There’s a big difference between articles, especially with regards to article quality.In short, if you want to have any quality to your site at all, you need to set some article quality guidelines.
Now, for all of my blogs and websites that have to do with Internet Marketing, I write my own stuff. All of it. So the words you’re reading now and the words you read on any of my marketing or web development sites are all me. 100%.
But I’ve got lots of other sites, too. For example, I’ve got a website that’s all about orthopedic braces, the Atkins Diet, and many other non-IM sites. And while I don’t necessarily write all of the content for those sites, I do care that the content is of high quality, helpful to its readers, and profitable for me.
Article quality has a lot to do with all of that.
An Article Marketing Quality Story
Following is an email I sent to my partner on one of those sites — a man who used to be an intern of mine but has now gone on to a successful IM career of his own — regarding articles that were written about Ankle Braces. Please read it to learn about the article standards that I require.
I’m sure it will be helpful to you when you’re having content written for your own sites.
We use the tools mentioned below (see the links) to analyze each of the articles you write, so please make sure you use the same tools to check your own work.
We require a readability score of 65 or more, and a grade level of 7.0 to 8.9 or lower. Details are below.
If you have any questions, feel free to write me.
Okay, are you ready for something really eye-opening?
I think these articles are written in a very corporate kind of way, and it’s not at all something that
I’d want to read. They sound more like advertisements, rather than helpful articles. I, for one, would click away from any page that had text like this on it.
You may wonder why, but it’s because they just sound so stuffy, overly formal, and impersonal.
So check this out…
I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but good web copy, good sales copy, and good content of any kind (except for medical or technical journals) should be written at an 8th grade level.
I don’t know how to measure it myself, but I just naturally write that way. (No, I’m not still an 8th grader.)
Here’s a paragraph from the first article, below.
By wearing the McDavid Ankle Brace, athletes can both treat and prevent all types of ankle injuries including high ankle injuries. High ankle injuries are typically characterized by pain that is intensified when the ankle is rotated out and the inability to walk. These types of injuries are often accompanied by significant bruising. Ankle injuries occur when the ankle is twisted sharply and include injuries such as strains, sprains, and avulsion fractures. Many individuals that have experienced an ankle injury will likely experience recurring ankle injuries. The McDavid Ankle Brace can provide the ankle support athletes need to prevent initial or recurring ankle injuries or aid in the healing process of current ankle injuries by providing much needed stability and support to the injured ankle.
Read it, and think about what it says. Do you understand it? If you were wondering which brace to get, would it help you? Do you like reading it?
Do you want to read more from the same place this came from?
If I asked you about the article quality, would you say it was good?
I’m guessing that the answre to all of those questions is an emphatic NO.
Okay, now here’s the same information, rewritten the way that *I* would write it, and want to read it.
If you’ve got a bad ankle injury, like a high ankle injury, then the McDavid Angle Brace might be the right brace for you. You’ll know that you have a high ankle injury (rather than a low ankle injury) if your ankle hurts more when you twist or turn on your ankle, or if you just can’t walk.
Also, if you’ve got a high ankle injury, you will probably have a lot of bruising, too.
So how do people usually hurt their ankles? Usually it’s when your ankle gets twisted sharply. The injury is not always a sprain, but could be as simple as a strain, or as bad as an avulsion fracture.
The bad news is that if you’ve injured your ankle, there’s a very good chance that you’ll re-injure your ankle again later, so be careful. That’s why people get Ankle Braces.
And that’s exactly what the McDavid Ankle Brace is for. It helps to support your ankle so that you can avoid hurting your ankle again. The McDavid Ankle Brace stabilizes and supports your ankle, and helps to prevent an injury even if you’ve never had an ankle sprain, strain or fracture before.
Same questions: Do you understand it? If you were wondering which brace to get, would it help you? Do you like reading it? Do you want to read more from the same place this came from?
If I asked you about the article quality, would you say that it was good?
I’m guessing that your answer is YES to all of the questions.
Remember, these two articles say exactly the same thing but your experience of reading them is totally different!
Article Quality Guidelines
So what’s the difference in the two text samples?
- I wrote in the active tense, rather than passive.
- I asked and answered questions, rather than made a speech.
- I wrote like I speak, instead of how I’d react if I were pretending to be a corporate CEO or politician
- I used shorter words (hurt, worse) instead of long ones (injury, intensified).
- I used shorter sentences instead of long ones.
- I used shorter paragraphs instead of long ones.
Basically, everything is shorter and simpler and more personal, which is kind of what you would expect from an 8th grader’s writing, versus a college age person’s writing.
So can I give you “stats” for readability based on word size and stuff like that? No, not me personally. But I discovered yesterday a website that will measure readability for me.
According to the website, which you’ll find here,
…the original paragraph gets a “readability” score of 31.40 (0-100, higher is better, and this is low), and an average grade-level score of 14.68 (closest to 8.0 is best, this is too high). That means that this text is written for someone who has had an average of 2 to 3 years of college!
By comparison, my rewrite of the paragraph got a readability score of 69.70, and an average grade-level score of 8.20.
Big difference, eh?
But you knew the rewritten text was easier to read, got its point across better, and was more helpful even before you saw the scores, didn’t you?
Article Outsourcing Problems
If you’re going to outsource your writing to someone, it’s pretty hard to say “write it so that I like reading it better.” You’d go back and forth a dozen times or more before your writer got it right.
But with objective ratings like these, it’s much more clear, and simpler, to require that your articles be written to meet your standards.
I’d recommend that you set some article quality guidelines for the writing you’re paying for, such as a readability score of 65 or better, and a grade level score between 7.5 and 8.9.
I think if you make these specs part of your job, in addition to your other keyword density and accuracy requirements, you’ll get back articles that require less editing, attract more traffic, and generate more money in the long run.
Was that helpful? Let me know.