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Search Engines and Abbreviations

Michael Stearne January 4, 2010 Category Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I was recently looking for Kentucky Fried Chicken on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, NYC so I went to Google and did an exact search for what I was looking for.  “Kentucky Fried Chicken UWS”.  I don’t recall ever having done that search before within Google so the result that I got was not from a learned behavior by Google.

By now people expect Google to explode out UWS, to be based on my location which was an IP address within New York City to mean Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, NY USA.  But it seems for the abbreviation of known brand names the same logic also applies.   If you look at the search results below you’ll see that in Google’s eyes Kentucky Fried Chicken = KFC because Kentucky is not in the top search result.


A validation of this is that if you click into the first search result and do a search for “kentucky”, it appears nowhere within the page.

kfc pagesearch

kfc page

Search results that are seemingly more valid (like result 4 and of course result 5)  do not get the top spot even though they contain the words Kentucky Fried and Chicken. Also in the sense of the best search result wins, Google gives the top spot to UrbanSpoon and not to kfc.com.  I assume Google is doing this because UrbanSpoon gives a better experience to the searcher. The UrbanSpoon result immediately gives a location for KFC in the UWS whereas on kfc.com an additional search is required to get to a page showing the UWS locations.   If kfc.com had read Mike Candullo’s post about landing pages they would have been given the top spot over UrbanSpoon.

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