Improving your Blog with Grammarly Free and Premium

There is much more to excellent blog writing than your browser’s spellchecker. WordPress options are limited. Grammarly Free (or Premium) results in a massive improvement in the written quality of your WordPress site for both human visitors and search engines.

I have to admit a significant degree of scepticism on my part to the various advertisements for Grammarly over the past several months. After starting with Grammarly Free, I realized I’d wrongly based this judgment on other (looking at you Word auto-complete and spell-check!) and older tools that had claimed to do what Grammarly achieves.

What finally had me try Grammarly was regularly spotting grammatical and spelling (mostly ‘wrong word’) errors in my posts several days after initially publishing them. I enjoy researching and writing. Proofreading, not so much! I dived into the free edition to see if my editing experience could be improved.

Written page quality is important

Content is king, and nothing speaks authority and trust like quality content. Site visitors look for readable, accurate, and polished content. Provide that, and your site visitors will remain hooked. Spelling or grammatical errors high up on the page can result in a visitor hitting that back button instantly.

Most serious bloggers are on a journey striving forwards towards perfection in their writing. I realised I’d spot the same content mistakes a day or two after publishing a new post. Spellchecking isn’t infallible; a correctly spelt word out of context is hard to spot.

Quality is more than spellchecking

WordPress doesn’t come with an inbuilt spellchecker. Instead, WordPress relies on the browsers spellchecker. Using a correctly spelt word in the wrong context is hard to spot, especially when reading your own creation. Using ‘in’ where ‘on’ should be used is a simple, yet hard to spot mistake when proofreading.

Grammarly correctly spelt word in wrong context
Grammarly ‘in’ or ‘on’ suggestion

Using Grammarly with WordPress

Straight to the chase, there is no specific Grammarly plugin for WordPress. BUT the experience of using either the Google Chrome or Firefox browser extensions is, to be honest, pretty amazing. I’m not sure what a specific WordPress plugin would add to the experience. Perhaps batch-checking or some post quality stats along the lines of how YOAST displays SEO and Readability status at a glance in the ‘All Posts’ view.

Improve content with Grammarly Free

The Grammarly Free extension provides spelling and conciseness checking. For many bloggers, this will be sufficient. Grammarly has done a great job in making mistakes easy to see and resolve. Accuracy of spelling and grammatical suggestions is incredible.

Spell Checking WordPress with Grammarly

The short clip below demonstrates the spellcheck highlighting and the user interface for fixing mistakes.

Grammarly spelling correction in WordPress

Grammar checking is simple to use with a well designed user-interface

Grammarly grammar editing in WordPress

Grammarly Free conciseness check

The free version also comes with conciseness checking. Conciseness is essential for readers. Since using Grammarly, conciseness has been the most significant ongoing recommendation it has made for my writing style. I have a long way to go, progress not perfect, right!

We often tend to over-use words such as ‘very’, ‘basically’ and ‘actually’ in places they add no value to the sentence. Standard current SEO advice also pushes towards trying to hit higher word counts. In time, as Google tweaks it’s algorithms, pushing word count may count against a webpage if clarity suffers.

Grammarly conciseness suggestion
Grammarly conciseness suggestion

Using Grammarly Premium to nail content quality

The most significant risk in using Grammarly Free is that the insights provided leave you wondering what else can be improved in your writing. I found myself opting for the Premium subscription pretty quickly, thankfully there was a 40% fee on the annual subscription at the time.

While the free version covers most needs, I don’t regret paying the subscription for premium. I’m learning a great deal about my writing style. The grammar suggestions are an excellent opportunity to pause and rethink a sentence or paragraph.

In summary Premium gives access to the following additional features:

  • Readability
  • Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
  • Genre-specific writing style checks
  • Plagiarism detector

Genre-specific writing style checks are incredible useful. As shown in the image and short video clip below, there are a good range or writing style options.

Grammarly writing goals
Grammarly writing goals

Most of the premium features are readily available when editing a post in WordPress. Sadly this is a block by block feature, to get the overall document score for example, a quick copy and paste into the Grammarly editor is needed.

Grammarly accessing premium features from WordPress editor

Issues using Grammarly with WordPress

The interaction between Grammarly and WordPress isn’t without the occasional issue. I’ve found these crop up infrequently and sort themselves out after editing a different page block and then coming back. Most of the quirks seem to be with WordPress now moving to blocks on pages and posts.

  • Occasionally after fixing a WordPress block with Grammarly, if you then undo then redo some edits using ctrl-z and ctrl-shift-z Grammarly doesn’t pick up the change in content.
  • Very occasionally, more often with single line paragraphs, trying to click within the Grammarly ‘G’ is almost impossible as is pops-up on hover, but then disappears as you try to move the mouse cursor into the pop-up. See the clip below, the issue is infrequent, but a little irritating.
  • Sometimes you need to leave a block and re-click within the WordPress block to trigger the Grammarly checking of the WordPress block
  • Blocks are checked one by one, using the Chrome extension rather than the Grammarly editor prevents access to some critical overall document characteristics. Writing style and overall document score aren’t available. Thankfully a quick copy-paste into the Grammarly editor gives you the chance to do a final review.
Grammarly in WordPress occasional focus glitch

Passive voice misuse

One of the most insightful suggestions Grammarly repeatedly brings up on my writing was ‘passive voice misuse’. Passive voice is commonly found in literature, where flamboyant and lengthy descriptions can be used. Writing with an Active voice instead provides energy, clarity, and brevity. Grammarly offers an excellent example to contrast an active and passive voice.

Passive – The ball was kicked by Chester.

Active – Chester kicked the ball.

Grammarly

Shifting towards active voice can be challenging. For example, the paragraph above has two passive phrases which are proving elusive to re-write!

Grammarly and WordPress Summary

Grammarly is surprisingly accurate and useful for writers. The product isn’t limited to WordPress editing of course. There is a Grammarly keyboard for mobile to help with social media posts, a plugin for Microsoft Office as well as Grammarly’s own editor.

Grammarly has so far improved my blogging experience and is encouraging me to consider grammar habitually. Following the tips and suggestions is helping increase my focus on writing quality.

I hope Grammarly or a WordPress plugin developer will make use of the Grammarly API and create something similar to YOAST to Grammarly users.

For that critical document or post, Grammarly even offers a real human proofreading service, which I look forward to trying out.

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