If you put it on your webpage, people will believe it. And, most of the time, that’s good news—you want people to read and believe the things you write. That’s how you build credibility for yourself, your business, and your brand.
We rarely consider the other side of the coin: if you write something dumb, that also becomes part of your brand history. The stupider the mistake, the greater the impact on your reputation; studies show that grammar, spelling, and word choice influence website credibility. The longer that mistake stays online, the more your reputation plummets. That’s one reason why we have urged you to get a proofreader for all new content, and also to have someone assess and correct your older online postings.
Case Study: Maybe it Refers to a Kawasaki in Molasses
Let’s just look at what happens when an error slips through, shall we?
Now, the phrase a vicious circle is stale and trite; it’s not something we would urge you to use. But it’s a great deal better than the phrase a viscous cycle that an anonymous writer employs on this page for a bankruptcy attorney. Let’s see, a “viscous cycle” would be a two-wheeled vehicle dipped in some sort of sticky, syrupy, and slow-moving fluid. Maybe a bicycle slathered in axle grease?
We use the word malapropism when someone substitutes a word that sounds right for the word that the situation requires. It’s a stock tool of comedy writing; the term comes from a 1775 play, but the technique is as old as theater. But what works for stage comedy can be a tragedy for a professional website.
You want the website for your law firm, medical practice, or other business to radiate a calm professionalism. A mistake like this one shrieks out to every reader, “I don’t know how to use words, but trust me with your legal affairs, serious ailment, or your financial future anyway!” Is there any wonder such a webpage isn’t helping the business flourish?
We’re not mocking other people’s ineptitude; we want our business partners to learn from other people’s mistakes. So stop giggling now.
At Foster Web Marketing, we’re always on the lookout for other examples of egregious mistakes in grammar and usage that can serve as warnings to others. Add a comment to this piece if you locate a particularly stinky example, and we may feature it in a future Typo Tuesday profile.