Google: Low PageRank & Bad Spelling May Go Hand-In-Hand; Panda, Too?

bad-spellingIf your website and/or web pages have low PageRank, it’s possible that they also suffer from poor spelling and grammar.

Google’s top spam cop, Matt Cutts, made the correlation between low PageRank and poor spelling in a Google Webmaster Help video just made public today. In responding to a question about whether spelling and grammar matter when Google evaluates site quality, Cutts says:

“We noticed a while ago that, if you look at the PageRank of a page — how reputable we think a particular page or site is — the ability to spell correlates relatively well with that. So, the reputable sites tend to spell better and the sites that are lower PageRank, or very low PageRank, tend not to spell as well.”

Here’s the full video; those comments above come at about the :30 mark.

As to the actual question about using spelling and grammar when evaluating sites, Cutts says those aren’t currently used as a “direct signal” for search ranking, but says “I think it would be fair” to use them in that way. (He also explains in some detail the challenges involved in determining what is/isn’t good spelling.)

How Does The Panda Update Fit In?

This should come as no surprise if you’ve been paying attention to Google’s announcements since the Panda algorithm rolled out back in February.

Google’s been very clear about the fact that overall site quality and usability is part of what Panda is looking at, and they even included “Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?” as one of 23 questions that webmasters should ask themselves in relation to the Panda changes. Other related questions were, “How much quality control is done on content?” and “Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?”

In the video, Cutts also mentions that Google has studied ways to determine the reading level of content on the web and says that kind of analysis “would be pretty interesting to explore as a potential quality signal.”

And, in fact, Google has added a reading level filter to its search results.


Correlation is not causation,” as the saying goes, but all of this together is certainly another SEO factor for webmasters to think about in the post-Panda world.

(Stock image via and used under license.)

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Panda Update Tips | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Brad

    I disagree. There is no correlation between correct spelling and page rank attribution. Low quality sites that are assigned low page ranks generally maintain a lower quality of editorial practices and therefore by extension display a higher occurrence of misspelt words.

  • alanjgrainger

    Given the shocking standards of spelling and grammar on Google Chrome’s spell check, plus the complete inability of any current spell check to recognise English (UK) spelling, I would hope that they leave this particular brain wave on the back burner for a while….

  • Trish Anderson

    Isn’t the issue of spelling & grammar a no-brainer? Write for humans first, search engines second and you’ll probably get it right for both.

  • Matt McGee

    Trish, I don’t think it’s necessarily about writing for humans vs. search engines. There are just a lot of people who aren’t good spellers and don’t know the rules of grammar. They may be writing for humans, but their copy is filled with mistakes that reflect poorly on their writing or editing ability.

  • yashika

    i disagree

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