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March 21, 2021

Does Spelling and Grammar Matter for Bloggers? | A Case Study

Minor spelling and grammatical mistakes don’t appear to have a significant impact on SEO. However, Google measures user experience to determine page rank. If users are leaving your post due to swaths of broken English, it’s fair to assume that it would negatively impact SEO.

Has Google Stated Whether They Use Spelling and Grammar as a Ranking Factor?

In 2011, Matt Cutts actually took this question directly. Here’s what he had to say.

To sum up, in 2011, they weren’t using spelling and grammar as a direct ranking signal. However, Cutts clearly states that they’ve studied this and that the more reputable pages tend to have better spelling and grammar. He speculates that they might use spelling and grammar as a future ranking factor.

Well, it’s the future (2021), so is Google using this as a ranking factor now?

Google’s a black box, and they’ll never share their algorithm with us. So I devised a fun experiment; I googled the most competitive queries on the Internet and checked how many spelling and grammatical errors the top-ranked article had. It’s hardly a definitive test, but it’s interesting to see how where the blogosphere’s top pages landed.

Query w/Link to #1 Result Spelling/Grammatical Errors Readability score Word Count
How To Start a Business 54 Grammarly errors 55 (9th-grade level) 4,925 words
How To Lose Weight 30 Grammarly Errors 74(7th-grade level) 2,053 words
How to Start a Blog 42 Grammarly Errors 77(7th-grade level) 2,159 words
Why a business partner is a bad idea 20 Grammarly Errors 69 (8th-grade level) 1,171 words
ShaunPore.com’s post on why a business partner is a bad idea (I rank 8th) 9 Grammarly Errors 74 (7th-grade level) 1,359 Words

Does this little case study prove anything? Well, no. However, I tested dozens more queries than I listed here. The vast majority of #1 results had a 65-75 (7th/8th-grade level) readability score. The readability score of 55 above (9th-grade level) was the worst #1 ranked blog post I could find.

Also of note, I found at least a few minor grammatical/spelling errors in virtually every blog post I tested. However, I failed to find any #1 results so rife with errors that it felt difficult to read.

My conclusion? Run your blog posts through Grammarly one time before publishing. It won’t cause your posts to rank #1, but you can be confident your post’s readability is high enough to rank there.

Shaun Poore worked as a professional software developer for 15 years before transitioning into content creation and digital product businesses. Shaun's currently focused on providing as many people as possible with actionable advice and tools they can use to succeed online, without the fluff or BS that too often plagues this industry.