From: Karon

Hi Jill,

You may have covered this in your newsletter, but I've never seen it and could not find anything about it in your archives. I have a client who is telling me her SEO company says we should include the phrase "alaskan pipeline" just as I've typed it there (with the incorrect lowercase "a") because most people will type a search term into the engine in lowercase letters. However, from my experience, I've found that it doesn't matter one way or the other. To make sure nothing's changed, I thought I'd better check with "the pro" (a.k.a. YOU).

Can you tell me if it matters if search terms include capital letters or not?


Karon Thackston


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hey Karon,

None of the major search engines are currently case-specific, so you can type it the correct way with the initial cap and it will be read the same as lowercase by the search engines. In the old days it did matter, especially with Altavista -- but not anymore.

Even if the engines were case-specific, I wouldn't recommend using the incorrect format within your visible body copy. It would look like a typo, making people think you were just dumb! Search engine optimization, and especially search engine optimization writing (as Karon well knows!), don't have to ruin a site. It's just the opposite, in fact. SEO should be about helping people have a better site, certainly not a worse site.

Unfortunately, many SEOs still don't get that part of it (and won't hire a professional copywriter), and they place keywords at the top or the bottom of the page where they float around for no good reason. Or they do something like your client wanted, and try to get you to write proper nouns incorrectly because they *thought* that's what the engines want -- essentially ruining their site.

If in the future a major search engine becomes case-specific again, I would recommend using the all-lowercase version of your keywords in your Title tag (but definitely not in the body copy).

Hope this helps!

February 7, 2003

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Are Search Engines Case Sensitive Regarding Keywords?