Jonathan Saipe

The Homonym Effect on SEO: “iPhone 3G Crack”

1 December 2008, Jonathan Saipe

iPhone 3G Crack: Homonyms and SEO

Literally minutes ago I typed “iPhone 3G crack” into Google as I was searching for results regarding iPhone software hacks – purely for experimental reasons I hasten to add!!

And to my surprise the first two results in the Google SERPs were from blog articles discussing the fact that cracks had appeared on owners’ iPhones. This did in fact make me chuckle as I certainly wasn’t expecting that; rather I was expecting to be bombarded with information on how to crack iPhones!

Now, Google’s keyword tool estimates there are approx 6,660 searches for “iPhone 3G crack” per month which is fair amount of demand. And I would suspect that a large proportion of those searches are not people searching for information on whether their iPhone casing has cracked, but more likely software to crack an iPhone 3G.

This is a classic example of the SEO homonym effect where searches for one meaning of word yield results for the alternative meaning.

So, whilst synonyms are a commonly discussed (and fundamental) on-page optimisation SEO factor, homonyms are less commonly discussed but potentially as influential on traffic volume (although not necessary conversions).

The simplest way to detect the homonym effect is to look for spikes in traffic volume in your web analytics and to analyse your keyword referrers by date. You may well spot a keyword lurking around that has more than one meaning and is therefore attracting an unexpectedly large amount of traffic.

For a load more explanations, use Google’s define: search command.