On Groundhog Day, countless people searched for incorrect variations of Punxsutawney Phil's name, to the point where "Punksatony Phil" ranked on Google search trends - but proper spellings count for SEO.

When Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning in Pennsylvania, Americans grimaced at the thought of six more weeks of winter. Despite national interest in the groundhog’s uncanny ability to predict weather more than a month in advance, searchers still do not think it necessary to spell his name correctly. 

Throughout the day, “Punksatony Phil,” which is not his name, was a trending topic Google Trends, ranking as high as fifth on Thursday afternoon. The correct spelling, ” Punxsutawney Phil,” did not make the top 10 searches.

Nonetheless, marketers who leveraged Groundhog Day’s popularity as part of their SEO and content marketing campaigns found it pays to incorporate trending words that are spelled correctly.

While this may seem obvious, searchers regularly spell words wrong and reliable, high-quality websites with correct spellings will still gain visibility on search results for users’ incorrect spellings. Part of Google’s evolution has led Googlebot to be able to assess what a searcher means even if they spell a query wrong. Among the results for “Punksatony Phil” were news articles about the groundhog and the event with the correct spelling. However, there were some results with the same misspelling on the SERP.

In general, spelling and grammar are becoming increasingly important, as Google and other search engines look for ways to measure high-caliber website content. Brafton recently reported that Google’s most critical criteria for SEO is quality, and this deals with many different aspects of the content. Google engineer Matt Cutts has explicity said that spelling and grammar are important for search engine optimization. 

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.