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Google’s Odd Abbreviation Algorithm

I believe I’ve stumbled upon a previously unknown aspect of ‘s algorithm: Abbreviations.

I discovered it after doing a search for to see how my e-strategy.com site was ranking. In the screenshot below, you’ll see underlined in red the thing that caught my eye:

Google "Minnesota Internet Marketing Company" Search Results - 03/15/08

You’ll notice that the underscored portion of the search reveals that only the letters CO are bold in the .com domain suffix. It sure looked to me like Google was highlighting an abbreviation of the word "company."

It’s no secret that Google looks for keywords in domains as one of its ranking criteria, but I’ve never seen Google highlight the domain suffix within searches and I’ve never seen Google look for what appears to be an abbreviated form of a search keyword.

I tried another search to try and verify that Google was looking for abbreviations. A search for confirmed my suspicions:

Google "Minnesota Public Affairs Company" Search Results - 03/15/08

Again, I’ve highlighted the relevant portions of the search results and in this case, you’ll see the abbreviation for the word Minnesota, the letters MN, are bold in the domain names in addition to the letters CO in the domain suffixes.

One last search further confirms the abbreviation algorithm, this time for :

Google "Minnesota Public Relations Company" Search Results - 03/15/08

As you can see, the abbreviation for Public Relations, PR, is also in bold within the domain names. And, the case of the link for Tunheim.com, the page listed does not have the abbreviation in question on the page, not even within the META DESCRIPTION or KEYWORD tags.

The odd part is that Google is including the .com suffix. A .com domain, after all, often is no sure indicator that a given web site is one owned by a company. It also does not appear that Google has included any of the other domain suffixes, such as .org, .net, .edu, .gov, or .us. These domain suffixes would seem to be more certain indicators of relevance.

Since .edu, .gov, and .us domains can only be issued to certified educational institutions or governmental bodies, you can be certain of the nature of the organization that owns a given domain.

Perhaps Google is just testing out suffix domain searches. Has anyone else observed any similar behavior by Google?

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

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