Attention tourism business online marketing professionals and content managers: When was the last time you proofread your entire website to find and correct spelling mistakes? Do you have a written policy in place that requires every staff member to proofread and spell check content before it goes live, whether it is a tweet, event listing, Facebook wall post, or your booking information web page?
Why Travel Companies Should Worry About Spelling Mistakes
I can almost guarantee that you have at least a few spelling and grammatical issues right now on your website or in your tourism marketing materials (e.g. email templates, travel newsletters, social media profile). Typos and spelling mistakes are glaringly visible on all too many travel websites, social network posts, deal-of-the-day sites, and trip promotional emails.
A minor spelling mistake or two is just a minor deal, right? These typos are a reflection on your business so it must be your goal to correct them fast or risk being dismissed as untrustworthy and turning off travelers that are ready to book.
Ignoring travel content problems harms your ability to promote your tourism business as trustworthy. If you are not careful and detail-oriented about what you say online, visitors may assume that you will be careless and sloppy when it comes to delivering the travel products and services you are selling.
Based on the thousands of travel websites and emails I’ve come across from around the world, I’ve come to realize that spell checking is a content publishing last step that is often forgotten. I think it is fair to say that numerous sites created by website design firms for small and medium tourism business (SMB) haven’t been fully spell checked since they were first published to the Web.
Don’t make the wrong assumption that content already on the Internet is perfect or cannot be modified. You can fix these mistakes – your visitors and the search engines will both thank you.
The online marketing experts offer one more critical reason to fix spelling issues: search engines such as Google may lower your ranking if web page content fails a spelling test.
Here is one of the many SEO and conversion optimization articles on this subject by the people at Search Editors:
It is All About Trust in your Tourism Business
The trustworthiness of your travel business is at stake so why harm your reputation by ignoring easy to fix errors? Every visitor that notices sloppiness on a web page and clicks away to your competition is a lost opportunity. Gain their trust by publishing clean and easy-to-read content that is free from spelling mistakes and you’ll be more likely to gain a new customer.
Spell Check and Grammar Check Your Tourism Website Every Quarter
What to Proofread
- Your Home Page
- All landing pages (used for making offers to people that click on your ads)
- Every web page accessible via navigation menus, buttons, and the sitemap
- Email newsletter templates and final drafts before you click the Send All button
- Promotional materials published in PDF format for download from your website
- Email message snippet text used for copy/paste responses to customer queries
- Automatically sent email messages (also called auto-responders) such as “Thank You for Contacting Us” and “Booking Confirmation” messages
- External content that is under your control which appears in online directories and listed at partner and booking websites
- Social media profiles and business pages on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, TripAdvisor, and related sites
How to Proofread a Travel Website
There are three levels of spell checking and proofreading that must be done to feel confident that your online tourism content is free of mistakes. The same rules apply whether your site was built with a website design desktop software package such as Dreamweaver or CoffeeCup HTML Editor, a Content Management System (CMS) such as Joomla or DotNetNuke, or a blogging platform such as WordPress.
Level 1 Tourism Website Proofreading: Editor Spell Check
Running a spell check and fixing spelling mistakes as you write and edit travel content before it goes live to the Internet is the first level of proofreading. All popular website and web page editors offer instant spell checking or have a dedicated built in spell check feature. Use it!
The instant spell check shows a squiggly line (usually red in color – see below) beneath a word that is flagged for spelling, otherwise you must click the Spelling button or menu item to trigger the check when you are done writing. In both cases you can take advantage of a custom dictionary which allows you to add your unique and often misspelled travel brand keywords, slogans, and trademarked terms.
It is important to document your website modification work flow so that everybody who has permission to make changes or additions to your tourism website and social media personas (e.g. Facebook wall and Twitter feed) knows how to follow the same procedure.
For all your previously published web-based content, you will have to go through the tedious task of opening every web page, post, article, and content module in edit mode in order to look for flagged misspellings and/or click the Spell Check button.
Extra Tip: For those of you without an online content management system with a built-in revision history feature (to track and list every change made over time and by whom), use a spreadsheet to also document all changes that are made to live travel content.
Level 2 Tourism Website Proofreading: Live Website Testing
So you may now think that your website is free from spelling errors but you must proceed to level 2 to hunt for more issues. Most websites have at least some generated (dynamic) content and what you see in the HTML editor is not the entire picture of what your visitors will see in their browser. Web pages are made up of headers, menus, navigation, sidebars, content areas, forms, widgets, embedded media, footers, plus user account and database content that is customized to the specific user and what they are doing.
Here is a typical example with dynamic content that is not visible unless you test the site by pretending to be a typical visitor. Typing ”rafting trips” into the Search box may result in one common typo (‘teh’ instead of ‘the’) and one common grammatical issue (should be 1 “Page’ and not “Pages” since only one result was found).
You Search Found 1 Pages for teh Terms: "rafting trips"
Simply proofreading each web page and email template is not enough to find every text snippet that may be appear to a potential customer planning a trip. How visitors navigate and interact with your site determines which dynamic phrases and words will actually appear.
Level 3 Tourism Website Proofreading: Automated Spell Check Tools
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just automate the spell checking of your entire website? I have recently come across several online tools that claim to offer this service and I plan to try and review them in a future post. I do not have extensive experience using any of these tech solutions, so I cannot offer any recommendations quite yet.
For now be aware that some services only do a partial website spell check while others offer a free trial after which you have to pay for the service to receive more results. Remember that spelling check and grammar check are different, so while you may think you are getting off easy by automating the process, content on your booking website should always be read by a human at the final stage to catch common grammatical issues.
To proofread content outside of your web pages, I recommend that you copy and paste the content as text (without HTML formatting) to your favorite word processing application such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Once you have pasted all content from the multiple sources described above, run the spell and grammar check and make the corrections indicated. By selecting the Proofreading mode in Microsoft Word, you can turn on Track Changes so that corrections made are highlighted. Tracking changes is a smart way to view each fix in order to manually make a matching change to the web or html source file.
Tips to Avoid Spelling and Grammar Mistakes in the Future
- Train your staff to proofread every piece of travel content and to ask at least one other person to do the same before it is published or sent out online. Proofreading from bottom to top can make it easier to catch mistakes.
- Write lengthy web content in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and use their powerful built-in spell and grammar checking features to get it right before copying and pasting the content to your website editor.
- Break up longer sentences into shorter ones. This helps to avoid complex grammatical constructs. Short sentences are easier for trip planners to read in a browser or mobile device. By keeping it short and simple, visitors will quickly determine whether to book travel with your business.
- On your feedback page, tell visitors to contact you if they find any problem with your website including spelling errors. This will raise your reputation as a trustworthy travel business.
Tell Us About Your Tourism Website After Spell Checking
Report back to BookingCounts.com below by adding a comment after following this advice and spell checking your tourism business website. How many mistakes did you find and fix and what other practices, policies, and software tools do you recommend?