In trying to stay relevant, websites managers often question where case-sensitivity matters at all to search engines. This article will be attempting to look at the role of case sensitivity and answer the question, does it matter?
SEO keywords are not case sensitive. Search engines like Google treat all keywords similarly regardless of whether they are in lowercase, uppercase, or a combination of both.
The case of the keywords will have absolutely no influence on the search ranking and consequently its position of the search engine page results. However, it is important to note that search engine algorithms are constantly changing, as such the policies the search engines operate under are subject to change at any time.
For this reason, it is important to keep yourself informed on these changes. This article will be going through the various complexes involving keywords and SEO. Let’s begin!
The Case for SEO
We live in a world where massive amounts of information can be accessed with a click of a few buttons. This massive amount of data increases every day as more data is published every day, according to Social Media. Today in 2018 more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created every day.
Fortunately, search engines have been developed to help people comb through all the data on the internet to get what exactly what we are looking for. Based on relevance, authority, and accuracy. In the midst of all the data on the internet, having a website may feel like the equivalent of screaming in the wind.
A solution to this is a problem is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This involves finding the words and phrases that can help enhance visibility for your website. This visibility will directly to higher traffic to the website, which has the result of higher profitability for a commercial site.
Do capital letters affect SEO?
Conventionally, capital letters have been used to highlight words in writing. By their nature, they stick out alluding to their importance. As such, it goes that maybe this same concept would also apply in the online space. With this assumption, people would capitalize their keywords on their websites allowing them to game the search engine ranking and enhance their visibility.
Like in a lot of cases, it depends. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, is not concerned with case sensitivity as an SEO issue. However, you should aim to make sure that keep the case of the URLs you use consistently. This is because google or most search engines would split the rank signals to the URLs the website is accessible through.
For example, if you have two websites that are accessible and indexed as bluecup.com/PAGE.html and bluecup.com/page.html, though they would both lead to the same webpage, their search ranking will be split into the two URLs. This will stifle visibility and in turn, limit the amount of traffic the website can get.
Trust and Authority
Having different URLs also limits the amount of trust and authority issued to your website. In searching, search engines like google will crawl through your website, based on a variety of factors they will assign the website with a score of authority and trust on the content of the website.
In this case, there are two URLs with different capitalizations, the authority and trust will be split between them, as opposed to being attributed to one version of the web page.
Despite the issue on the authority of both the webpages and websites, URLs that contain uppercase letters are a lot more likely to be reported by google analytics. For this reason, are more likely to end in 404 errors on the wrong servers.
Overall capitalization of URLs does not help but they are a lot more likely to hurt you. This especially the case when they are used indiscriminatingly. People have to understand what these capitalized URLs are doing behind the scenes. For many search engines, lowercase and uppercase letters are all the same, however, most experts advise people to stick with lower case letters.
They also advise people to stick with one version of the URL. In the case someone or a content management system changed the URL to capital letters, one should use 301 redirects to get them to the non-capitalized version.
Do Keywords need to be capitalized?
Keywords are not case sensitive. They are just as effective if in lowercase or uppercase. Search engines like google will not exact return the same search engine results page when you use lowercase or uppercase words. They will however be ever so slightly different due to the shuffling but not to a significantly different matter.
Search engine algorithms
Search engines use complex computer algorithms to find what people are searching for. Using these algorithms, they can know that the word, Expert and expert mean the same thing and give relatively the same results. However, these same complex algorithms are likely to issue different results when making a search for the term Precious as opposed to precious.
The capitalized Precious would most likely result in result to a major motion picture by the name Precious. On the other hand, the lowercase precious will most likely to the adjective precious meaning of great value.
On the side of the search engines, keyword capitalization does not matter or influence the search engine results page. However, a lot of these search engines, particularly Google, have massive amounts of personal data from their users. With this data, they are able to create models that can be used to predict what their clients want when they search.
For this reason, capitalization of keywords will mean different things to different users. For example, a person google has identified to be a film enthusiast will get the film, Precious, when they search for the term “precious”. However, people who have no interest would get the definition of the word “precious” as of great value.
Search engines like Google, operate in an ever-changing environment. Based on the trends of what people are searching for, the algorithm would deliver different search engine results pages, for example, if people were talking about the actress from the film “Precious”, the results from the term precious would likely result in that result.
The Google algorithm is updated several times a day, as such results you would get today might be different from what would be found in three hours or two years.
Do capital letters matter in domain names?
The simple answer to the question is, yes capital letters in the domain names do matter. However, it is a little bit more complicated than that. When entering an internet address in a search bar, capitalization may be required for the address to be valid. Capitalization is not necessary for anything before the domain name, for example in the case of www.capitalisationmatters.com, all the letters before the word com, do not have to be case sensitive.
When written in lowercase letters and uppercase letters, both will lead to the same webpage. However, all other words after the domain name would be case sensitive as they refer to the page, file, or the directory of the URL.
The reason behind this is that the server that hosts the website will recognize the domain name and give access to the web page. It however will not recognize a file labeled as uppercase as being the same as it would be when labeled in lowercase. For example, www.capitalisationmatters.com/capital.html and www.capitalisationmatters.com/CAPITAL.html will be recognized as the same page and would be categorized as two different pages. In case, you capitalized the wrong URL, you would receive a 404 error, indicating that the website you are trying to access does not exist.
Does Google recognize capital letters?
For the most part no. Google does recognize capital letters, however, according to Google, they do not in any way influence search ranking. In the past, capitalization did matter and people who capitalized their keywords would get better ranking and in turn added visibility for their websites. However, due to the ever-shifting nature of Google’s algorithm, this has changed and all capitalized and non-capitalized words are treated the same.
Today, the only real advantage of capitalizing words on your website is to enhance its readability as well as click-through rate. Piece of the article such as the title would be improved by capitalization as it would be easier to read. For websites trying to maximize the number of clicks they get, capitalization allows readers to read all that is important allowing easier digestibility and ease of sharing.
The internet has witnessed meteoric growth in the past few years, this is most evident by the number of websites that have emerged. In 2016, the number of websites doubled from 900 million to about 1.7 billion according to https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/chart-of-the-day-how-many-websites-are-there/ . Thankfully we have search engines that help come to the internet to give us the information we need when we need it.
This is growth of websites is a good thing for people looking for information as they have more sources. However, people who run websites, experience greater competition. As such, they look for ways to ensure that have enhanced visibility that comes from appearing on top of the search results. This enhanced visibility generally translated to added traffic.
On whether capitalization helps with search ranking, it currently does not. however, this used to the case in the past. The search engine algorithms are constantly changing to adapt to the needs of the users. As for the capitalization of URLs, it does not matter for domain names but it is crucial for directories parts of the URL.
Due to the shifting nature of the search algorithms, people are advised to keep watch of the terms and conditions by the search engines as they are publicly available in sites like https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-algorithm-history/ .