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Content mistakes matter. The lack of an Oxford comma can lead an appellate judge to overturn a ruling for a labor dispute. An incorrectly entered input from Amazon reportedly cost S&P 500 companies $150 million. A single letter swap can even result in you calling your aunt a very naughty word.
Typos are bound to happen when you write. The key is to find and fix them before what you write hits the web. Just imagine that you're a small business adding their location to their site. Well, instead of Butte, your company now resides in Butt, Montana. It's a simple mistake that will never pop up in spell check, grammar check, or whatever check, but it's still going to make you look like an ass.
Why Does the Quality of My Content Matter?
There are a few reasons. One is that sloppy content can take your users right out of the intended reading experience. Not only can misspellings or other mistakes be distracting, they can also lead the reader to believe that this business doesn't pay attention to detail or doesn't care how they're perceived online. That's not a good look for a business.
Another big reason is because Google says so. The all-powerful rulers of searchlandia name quality content as one of their top ranking factors. When Google's Quality Rater Guidelines leaked back in 2014, the document placed an emphasis on professionally-written content. Sloppy sentences and the occasional spelling mistake just won't do for human testers, which can hurt how well your pages rank for valuable keywords.
Heavens to Murgatroyd! How Do I Fix This?
I'm glad you asked! There are several tricks and tools you can use to help you catch those pesky misspellings, sneaky homonyms, and other problematic content mistakes that can hurt your content marketing efforts.
1. Use Spell Check and Other Online Tools
This tip should come as no surprise. Spell checks have been helping writers for decades. Microsoft Word's built-in spell checking system is one of the most well-known tools, and those squiggly red lines highlighting misspellings can be the difference between embarasing tpyos and clean copy.
If you're not a fan of writing in Word or any other tool without a built-in spell check, there are plenty of online tools you can use. For example, you can copy and paste text in the Hemingway app and it will check your spelling, as well as other writing issues. However, spell check is not going to be right all of the time. Technical verbiage or uncommon words may get flagged as incorrect just because the spell check doesn't recognize them. Don't be afraid to overrule the tool if you know it's the right call.
2. All Eyes on Deck
After enough time, even a break won't be enough to help you find certain mistakes. Your brain can become numb to certain typos, blinding you from certain mistakes that you would have found in other content.
This happens because your brain knows exactly what you're trying to convey in your post, page, or whatever piece you're preparing. New readers won't have that level of familiarization and are more likely to notice errors, odd phrasings, and other issues.
That's why an extra set of eyes can prove to be so helpful. A separate editor can review content with a fresh perspective, catching those dastardly errors in addition to providing feedback on the overall composition of your piece.
3. Read Out Loud
There are few things that can really ruin the flow of a good article like an awkwardly-written sentence. Missing words, changing tenses, and other common mistakes can turn a perfectly good string of words into a written monstrosity.
You'd think that your brain would catch a mangled string of words, but we've already learned that your brain can trick you into thinking your prose is perfect. That's why it can help to read your writing out loud.
Verbalizing your words can help you hear your mistakes for yourself. That sentence you thought was great? It certainly doesn't sound all the good when you forgot a verb or changed tenses halfway through. Reading your text out loud doesn't have to be, well, loud either. You don't have to stand up in the middle of the office and recite your copy like it's Walt Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!" Just read it back to yourself and fix any issues when you find them.
Don't do this. Nobody wants this.
4. Take a Break
Even professional copywriters need to step away every now and then. Writing fatigue happens, especially if you're not used to regularly churning out quality content.
Don't be afraid to take a break from your copy if you notice yourself making more mistakes or struggling with your message. If you aren't facing a deadline, save your draft and revisit it the next day. You may realize that your intro should be restructured or that you aren't using that fancy word correctly. Once your brain has reset and you can approach your content with a fresh outlook, you'll be ready to pump out a real slice of fried gold.
Gotta Catch 'Em All
As Osgood Fielding III said in Some Like it Hot, nobody's perfect. You're bound to make mistakes. I even misspelled the word "misspelled" while writing this post and spell check caught it. Part of creating quality content is accepting that mistakes happen and doing your best to fix them before your copy goes live. By following the four tips listed in this article, you'll have Google's human testers thanking you from wherever that company keeps them. Any tips/tricks to catch typos that we've missed? Let us know on Twitter @aztekweb.