to be integrating capitalization friendly results anytime soon (oh and if they do, I’ll need some type of commission for the idea). They’ve obviously done what they have done for a reason, and breaking that would be huge. One place they could start is modifying the search snippets. Only time will tell.

7 Comments

  • Interesting post, Michael – I’ve never thought about the Apple vs. apple situation before.

  • Ed Kohler says:

    Very interesting. I hadn’t considered this before. Search engines clearly have the data, but my guess is that not enough people use caps, or consistently use caps, to make results tweaks based on caps a reliable SE results factor.

  • Osagie Irowa says:

    I came across this Search Engine post after I found out that one my websites only showed up at different Google positions when I did caps and no caps. With caps, my site showed up on page 2 of Google, and with no caps, position 3 on the first page for my chosen keyword. After checking my targeted keywords on Google search, I see that caps matter with the keywords when tweaking your title tags (maybe web content too). Let me know if anyone has had the same results. Now, this could be just a fluke. regards, osagie irowa

  • jmuranko says:

    I just tested the Cap vs. no cap on accident and it has resulted in my url showing up and not showing up. It showed up first page one way and not showing up the other way. But it was based on the structure I did with my anchor, title and text. Anchor is the prime suspect but I agree with you on the content also.

  • Osagie Irowa says:

    What I have not done to make sure that my sites show up for certain keywords on Google, whether caps or no caps was to create content with the variation. I have also created keyword caps/no caps variations in the anchor texts. Take the word “SEO Consultant” for example, I have created keyword density average of 1.67% for “seo consultant” and “SEO Consultant”, to see the results. The apple vs Apple variation makes sense as many people who are looking for Apple computers on Google will usually use CAPS for the first letter. regards, osagie irowa.

  • I have been watching this lately too. In the past Google didn’t seem to care about Caps vs No Caps but now it suddenly seems to be having much more of an impact. I have the feeling that a lot of people out there are going to be adjusting their on-page factors when they start noticing their positions changing in the SERPS.

  • Osagie Irowa says:

    I wonder if most people are using caps when searching for an item? I never usually bother to use caps. This is an important seo marketing issue for me as I need to capture the market for “oneword keyphrases” and in order to continue to increase sales. My online sales have dropped quite a bit over the past few weeks and I see some new sites popping up in my niche market. Let me know if you guys have any other test results. My competition seems to have all the keywords covered in caps and no caps. However, his site is way older than my new one. regards, osagie irowa

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