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sara callahan Owner/President

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When Good Content Turns Bad

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The growing importance of content marketing is clear; small businesses that post unique and relevant blogs, videos, press releases and social media on the Internet can gain significant competitive advantage in their industries. Increased web visibility, more visitors to websites, improved SEO rankings and brand recognition as a thought leader are just some of the benefits realized from effective content marketing campaigns.

As a public relations professional, I know the value of compelling content that's designed to work in tandem with targeted marketing campaigns. I also know the effort it takes to develop such content; it takes planning, creativity, discipline, focus and time to produce a continual stream of content that captures customers' attention, draws them to your website and keeps them engaged.

So when I run across content filled with typos and grammar mistakes, I absolutely cringe. Why spend an hour (or two, or three) writing a blog and then not even bother to run it through spellcheck, or have a colleague review it for errors?

Content that contains errors ruins the writer's credibility. Case in point: in his latest blog Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager for Bing, went on record to praise and recognize the value of good content, but also to warn of the perils of typos and grammar mistakes. "It's patently obvious… when you encounter a typo, or a sentence just doesn’t read correctly… Most times we simple scan past it and keep reading, but in some cases, it’s a show stopper."

Notice the error? In the last sentence the word "simple" should be "simply." Earlier in the article, Forrester conceded that many companies that produce content have a form of editorial process, but even so, spelling and grammar errors manage to slip past. Apparently that includes even his organization.

But credibility is just one reason to ensure that your company's content deserves more than a cursory review. What was worth noting in Forrester's article was a tidbit he shared about search engine algorithms.  Now your customers are not the only ones who will notice typos; the search engines are paying attention too.

Forrester explains that Bing's algorithms are designed to rank content with errors lower than that of content without errors. "Just as you’re judging others’ writing, so the engines judge yours. If you struggle to get past typos, why would an engine show a page of content with errors higher in the rankings when other pages of error free content exist to serve the searcher,” he says.  “Like it or not, we’re judged by the quality of the results we show. So we are constantly watching the quality of the content we see.”

If your company is making the effort to produce content, establishing a fail proof editorial review process is critical. We are all human and all make mistakes. Even on our best days, a misspelled word can slip through our fingers and be missed by tired eyes. Use spellcheck, double-check your grammar and have a trusted colleague review everything you write. If you've just spent hours writing a blog or press release, take a break so you can view it with fresh eyes and a rested brain before posting. Doesn't your best effort deserve a chance to shine?

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