How Grammar Errors May or May Not Affect Ranking

How much can errors affect content ranking?

Do spelling and typo errors affect ranking?

The question from one of my students has called my attention to another point of argument in the online content marketing industry.

I’d always wanted to write on how typos/spelling or grammatical blunders can affect content ranking. With this question, it’s high time.

There’s probably no Google official release on the effect mistakes in your sentences can have on your SEO and ranking. And if available, it’s not that emphasized.

I read a reference that a Bing product manager once mentioned that errors in your grammar and vocabulary can take you down the search results. Checking the referred page, it’s was removed. Was he confused or something?

Anyway, having spent more than a decade writing and marketing content, I can answer this question from my experience. And with a few available evidence, you will be left with no confusion after reading this post.

Errors in Spellings, Grammar, and Languages

Let’s get this out of the way first. There're commonly 3 types of errors that may crawl in while blogging.

Spelling Errors 

These are mistakes that crawl in due to your typos or your level of language mastery. 

For instance, I’ve read a few posts where singular and plural were wrongly used. You must have seen a few where tenses messed things up.

This may be the most obvious error while writing content for the internet.

Grammatical Errors

This can take several forms. Imagine using an active voice where passive voice is more appropriate. "The dog was killed by me" instead of "I killed the dog"

Imagine synthetic errors such as in this example. "Call me Tolani" instead of "Call Tolani for me".

Language/Presentation Errors

This affects your language choice of words. American readers will love to see the word "center" instead of "centre" by a British counterpart. A Canadian will be more familiar with "bedspread" than  "bedsheet". 

A second language learner (reader) may find certain idioms, proverbs, word twisting, code-mixing, and code-switching frustrating.

All these and similar ones are errors usually identified while consuming content online. Though this may not have a direct effect on search engines, it may hit your readers right on the foreheads.

Let’s break things down a bit further.

Search Engines Care For Keywords and Relevance

As a matter of fact, I’ve come across hundreds of posts written with obvious grammatical and typo mistakes. These posts were well ranked to page one at least. See: 4 Untold Reasons Blog and Posts Are Not Ranking On Page 1.

The writers had invested time and other resources to bring something valuable to us and people loved to see what they were up to.

If search engines ascertain your post relevancies to the queries, you’re a winner. But Google won’t see that unless users let them trust your content. This takes us to the next point.

Users Care for More than Relevance and Keywords

How do you feel when you’re searching for something, getting to the resulting post, you’re welcomed with two or more blunders in paragraph one?

You're like, what a mess?!

You’re likely going to bounce back right away. After all, there should be other relevant results and ones with little or no errors. Bouncing back costs you rankings! You know?

This is where content with spelling, grammatical, or presentation errors can suffer.

Users determine what content to be ranked by search engines, not the other way round. If they read your posts with errors therein and still love it, Google doesn’t care too. If they turn their backs to avoid headaches, Google is left with no other choice than turning its back too.

If I may be direct here, you can now be ranking with errors, sooner or later, you will be thrown down the search results if you can’t handle your mistakes before it’s too late.

Personal Experience on How Errors Affect Ranking

I started my first blog with content in mind. I cared mostly for what people looked for and their search intent. This would help me win ranking.

I got it truly in few months of bombarding the net with my posts. It worked in those early days. I was seen between 25,000 to 30,000 page views a day.

Considering that other factors might have caused my drop, I started seeing a serious drop in traffic. Imagine having 9,000 page views from 30,000?

I did what every blogger should do in this situation. I kept on doing a good job. I wrote more and more quality content. I put my head up and pretended nothing has hit me really.

To my surprise, this didn’t have a serious effect. Though, no further drop in the traffic, my condition remained the same until I started editing my posts.

I knew editing helps to re-empower content but I never thought editing a few errors in spellings, grammar, typos, and language used could help that fast.

Needless to say, I was back with my traffic in just a few days without adding more content. All I did was a few corrections and retouches in the post titles, introductions, and few lines that seemed ambiguous.

Ever since, even when I notice one of my posts is ranking well, I keep checking to see if there’s anything that can irritate new visitors. As expected, they keep ranking or retain their deserved positions.

Errors are More Than the Spellings

As earlier mentioned, what could be called error in a content sense was more than typographical mistakes.

Errors can take several forms such as the wrong arrangement of words in your titles, punctuations, spellings, language and choice of words in the post's body. 

I emphasized titles and introductions because that is the best part to retain people to read your posts to the last words. If your post can't convince visitors to read through to the end, then, something is wrong. In most cases, it could be errors of ambiguity and wrong presentation.

Users’ Experience Matters For Rankings

If we don’t all agree that the length of a post, domain age, authority matters for ranking, we all seem to agree on one thing – users’ experience.

I respect this phrase a lot. Users’ experience decides your position in the search results. You can write a few lines and rank higher than someone with a pillar post if your few words are satisfactory and solve users' problems.

This is why most of us are fighting for the position called "zero rankings", also called snippet results. Even though for some, it's hurting traffic. Hence, they're getting out of it.

If users love your content with the errors therein (which I doubt), search engines will take you up.

And since this is rare, it’s safe if you can make your posts error-free or nearly, if you will see any serious and lasting ranking.

Irrespective of what you’re thinking, the feelings of your readers matter at the end. Will they love the errors?

How to Spot Your Errors and Make Corrections

Nobody is above mistakes. In fact, right in this post, you might spot a few mixups. I assure you by your next visit, if you read this post again, I might have corrected them all.

Let me show you how I will achieve that. Then, you can also repeat the same.

1. Use Grammarly While Writing

We all know writing a quality post starts with a rough composition. We put fingers on keys and let them flow as the thoughts flow.

In the same instance, fingers can be faster than the mind and the mind can be quicker.

After my rough work on MS Word, I let the Microsoft spelling checker automatically spot my errors. Then, I follow the suggestions to bring things to a semi-cooked standard.

I copy this and paste to my notepad to wipe the formatting before I take it finally to my blogger's compose box.

Of course, I can still use the in-built spelling checker on blogger or WordPress to handle a few spelling errors too. Yet, installing Grammarly and enabling that in my browser will do better.

Grammarly will spot spelling errors and a few presentation issues. It will handle singular and plural issues, passive, active voice misuse, and a few other things.

You can opt-in for the premium version if you still want to fish out other in-depth issues your free package is not capable of.

After this app had done its part, I read over the post to see where human touches are necessary.

Then, hit the publish button.

Is that all? No!

2. Read Again a Few Days Later

I’ve noticed that Grammarly can be jumpy sometimes. The first time you used it, it might appear as if all errors spotted were corrected. If you revisit your post for editing the next or a few days after, you might be surprised to see a few more errors the same plugin will reveal.

However, even if things remain as perfect, kindly read over again to see where you can reblend things. Note that issues with your content may go beyond spellings. Are there words, phrases, or sentences that may create confusion? Can people interpret your statements without checking a dictionary? Is there a better way to present your points?

These are a few questions to commit to mind on your second visit.

Here is the little secrete. If you read a post a million times, you’re more likely to see things to put right or correct on each visit.

3. Use Shorter Sentences and Paragraphs

Breaking things down on the internet is being preached by all SEO experts out there. If you can break your sentences and paragraphs down, you’re more likely to easily spot errors.

4. Write and Read For Others

While writing and reading your work, don’t do that for yourself, do it for others.

After reading a few posts online, you're left with more confusion. Of course, the writer was not confused. He knew what he was talking about. But, he talked to himself rather than people he was writing for.

That's why my little boy could not convince his teacher with his essay. Of course, he knew what he was talking about, but the teacher couldn't get a thing out of his hundred words essay.

Conclusion

I had no problem convincing my students that errors in content affect ranking. Yet, my findings show that some writers are still skeptical.

In fact, some authors think otherwise.

In the final analysis, if what we all worship as content writers and marketers is "users' experience", forget anything else. Users' experience will be affected by typos, spelling, and language mistakes. The result is as obvious as lower-ranking, eventually.

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