If you do a search on Google, sometimes Google will ignore your keyword completely and show you a whole new set of results.
You would typically see something like this:
This can be really annoying for those of you who spelt the word correctly and even more so for businesses who find that their product isn’t showing up in the results pages. Asking users to click a link titled “search instead for…” is only going to result in less exposure.
Google is effectively filtering traffic for obscure keywords towards more popular ones.
Here is another one, this time they don’t change the search query but do insert a “did you mean…” link above the results:
Suggestions – How and Why?
The “did you mean” suggestion started off as a way to guide people away from search results for common misspellings. A good example would be someone searching for information about a common drug only to see potentially dangerous results about a drug with a similar name.
The “showing results for” is a natural evolution of this. It is typically used on the more obscure keywords where there are very strong indicators that this person is looking for something else.
Both “did you mean” and the more recent “showing results for” will help to prevent spammers from creating websites that target misspelled words and fooling individuals who cannot spell correctly.
If you are wondering how many times a word can be written incorrectly, have a look at this example disclosed by Google a few years back.
Advice For Businesses and Inventors
If you are just starting up a new business or have just created a new product, chances are a search for your product, website or even business name may result in a “showing results for” situation.
Obviously this very bad as it all but prevents searchers from seeing you on the web. No exposure. No visitors.
To the best of my knowledge Google doesn’t have a form or any other way to contact them directly. They don’t remove the “did you mean” or “showing results for” on request.
Please watch the video below, it’s a little outdated but gives some insight into Google’s policy:
As Google looks at several “indicators” to determine when they should show the “did you mean” or “showing results for” I would try and implement the following:
- Get as much exposure as possible to the keyword/website, both on and offline
- Buy the exact match domain name and register it in at least one primary Internet directory (Yahoo Directory and Dmoz are both used by Google to improve the search results)
- Get other sites to link to you
- Use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to spread the work about the new product/website
If your keyword is competing with a bank or other popular term, you may never get rid of the “did you mean”. It all depends on how many people are misspelling the word, making a correction and then going on to the other site.
Small businesses and new websites shouldn’t have a problem getting this issue solved by getting more exposure to the site or product, Google will adapt and this can happen surprisingly quickly.
You can tell Google about a problem with the “did you mean” or “showing results for” via their help forum.