Natural Search Blog

Travel Searches, Local & More Searches Turning Case-Sensitive in Google SERPs

Some of us at Netconcepts have been noticing that keyword rankings in Google search engine results pages (“SERPs”) have been turning case-sensitive for some queries lately. Search Engine Roundtable highlighted that the case sensitivity issue had been reported for queries seen in the UK, but we’ve been seeing it for queries committed from the US as well.

For instance, search for something like “fossil watches” and compare with “Fossil Watches”, and you’ll see that a few of the listings in the SERPs trade ranking positions:

Google SERPs Case Sensitive - Fossil Watches
(click to enlarge)

In the example screen-grab above, you’ll see that the lower-case search for “fossil watches” on the left side, has the site “” in the fifth position while a Wikipedia article is in the fifth position on the righthand example search in upper-case for “Fossil Watches”.

In another example search for “Chicago Hotels”, and trade out for the fourth position in the natural search results below the local one-box, with uppercase “Chicago Hotels” on the left and lowercase “chicago hotels” on the right:

Google Case-Sensitive SERPs - Chicago Hotels
(click to enlarge)

Searching for “Chicago hotels” seems to result in the same rankings as the all lower-case query.

As Search Engine Roundtable mentions, Google states that their search results are not case-sensitive:

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.

I now get different results in the 8th position for “george washington” vs. “George Washington” vs. “gEoRgE wAsHiNgToN”, when I expand out the number of listings per page in my preferences.

I was inclined to think that this might be an error due to the recent “Update Dewey” algorithm change that Matt Cutt requested feedback upon, so I reported it to Google, but have not heard back from them.

If this continues much longer, I think that SEOs will likely start doing all sorts of case-sensitive keyword research and optimization based off of it.

14 comments for Travel Searches, Local & More Searches Turning Case-Sensitive in Google SERPs »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    No link? 😉

    Comment by Barry Schwartz — 4/15/2008 @ 11:45 am

  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    Oops! Sorry, Barry – I intended to link it up, and just neglected to do so before hitting the publish button! Link added now – thanx for the reminder!

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 4/15/2008 @ 12:29 pm

  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    Honestly, it is kind of nice. When I talk about Google or Yahoo, I rarely link to them. It kinda puts SER in a different class? 😉

    Comment by Barry Schwartz — 4/15/2008 @ 12:34 pm

  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    Case-sensitive SERPs? This is becoming like 1999 all over again…..

    Comment by Matt McGee — 4/15/2008 @ 5:50 pm

  5. MyAvatars 0.2

    Google and others say the same kind of thing (that it makes no difference) about singular/plural and about searches that include ‘the’ etc, but a quick test will tell you that such things do make a difference.

    Comment by Jon Dale — 4/18/2008 @ 10:58 am

  6. MyAvatars 0.2

    I don’t think different results for different spellings are intentional…some sort of bug more likely…on the other hand…if you spell things a certain way on your website, when someone searches that exact way, maybe your site shows up because it’s more relevant?

    Comment by Oliver — 4/18/2008 @ 11:57 am

  7. MyAvatars 0.2

    noticed it as well. Case in point seo services vs. SEO Services one returned less than 1MM results, the other 3.6 MM.

    Querky indeed…

    Comment by Jeffrey L. Smith — 4/18/2008 @ 6:24 pm

  8. MyAvatars 0.2

    I am thinking that it might not be case sensitivity, so much as a cache issue – sometimes for the same search, you do get different results – don’t know why, you just do … tried it on computers side by side, this could be just the cache being broken (something I used to do when testing internal search results)

    Comment by Gerry — 4/19/2008 @ 2:00 pm

  9. MyAvatars 0.2

    If this is something Google is working on, I think it’s a good idea.

    It would help lift out brand-names from just general stuff, with fossil and Fossil being a prime example…

    Comment by Wayne Smallman — 4/20/2008 @ 1:24 pm

  10. MyAvatars 0.2

    I have been noticing massive differences in the SERPs for case sensitive search terms of late for my website. I hope it is just a bug in the algorithm which has appeared due to another change!

    Comment by Neil Hancock — 4/21/2008 @ 4:39 am

  11. MyAvatars 0.2

    Interesting observation, could be another factor involved other than the case. Just curious, are you logging out of Google’s services and clearing all settings prior to both queries?

    Comment by Brian Ussery — 4/21/2008 @ 4:03 pm

  12. MyAvatars 0.2

    A lot of good points here…I believe there has been an adjustment made in the Algorithm that brings different results depending on whether a search is done in upper case or lower case…it’s makes sense…but I think it’s aimed at more specific searches than general ones.

    Comment by SEO Analyst — 8/20/2008 @ 9:24 am

  13. MyAvatars 0.2

    We got different results based on wether or not we were signed in to google.

    Plus different results on wether or not it was upper case first letter or all lower case.

    Seems completely random.

    Comment by Matt P — 8/27/2008 @ 9:33 am

  14. MyAvatars 0.2

    Normally users do not know exactly what they’re searching for – I guess that’s why Google search is not case sensitive. But if you exactly know what you’re seeking for, case insensitivity is a burden. That’s why I’ve put together a case sensitive version of Google during the Christmas break

    Comment by bpgergo — 12/30/2008 @ 12:07 pm

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