I want to know how to indicate a particular word or work is not spelt incorrectly. Spelling does affect SEO but the common spellcheckers usually come up with around 10-20 errors per page, but these words just aren't in the dictionary being used, most of these may not be in the dictionary google normal uses for define phrases. Some are headings, others are just rare words but essential to the content.

How I can semantically (or in some other way) markup the fact that these words are correctly spelt? Will having tooltips over them help (several have tooltips to explain the words).

These problem words cannot be substitued for alternatives. Some words also are very similar to dictionary words but with the last 3-5 letters altered so they really do look to spellcheckers like they are wrong.

Both google and moz.com including spelling in ranking quality of pages.

Any possible solutions?

  • 1
    I would not worry about Google. I am sure they know what you have typed unless you completely made it up. ;-) They are foremost in AI machine learning terms and applying them to a terms index. Keep in mind that the search query suggestion is likely only looking at popular or more common terms in an effort to keep the mechanism efficient. Search, however, is different in how it works and can handle much much more. As far as ranking, this is based upon semantics. As long as you are using a spelling that has been seen elsewhere you are okay. I discount this spelling claim somewhat. Chin up!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 23:11
  • The term 'sic' is often used to indicate words that are not spelled correctly but you are quoting them "as they were written". There is no opposite of that but I wonder if 'sic' still applies.
    – Rob
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 14:59

3 Answers 3


Misspelled words should be enclosed with the HTML <i> Element.

As there is no sic tag equivalent in HTML, in HTML 5 the <i> element has a new meaning replacing the previous non-semantic italic presentational meaning.

According to the HTML5 specification of W3:

The i element represents a span of text in an alternate voice or mood, or otherwise offset from the normal prose in a manner indicating a different quality of text, such as a taxonomic designation, a technical term, an idiomatic phrase from another language, transliteration, a thought, or a ship name in Western texts.

This differs from its previous consideration:

Changes in HTML5 #

Although previous versions of HTML defined the i element only in presentational terms, the element has now been given the specific semantic purpose of representing text “offset from its surrounding content without conveying any extra emphasis or importance, and for which the conventional typographic presentation is italic text”.

This semantic usage of the <i> tag fits perfectly for a misspelled or unusual word that a modern Search Engine should understand.

It has been suggested previously that quotes should be enough but I don't think they fit as naturally as the <i> does.


The <u> element in HTML5 is the correct way to go for misspelled words:

"The u element represents a span of text with an unarticulated, though explicitly rendered, non-textual annotation, such as labeling the text as being a proper name in Chinese text (a Chinese proper name mark), or labeling the text as being misspelt".

Unfortunately, this is not the traditional usage of the element in previous HTML versions, so I would think twice before using it to maintain backward compatibility.


I think the procedure should be like:

  • implementing a spellchecking library into the website
  • it checks pages and if found a misspelling adds to the misspelled word an additional css class, which makes misspelled word visible.

Maybe will this do the job: http://www.javascriptspellcheck.com/?

  • 2
    I don't see how that would help? The supposedly misspelled words are visible both on the page and via search engines/crawls/bots. They need to stay visible because occasionally there will be hits for them, but being able to mark is somehow as a meaningful term not a misspelling would help. So far I'm wondering is structured data's sameAs property linking to a specialist dictionary page for the word is the only way. Even then it will miss many.
    – Mousey
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 15:58

There is no such semantic markup for misspelled words that I know of.

It isn't something that I would worry about. As long as your users don't think your spelling is bad, search engines are going to be fine with it.

Their "bad spelling" algorithms have to be more complicated than a typical spell checker. Spell checkers in word processors have "user dictionaries" for a reason. There are always going to be words that you use that are not in a standard spell check dictionary.

  • Last names
  • Brand names
  • Industry jargon

Most websites are going to have some of those. There is no way that search engines could penalize for using some words that are not in a typical spell check dictionary.

If search engines were going to penalize for anything, it would have to be for using known spelling errors, typo, and poor grammar.

You don't have to worry about marking the words that you use but which are not in spell check dictionaries so that your site will rank well in search engines.

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