Let’s face it, the internet is a massive part of our culture. Because of this, we see our fair share of grammatical errors across the web. Are you the one confusing “than” and “then?” The truth is, Grammar can be tricky--mistakes happen, but how much does grammar actually matter to readers and search engines?
According to a Global Lingo study, it matters a great deal. Grammatical errors affect content marketing not only at a reader’s level, but at an SEO level as well. Poor grammar may result in the loss of credibility, user experience, and search rankings.
Poor grammar can tarnish the credibility of blogs, eBooks, case studies, how-to guides, and other digital marketing resources. This damaged credibility can lead to the loss of potential customers and affect your bottom line directly, which makes proper grammar an imperative to any business’s online success.
In fact, the Global Lingo study results determined that 59 percent of UK adults would not buy from a website due to bad grammar or spelling errors because they wouldn’t be able to trust the quality of the company’s service and would consider them unprofessional.
Improperly structured sentences usually take more time to fully decipher--many readers will simply give up in the middle of an awkwardly structured sentence. Proper grammar is an integral part of the readability of an article, a component which is necessary for a positive user experience. In a Dictionary.com survey done by Harris Poll, 59 percent of the American adults surveyed said that improper grammar is what bothers them most about the English language. Therefore, a grammatical error can easily result in a loss of interest for the reader, which hinders the effectiveness of the content.
The study also indicated that respondents 18-34 years have “much higher standards” in terms of spelling errors on social media than any other age group, despite being more accustomed to modern, informal lingo, and abbreviations. This means that the use of proper grammar is only becoming more important for the user experience, not only in content marketing but social media as well.
Even though grammar can hurt a piece of content’s credibility and user experience, search giant Google has not specifically confirmed whether or not grammar is one of the 200+ ranking factors in their algorithms. However, Bing has been clear that grammar is unquestionably a ranking factor that its search engines look for when determining the quality of content on the web. In February of 2014, the Senior Product Manager of Bing, Duane Forrester stated:
“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.”
It is evident that Bing is part of the ever-growing “Grammar Police,” and even though Google hasn’t confirmed their stance on grammar, it’s likely that it is already a ranking factor.
It all goes back to the Google Panda Algorithm Update released in 2011. Google Panda was created for the purpose to lower the rankings of sites with low-quality content and, accordingly, increase the rankings for high-quality sites. Shortly after the initial Panda update rolled out, Google disclosed a list of 22 questions one should ask when determining the quality of their site’s content, which are also questions Google’s team asked as they were creating the Panda Update. One of the first mentioned is, “Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?”, which means that Google was indicating that grammar has a place in the ranking algorithm.
Helpful Grammar Tools
Grammar is an essential part of content marketing and should be taken seriously because the improper use of a word or a run-on sentence can jeopardize the performance of any given content. Even if you proofread something hundreds of times and are certain that it is mistake-free, there still may be a grammatical error or two hiding from you. Fortunately, there are resources that can assist you. To ensure all content is free of grammatical errors before publishing, use these helpful and free tools:
- Grammarly Chrome Extension: A free extension that checks grammar and spelling instantly on social networks, Gmail, WordPress, or virtually any online resource. Learn more about grammarly here.
- Hemingway App: An online and desktop tool that checks the content’s readability and highlights any words, phrases, or sentences that are hard to read and should be edited or removed
- Good old-fashioned second set of eyes: A trusted colleague’s fresh set of eyes will be able to point out the mistakes you’ve gone blind to so you can be rest assured that you are pushing out high-quality content