Summertime has arrived, but if your website is still littered with spelling and grammatical errors, you might want to consider going back to class. Google Search Quality leader Matt Cutts has explained that although spelling and grammar have not “recently” been used as direct signals in Google ranking, “the ability to spell correlates relatively well,” with where websites rank in a search query.
Basically, “low-ranked sites tend to have typo-riddled copy, whereas highly-ranked site are relatively free of errors” (Deluxesmallbizblog.com).
It boils down to site credibility. Google’s Panda update reiterated quality standards intended to “help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs”. Google webmasters do not want to direct users to shoddy ‘resources’ that may or may not be trusted. They want authority. They need trust.
Do you trust the email addressed to you, with your last name spelled without correct vowels? Doubtful. As Inc.com contributor Rene Shimada Siegel says, “many people associate typos with phishers and con artists.”
Submitting a website to Google for search engine ranking is like sending an email to a stranger: “nothing says ‘we don’t care about you,’ like a misspelled company or recipient name,’” insists Siegel.
So while you might not be directly acknowledging darling Google bots on your homepage, you are addressing Google quality standards with every piece of content. Typos often make content look sloppy, or hastily produced. Not to be trusted by Google. Not to be trusted by your users.
So take the extra seconds to check your spelling online. As entrepreneurs and small business owners, we owe it to our hard-earned brand authority. Best practices for spellchecking include:
Printing off the material to correct by hand
I would suggest going all Freddy Krueger on your work by slashing it to bits with a red pen. Scour the page for errors, and mark up the changes. The physical task is very effective for destroying typos.
Reading your work out loud
Suddenly, your misplaced commas and skipped conjunctions jump out from the page!
Borrowing another pair of eyes (or two)
Some people win multiplication drills, others master spelling bees. Find those latter folks. Make them read your stuff. Better yet, print it off and let them go wild with the red pen. They might enjoy the exercise.
Coming back to it later
Take a break before proofreading. Writing about something you know about is like being in love: you don’t always see the cracks in the visage. Coming back to a piece of writing after having some time to eat a snack or pet an animal gives you a refreshed perspective. Errors you may have blurred over in the moments after writing might then appear blatantly obvious.
Spelling and grammar might not be direct Google search signals yet, but there’s no point in depleting your web credibility over something as simple as proper capitalization.
Google’s direction with Panda and Penguin updates has been to target and punish webspam, characterized as such by keyword stuffing, dirty backlinking tricks, and poor quality content. Nothing tips off a Google bot like the lack of spaces between words.
Take the red pen, my friend. It’s your brand authority battle weapon in the quest for better search rankings.
“Another step to reward high-quality sites.” 24 April 2011. Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html
Fogarty, Mignon. “Proofreading Tips.” 20 October 2008. Grammar.com: http://deluxesmallbizblog.com/search-marketing/grammar-and-spelling-may-affect-google-rankings/
“Grammar and spelling may affect Google rankings.” 6 October 2011. Deluxesmallbizblog.com: http://deluxesmallbizblog.com/search-marketing/grammar-and-spelling-may-affect-google-rankings/
Siegel, Rene Shimada. “Do Typos Matter?” 24 May 2011. Inc.com: http://www.inc.com/rene-siegel/do-typos-matter.html