Do grammar and punctuation still matter when it comes to writing for the web? Although verbal slang and texting are acceptable in many instances, good grammar — or lack of it — will set your website apart in the minds of your users and the algorithms of search engines alike. Poor grammar can reflect badly on your brand and your website’s credibility as well as impact how users and search engines perceive your content.
But more importantly, grammar errors can affect your SEO. Where SEO used to be more about the specific words used in searches, it is increasingly about user intent. Now content is not about stuffing in as many keywords as you can but making sure you are fulfilling a need for the user.
Here are five reasons grammar is important, not just for communication, but for SEO.
- Makes your message easy to understand.
- Draws attention to your message, not your errors.
- Creates a better user experience.
- Ranks better in search engines.
- Gets links from authority websites.
When you’re writing for the web, it’s easy to get messy. You’re in a hurry, and it’s tempting to send your content into cyberspace without a thorough review. You hit publish and don’t give it another thought. That’s how typos happen. And when they do, it’s clear to your readers that you didn’t take the time — a few minutes really — to check your work. Each typo, misplaced comma, or extra period at the end of a sentence erodes your online image.
Readers May Not Understand What You Are Trying to Say
It’s easy, and not unusual, to think spelling and grammar aren’t that important when in reality, they’re kind of a big deal. You figure a small misspelling or stray apostrophe won’t obscure your message. And maybe it won’t. But you don’t want your readers to have to work too hard to suss out what you are saying. At worst, a typo may make your message misleading or hard to understand. At best, your website will look sloppy. And your customers may think you just don’t care.
Search Engines, Spelling, and Grammar Errors
Brand image isn’t the only reason to mind your grammar Ps and Qs. Search engines don’t like spelling and grammar errors, and they will punish you for it. If your readers fight to get past typos when reading web copy, why should search engines rank a page with errors higher when there are plenty of error-free pages to serve searchers?
It all goes back to search engines, prioritizing user experience and quality content, and increasing the rankings of high-quality sites.
How to Become Grammar & Punctuation Savvy
You don’t have to know how to parse a sentence (do they even do that anymore?) or how to conjugate all the verbs to write clear, error-free copy for your website and search engines. We’ve put together some basic tips that will help not only when writing copy for your website but also help you craft better emails and other types of written communication.
Grammar Tips for Clear, Concise Web Copy Search Engines Love
If you find yourself twisting sentences around to avoid breaking grammatical rules you’re not sure of, we get it. We’ve all probably done it at one time or another. Keep in mind that grammar exists to make writing understandable, not to torture writers and readers.
The tips below will set you on the right path for clear, concise writing that keeps you in your customers’ and search engines’ good graces.
- Avoid wordiness and jargon.
- Read your copy aloud.
- Use the active voice whenever possible.
- Keep paragraphs and sentences short.
- Use short sentences mixed with longer ones.
Is It Being Done, or Am I Doing It?
Yes, we’re talking about passive voice. Using passive voice distances the subject from the action of the sentence. This muddles the message and makes the sentence less active, or in other words, passive. Even worse, it makes your writing boring and monotonous.
Watch Out for Those Bullets
Notice how often content contains bulleted lists? There’s a reason for that. Bulleted lists can set important content apart and make it easier to read.
Which Is it? That Is the Question.
If the sentence doesn’t need a clause that the word in question is connecting, use which. If it does, use that. Also, never use “that” when referring to a person, it’s insulting to call people “that.”
Where’s That Preposition?
Prepositions are tricky because there is no set rule for them. Just remember to think about what they mean. It helps to know that they indicate a location in space or time.
How Excited Are You!!!
When should you use an exclamation point? Never. Okay. How about rarely? The more exclamation points you use, the less impact they have, so use them wisely. Write exciting information, and you won’t need a gazillion exclamation points.
SEO Content in 2021
Your website should communicate key information to your customers. And improve your ranking in search engine results. To do this, the content on your website needs to be clearly written. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes will take attention away from your message and degrade your brand. These days, there is no excuse for poorly written copy with all the tools available to check grammar and spelling. In fact, we did it with this article.
When you write “Let’s eat Grandpa” instead of “Let’s eat, Grandpa,” sure, people will know what you mean. Probably. But just as probably they, and search engines, will be judging you.
Stephany Wilken: Stephany is Senior Copywriter at Lamark Media with a background in linguistics and more than 20 years of writing direct response, marketing, and web copy. In her free time, Stephany practices yoga, powerlifts, and power walks, experiments with vegan recipes, and trains two crazy dogs.