Bing says spelling and grammar does affect rankings

By James Riches topicIcon Copywriting

Site owners warned against too many typos

A senior figure at Bing has suggested that sites which consistently include poor spelling and grammar will see their search rankings suffer as a result.

Senior product manager Duane Forrester suggested that while "mistakes happen", if errors occur too frequently it is likely to put off a reader. As such, he argues, it would be unfair to have pages with poor spelling and grammar ranking above those that offer word-perfect content.

Mr Forrester went on to put forward the theory that if a reader encounters a typo, their thoughts are likely to be dominated by that as they read. This poses the risk that they will fail to properly absorb your message and perhaps stop reading the piece.

His ideas were met with a lukewarm reception from some users, with one commenter saying Bing could end up penalising English-language sites written by someone for whom English is a second language. They argued that if a site is created that promotes a good product, grammar should be a secondary consideration.

Will other search engines follow Bing's example?

With Bing's stance now clear, site owners will be interested to see if other search engines follow suit.

The policy of Google, which last month (January 2014) held nearly 89 per cent of the UK search market share, will naturally be of primary interest to many.

While the Panda algorithm was designed specifically to combat low quality pages, it is not clear how much weight is placed solely on spelling and grammar.

Earlier this month, Google's webspam chief Matt Cutts was asked about whether or not poorly spelled user comments could negatively impact upon the quality of a page and cause a rankings hit.

His response was that while sites should not accept comments that are obviously spam, it is sufficient to look after your own content without the need to correct user comments.

Rachel Hand, head of content at theEword, said: "All websites should aim to produce content using good spelling and grammar. Regardless of how search engines respond to mistakes, you can easily put users off if your pages are full of errors."