Do Spelling and Grammar Matter

Recently DigitalGhost made a post where ended with the Gunning Fog number for the post. For you lazy SEO types Gunning fog is reading level score for a written work like a book or article. Which got me thinking does Google care about spelling, grammar and reading levels?

Now I fully admit I haven’t tested pretty much any of this recently, so this post represents little more than me speculating, but since I don’t have anything in mind to write and look at this week I’m going to run with it.

Recently I evaluated Open Office and one of things I found sorely lacking was the grammar checking capabilities of Open Office. Possibly because my grammar is so poor and is need of some extra nudging but Microsoft Word was vastly superior in it’s grammar checking ability. I suspect developing a grammar checking module is a fairly complex undertaking. While Google has the financial and personnel resources to throw at something like that since we aren’t seeing it in Gmail or Google Documents it’s probably not getting a lot of attention.

One are Google has put resources behind is spelling, much to the dismay of many SEO’s. However looking at spelling it appears to be several distinct modules operating in isolation. Gmail and Google Documents seem to share similar functionality and operation (see why it’s important to play with Google’s toys). Google as a search engine is much more advanced. Google learns or perhaps more accurately adapts to new words. For example Google Search “learned” that [stuntdubl] was a word and stopped asking ‘did you mean’, while Gmail and Google Docs remain less informed.

Penalizing based on misspellings is a tricky issue. I would never imagine that Google would become the spelling police and a simple typo would doom you to page two and beyond. However it might not be a bad idea to consider excessively bad spelling as signal of poor quality. However what about technical and scientific material, they use $5 words that only PDF search patent lovers can appreciate. Which brings us back to Gunning Fog and reading levels.

Is it possible a document could be filled with a high percentage of misspellings yet have a very high reading level and still be quality, I’d like to think so. So I’ve come up with a little test. if you remember my Aequeosalinocalcalinosetaceoaluminosocupreovitriolic post tested insanely high density level and ranks right behind some wiki so here’s a test where I misspelled everything except the 4 keywords Ichthyosaur Didgeridoo Asterism Velutinous. Here’s a screen shot of the SERP when I started. Considering there’s only 14 results, mostly college dictionary files (google why are you indexing those?), I should be able to rank pretty easily especially with a little help from the people who scrape me daily.

Looks like bad spelling doesn’t matter for ranking purposes.

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