Many people are under the mistaken impression that the UK and the US speak the same common language, namely the Queen’s English. For anybody who’s tried to navigate between the two tongues, this is demonstrably false. Lift vs. elevator, sidewalk vs. pavement… That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Yes, both The Land of Opportunity and Dear ol’ Blighty can understand what each other are saying (just about). But when it gets intricate, like with SEO, can it make a difference? And if so, which side should you choose? Let’s discover who wins the showdown when it comes to Google SEO: American English vs. British English.
Is US Or UK English Better For SEO?
Well, it turns out the official line from Google is that it doesn’t make a difference. But the quote is ‘maybe for users, but not directly for SEO’. In other words, Google is taking the binary line and saying that their SEO automation process doesn’t take it into account, therefore it will not affect your rankings in the mechanical sense.
So this is how British and American spelling affects SEO: not at all. Which would be fine, if the only people searching the web were robots. When it comes to human beings, things are (as always) a little messier.
American English Vs. British English For Web Content
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of spellings and grammar, we should acknowledge that the general difference is a cultural one. The stereotype has it that Americans are louder, flashier and a little bit more ‘salesy’ than their British counterparts, who have a little more subtlety in their copy. Of course, this is a complete generalisation and won’t hold true across the board. But there is some truth to the cliché.
If we investigate further, we find that not only are some things spelt (or spelled?!) differently in the UK than the US (‘realise’ and ‘realize’, ‘spectre’ and ‘specter’, ‘humor’ and ‘humour’, etc.) but words fundamentally mean different things sometimes. Take, for example, the word ‘jumper’. For English people, that’s an item of clothing you pull over your head. Say it to Americans, however, and they might start looking to the roof of the nearest building and dialling 911.
If you’re not sure on which side of the Atlantic you should land, use J-Spell to help you along. It’s a handy little tool for catching all those little stray ‘z’s or loose ‘u’s.
Know Your Audience
The key, as ever, is to know who you’re writing to. Know your audience and you should know which basic grammar foundations you should start with. Aiming for the US? Go full stars and stripes. British or Australian market? Stick to the tried and tested Queen’s.
It also depends on the product you’re selling. You want to be authentic at all times. If you’re trying to promote or sell something uniquely American in the UK then you might be better off keeping the American parlance. Similarly, if you’re selling London Fog raincoats, you might want to amp up your endearing Britishness, even if you’re marketing to US customers.
UK Vs. US English: How Does This Affect SEO, Really?
The bottom line is that it’s okay whichever way you slice it, as long as you stay consistent and authentic. It’s your voice, dude. There’s no need to duplicate your content for both regions, as the mechanical differences don’t affect your SEO as far as Google’s concerned. Your customers, though – they’re a different story. If you write to them specifically, they should govern your syntax choices.