Website Grammar: How important?
A quick Google search for the importance grammar in business will bring up a lot of articles. People still care about grammar, even in a social media-driven world full of hashtags, acronyms, and slang.
This book will be opened with a provocative question. Is grammar as important in business as people think?
Let me first say that grammar is essential for online credibility. As a professional writer for over 10 years, I question the importance of grammar. This chapter is a combination of observations from the industry and personal experience.
Grammar is less important in some industries than it is in others.
A typo or two is unlikely to hurt your business’ credibility. It all depends on the industry.
If you own a small, family-owned retail shop, people won’t notice if you misspell a few words. A grammar error can actually be a benefit to your business, as it can help you build a personal connection with your prospects and humanize your business. We all make mistakes from time to time; it’s part of being human.
I am a Thai national and see spelling mistakes when booking hotels. Is it affecting my ability to choose a specific place to stay? It does not. No. Pictures, reviews, locations, and facilities are what I care about the most. And I understand that I am in a non-native English-speaking country. So I give them a break. You may have had a similar experience with Airbnb. A host’s grammatical mistakes won’t likely influence your decision. Bad reviews and small bathrooms with ugly photos will influence your decision.
Which types of businesses are most affected by poor grammar?
There are several types of businesses to consider. Bad grammar can further damage your credibility if you work in marketing, writing, or sell high-priced products or 5-star services.
It’s not hard to see the point. You won’t hire a business that specializes only in communication if their website has typos. A spelling error on the website of a 5-star hotel can be a big problem and cause an immediate bounce. But, these types of businesses are not uncommon.
These companies will have a blog that is regularly updated. A grammar error in one post will not affect your conversion rate. Why? Why? Even if your specialty is communication or 5-star service, a few errors won’t bother everyone. Especially if they are a frequent visitor. Linda Formichelli, a former Forbes writer, is now a For Dummies author. She has made grammar mistakes in her content but that hasn’t stopped her from writing for Wells Fargo and GE as well as Woman’s Day, among other major names.
I remember seeing the occasional spelling error in the blog of Chris Guillebeau years ago. These small errors did not stop me from purchasing his books. They have not stopped me from purchasing more than half a million copies of his hit The $100 Startup.
However, chances of getting bounced are likely to increase if visitors make a mistake in grammar. Online, first impressions are important. It may seem overwhelming to the prospect.
Do you really need to care about grammar?
This is not the purpose of this section. I’m trying to give perspective on this topic. Grammar is not something to obsess about. It will slow down your productivity to get too attached to it or neurotically check your work. Reread it only once or twice, then move on. You can always get another pair of eyes to look at it if you have the time. A solid option is to hire a proofreader.
Although mistakes are inevitable and may be accepted by many website visitors, it is better to have fewer. You won’t find anyone who will tolerate even one typo in any circumstance. People believe that grammar is a reflection of the quality of your product. You should do your best to correct your grammar, but not obsess over it.