Sharpen those writing skills, PR pros: Typos turn off customers at high rate

People are almost two times more likely to leave a website with obvious mistakes, according to a study.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

NEW YORK: Yet another reminder that writing skills are essential for PR pros: Bad grammar and typos aren’t just eye-sores, they cost businesses prospective customers.

Web visitors are almost two times more likely to leave a website after looking at a single page if they see grammar and spelling mistakes than sites with correct grammar and spelling, according to a study by Website Planet, a web services comparison site.

The study looked at more than 5,000 site visits during the last week of February and the first week of March, a press release said. Subjects were presented with two nearly identical landing pages, one with typos and another with none.

Bounce rates, or the percentage of visitors who leave a site after looking at a single page, for the typo-ridden landing page were 85% higher, the study found.

Additionally, customers spent 8% less time on landing pages with "deliberate typos and grammatical errors," according to the study.

This can affect a website’s position on Google. If more visitors leave after only looking at a single page, Google sees the site as less trustworthy and "lowers its position in the organic Search Engine Results Pages," the study said.

Similarly, people are 70% less likely to click on Google Ads with typos, the study said. As a result, Google lowers their position. Google charges 72% more for ads with grammar errors and 20% more for ads with spelling mistakes.

"What this study tells us is that PR professionals cannot ever let their guard down because consumers are unforgiving, ever critical, and use good spelling and grammar as a barometer for the ability of a company to deliver," said Shira Stieglitz, Website Planet's head of content and research. "It underlines the old adage that first impressions count, with consumers showing an unwillingness to give brands a second chance at making a good one."

This story was updated with comment from Stieglitz on March 19.

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