Do Spelling and Grammar Affect Your SEO Rankings?
Spelling and grammar have often been sore points for writers of all stripes. With so much content being written today on so many company blogs, the question of whether these arguably minor mistakes can affect your SEO rankings is a good one. After all, language is a malleable thing, and all that’s important is that one is understood, right?
Our SEO and content development team at Big Red SEO is torn on the issue. On the one hand, spelling and grammar are very important for many reasons. Correct spelling and grammar are indicators (if imperfect ones) of both your education and your industry authority, and a blog that follows accepted grammatical rules is more likely be trusted by those who read it than one that doesn’t.
In Which Google Okays Bad Grammar
On the other hand, though, grammatical rules are what we make them. For example (and it pains us to bring this up), Google has officially recognized that the word “literally” can mean its exact opposite. If you search Google for “literally,” you’ll see the following (and we might add, correct) definition:
- in a literal manner or sense; exactly.
“the driver took it literally when asked to go straight across the traffic circle”
synonyms: exactly, precisely, actually, really, truly
However, Google has snuck in a second, “informal” definition as well:
used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.
Come again? In this second definition Google uses the word “literally” to define itself (a big no-no), and also defines it as not itself (try wrapping your mind around that one). While we can’t blame Google for coming up with this definition (as it’s simply documenting a case of common usage), we can blame Google for perpetuating a definition that’s based on nothing more than profound ignorance of a word’s correct usage.
Now for Google’s Stance on Grammar and SEO Rankings
Since Google has essentially made the case that common usage equals correct usage, we might expect that poor grammar and spelling don’t necessarily have an effect on a website’s ranking. But what does Matt Cutts have to say? Here’s his stance in 2011:
“It’s not used as a direct signal within our rankings…But I think that it would be fair to think about using it as a signal.”
And more recently, he divulges a bit more information when asked about poor grammar and spelling in article comments. What it boils down to is that errors in the comments of your articles don’t affect your SEO rankings “as long as the grammar on your own page is fine.” This makes sense, as article comments are really beyond your control; our content development team at Big Red SEO believes this is the right way to look at the issue—you shouldn’t be penalized in the rankings for mistakes that aren’t immediately attributable to your business.
One other comment by Cutts sheds a little more light on Google’s evolving stance on the matter. He goes on to say, “just make sure that your own content is high quality.” Here, Cutts is associating proper grammar with quality content. Whether we can assume that grammar and spelling are now signals that Google uses to establish ranking is still up in the air, but based on these comments it sure looks like it.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Even if proper language usage isn’t a direct indicator of a website’s quality and authority, does that mean that the grammar Nazis among us should relax, maybe take a vacation?
Not really, and here’s the simple why—proper grammar leads to good user experience.
Though most people don’t use language correctly all the time, they notice and judge when someone they otherwise consider an authority makes silly grammar mistakes. Like it or not, it says something about the ability of your business to do quality work if you consistently show that you can’t get the small details right.
So rather than risking your brand’s reputation over something as trivial as a “there/their” mistake, your business is better served if you make sure all of your content is grammatically correct before it goes out the door.
Contact Big Red SEO Today at (402) 522-6468!
As a leading SEO and web design company in Omaha, Nebraska, Big Red SEO knows how important grammar and spelling are to your business’s SEO efforts. Correct grammar usage may be a small piece of your company’s foundation, but it’s the cornerstone of great content.
If your business needs help with online exposure, be sure to give Big Red SEO a call today at (402) 522-6468. We’ll develop a personalized SEO strategy to send your business to the top of the SERPs!
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