Ok, we’re not trying to imply with that title that Google prefers Mancuians to Liverpudlians or anything along those lines.
We are referring instead to the umlauts and other accents that are used in some foreign languages and reminding you to consider them when optimising foreign language websites, or websites for foreign markets, because Google will return different results dependent upon whether these diacritical marks are used or not.
The German language, for example, employs the umlaut – you know, those two little dots that are placed above certain letters, as in the case of the word ‘füße’, meaning feet – and when searching Google will return different results for this word when the umlaut is present than it will when it isn’t (which is actually technically a typo). The observant amongst you will have noticed that this particular word also includes an eszett, a character not found in the English language or on the keyboards of English speaking countries, the use of which will also change results. In English speaking countries people will likely replace the eszett with a double ‘s’.
Similarly, Google.fr returns ever so slightly different results for ‘cafe’ versus ‘café’. The top ten results are similar in both cases here, though in a different order. However, Google.de returns some very different results depending upon the use, or not, of relevant accents. So do some research and find out what Google considers to be important in relation to the word you are using.
The most important thing to consider, as ever, is your target audience (as well as, in this instance, their keyboards). If you are optimizing a site to reach the market in a German speaking country then their keyboard will include these diacritical marks and characters so using them in your title tags and content is the best way to reach them. It is also possible to use diacritics in your url, which would be something to strongly consider. On the other hand, if you are optimising a site for a German company marketing to English speaking countries then you should consider the fact that your target market won’t have and probably won’t routinely use these marks.