When it comes to creating and marketing content for your business, proper spelling and grammar are just as critical as topic brainstorming, audience analysis, and scheduling posts. Though spelling and grammar may seem like an afterthought in the overall content marketing process, a mistake as simple as using the wrong “there/their/they’re” will sink your reputation faster than an uninteresting blog post would. That’s because proper spelling and grammar are signals of quality writing, professionalism, and credibility.
But where do spelling and grammar fall on the scale of importance for search engine optimization (SEO)? This is a tricky question to answer because most marketers asking the question are concerned with page rank. Here’s the problem with that—though Matt Cutts did say (back in 2011) that there’s a correlation between reputable sites and good spelling and grammar, Google has never explicitly said, “Yes, spelling and grammar are ranking factors.”
While that might sound like the end of the discussion, it isn’t. Spelling and grammar do play a part in SEO, but perhaps not in the way you might think.
The Relationship to High-Quality Content
If you’ve read anything about content marketing and SEO in the last few years, then you know that Google wants to rank websites with high-quality content over websites with poor-quality content in search engine results. Useful information, engaging graphics, links to other credible websites—these are all signals Google looks for when gauging content. Again, Google has never admitted that proper spelling and grammar are ranking factors; however, user experience is a factor in how Google assesses your content’s quality.
When it comes to content, user experience centers on comprehension and readability, the latter of which is where I’d argue spelling and grammar fall. Layout of content aside, if your site visitors can’t read your content with ease—which includes not getting hung up on typos and grammatical errors—then it’s not high-quality content.
The Relationship to Consumer Trust
What’s one of the first things you notice about content that helps you decide if a website is credible? For me, it’s spelling and grammar. A post that’s been carefully crafted with few to no errors tells me that the writers (and therefore the business) behind it invested time and effort in their work, making me feel as though I should return the favor by reading the post—not to mention, consider them as an expert resource.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a post flooded with typos and grammatical errors makes me instantly click away. Not only does it show me the writers don’t care about their work, but it also makes me question whether the information they’ve included is accurate. After all, if they can’t be bothered to edit their writing, how can I be sure they researched any of the claims they made? Better yet, why should I care enough to read it?
This is why Google doesn’t need an exact algorithm for spelling and grammar to assess content quality. They have consumers and other authority sites to tell them whether or not content is valuable and trustworthy. If your website’s content isn’t being linked to by other websites, and consumers aren’t regularly visiting your site to read your content, it’s a red flag for Google, one that could mean your site isn’t worthy of a top spot in search engine results.
So back to the initial question: “Do spelling and grammar affect SEO?” Here’s my question for the people asking this question—why do you need SEO to convince you that proper spelling and grammar are worthwhile for your content?