The Internet is often used as an alternative to traditional sources of information such as newspapers and libraries. Entering only a few keystrokes in a search box can generate results that reference thousands of articles. Since there are no content police overseeing the quality of the content on the Internet, searching for reliable information using this method is basically a crap shoot. That may sound harsh, but anyone can contribute content to the Internet. Consumers of digital information are, however, becoming more discriminating. There is no magic formula for gaining a reader’s attention. Accomplishing this feat is more about understanding their needs than creating brilliant prose. If an article does not meet the minimum standards of its audience, the content often ends up as clutter on the Internet.
Writing is how I enjoy spending most of my time and how I earn a living. I realize there are some people who don’t enjoy writing as much as I do and simply want to write articles to draw traffic to their website. Hiring a professional writer can help, but is not always the practicable option. Regardless of your experience and knowledge, it is possible to create quality content. There are several elements that can raise the quality of your articles. Making sure your articles contain value and are accurate and grammatical correct is a great place to start.
Provide Something of Value
Repeat after me: “I will not write fluff. I will not write fluff.” Adding articles to your website is one of the best ways to attract traffic and increase your position in search engines. Shortcutting quality to get content on your website quickly does a disservice to visitors to your website and to yourself as well. Websites with low-quality content usually aren’t around very long.
The following are types of articles that provide value to readers:
- Informational – Provide insight into a particular topic. Do you have a creative way of accomplishing a task that relates to the product or service you’re offering? Do you have a unique skillset? Share it!
- Instructional – DIY (do-it-yourself) information is quite popular on the Internet. Articles of this type are typically organized into step-by-step instructions.
- Editorial – News is big in any medium. People want to be kept informed and the news, good or bad, is a way to satisfy that need.
- Entertainment – These types of articles are usually lighthearted and written to amuse the reader.
Keep it Accurate
The accuracy of your articles speaks volumes about your credibility. I would like to think that people don’t choose to provide inaccurate information—they just don’t know any better. You have two options when choosing to writer an article: write about things you know or write about things you don’t know. If you choose the latter, use reliable sources and give credit to the authors. How do you know if an Internet resource is reliable?
Consider the following:
Who is the author? Yahoo! Answers can be a fun and quick way to obtain answers to questions, but its content is probably low on the scale of reliability. Do some research and learn as much as possible about the author. Focus your research on the author’s experience and reputation rather than their credentials.
What’s the date of the content? When using reliable sources, you want to use the most current information. If a resource doesn’t include a visible date, contact the author for the information.
Where does the content originate? The Internet consists of different types of websites. You can find resources for your articles from websites whose main focus is commercial, journalistic, or personal. Each of these types of websites has a different purpose. Content provided by governmental, educational, and professional organizations is a great place to start because their content typically undergoes a rigorous review process. Individuals with personal websites are also able to provide reliable information. Just be sure to verify the author’s credibility.
If you don’t want to perform research or you lack the time, the best thing to do is write about topics you do know.
Check Your Spelling and Grammar
An effective writer’s toolbox should include a grammar and spelling resource. The Purdue OWL is an online resource that I often use for a grammar refresher. If you want to improve your grammar skills, the OWL website includes a learning section with spelling and grammar exercises. Grammar Girl is another one of my favorite online grammar resources.
There are many online dictionaries. My old standby since college, in hardback and online, is Merriam Webster. Of course, you can look up the definition of words in either version. The online version also allows you to search for terms that are common to a particular topic. This is particularly usual for writing articles on topics for which you are unfamiliar.
Not interested in improving your grammar and spelling skills? Shame on you! There are arguments that they are making us lazy (a topic for another day), but most word processors such as Microsoft® Word® include features spelling and grammar check features. At the very least, let someone else lay eyes on your content. You would be surprised at how much you overlook when reviewing your own writing.
I wish you well in your writing endeavors.