Perfection: it’s just not in the cards.
People make mistakes. Those of us who write and edit website content are no exception to this rule. If that’s your job (or part of your job), you know the routine: you’re as diligent as possible in your writing; you have a grammar expert proofread your work before it’s posted; and you cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Errors still creep through.
How Do I Hate Grammar Errors? Let Me Count the Ways
How many mistakes are too many? A couple days ago, I was reading up on search engine theory, because (as it turns out) learning more about web marketing is both useful and possible—even for grumpy old grammar editors. In the course of this reading, I stumbled across a paragraph that astonished me:
Count the errors along with me, okay?
- “It’s desired item” – Wrong. Set aside the question of whether “it”—in this case, “new content on your site”—can “desire” anything. The big boo-boo here is that the possessive adjective “its” never has an apostrophe. When you write it’s with an apostrophe, the word means “it is” or “it has,” period.
- “30’s and 40’s” – Wrong again. Plurals of numbers are formed by adding a lowercase S. No apostrophe.
- “How to increase it but essentially” – A great example of the grammatical error called the run-on sentence. When welding two simple sentences (also called independent clauses) together, you may join them with a semicolon or by using a conjunction plus a comma. This writer does neither. By omitting the comma after it, he causes the two smaller sentences to collide. The upshot: the reader is more easily confused about the intended meaning.
Quite a bouquet of blunders in just one paragraph, don’t you think?
Signal and Noise: It’s Not Just a Problem in Engineering
Physicists, engineers, and telecommunications experts often talk about the signal-to-noise ratio: the power of information transmission reduced by disruptive phenomena. Informally, the same idea has been adopted as a metaphor in other fields. Even in online marketing, we can pose the problem as this: How do you get your message through to the consumer despite all the clutter and obstacles in your way?
Everything we do at Foster Web Marketing builds toward answering that question. Every article we write is another step toward solving that puzzle. Here’s the message you should take from this Typo Tuesday article: Don’t let your own work become the noise that blocks your signal.
Content writing that’s riddled with errors can thwart the reception of your message. The mistakes in your text will distract the reader away from the story you’re trying to tell. Worse, your demonstrated inability to write clearly will undermine your credibility. You build up resistance in the reader’s mind to accepting your information, no matter how immensely useful that info may be.
People are fallible, and that means content writing will never come out perfectly all the time. You will make mistakes. But you owe it to your readers (and to your business and its employees) to reduce errors to the minimum and fix errors when they are discovered. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.