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Spelling mistakes 'cost millions' in lost online sales

 6:43 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

An online entrepreneur says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses. Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.
via BBC [bbc.co.uk]

...is one mistake really going to make such a big impact? How do you check your spelling?



 8:11 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Whilst it's true that bad spelling and grammar will turn visitors away the headline logic is flawed.

Poor spelling is not costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue. It is just moving customers onto a different website.

Spelling is not the biggest problem IMO. I'd say its grammar: grocers apostrophes, over use, of, commas, there / their ... yada.


 8:21 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Would you buy from a site advertising wigdets? I once saw a posted ad for "dahscund" puppies-- I don't remember the exact (mis)spelling, but do remember being impressed that they made three separate errors. Meaning: they know so little about the breed that they can't even spell its name right, either automatically and unthinkingly or by taking the time to look it up.

Spell checkers are a start but they can't do anything about usage (things like "your" vs. "you're", let alone "by" for "buy" and so on). There are loads of humorous blogs and articles illustrating the point.

It's best to have the page looked over by someone who has never seen it before. If you are small, that means leaving the Preview screen open and not yelling at your teenager/ spouse/ visiting neighbor when they look over your shoulder and say "Um, you misspelled 'Blowout Sale'". If you are big, there are people on your staff who are really good spellers; you just have to find them. I doubt it's their job title. Though maybe it could be ;)


 3:08 pm on Jul 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Top 10 Funny Blunders From Multilingual Marketing Campaigns:



 4:06 pm on Jul 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

First rule of proof reading - you always see what you meant to write not what is actually on the page.

A formal proof reading by a second person should be standard for any document regardless of publication medium.

Its the old story, there are established quality controls for "old" media but they are always disregarded when the medium changes. I have seen it in every aspect of quality assurance (From formal QA procedures established in mainframe days being ignored for client server through to not proof reading a web page because it isn't on paper)


 12:26 am on Jul 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I saw that trash UK story a few days ago. Google bait designed to be passed around the web. How old is the expert quoted and shown? He looks to be about 25.

Hey, I'd expect at least a NewsCorp phone tap to give it some cred.


 1:36 am on Jul 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Top 10 Funny Blunders From Multilingual Marketing Campaigns

Hm, might better be titled "top 10 marketing urban legends". I just knew the "Nova" canard would be in there somewhere. I think it was Snopes whose discussion of this point suggested, by analogy, a dining-room set with the brand name "Notable". You would then have hordes of English speakers saying "No table?! Well, I'm certainly not buying that brand!"


 2:58 am on Jul 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

My first car was actually an ancient 1962 Chevy II Nova. Its "va" was decent, but stopping wasn't so good. I learned everything I know about rust removal from it!

I've heard the "no va" story countless times going back decades. Snopes reveals that the Nova was a pretty good seller in Latin countries. Thanks for pointing that out.



 8:27 am on Jul 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google bait designed to be passed around the web.

Maybe but it still makes a valid point.


 3:20 am on Jul 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

What sort of single misspelling would slash a site's revenues when many shoppers nowadays never get to the homepage and go directly from a search engine to a product page?

I looked at the BBC's cited site. Its homepage is so cluttered that I can't image that any one spelling mistake would be noticed by many visitors.

But one utter disaster comes to mind from my experience... a large local retail store whose site for the longest time consisted only of two words:
Comming Soon


 6:04 am on Jul 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yeah, people search the web via search engines and go to the product page directly. It really doesn't matter if the spelling is wrong or misspelled. Instead, if the misspelled keyword has high traffic, why not misspell your keyword and drive that traffic to your site?

Ultimately it boils down to individual case and situation. And as someone rightly said here, the traffic or customers are just passing on to other sites from one site. That doesn't mean UK is losing millions, it rather means, someone else is making more money in UK than the first one.


 8:55 pm on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

why not misspell your keyword and drive that traffic to your site?

Showing results for google is smarter than that. Search instead for goggle is smarrtr then taht


 9:10 pm on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Rache123 - I have done this to bring in traffic


 10:42 pm on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Essex_boy -

I used to do it too - an odd misspelling here or there (my main keyword is a compound word with two s's - actually, a lot like "misspelling" - easy to misspell (missspell, mispell, miss-spell, mis-spell)

I found it much less effective once google started correcting searchers' spelling for them. It's a trade-off. The risk is that a searcher who comes across the misspelling may think you're unprofessional. The traffic used to justify that. It doesn't any more. YMMV.


 2:05 am on Sep 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

This was such a great article! The biggest impact of misspellings and typos may be more related to missed sales opportunities than with the unprofessional feel of a store with misspellings. Many ecommerce stores were built with late 90s search engines with little fuzziness. If a visitor either misspells a query or if products have misspelled descriptions, there is no search result. Such stores need to either consider a different commerce platform (a few have good quality search engines) or better yet one of the store search add-ons like Nextopia, Exorbyte Commerce, or SLI systems.

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