Does Grammar Matter to Google and Bing?
- Posted on: May 15 2016
With the need for content in today’s online world, there can be a desire to get any content from any source, just to have it. After all, the more content you have with references and actual accurate language that relates to your practice’s specialties, the higher you’ll rank in organic search. Google and Bing over the past year have been making those changes, moving their algorithms away from keywords, which could be gamed, and instead rewarding content on your pages.
That’s why at Advice Media, we build websites with all of your procedures on single pages, rather than combining them onto a single page. Specific content helps search engines find those specific procedures and you are rewarded for it in higher rankings.
And that’s why we advocate our clients having blogs on their sites. Whether those blogs are heavily read or not isn’t as important as the content within each blog. For instance, a blog on Kybella helps Google and Bing understand that your practice offers this new injectable for eliminating double chins. It’s not nearly as important how many people read the blog.
So there’s a temptation to get “anyone” to write your blogs, paying them commensurately. If you can save some money by generating your own blog content for your practice, why not have your nephew write your blogs? Or maybe your office manager has volunteered for duty. Or maybe you found someone on Upwork for $5/blog.
Now your blog is filled with the its possessive having its unwanted apostrophe (it’s). Here and there, their words have contracted into they’re instead. Same with your procedures becoming you’re facelifts. Complementary procedures become complimentary, as if asking for praise. It appears your writer’s vaunted Word grammar/spell checker has missed a few items.
It’s usually true with writers, as with most services — you get what you pay for. And, while the writing of your grammar-challenged blog now costs you less than a sandwich at the neighborhood deli, there’s a hidden cost. Be careful — both Google and Bing penalize bad spelling and grammar in your search engine rankings.
Does this make online writing more exclusive?
Although this practice isn’t new, it started to come to light in mid-2014, you can find proponents of both sides of this grammatical coin. On one side there are plenty of arguments that just because a person doesn’t understand that they’re isn’t a pronoun but an independent clause shouldn’t preclude them from getting their thoughts out online. After all, an effect here and there mistaken for affect, what’s the big deal? Who says only professional writers should get to write?
On the other side are those who say the rules of English are the rules of English and should be followed, maybe not to the level of the who vs. whom rule, but at least to the correct use of the possessive of who. The reward for good writing is easier reading, which is something everyone wants, the argument would put forth.
Users want correct usage
It turns out most people agree with the latter side of the argument. In a survey taken in 2014 of 1,000 social media users in Britain, bad grammar was their number one complaint about a business’s social media communications, with nearly half of the respondents citing it as their biggest irritation. The survey placed bad grammar as more annoying to users than overly strong sales messages, tweeting too often, not tweeting often enough, and various other online communication issues. This problem users have with bad grammar has been cited in numerous other studies.
Matt Cutts, Google’s search engine expert, has said that spelling and grammar are not “direct signals” to Google, but that they do influence a website’s ranking. He said that “spelling, stylistic elements, and factual accuracy” is one of 23 elements used in the Panda algorithm to determine website quality.
Bing has said on its Bing Blog that its algorithms also penalize content that contains bad English, both in terms of grammar and typos. The logic is that sites with few “errors” just seem as though they’re of higher quality, and as a result, deserve to be bumped higher in search rankings.
When you think about it, this goes to the core of search. A search should provide the searcher the highest quality content matching his or her request. A clean site, including the blogs, is far higher quality, and easier to digest, than one filled with grammatical mistakes and misspellings.
The bottom line? Simply hiring someone to write a blog that he or she fills with the appropriate keywords (but otherwise butchers the language) for a cheap price will likely cost you in your ranking. You need to concentrate on the readability and accuracy of the copy on your site and blogs.
There are two ways to do that. You can hire a professional who delivers high-quality content. You will pay more for that, just as you do for a good mechanic, but in both cases it will benefit you.
Or, you can just have us handle it. At Advice Media, we use a stable of professional writers to generate our blog and webpage content for our clients.