Sunday, November 19, 2017

Will Bad Grammar Hurt SEO? That’s the Wrong Question!

Recently, I stumbled on a question, ‘Will bad grammar hurt SEO for a blog?’ Anyone who asks such a question is missing the point about grammar.

“Can problems like spelling errors and poor grammar hurt SEO?”

When I heard the question, I’ll admit that I was immediately ticked off.

It’s not that it’s such a bad question on paper. It’s what I perceive as the motive behind such a question that annoys me.

Yes, I may be reading too much of an intent into such a simple question. But it’s difficult for me not to assume the reason someone would ask such a question is to look for a way to “get away” with not focusing on improving grammar on a website.

It’s as if learning that SEO might not be affected by poor grammar might lead the person to say, “Well, then I don’t need to worry so much.”

But that’s the wrong question to ask.

For the record, depending on whom you ask, poor grammar has little to no effect on your blog’s SEO. It’ll still come up in search results — how high depends, of course, on how good your SEO is — and people still have the chance to find you.

Google engineer Matt Cutts said he’s been asked since about 2006 whether poor spelling and poor grammar can hit a site’s SEO. He told writer Daniel Threlfall back in 2014 that he stops short of saying a complete yes, but says there is a correlation between good spelling and how reputable the page is and a page’s reliability is definitely a factor in page rank.

On top of that, he said, “spelling, stylistic elements and factual accuracy” are among nearly two-dozen elements the Panda algorithm uses to determine whether websites and blogs “are being properly monitored and edited to eliminate careless work and poor editing.”

Still, even if there were no correlation, even if Panda didn’t look at such things, asking the question is missing the point.

Grammar (and spelling) matter because it’s supposed to be about the audience, not your SEO.

When you don’t put the effort in to make sure you’re using good grammar and that you’re spelling everything correctly, you’re providing a poor visitor experience. When your website is replete with spelling errors and grammar mistakes, you’re telling your reader that you’re not willing to put in the effort you should on their behalf.

You can’t expect them to continue putting in the effort to decipher what you probably meant to say.

You shouldn’t expect them to do so.

Because most of us, if we’re honest, wouldn’t put up with it ourselves if we were the readers of a site where it appeared no one was putting in any effort.

That’s not to say an occasional gaffe is an automatic dealbreaker, but a little extra effort can go a long, long way.

And I really believe your audience can see the difference!

How bothered are you by spelling errors and grammar mistakes on someone else’s blog?

1 Comment

  1. I am more apt to be bothered when the writer is attempting to argue a point, especially as it may relate to certain facts. Poor grammar can often lead to “fake news.” If the writer is merely passing along personal experiences, and in a more conversational manner, I can forgive some poor grammar and spelling. If the grammar mistakes are too egregious, though, I will just stop reading.

    I have been known to comment on sentence structure that causes the meaning to be ambiguous – usually in a joking way. I guess that I’m more often amused than bothered.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.