In case you’ve ever wondered, Google is kind of like a strict high school English teacher when it comes to your ad copy. The tech giant has high standards for you in spelling and grammar, and will disapprove ads that don’t meet those standards. But, what about your keywords? Do spelling and punctuation still matter in getting bang for your buck in the keywords in your PPC and paid media campaigns? Here’s a crash course in what does – and does not matter – so you know how to write ad copy and keywords that work. 


Do Spell Correctly

Here’s the deal with spelling… If your potential buyer types in “wholistic medicine,” Google is smart and knows that they probably meant to write “holistic medicine.” They cut them a break, recommend the properly spelled term and deliver results and ads that correspond with that. So, you don’t need to include common misspellings of keywords in your ad groups. Simply spell keywords the right way, and Google will help fill in the gaps with anyone who makes a spelling mistake. 


Don’t Use “Non-Standard” Characters

Google looks down on characters that are, frankly, unnecessary in keywords. These include things like commas, equal signs, percentage signs, asterisks and, yes, even the well-loved exclamation point. Just leave them out of your keywords, and you’ll be better off. 


Dashes = Spaces

One question that we hear often is about dashes. Do you need them in certain words? What about a phrase like dog friendly; is it better with a space or better with a dash? Or should you include both? There’s actually a very simple answer. Google views a dash as a space, so in the example we’re going with here, you’ll get the same results for “dog friendly” as you will for “dog-friendly.” 

The only time this isn’t the case is when a hyphenated word can be squished together. For instance, “startup” will get different results than “start-up” or “start up.” In that sort of instance, go with whichever version ranks higher and has less competition.  


Number or #?

One other question that comes up is whether you should spell out a number (“nine”) or use the numerical representation (“9”) in your keywords. It turns out that a keyword with the former will indeed get different results than a keyword with the latter. For this reason, it can be useful to include a phrase with each version in your ads, to cover your bases. 

Hopefully this helps you see a few of the key points about spelling and punctuation in your keywords. Still, we always recommend using the Google Ads Keyword Planner to research your keywords and make informed decisions. Or, better yet, partner with an agency like us to help you make sure you’re getting the right keywords – and using them successfully, too. Just give us a call!