Google backs down over search engine row

Fri 15th of January 2010, filed under SEO

Search engine optimisation victory

Google appears to have backed down on the issue of 'search engine optimisation' versus 'search engine optimization'.

On Wednesday, January 13th 2009, the UK SEO community was angered by the company's decision to forcibly convert queries to the American spelling. Specifically, the letter 's' in several words was automatically replaced with 'z' although no attempt was made to change, for example, 'colour' into 'color'.

This affected results for a whole range of queries such as 'search engine optimisation'. Web users who entered the term into Google were confronted with the message "Showing results for search engine optimization. Search instead for search engine optimisation". As a result, a number of companies that had optimised their websites for British users reported a slump in their rankings.

Time called on search engine optimization

Today, however, the company has made a u-turn. Entering the phrase on Google now brings up results spelt with an 's' rather than a 'z' and rankings seem to be back to where they were at the start of the week.

Over at Microsoft, Bing takes a different approach towards implementing the American spelling system. Typing the same phrase into Google returns the message "Results are included for search engine optimization. Show just the results for search engine optimisation". And Yahoo UK only shows results spelt with an 's'.

But of course, Google remains the dominant search engine. A recent report from The Nielsen Company showed that it now handles two-thirds of US queries. And the UK is even more concentrated with Google claiming approximately nine-tenths of the total search engine market.

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