A school desktop featuring a laptop computer and an English Grammar book

Do Spelling and Grammar Matter in SEO?

Obviously spelling and grammar are important in how you present yourself to the world, but do they matter to Google’s search algorithm? The answer is complicated but clear.

Are Spelling and Grammar Ranking Factors?

When we talk about ranking factors, we’re talking about things about the site that directly impact how the search algorithm ranks the site on the SERP.

So when we talk about whether or not spelling and grammar are ranking factors, the answer is a definite no, and that comes from Google. In 2017, Google’s John Mueller said specifically that it doesn’t impact the search engine itself.

It makes sense. The algorithm doesn’t apply a value to different spellings; it just matches the most useful content with each search.

But whether spelling and grammar matter is a different question.

What Does Google Want?

To understand how sites rank in search, we need to understand what Google wants.

Google wants to provide users with the best possible experience. This allows them to increase the numbers of users searching on Google, and more users means a bigger audience to show ads to, which makes more money.

In pursuit of this goal, the algorithm is constantly tuned to provide the best possible search results. That means identifying high quality, relevant content.

This is where search signals come into play.

Search signals are used by the various parts of the algorithm to establish certain aspects of the site in question. The goal overall is to find the highest quality sites. Spelling and grammar errors, regardless of the quality of your information, product, or service, makes your content appear low quality.

Indirect Ranking Factors

Indirect ranking factors are things that impact direct ranking factors. For example, there may not be one single thing that you can pinpoint to improve site quality, but rather a dozen different things. Those dozen things are indirect ranking factors.

Spelling and grammar are one of those indirect factors.

This happens in two ways. First, they may be a signal of quality to the search engine itself. Google’s algorithm applies machine learning to its examination and ranking of websites, so it can learn what things are common on low quality sites and what things are common on high quality sites.

Of course, Google doesn’t let us know what the ranking factors are. Doing so would encourage the less ethical among us to manipulate pages to improve search ranking. But it does appear that spelling and grammar can impact search ranking.

There’s another reason this is happening. Spelling and grammar are certainly a signal of quality to users. If your site appears to be better quality based on how it appears on the SERP, users are more likely to click through.

Google knows how many people click through to which site, and increased click through rate correlates with improved ranking.

The User Really Matters

In the end, the user is the audience that your content is written for. Not the algorithm. The algorithm is just a tool.

If you put thought into who you’re writing to, consider what information is going to be the most relevant to them, and serve it in the best way possible, that’s absolutely the most important thing you can do to improve search results.

More click throughs means better ranking, better ranking means more visibility, more visibility means more traffic. It really is that simple.

There are reasons to include misspelled words, such as capturing common misspellings as keywords. However, John Mueller has told us over and over again that quality content is the single most important ranking factor for Google. Because of this, I would not use misspelled words in on-page optimization for organic search.

Focusing on well-structured, well-written, useful content should be the foundation on which your content strategy rests.


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