When it comes to succeeding on the web, original content is pretty much gold. Content is what brings the majority of visitors to any site and it’s what enables Google to correctly index and categorize that site as well. Content is both why people visit a website and how they find it.
The problem though, is that a surprising number of webmasters and even “writers” don’t really know how to develop original content. It’s not just that they don’t know how to create high quality content – it’s that they don’t know how to create original posts… at all.
Here then, we’ll go over everything you need to know about creating original content so that you can start populating your site with the kind of writing that you need as a webmaster; or writing that type of content as a freelancer.
What is Original Content? And Why Copyscape Has Nothing to do With It
The extent of the problem is evident when you realize that a lot of writers actually don’t even realize what original content actually is. Take a look on Warrior Forum or even oDesk or Elance and you’ll often see writers proudly proclaiming that their content is ‘100% Copyscape Passed’.
For the uninitiated, Copyscape is an online tool that allows you to check whether duplicates of any content exist online. In other words, if you order a passage of text from a writer, you can use this to make sure that your writers aren’t just copying and pasting that content from another site. Alternatively, it can also be used to ensure that content isn’t derivative to the point of being ‘essentially’ stolen.
But there’s a subtext here. When a writer says that they have tested their content against Copyscape and that it has passed 100%, what they are essentially saying is that ‘yes, it is derivative but I’ve checked it so it’s okay’.
The point here being: truly unique content doesn’t need testing against Copyscape. Just because you have reworded an article to the point where an algorithm can no longer tell it’s plagiarized, that doesn’t mean that it’s ‘original’. When you actually write original content, you aren’t just searching for the top result on Google – you’re actually constructing something entirely new.
Isn’t All Content Derivative?
If you’re a writer and you’re asked to write about ‘heat mass flow meters’ then of course you’re going to have to do some research – unless you happen to have written on this topic previously. That doesn’t mean though that you’re going to simply look for the top results on Google and then rephrase them. That isn’t original writing, it’s actually ‘human spinning’.
Spinning is the process of rewriting an article so that it says the exact same thing – with the same structure and same points – but with different vocabulary. This can be performed by a piece of software called an ‘article spinner’ but it can also be done ‘by hand’ as it were, which is referred to as ‘human spinning’. This is not original content.
What if you were to take two articles and to reword them? Would that still be human spinning rather than original writing? The line becomes a bit blurrier here but really you shouldn’t be using any type of ‘reference’ at all while you’re writing.
Instead, you should read up on the subject by examining multiple different articles and posts on the subject and then you should write something completely fresh, simply using the information that you’ve learned to fuel your own narrative.
And the most important part of this is that your article should be making original points, in an original way. You should write with your own (natural) writing style to lend consistency to your blog/work and you should write about the topic while offering something new and different. If you’re writing about a Heat Mass Flow Pump then don’t just write ‘What is a Heat Mass Flow Pump’, instead find a way to bring something new to the subject. That might be ‘What is a Heat Mass Flow Pump for Dummies’ or it might be ‘Seven Everyday Appliances That Use Heat Mass Flow Pumps’. This way you’ve read other articles for your inspiration but what you’ve produced is in no way a ‘version’ of any of them. And the only reason you should be opening them is to double check your facts.
Why You Need Original Content
At this point, you might now be asking yourself ‘why does it matter’? As long as you’re getting new content and it’s not breaching copyright law, who cares how similar it is to other existing writing? (Apart from the fact that you may in fact be in breach of copyright if you’re just human spinning…)
Well, for starters derivative content is boring and no-one wants to read it. If you’re hoping for your content to stand any chance of going viral then it needs to offer something completely new to the subject. Even if that’s just covering a common topic but in a different tone of voice. It doesn’t matter but it needs to be original. Would you read the same article you’ve seen a hundred times before?
Moreover, Google can tell the difference. Google doesn’t just want you to create lots of content, it wants you to add content that is interesting, relevant, new, deep and accurate. Why? Because that’s what Google’s users want and as long as Google gives its users what they want, then it will remain number one. In the past, it was possible to ‘trick’ Google with a few metrics but today the algorithms are getting increasingly smart and it’s pretty difficult to pull the wool over the bots’ eyes. And with time, Google will only get smarter, so you need to create great content just in order to be future-proof.
Content that is clearly copied or scraped will actually hurt your rankings. This is why duplicate content has no value on the web – once Google has indexed it it’s of no use to future sites. Likewise, Google doesn’t like content that is clearly spun or scraped because it’s generally just a low quality attempt to ‘dupe’ the search engine at the expense of delivering quality entertainment/information.
Why Great Quality Content Will Only Matter More in Future
According to this article, Google is starting to use a ‘knowledge-based trust score’. In other words, it’s reading the facts in your content and if they’re inaccurate then that’s going to hurt your ranking. Other programs already do this: for instance there’s a browser plugin called ‘LazyTruth’ that can identify hoax emails.
The ‘Ranking Factors Study 2014’ report from SearchMetrics listed the following as crucial factors in helping content to rank:
- Semantically comprehensive content
- Long form content
- Media enriched content
- Easy to read content
Length is a very important factor here, with posts that are longer almost always appearing higher than shorter ones. In fact, longer content even tends to get more external links and of course it has a higher potential for increasing the time viewers spend on the page. Here are some more images and charts.
We already know that Google likes it when you link out to quality sources and there’s been a lot of buzz about an increasing use of semantics and context. No longer is it sufficient to just fill your content with the same few keywords, instead you need to write knowledgeably around the subject. It’s becoming much harder to ‘fake it’. You can read more at BuzzSumo here.
And if Copyscape is capable of telling whether an article is based heavily on another piece, don’t you think Google is going to have very similar capabilities built in? And probably more advanced ones at that? Seeing as it’s actually capable of fact checking and other advanced operations, telling whether you’re just rewording someone else’s work will be child’s-play.
In other words, your content needs to be in-depth, it needs to deliver the facts and it needs to be completely original. Our own site at www.bugeriegar.com meets all these criteria and that’s why it ranks at number 2 for budgeriegar.
Using truly high quality and original content, you can actually perform very well on Google even without doing a ton of extra marketing. It really is the difference between a high performing site and a less successful one.
What to do With This Information?
So what do you do with this information? As a freelance writer, you need to take this all on board when you’re writing your original content. It really isn’t okay to just do a search for the top ranking piece and then rewrite it. Instead, you need to read around the subject, learn it and then produce something entirely new that sheds a new light on the topic.
Each piece of content you produce should:
- Be completely unique to the point where you don’t even need Copyscape
- Be factually accurate and heavily researched
- Be long, in-depth and comprehensive
- Include external links, LSI keywords and easy-to-read pros
As for those webmasters and bloggers hiring freelancers, this is what you need to be looking for when you hire someone to write for you. Ask yourself whether this is genuinely top-tier content. Ask whether you would read it if you saw it on someone else’s site and make sure to check the facts and to make sure that the copy isn’t derivative of what’s already out there.