PR and marketing pros know that poorly written press releases and messaging have a detrimental impact on press pick-up and audience engagement. But website content is often not run through the same rigors as other content marketing copy—and new research by web services comparison site Website Planet reports that U.S. businesses with bad grammar and spelling mistakes on their websites will lose almost double the number of potential customers than those with typo-free sites.

The analysis* of more than 5,000 site visits over a two-week period showed that the bounce rate—the percentage of visitors who leave a website after only looking at a single page—on landing pages with sloppy spelling and grammar was 85 percent more than those that were correctly written and spell-checked.

And not only do nearly twice as many potential customers or clients leave, the research found that they leave quicker, too—the time on site was reduced by 8 percent on landing pages with deliberate typos and grammatical errors placed in them.

And the damage doesn’t stop there…

The longer-term outcome of people quickly leaving a site is that it’s penalized by Google because one of the metrics Google uses to rank your site is the bounce rate. High bounce rates signal to Google that a site is not trustworthy and therefore lowers its position in the organic Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

The same principles, and much the same results, apply to Google Ads: the research found that web visitors are 70 percent less likely to click on Google Ads with a spelling or grammar mistake. Since these ads receive fewer clicks, Google also lowered their position and charged:

  • 72 percent more for ads with grammar errors
  • 20 percent more for ads with spelling mistakes

It’s a double whammy of increased cost and reduced volume

Bad grammar and spelling don’t just cost businesses traffic—which likely goes to their competitors—it results in them paying more for it when prospective customers and clients doproceed to click.

“It’s crystal clear that bad spelling and grammar can have a powerful impact on a company’s bottom line. The fact that businesses lose nearly nine in 10 more visitors to their websites because of typos should be a serious shot across the bows to bosses around the US. To make matters worse, visible typos make a site less visible on Google because it lowers their position in the search engine results pages,” said Shira Stieglitz, head of content and research at Website Planet, in a news release.

“Poor spelling and grammar are also highly damaging to a company’s brand and credibility. Ads and website pages with howlers or even low-level typos are seen by tens or hundreds of thousands of people who will think less of your company as a result,” Stieglitz added. “We may live in an era when people are increasingly communicating through emojis than words, but sloppy writing can still wreak havoc with a company’s image.”

* In the last week of February and first week of March, Website Planet ran a standard ‘A/B’ test with two near identical landing pages, one with a number of spelling and grammatical errors, the other with none.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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