Friday, May 02, 2008

Be Consistent With Your Case Insensitivity

In the Google Web Search Help Center, you state that:

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.

Yet, as my Netconcepts colleague Chris Smith recently noted, this is not currently the case. We get different results in the 8th position for “george washington” vs. “George Washington” vs. “gEoRgE wAsHiNgToN”, when expanding out the number of listings per page in the Google preferences.

Here's another example: "fossil watches" and "Fossil Watches" return different results, as you can see from the screenshot below. This is not a consistent user experience for searchers.

Google SERPs Case Sensitive - Fossil Watches

(click to enlarge)

It gets worse. Some shortcut queries may not even work, depending on the case used. For example, a "whois" query is supposed to return a domain lookup from as a shortcut, yet it doesn't work if the domain name is entered in upper case. Check this screenshot:

Google SERPs Case Sensitive - whois

(click to enlarge)