Impact of bad spelling and grammar on SEO

Will bad spelling and grammar affect my SEO ranking?

If you searched this up then you are on the right track to improving your rankings. It also shows that you pay attention to details.

Grammar and spelling come naturally to native writers but if you are like me you will need to put in a little effort to make sure there are no mistakes in what you type.

Before we get into the technical aspects of what impact grammar and spelling are going to have on your SEO we need to understand how it affects the reader.

Let me ask you a question. Let’s say you came across an advertisement in your native language. And, let’s assume that the ad was for a big sale at a textile shop in your hometown. 

The first thing you notice is the spelling of the ad. Most people would hesitate to make a purchase from a place that does not pay attention to how they write. Simply because it just does not seem to grab your trust. You have a slight feeling at the back of your mind that they might be a shady establishment and hence not so reputable.

The same applies to people reading blog posts or any other copy online. If you have read my previous posts by now you will know how important user experience is for Google. 

Most of the over 200 ranking factors that Google uses to evaluate rankings revolve around user experience and anything that affects user experience negatively is going to affect your SEO negatively as well.

This is how bad spelling and grammar can affect your SEO:

  • It destroys the user experience
  • It reduces the authoritativeness of your content and eventually your website as users will start finding it difficult to trust you.
  • Any kind of advice or suggestion that’s given on your page may not be taken seriously.
  • In most cases, bad grammar and spelling will increase the bounce rate of your page which has been discussed in detail later in this post. This gives a negative signal to Google which might eventually result in a drop in page ranks.
  • It could severely affect their brand image in the long run. The last thing any brand or website would want is for their users to associate them with a poor-quality copy.
  • Losing out on ideal customers – If you are targeting a premium segment who are consumers of a premium product or service that you are providing then the impact could be even worse as this category of users are more likely to associate with a brand that takes care of even the minutest details.

For anybody who runs a website or a business, it is always highly recommended to have a zero-tolerance policy against bad spelling or grammar typos.

You may have to employ a higher-quality content writer or you may have to get your copy reviewed by a professional editor. Either way, you are going to make a lot more money than what you spend on copy in the long run. 

Is Spelling & Grammar A Ranking Factor? What does Google have to say?

This is where it gets tricky because Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s Webspam Team in a video released on Aug 18, 2011, said that Google does not include spelling and grammar typos as a ranking factor among the more than 200 factors that Google uses to rank a webpage. But then he also said that there seems to be a correlation between reputable sites and the quality of content they produce.

So basically he came down to the point that there is an indirect relation between the two in the end.

In a more recent video published in 2017, Google’s John Mueller answered a similar question when he said the same thing that Matt had said in 2011.

Skip to time stamp 28:49 to check out John’s reply.

He also talked about an indirect relation between typos and reputable sites like banking websites where users might bounce right off of pages that don’t have good typo-free content. 

In the end, he said that user experience is what Google uses as an evaluating factor rather than the correctness of grammar and spelling. 

According to him, language has a lot of variations across the world and it would be hard for search engines to judge the quality of content just based on their grammar and spelling.

Do you need to be worried about grammar and spelling in the comments section of your website?

In another video released by Google, Matt Cutts makes it clear that comments in your post are not a point to be concerned about as Google does not evaluate the quality of the content in the comments section of your website.

But he goes on to say that spammy comments need to be taken care of as they can affect your rankings negatively.

There are two ways to deal with spammy comments. You can either set up a CAPTCHA plugin or disable comments on your post altogether.

How to Improve Your Content’s Grammar and Spelling?

There are basically two different ways you could fix the grammar and spelling on your web pages. The easiest and the most cost-effective way to do this is by using online tools and the other is by using a qualified person. 

  • Using Grammar and Spelling checkers (online tools): You would easily find a ton of tools that can help check your grammar and spelling and even help you draft your content easily. Tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid fall into this category. These tools not only help you fix the spelling in your content but also make grammar-related suggestions and suggest the proper usage of punctuation marks like commas as well. If you excessively use passive voice in your content then these tools help you fix that as well. Additionally, there are numerous SEO advantages to using tools like Grammarly when writing posts and other online drafts.
  • Employing a professional content writer (editor): If you hire a professional writer to write your content for you then you have even more flexibility. Because now everything will be taken care of by a person but this is going to come down heavily on your expenses.
  • A proofreader: If you can find somebody like a friend or a family member who can proofread what you have written it is going to be of great help. But remember they may not be able to fix all the typos in your content. But you will get a lot of valuable feedback. Plus your friend can give you a fresh perspective on the content you have produced.
  • Improving your Grammar: This is a tedious process but well worth the investment. If you practice writing posts every single day with the help of editing tools like Grammarly you will gradually pick up all the rules of the game. Additionally, you can have a friend proofread what you have written. As with every solution, the downside to this one is that it will take time.
  • Google docs: You can also use the inbuilt Spelling and grammar checker in Google docs. The suggestions provided by the tool can also help to a great extent.

I personally use Grammarly for most of my content-related fixes. The suggestions and autocorrect features of the tool are simply awesome!

A study was done by WebsitePlanet to understand the cost of Google Ads when their copy had typos in them. The selected geographic locations were the US, the UK, and India. And here is what came out of that study:

  • Ads with grammar or incorrect spelling resulted in a decrease of up to 70% in Clicks versus the correct ad.
  • Ads with typos received fewer clicks and as a result, Google lowered its position. And over time, with the drop in position, they observed a corresponding loss of clicks and ended up paying even more money.
  • The typos on the Landing Page of the website Increased Bounce Rate by 85% and resulted in an 8% drop in average time spent on the website.
  • Another interesting discovery was that of the three markets where the study was done, India surprisingly showed opposite results.

You might wonder why the ads threw up positive results in India which is contrary to what was seen in the US and the UK. 

But please do not draw conclusions from that data alone. There is more to it than what meets the eye in the case of India.

India as you all know is not a native English-speaking country. And for this reason in India, a large percentage of the population finds it difficult to identify typos and hence are more forgiving.

That being said going with the correct usage of grammar and spelling is important even in a market like India regardless of the outcome of the above study. 

This is because the percentage of the audience who are proficient in Grammar is usually from an affluent group with a higher capacity to spend making them a very important target audience for all marketing purposes. And what behavior was observed in the UK and the US markets would largely replicate itself for this audience in particular.

I hope you found something useful here. On a lighter note, I am hoping that this post has no typos or else…