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?
- Apple (company) vs apple (fruit)
- Fox (TV network) vs fox (animal)
- Bears (sports team) vs bears (animal)
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.