Spelling, meh. Spellcheck will fix it. My people will handle that. Google doesn’t judge…or does it? As it happens, it does, and the relative quality of your spelling and grammar will be reflected in your website’s page rank on the world’s most powerful search engine.
Spelling correctly so that your keywords show up in searches related to your topic is an obvious necessity. If these words are misspelled they’ll never appear in the results of a query, unless the query itself is spelled the same way. This happens more than you might expect, and some companies purposely use common misspellings in posts to get the hits from users who are searching with an inaccurate version of a keyword or topical term. (I admit to scanning craigslist for ‘convertables’ because the technique tends to turn up underpriced gems posted by people who don’t know the value of a dirty old Mercedes SL.) Most professionals frown sternly on the practice as sleazy, and it is. CJ Moore makes this attitude perfectly clear when he says about intentional misspellings, “This offense is worthy of Internet purgatory, as far as I’m concerned. Google, Bing and other search engines should not just bury the offending sites’ page rank; they should quit crawling those sites altogether. Let them advertise in the Yellow Pages.” Strong stuff.
There’s more to maximizing your Google page rank than meets the eye though. In one of the search giant’s Webmaster Help Videos, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, points out the correlation between good spelling and high page rank. “We noticed a while ago that, if you look at the PageRank of a page — how reputable we think a particular page or site is — the ability to spell correlates relatively well with that. So, the reputable sites tend to spell better and the sites that are lower PageRank, or very low PageRank, tend not to spell as well, which is a pretty interesting effect if you think about it.” That’s pretty interesting, all right. Good spelling goes along with page rank. The search algorithm Google adopted last year, Panda, includes spelling as a specific suggestion in a list of questions for webmasters trying to optimize their search engine performance. Cutts says that spelling wasn’t a direct signal used to rank search results the last time he checked, but that he thinks “it would be fair” to do so. I suspect it is.
Cutts goes on to say, “If you can put in the time to make sure that something is edited well, you’ll find it’s probably not just a good overall piece of content that’s more likely to stand the test of time, but probably users will appreciate it.” That appreciation of your work translates to more hits, more links and a more positive perception of your company. Even a brilliant but carelessly proofed article full of useful industry insights just won’t receive the same respect it would if it had been edited properly.
Don’t waste your time and your company’s reputation with meaningful work that appears less worthy than it is because of misspelled words. Ask for help from a friend, a partner or a professional. We provide that service at bbr marketing for those who’d like it, but no matter who you choose, have it proofread by someone other than the writer. Spelling counts.