Perhaps I notice it more because I'm a professional editor, but grammar mistakes run rampant on the Internet. You can find them not only in forums and chat sessions, but on professionally-designed web pages belonging to companies that should know better. Does your site contain grammar issues?
You may think of correct grammar as a trivial thing, but it's not. Your website may be the only impression visitors get of your business. If it's riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, it looks unprofessional...and untrustworthy. Users won't buy from someone they don't trust. So what should you do?
If you do a lot of writing, you may want to invest in a good grammar guide. I like the little book by Strunk and White. Many in the industry rely on The Chicago Manual of Style, but it isn't cheap. It also boasts a web page (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html). But before you buy your grammar book, there are some basic mistakes you can quickly fix.
It's vs. its. This rule is confusing because it goes against other rules in English for the possessive. “It's” always stands in for “it is.” “Its” without the apostrophe, on the other hand, is always used to indicate possession. So “It's going to rain today” is correct. But “He picked up the umbrella by it's handle” is NOT correct. If you can use “it is” in the spot, you can use an apostrophe.
There, they're, their. “Their” is another possessive: their laptop, their smartphone, their wild new idea for an Internet business. “They're” is a contraction for “they are.” You use the word “there” for location or as a filler: “I posted my blog entry out there on the Internet” or “There are many grammatical rules one must follow.”
To, too, two. “Two” is the number – two gloves, two shoes, etc. Use “too” where you can use “also” in the sentence; “I wanted to improve my rankings and build traffic, too.” You'd use “to” where you don't use the other versions of the word.
Websites and email. Here you'll find some legitimate disagreement. Chicago says that you should use Web sites because it is, after all, the World Wide Web. But “website” has become accepted in informal usage, and you need to consider how people use the search engines. So you might consider using both versions, or even sticking with the less formal version. Likewise, the correct version of those electronic messages we receive is “e-mail.” It can be capitalized or lower case, but it's supposed to have the hyphen. On the other hand, we went from being “on line” to “on-line” to “online,” so you might consider using email in some places on your site, especially if you find searchers using that form more often.
SEOs or SEO's. I've seen some disagreement on this. Chicago says that if you have an abbreviation consisting of all capital letters with no periods, you can form the plural just by adding an “s” without an apostrophe. So SEOs would be correct. Other grammar guides recommend “'s” for the plural in some circumstances for clarity. Personally, I'd say you should use “SEOs” as the plural rather than “SEO's,” for clarity. This way, if you use “SEO's,” your readers will know right away that you're talking about something belonging to an SEO: “the SEO's responsibility to clients,” for example.
For more on this topic, visit: http://www.searchengineguide.com/robin-nobles/top-ten-grammar.php.
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