I’ll start this topic by referencing a previous posting where I was considering adding “best-selling author” to the name of my blog. The purpose is to add another applicable keyword phrase that people who may have interest in this blog could conceivably type into a search engine. I’ve already discussed in the past how blog names and individual blog post titles are important to consider for SEO purposes.
But, as I mentioned, adding “best-selling author” brings up a host of considerations, the first of which I’ll dissect now.
1. Keyword optimization is already complicated, and is made even MORE annoying by words and phrases that are – or could be – hyphenated. At Outskirts Press, we run into this issue all the time within our marketing and IT departments regarding “self publishing” because you see it hyphenated just as often as not, and when considering topics like SEO, you are wise to support what people might do, and not necessarily what is correct. That’s why pay-per-click bidding on common misspellings of popular keywords is almost as competitive as bidding on the correctly spelled words.
At any rate, adding “best-selling author” to my blog name raises one issue solely based upon the hyphen. Without any other considerations, would it be better to say “best-selling” or “best selling” or “bestselling?”
Hyphenation is often subjective, and everyone has an opinion. Other writers and editors are particularly apt to point out your foibles if you do something they don’t agree personally with — so there’s one can of words, right there, raising the ire of my target audience. What can you say about a language where there are multiple manuals of styles — Strunk & White, A.P., Chicago– all equally credible, but often different in their approaches? Officially — which means, in my humble opinion — “best-selling” should be hyphenated because you are linking a modifying adverb that doesn’t end in “ly.” Other examples of this include “ill-favored” and “well-known” and… yes … “self-publishing.”
So, if one believes that little dose of English 201, one agrees that “best-selling” with the hyphen is the way to go.
But here’s the problem. The whole point of adding “best-selling” to the blog name is to optimize this blog for search engines, not to toot my horn! Well, okay, maybe it is to add a small amount of additional credibility — but we’ll address that later, too…
The fact is, the majority of people don’t type hyphens into search engines. In fact, a surprising number of people often don’t type spaces into search engines, particularly in the case of potentially hyphenated or compound words like “self-publishing” or ‘best-selling.”
So, that logic would suggest that “bestselling” is the way to go. But you know what? “Bestselling” isn’t a single word according to either of the dictionaries I use as a resource –where, often, compound words will be spelled differently depending upon the dictionary. To add further complexity, of course Bill Gates and Word thinks “bestselling” is just fine; so who do you believe? Webster, who has been dead forever, or the richest guy in the world? It’s a tough choice, and Word for Windows has let me down before… I think we’ve all become too reliant upon its “spell check” and “grammar check” functionality that we sometimes eschew true copyediting due to time constraints or resources. Word is fairly competent when it comes to correcting misspellings, but less capable when it comes to correcting incorrect word usage. For that reason, when submitting a book for publication, I would recommend utilizing the services of a human copyeditor and not relying solely on a computer’s functionality.
Back to the story of what to do with this “best-selling” quagmire. All decisions should be made by weighing all the pros and cons. And that requires understanding more of the issues. Am I a best-selling author? There’s more to that answer than just a hyphen, so more on that in the near future…