Guest Post by Gael Breton from Authority Hacker
Keyword optimization, loading time, link building – all of these are important to your SEO. However, with competition ever on the rise in the internet of 2019, there are other things you need to keep in mind if you want to gain an edge over your competition and be the leader in your sector.
Google’s John Mueller says the Google algorithm doesn’t take grammar into account and many well-performing websites display their own twist to the English language.
While grammar may not be a disclosed SEO ranking factor, poor grammar in site content can and will have a negative effect on the site ranking and on the number of visits to the site and we will show in this article.
How Can Poor Grammar Affect Your Ranking?
The Google algorithm doesn’t downgrade websites for poor grammar. At least not at the moment, so you shouldn’t count on it.
First of all, there’s no way to know for sure grammar that won’t become important in the future. With over 200 ever changing ranking factors, it’s hard to predict either way.
Think about it like this: If grammar ever became a key ranking factor and you’ve always produced well written articles, then you won’t have anything to worry about. However, if grammar hasn’t been your priority in your site content, a change to Search Engine ranking factors will hurt your ranking and it may be a very daunting task to go back through all your posts and pages to improve the grammar.
However, there is something more important that you need to bear in mind…
You need to consider how people respond to poor grammar. In most cases, bad copy (content) will convey that you’re not very serious about what you’re doing. In turn, this will make it harder to establish trust and authority with potential customers.
Poor grammar may have lead to the following:
- More people will navigate away from your website. Right away, this means less conversions and lost business.
- This in-turn means an increased bounce rate, and as bounce rate is a Google ranking factor, this will have a detrimental effect on ranking (If you want more tips on minimizing the bounce rate, read Authority Hacker’s conversion rate optimization tutorial).
- Other businesses are not as likely to share your content, no matter how good it is, and this means less earned media shares (less traffic through social).
- In the long run, all of these lead to less backlinks, which we know is one of the top 3 most important ranking factors.
So can poor grammar really affect your ranking? Not directly, but there is little doubt that it can and will indirectly harm your SEO efforts.
Poor Grammar has an indirect negative impact on your ranking
So what can you do about it?
Tips For Writing Great Content
In theory, proofreading is not that hard. Just skim through your draft and fix what’s wrong. In practice, it’s not that easy. We’re all human, so mistakes are bound to slip through, no matter how hard we try.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of poor grammar ending up in a published article.
- Let the draft rest. When you’re writing, you’re in the heat of the moment. You have an idea of what the message should be, but you’ve also focused on many specific parts. Short term memory will keep your mind returning to individual aspects you remember should be fixed and you won’t get a holistic view of your article. If you take a break from the article (ideally overnight because sleep lets you disconnect from the work completely) you will see the article through “new eyes” when you return.
- Use proofreading software. Grammarly helps a lot, especially since you can use it as a browser extension. The free version will take care of the more obvious mistakes, while the paid version also helps you with readability and vocabulary. If you want a better free tool, try the Hemmingway Editor. It’s not great when it comes to formatting, but it helps with increasing your content’s readability.
- Read your piece out loud. The human mind can process anywhere in between 300 and 800 words in a minute, but we speak at about 150 words per minute. That’s why you may overlook the odd mistake if you’re just going through a piece in your mind – you’re processing everything too fast.
- Break your writing process. If you’re trying to write, edit and add multimedia all at the same time, you’ll confuse yourself and increase the chances of making a mistake. Break your workflow into steps and you’ll see improvements.
- Get other people to read it as well. If you’re working on your own, consider hiring an editor, or at the very least get someone to read your work once in a while. You will find that your eye can skim over the same error every time, while a proof-reader is more likely to spot the error or something else that you missed. Often, a proof-reader may also provide valuable insight into the piece as a whole.
Notwithstanding, writing and editing are creative processes, so have fun with it and discover what makes your mind tick.
Improving the Editorial Process
If you’re working with a larger team, you’re not in the clear by default. Mistakes can slip past three pairs of eyes as easy as they can slip past one, so consider these points when it comes to improving your editorial process:
- Write a clear style guideline. Grammar debates like whether or not the Oxford comma is allowed should be settled from the get go. This may be obvious, but what most online publications get wrong is that they don’t treat their style guideline as an ever-evolving document. Whenever you find a new expression or word that can be problematic, make sure you include it in the guideline.
- Establish clear expectations and roles. If you have the budget, consider hiring several editors for different aspects of a article like SEO, grammar, style and flow. Similarly, define what a piece should or shouldn’t look like when it’s submitted.
- Use a Find and Replace tool (standard in most word processing software) to quickly edit things like Oxford commas or wrong capitalization etc.
In general, try to aim for very well defined procedures and instructions. This will ensure every employee takes responsibility for what they have to do, which minimizes the chance of an odd mistake slipping past the editorial team.
Can poor grammar really affect your ranking? As of right now, not directly.
That doesn’t mean it’s not important for SEO. Poor grammar, especially if you’re a business, can be interpreted as not being professional or serious about your content. This could lead to lost visitors, increased bounce rate, reduced shares on social media and ultimately less chance of getting backlinks from other sites. In all, this results in lower ranking despite your efforts to produce interesting content.
Make sure you are rewarded for your efforts when you write content by ensuring that your grammar is good. To do this, use the right tools, apply best practices for proofreading and ensure clear communication within your editorial team.