Upper Case & Lower Case Searches May Return Different Google Search Results

Feb 28, 2008 • 9:04 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

An interesting thread has been brewing over at WebmasterWorld with reports of an unusual Google query test. It seems like searchers in the UK, searching on UK based IPs at Google may see different results when they search first in all lower case and then next in upper case.

The first report in this thread came in on February 21st:

For one of my main keywords, when using capital letters, I rank about 6 places better than using lowercase?

At first, you think this guy has personalized search on or something else is wrong with his computer. But as the thread goes on, you see some validity to the report.

WebmasterWorld administrator, Tedster, who sees so many threads every day, asks "Do the search results for either version show "Searches related to" at the bottom of the page?"

Guess, what, he does. There is a pattern Tedster is seeing. About three months ago, someone reported a similar issue that showed the "Searches related to" at the bottom.

Google clearly states:

Google searches are NOT case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you type them, will be understood as lower case. For example, searches for george washington, George Washington, and gEoRgE wAsHiNgToN will all return the same results.

Now more and more UK searchers are noticing this and reporting it at the thread. If you have seen it, please go to WebmasterWorld and document your location (not the keyword search, you can document very specific details here and Ill make sure Google sees it and possibly comments).

Tedster does some research and adds:

At this point I've tracked down a handful of these reports - and they all were only visible from the UK. So far, I've been able to see no upper case or title case anomalies when using google.com from a US IP address.

I am very interested in getting to the bottom of this, so please document your findings both here and at the thread so we can figure out if it is a bug or a possible feature.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: The first comment below shows that even in Google.com on a US IP, a search for dance inspires differs from Dance Inspires and differs from DANCE INSPIRES. Here are screen captures:

All Lower Case: Notice the sfgate.com result: Google Case Sensitivity Matters?

Word Case: Notice the moldova.org result in place of the sfgate.com result: Google Case Sensitivity Matters?

All Upper Case: Both are not there: Google Case Sensitivity Matters?

Very interesting.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: February 27, 2008
 

Comments:

deCabbit

02/28/2008 03:29 pm

I see it in the UK for a search on "dance inspires" I lose one search result about honeybees when I change the search from "dance inspires" to "Dance Inspires"

Michael Martinez

02/28/2008 07:08 pm

There are indeed case-sensitive differences in US search: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=voidnull http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=VoidNull&btnG=Search I don't know how widespread the phenomenon is.

Jon Dale

03/01/2008 09:24 pm

I see everything from no difference to minor difference to substantial difference when searching from the UK. http://www.google.co.uk/search?num=100&hl=en&q=Alard&btnG=Search&meta=cr%3DcountryUK%7CcountryGB http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=wireless+cctv&btnG=Google+Search&meta=cr%3DcountryUK%7CcountryGB

Jon Dale

03/01/2008 09:27 pm

(Correction). I see everything from no difference to minor difference to substantial difference when searching from the UK. http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=wireless+cctv&btnG=Google+Search&meta=cr%3DcountryUK%7CcountryGB http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=Wireless+CCTV&btnG=Google+Search&meta=cr%3DcountryUK%7CcountryGB http://www.google.co.uk/search?num=100&hl=en&q=Alard&btnG=Search&meta=cr%3DcountryUK%7CcountryGB http://www.google.co.uk/search?num=100&hl=en&q=alard&btnG=Search&meta=cr%3DcountryUK%7CcountryGB

No Name

04/15/2009 02:58 pm

i see the same in charlotte nc. I googled el paso warehousing and El Paso Warehousing. I have a site ranked 21st for the capitilized letters and 100+ for lower case...any new findings?

No Name

12/29/2009 06:10 pm

Does anybody, other than US or UK, know if the upper vs. lower case searches matter in other parts of the worls; Especially in India. Thx.

Renske Nuydt

06/07/2011 02:55 pm

I am a translator and I often have to find out whether a word or expression in a given language is written with a capital letter or not. This is why I would like to be able to contrast the frequencies of certain words written with a capital letter to their lower-case counterparts. It is very hard for me to find the frequency of a word or expression written with a capital letter. Does anybody know how you can bring that about? e.g. "LTD" in the search box, look at its frequency vs "Ltd" in English "SA" vs "sa" in French

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