Does Using Good Grammar Screw Up Your SEO?

horrified emoticon for the kind of question that haunts you at night

That’s how I felt, too.

It’s the kind of question that haunts you at night: “Does using good grammar up your SEO?” (I’m hearing it now in a kind of Jacob Marley-esque of voice.) I want to say, “I certainly hope not.” Knowing how most people write, however, I have to say more honestly that there’s a pretty good chance the answer is, “Yes.” Although, like everything else, that may be changing.

Who Uses Good Grammar?

Writers Like To

It’s true. Almost all writers I know like to write at least somewhat correctly. It doesn’t have to be perfect (“How Good Does My Grammar Need to Be?“), but we tend to have grammar pet peeves that makes it hard to completely ignore all the rules.

Readers Don’t

This is the sad truth that we all have to live with. Many readers not only don’t use good grammar, they don’t know what good grammar is! I see pandemic homophone problems, comma errors galore, spelling catastrophes, and a general mutilation of syntax. Sometimes, people even ruin their grammar by trying to speak better.

  • Give it to Linda and I me. [People thinking using “I” is always more correct. Nope – not when the pronoun is acting as an object!]
  • IrRegardless, make sure that those papers get sent on time. [“Irregardless” is not a word!]

There are exceptions, of course (like you, lovely people). Unfortunately, you only have to do a simple search to see that there are fewer exceptions that we might like.

How Does Writing Correctly Screw Up Your SEO?

Stop Words

Stop words are basically the most common words in the English language. Words that you can skip over if you’re skimming a passage: words like”a,” “am,” and “and.” Google skips over those words the same way readers do when they’re in a hurry. But those same words are also necessary when using good grammar.

If you’re researching how to improve your SEO, you might see articles that recommend taking these words out – reword the phrase so that the stop words aren’t necessary or just skip them. Ouch! Writer’s perspective translates caveman.*

*From a writer’s perspective, that translates into caveman.

Targeting Correct Keyword Phrases

That’s what they tell us to do, right? If you want to get more traffic using SEO, target keyword phrases. But here’s the conundrum: what if most searchers aren’t using good grammar? What if the most popular searches are horribly, skin-crawling, eye-twitching, nails-on-a-chalkboard incorrect?

Are you willing to target that keyword phrase? Are you willing to use it (as-written) repeatedly in your blog article. And titles. And headers. Can you stand to?

Do you have to?

How Good Grammar Can Help You

Synonyms

It all depends on the keyword phrase and how it’s incorrect. Along with incorporating stop words, Google is also getting better at relating synonyms. They’re not on the same level as a human writer yet, but sometimes, Google might look at your keyword phrase and the incorrect keyword phrase and treat them as equal. Or at least related. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s worth checking out, right?

Writing Quality Counts

Ok, writers. Here is our hope for blog traffic without losing our grammar nazi status. Google cares about writing quality, correct spelling, and overall content value (See the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide). That means that higher quality writing has more weight with Google and has a better chance of being considered a good site to recommend.

The quality of the content is also partly measured by how long people stay on the site. So having good writing that encourages people to read the whole article can help boost your ratings, too.

Am I an Expert?

Buahahahahaha! Sorry. I couldn’t keep a straight face with that one!

The answer is, “No.” What I am is a writer who’s been researching this stuff like crazy and who decided to share some of these tidbits with other writers such as yourself. I tried to link to sites that seemed like they know what they’re talking about.

Of course, if you are an SEO expert, and you’d like to share some information with me, I absolutely will not object! Anyone? Anyone at all?

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