Why you should crosscheck grammar in your content before publishing

Before you think this post is an all-conclusive one on grammar, let me state that it isn’t. Rather, it’s a brief exposition on the advantages of crosschecking grammar before publishing. Also, it provides information on how the quality of grammar and punctuation can affect content exposure, and how correct/good grammar can be used to optimize content and make readers want to come back for more content in the future. If we agree that we’re prone to mistakes, then we can also agree that nobody is immune to grammatical and punctuation errors. No matter how many times we proofread content, an error might still go unnoticed, and if there are too many typos in our contents, it could affect our brands/websites.

Many people usually ask:

  • Does correct/good grammar help to market one’s blog, website, or brand?
  • Does incorrect/bad grammar decrease content rankings on search engines?

Well, while there might not be all-conclusive answers, good grammar can actually make your message clear, and keep your visitors’ or clients’ trusts, whether you’re an advertiser, blogger, content marketer, social media personality, or any other type of marketing professional. On the other other hand, too many typos can negatively impact sites, blogs or online businesses. A recent study by “Disruptive Communications” revealed that the things that annoy people the most on social media are bad grammar, spelling and punctuation. If people are annoyed because of the poor grammar they see on social media, just think about how angry they would be if blog articles, emails or eBooks are riddled with grammatical and typographical errors. Generally, it’s better to query/crosscheck your content for errors and correct them whenever you see them.

Repeated grammatical errors or typos could reduce the readership of those who own blogs, websites, brands or products. A few typos might not destroy your brand or blog, but they can decrease readers’ or potential customers’ trusts in what you claim to stand for. The thing is this: if you can avoid making grammatical errors, then do so. At certain times, you may misspell words, or use them wrongly; however, Google and other search engines might not punish you by ranking you low, especially if you keep grammatical errors to a bare minimum and continue to produce original content.

Many people aren’t aware that search engines are sensitive to grammatical errors—which have had negative impacts on rankings of contents and websites. Every site owner would like audiences to understand their messages and search engines to read their content with ease. Although the use of language might not be a conclusive factor in determining rankings, search engines read contents on websites in order to understand the type of information they provide. Websites that produce grammatically correct content make it easier  for search engines  to read texts, grasp their meanings, and make them more visible to users.

Matt Cutts (co-patentor of much of Google’s web spam software) stated in a questions-and-answers video in 2011 that he wasn’t aware of any direct grammar algorithm; however: “there is a correlation between content with good grammar and high-ranking positions on Google search pages”. Search engines are always improving on this; in fact, Google has a history of continuously updating their algorithms and technology for “reading” content on pages and ranking them, and would likely continue to do so. The only way to be fully prepared for any onslaught on bad grammar that may arise due to algorithm updates, is to regularly crosscheck whether each piece of content you produce uses proper grammar and punctuation; this will give your content the best shot at being free from as many unnecessary grammatical and punctuation errors as possible.

Why it’s important to crosscheck grammar in your content before publishing

1. Search engines tend to give high ranks to contents that use correct grammar; this means reduced search engine visibility for contents that contain incorrect grammar. The truth is that correct grammar enhances users’ experiences, and in today’s wars between Google and other search engines—which are targeted at attracting as many daily searches as possible—Google wants to provide the best user experience as possible so that people would continue to use its platform than they use others. Common sense dictates that the correct use of tenses, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all important factors in making visitors spend and enjoy their time on your site.

Search engines use certain algorithms, and whenever people search for something, Google looks for related words or phrases on websites. If a website has content that someone is looking for, but the content itself is riddled with poor/bad/incorrect grammar, then Google would likely not rank it high. The implication of this is that poor grammar would make sites lose considerable amounts of traffic whenever they publish contents that contain lots of grammatical errors. Any content that uses correct grammar and punctuation will rank higher, and show up more regularly. On the other hand, contents riddled with grammatical errors would likely make visitors disinterested in returning to the domains that house them; even when they return, they might spend lesser amounts of time, especially when they encounter errors again and again.

It’s well known that search engines (especially Google) take notice of the amount of time people spend on sites; as from 2013 to date, Google has continuously paid attention to signals from social media platforms. Search engines are designed to think like people; so if people notice consistent errors, so will Google, Bing, and other search engines. In fact, Google bots have the ability to find out whether websites’ contents and SEO structures are appealing or distasteful.

2. Most people, websites or blogs will either link, or not link to your content; this depends on the quality of your content’s grammar and punctuation: Poor grammar and punctuation will not inspire confidence in readers. How many people would trust a banking institution that has this statement on their website: “We ‘is’ the best banking platform for you”? It’s highly probable that nobody would. Truth is that most people would look elsewhere and advise others to do the same. Such a vote of no confidence can negatively impact web traffic. There are a lot of other common errors out there, and which some reputable sites are guilty of. Here are three:

  • Using “are” when giving information about one (single) brand. The name of one brand should be followed by “is/has”, not “are/have”. For example, “XYZ is…” and “XYZ has…”. You might have noticed that some websites, especially those that have brands (or products) ending with an “s”, often incorrectly use “are” and “have”: “XYZ are…” and “XYZ have…”. It should be “XYZ is”, and “XYZ has” (for singular brands), or “XYZs are” and “XYZs have” (for plural brands). Keep your eyes open to these types of errors.
  • Using “then” instead of “than”, and vice-versa. For several years and running, many people on social media have gotten used to seeing erroneous usage of the words: “your” and “you’re”. The same goes with “there”, “their” and they’re. Example:  when a website writes “you’re business will grow”, instead of “your business will grow”.
  • Using active voice rather than passive voice. Although using passive voice might not be grammatically incorrect, especially when it is not littered all over content, it’s still not widely used, accepted or supported by high-authority persons, websites, publishers or brands. The active voice is mostly used, and should dominate in sentences. Also, they should always be present in contents whenever subjects act (using verbs) on objects. For example, in the sentence “the writer produced the content”, it can be seen that “the writer” is the subject, and the verb is “produced”, while the object is “the content”. Sentences with a passive voice would switch this around and state: “the content was produced by the writer”. Most authoritative brands tend to go with the active voice rather than the passive. It’s advisable we get used to this, especially if we haven’t done so yet.

You might be asking: what do links have to do with using proper grammar and spelling? Well, the fact is that most leading websites won’t link to your content—no matter how original and informative it is—if it doesn’t adhere to the basic rules of grammar. Leading websites, which rank higher on search engines, would only link to your content if it adheres to the basic English grammar, punctuation and spelling rules they know about.

Imagine that you’ve written a mind-blowing article that attracted the attention of high-ranking websites like “The Guardian” and “The Huffington Post”, and motivated them to assess your site in order to link to it, only for them to decide much later, that due to poor English language usage, incorrect grammar, punctuation and spelling, they won’t recommend your site to their readers. This would surely halt the rise of your brand, and you would miss out on quality links that could move you higher up the pages of search engines. This is one compelling reason why you should spend a little more time crosschecking grammar and punctuation before publishing.

3. In order to assess how credible your site/brand is in the eyes of the public (internet users): To a great extent, your credibility would be judged by the quality of your content’s grammar and punctuation. When people search for brands, blogs or websites that they would like to visit regularly, they consciously or unconsciously assess grammar in order to judge the quality of the content. If people find a considerable number of grammatical errors on a website, they would likely place it on their list of websites they wouldn’t like to revisit; this is one bias people tend to have, whether it’s conscious or not.

Another thing: you are what you write. If you write and publish content that’s considerably free of spelling and grammatical errors, then you would come across as someone who adheres to rules/standards, and this would position you as a thought leader in your niche. On the other hand, if you publish content that’s full of errors, you would be giving the impression that you’re careless, and this would make people not take you seriously.

4. In order to ensure there is high quality, and thus a strong bond between you and many internet users: English language is a great and efficient tool that can be used to communicate with people online; so it’s important for site owners to use English in a clear and concise manner. Any site that produces fresh content and maintains effective communication with its audience, would make its audience always revisit it.

Grammar shouldn’t be so poor that it would make an audience guess or struggle to understand the message you’re trying to convey through your writing. Too many typos in content makes it difficult for people to read, understand, comment and share. Don’t rely on softwares to highlight your mistakes; instead, read your writing out after you finish. If you’re not sure whether it’s appropriate to use an apostrophe, or add a comma, then don’t be afraid to check a dictionary or conduct Google-search.

5. It could strengthen your editing and proof-reading skills, and make you become an expert: People become experts after practicing over a considerable amount of time. By regularly crosschecking content for incorrect grammar, you’ll become adept in editing and prof-reading—irrespective of whether English is your first language or not.

How to develop the ability to spot and delete incorrect grammar & punctuation from content

How can you develop the ability to effectively correct incorrect grammar, and prevent it from appearing in your content when other writers are struggling, or have failed? The good thing is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money or become a professor of English language before you can become successful in spotting and eliminating incorrect grammar from content.

If you have interest, create time and put in considerable effort, it would be possible to develop/strengthen your grammar skill by reading content and answering quizzes in books, and on resourceful websites. Also, have a reputable dictionary (for e.g., Merriam Webster) installed on you laptop/tablet/phone and use it to study spellings and meanings of words that confuse you.

If you follow the links listed at the bottom of this article, you may decide to:

  • study English grammar rules
  • practice quizzes in order to acquire more grammar skills, or
  • find out the difference(s) between British and American English styles and selected terms:

1.   English rules (recommended for everyone)

2.   Free interactive grammar quizzes (recommended for everyone)

3.   British versus American style (for those who are interested in either)

4.   British and American terms (for those who are interested in either)

Once more, before you hit the “Publish” button, crosscheck your content one or more times to ensure it contains little or no grammatical and punctuation errors.

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