Is Bad Grammar Putting Your Site on the Naughty List?

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In these days of trolls not only lurking under bridges but lurking around every corner of the internet, it’s easy to abuse someone pointing out poor grammar and spelling on a website.

Grammar Nazi!!

It’s kind of sad when people don’t care that the President mixes up “there” and “their,” along with a myriad of other issues in his Twitter ranting. It’s sad when people don’t care that the sign at the grocery store, “Avocado’s 2 for 1” is messed up. It’s annoying when a text asks you, “Your going to the party, right?”

Yes, we’re in a time when the speed of communication often runs over grammar and spelling in its haste. That’s unfortunate because most grammar is intended to help the reader understand the writing. A comma, for instance, has the power of a sledgehammer. Two commas can mean everything to a detective and a perpetrator:

  • Suzy claimed Frank committed the murder.
  • Suzy, claimed Frank, committed the murder.

Now, that’s power for two marks that barely take a full space in typography.

For this blog, let’s address if the content on your practice website, complete with its typos, poor grammar, and spelling mistakes affects your ranking. It’s common knowledge that Google and Bing value content now over the random stuffing of keywords onto pages. But does the quality of that content affect your ranking?

It’s not in the algorithms

A couple of years ago, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller was asked in a video hangout if spelling and grammar were ranking factors.

His response? “Not really.” He later expanded on his answer, “I don’t know if any of our algorithms specifically look for the grammar and say this website uses English in a bad way and will demote it. I don’t know. It is possible but it feels really kind of niche.” He then pointed to the difficulty considering the differences in language and the nuances of some aspects of grammar and the like.

OK, so the algorithms aren’t punishing your site for those whacky constructions, random capitalizations, and typos. Does that mean you’re getting away with your wayward grammar, spelling, and proofreading? Maybe not.

It’s the experience that counts

When considering your content and the quality, you need to remember that users expect higher standards from medical practitioners than they do from other sorts of businesses. For instance, if a visitor to your site is researching the difference between laser-assisted liposuction and ultrasound-assisted liposuction, she wants information. After all, this is surgery. If your liposuction page is haphazardly written, is full of odd capitalizations, has a handful of typos, and isn’t very readable, that visitor is out of there. She’ll move on to another site because now you’ve lost her trust in your practice.

If you were a local plumber in a small city, you maybe could get away with lesser quality content. Most people understand why their toilet is clogged; they just want someone to unclog it.

But as a surgeon, dentist, dermatologist, or other medical practitioner, your content on your site is an extension of your practice. It needs to connote expertise and establish trust. Typos and bad grammar don’t exactly do that.

Bounce rate

This does affect search in what Google calls “bounce rate.” Bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits to a website. It is the percentage of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. Google’s analytics calculate and report the bounce rate of a web page and the bounce rate of a website.

That’s where poorly written content can punish your ranking in organic search. Patients visiting your practice website aren’t casually looking at funny T-shirts or new lamps for the bedside table. They want information about medical procedures and treatments, and these are serious things. They expect your content to be accurate, readable, and professional. Medical websites loaded with typos, poor grammar, and shouting capitalizations can be seen as an extension of a potentially sloppy practice. Those visitors to your site will “bounce” away faster than the Easter Bunny.

Content shouldn’t be an afterthought

That’s why we take content creation very seriously at MyAdvice. We have a stable of writers who provide top-notch content for our clients who request it. This is original content that is thoroughly researched, grammatically clean, and eminently readable. It provides visitors to your site with the information they seek, and it adds a nice sheen to your reputation as the expert who should be performing the procedure or treatment the person is researching.

So, while some practitioners balk at having us provide content, preferring instead to have someone on their staff create it, there’s nothing wrong with that IF the content is good. But it can’t be thrown together as an afterthought. It can’t be overly cryptic, poorly written, and there can’t be any misspellings or typos.

Do you have questions about content on your practice website? Call us or fill out a contact form and let’s talk.

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