Let’s be honest, Google wants to return “high-quality websites” when their customers search. In fact, they’ve explicitly said so. While we know that Google tweaks their search algorithms several hundred times a year, this need of Google to list websites that provide a great user-experience remains constant.
The problem is that is that there hasn’t been an absolute list of characteristics that make up what constitutes ‘high quality’. But we do have a list of questions you should be asking yourself which would hopefully lead you to the right conclusion:
“Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?”
“Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?”
“Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?”
“Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?”
And while SEOs tend to prefer solving technical issues, the subjective nature of grammar often gets overlooked. The problem is that if you are looking to make incremental improvements in your search rankings, it may now be a good time to revisit your website’s spelling and grammar.
Google has explained in the past that the quality of the grammar present on a web page is strongly correlated to its Page Rank. Therefore, it is a sign that pages with better spelling tend to have more links – or at least websites with better overall spelling and grammar tend to have more high-quality links. Therefore, it would be safe to conclude that improving the grammar and spelling could not only actively improve your webpage’s rankings but also passively attract a greater number of higher quality links.
But how do you remove a website’s grammar and spelling?
The first step is to resolve these issues in current content that has historically built up and fix the worst examples. One useful tool to do this is CheckDog, which will crawl your website and report on the spelling mistakes. It will then place them in three categories: likely, possible and unlikely:
Work through the list, of course, starting with the likely ones and resolve as many issues as possible. As you do this, you can update the ‘dictionary’ is uses to analyse your website that will speed up the process. You can set this report to run on a regular basis to ensure you keep on top of the issues.
One feature of this tool, which would be of use to those with user-generated-content sections is that you can exclude certain types of URL from their crawl.
A downside, however, is that Checkdog only checks the spelling and not grammar.
For content being published in the future, the best solution we have come across is Grammarly. Although it has a free version, the paid for version is priced at just $139.95 a year and offers fantastic features and functionality. As we write this post, Grammarly is busy in the background reviewing it and reporting on what we need to fix – not only the spelling but also the sentence construction too:
The paid for version includes a variety of features that can be turned on, or off, as you require. These including checking for contextual spelling, punctuation, sentence construction and the like. The Word plugin can also check for plagiarism. As an aside, it can also check your Gmail and Outlook emails as you write them.
If Checkdog doesn’t check grammar, and Grammarly doesn’t work in bulk, what is the best solution? I would recommend getting a list of your most popular pages over the past two or three months from your Analytics software. Then produce a list of the top thirty or so most viewed in sequence and using the Chrome (or other) extension and resolving each in turn. You could even order this list by the pages with the highest bounce or exit rates which may be an indication of the most glaring errors.
Depending on the site of your website and the resources you have available, this project can vary in size and intensity. It is better doing something, than nothing. So just take a bite-sized chunk of your website and gradually work through it. The result should be that you not only improve your rankings but your conversion rate too. Who, after all, would buy from a website with many serious spelling and grammar errors?
And when you’ve completed this project, then work out how you can improve the other signals your website will provide to Google’s staff that your website is worth ranking highly. You can find this list here.