How erroneous is it to ignore spelling errors in web pages?

When there are attractive images, excellent structure and easy navigation, spelling errors in the text might seem quite trivial and insignificant to a website owner. Visitors are, after all, coming to see and purchase products and if they are offered a website that has the necessary products shown in a user friendly way, are they going to really bother about those minor errors in spelling or syntax? Most online business owners consider text content as a means to enhance their search engine optimisation techniques and nothing more. For this reason, all they consider is the number of keywords in the content and not its quality or relevance.

However, the truth is that content that is given on the web pages is crucial not only for the search engines but also for the visitors to the site. They would definitely be checking at least the content on the important pages of a website like Home, About Us, Contact Us, product categories and of course product descriptions. Whether you believe it or not, repeated errors in spelling can create a negative impact on your website ranking by some of the major search engines, namely, Google. What they might think is, “if the company cannot have proper, error-free content for their own website, how efficient are they going to be in replying to my request or delivering the product I ordered?”

It has been reported by online entrepreneurs that due to spelling mistakes, Internet businesses in the UK are losing millions in revenues lost. In fact, studies show that a single error in the spelling can cut down the sales in almost a half. This is because when the users find errors in what they read they get put off and thus the website loses the credibility. As much as the world has become technologically savvy and the standards have changes, certain factors still remain traditional and one such factor is the proper, accurate and error-free content that you present before your customers. When they find spelling errors in your text what they think is you are not well off enough to appoint someone who can write without errors.

While displaying your website before the web users the time you get is about ten seconds to attract them and convince them to stay back and check what you have to offer. And in that ten seconds if they find a single error in what you have written, they can immediately bounce back, especially when you have hundred other competitors they can go to.

This calls for a detailed check on the qualifications of those whom you employ to create content for your websites. James Fothergill, the head of education and skills of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says, “our recent research shows that 42% of employers are not satisfied with the basic reading and writing skills of school and college leavers and almost half have had to invest in remedial training to get their staff’s skills up to scratch”.

Types of errors

Obvious errors

Spelling mistakes occur in different ways. There are obvious spelling errors such as writing “conetnt” for “content” or “www,” for “www.”. These are typos that you can find and correct with your spell check. With the spell check available you might think that such errors are not common. However, the surprising fact is that such mistakes are also seen many times in many websites.

Right word and wrong context

A very common error in web pages is the use of the word that is correct in spelling but wrong in meaning. For example, using “effect” instead of “affect” and vice versa or “its” instead of “it’s”. These are minor errors; however, they are wrong for the context and can read awkwardly on the web page. Unfortunately, such errors are hard to find as they might not show in the spell check as the spelling is correct as is.

Errors in URLs and links

Spelling errors could mar the effect of not only the content that you present for your visitors to read but also the Javacript and URLs you provide, making them useless and ineffective. Visitors would need no other reason to bounce away than such broken links. When the links they click takes them to an error page they will not realise what is happening and thus get annoyed and bounce away immediately.

Informal variations of spelling

Another way of errors appearing on web pages is when you unconsciously add spellings that you normally use in texting, tweeting or updating status in Facebook. The variations like “gud” for “good”, “b’coz” for “because”, “thru” for “through” and “luv” for “love” are cool and hep when they are used where they should be, that is, in social media or sending SMS to friends. You could use them even on your own personal blogs, but not at all for business.

Deliberate errors to increase keyword density

Nothing can be as annoying to the reader as these deliberate errors in spelling to add the keyword density on a web page.  This is a common technique, however, to ensure that your website shows up in the search results when the user searches with a word that is spelt wrong. While minor omission in punctuation like leaving out an apostrophe can be overlooked, these deliberate changes in the spelling of a word just so that they are matching the keywords that users type in cannot be forgiven. Not only would they irritate the readers, but the repetition of these errors on the web pages can seriously affect your credibility.

It is true that the demand from search engines to have original and keyword-rich content that is often updated to keep it fresh can make the website owners turn a blind eye towards the minor errors in the spelling and grammar. It might be your company blog that you have to update every week or sometimes every two-three days. Time is less and thus you just write what comes to your mind and just update.

In fact, most business owners would employ a copywriter at the time of website creation to provide the content. And once that content is uploaded, they tend to update it on their own. This could be where the errors creep in as correction of these errors might not be the primary thing you have in mind. Neither can you expect your website designers to correct the content for you. As a result, after may be six months later or so, your website might contain many errors that can immediately make your visitors move away to the next website. Remember, yours is an online business and often you might not be interacting with the customers directly and hence the text that you provide has to impress them.

So how do you ensure that your text is error free? In the case of a professional copywriter, you might not have to worry as the content would come to you after editing and proofreading. But what about those last minute updates that you make yourself? Or the latest blog post that you have added? The best way would be to make someone read it after you write it. The other person would find those errors that your visitors would find and thus save you from losing a sale.

Here are a few questions that Google had come up with when it released its Panda update. You could use these questions as a checklist for the content you have for your site before it is uploaded.

  • Does the content have errors in spelling, style or facts?
  • Has the content gone through editing and proofreading phase?
  • Has it been produced by more than one person or across a large network of sites?
  • Has it been created in haste or for the sake of marketing?
  • Do you see what you have written in a magazine or a book? Is it worth publishing on print?
  • Does it provide interesting information or insightful analysis?
  • Does it come with a lot of ads that distract the reader’s attention?
  • Has it been given attention to detail regarding punctuation and grammar?
  • Does the content have the relevant information for the readers? Does it answer their questions satisfactorily?

Asking yourself these questions before you upload the content to the website can avoid a lot of rework later and thus save your time as well as your business. As discussed earlier, certain traditions never change, and so is the language used with your customers. Give them the information they want in the correct and proper language and it is worth it. Remember, if you are correct, visitors might not notice it, but if you are wrong visitors would catch it very fast. It is your business, your source of income, and there no effort is too much effort for that.

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