Grammar & Spelling
Speaking (again) of content, did you know there’s a direct and indirect link between grammar and page rank? While slang words and intentional misspellings seem to be on the rise these days, you might want to save it for casual conversation or personal blogs (or just pass altogether). One of the main purposes of a business website is to establish trust and credibility with your site visitors. While the direct impact on page rank may be minimal – particularly with Google – grammatical errors, typos, and spelling mistakes don’t establish trust in the same way that well-written copy does.
The direct impact of poor grammar and spelling on page rank is most measurable in links and bounce rates. The overall quality of the content on your site will lead to more visitors and an increase in page views, affecting your page rank in a positive way. Poorly written content will reduce both links and the amount of time visitors spend on your site – all of which are important factors in Google’s page rank algorithm.
Indirectly (but perhaps even more importantly), poorly-written content can cause your visitors to question your ability to clearly communicate a message. Your website’s content is frequently the first communication you’ll have with a potential client. Demonstrating a strong command of language will foster both trust and credibility.
A study of 1700 adult online dates found that 43% of users consider bad grammar decidedly unattractive and 35% think good grammar is appealing (source: Colorworks).
While Google has gone on the record stating that they don’t penalize sites for grammar or spelling errors, they have confirmed that top-ranked sites have error-free content. Here’s a recent statement from Google’s John Mueller when asked if grammar affects SEO:
“Not really….it is more a matter of how it is received from a user point of view. If you are a banking web site and you have terrible English on it, then I assume users will lose trust in your web site. But for other things, it is the way the web just comes…..”
Bing Senior Product Manager, Duane Forrester, recently stated that Bing looks pretty carefully at the quality (grammar & spelling included) of content on websites. He writes,
“…but just as you’re judging others’ writing, so the engines judge yours. If you struggle to get past typos, why would an engine show a page of content with errors higher in the rankings when other pages of error free content exist to serve the searcher? Like it or not, we’re judged by the quality of the results we show. So we are constantly watching the quality of the content we see.”
Walk away. Stepping away from your writing for even 15 minutes after completion will help create some much-needed distance between the work you just created and any mistakes. This will give you the opportunity to clear your mind so that you can approach your work from a fresh perspective and will allow you to see what you actually wrote versus what you think you wrote.
Grab a fresh set of eyes. Enroll a straight-talking friend, family member, or colleague to give your work a once-over. If you don’t have anyone that fits the bill, professional proofreaders are readily available.
Read it out loud. Reading your work out loud (if you can print it out on paper, even better) will help you catch run-on sentences and misplaced words.
Read it backward. Start from the last sentence and work your way to the beginning. Your brain knows what you intended to write and will be prone to seeing what it wants to see. Reading it in reverse order will provide clarity.
Just kidding. You’re Human.
When the inevitable mistake does happen, remember that you’re a fallible human being and mistakes happen to humans. Some mistakes have more of an impact than others. And some are harder to fix (I’m looking at you, already-sent-text-messages, Tweets and Instagram comments). While well-written copy is most definitely important, mistakes aren’t the end of the world. Fix it if you can and move on.
If you’ve recently found yourself in the unfortunate state of being human, check out the blog posts here and here for a reminder that mistakes happen to the best of us.
p.s. Check back for an update, because I’m pretty sure that within 3 months of this post I will have committed a semi-serious (or super-serious) grammar or spelling faux pas myself because that’s how the universe works.