Dragon Slaying 101: Writing Original Content

As a content creator, I am probably one of a limited number people in this world who love research and writing. Sometimes I have little more to work with than a basic idea or a handful of links centered on a topic, but I thoroughly enjoy learning something new and writing about it.

I realize not everyone feels this way.

Imagine my disappointment, though, when I’m deep into researching a topic and find the same information in several places – the same words, in the same order, right down to the punctuation. Admittedly, I tend to dig deeper in my research than the average search engine user, but it’s still discouraging just how often I run into this issue.

Presenting original content on a website takes time and effort, and not all businesses see the point of it. There is a point, however, and that point is twofold: to provide value to your reader and to improve your site’s search ranking. Businesses that pirate content from other sites pay the price in a lowered search engine ranking, and rightfully so.

Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons

Credit: Wikipedia

In medieval times, map makers would denote uncharted (and therefore unknown) areas with images of fearsome creatures such as dragons or sea serpents, sometimes with the phrase “Here Be Dragons” to further underscore their point. It was their way of warning travelers away from uncharted areas, lest they fall off the edge of the earth. It was enough to keep most from straying too far from the known world. The few hardy and intrepid souls who dared venture into dragon territory sometimes discovered new and wondrous things, and even survived to tell the folks back home what they found. It was pretty heady stuff.

Companies that rubberstamp copy from other sources are, in effect, employing their own version of “here be dragons” – effectively saying to search engines, “nothing to see here, folks.” The search engine spiders that crawl sites respond accordingly, forcing a site with pirated content down the results list. If you want to improve your ranking, you need to enter that dragon-infested territory and slay a few by instead posting original content.

Website Content is Important…

Most companies understand that a website is an important part of their marketing efforts. In today’s fast-paced marketing climate, a website is not optional. Nothing beats a website for 24/7 promotion of your business, and that’s why the content found on your website – both on static pages and on a blog, if you choose to have one – needs to be 100% unique.

…And Original Content is Valuable

In today’s business world, everything is geared toward productivity, and if you’re not actively working toward advancing your business, you’re falling behind. This is why some companies take the easy way out on their content and simply copy from other sources. They think they can’t take the time away from the day-to-day operation of their business to come up with original content for their site. And yet, original content is every bit as important as site design and functionality. Original content is valuable, both from the standpoint of customer experience and from the perspective of search engine traffic.

Where does original content come from?

There are certain aspects of your business that are unique to your company. It could be your staff, or your business philosophy, or your amazing customer service. And while you may be offering the same basic set of widgets as your competitors, what you bring to that set of widgets is what sets you apart. The content on your website is an extension of your company brand. Taking the time to put original content on your site will benefit your business by helping it to get found.

Ask yourself – what parts of my business set me apart from my competition? Address those in your content. What kinds of questions do your customers ask? Answer those questions. Be just as real online as you are when you’re face-to-face with your customers. That’s where you’ll find original content.

In other words, to paraphrase every writing teacher I’ve ever had:  write what you know.

Is it really that important?

It really is. Creating original content takes time and effort, and you have to care about the basics of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but the rewards are measurable. Original content helps to punch your ticket to better search engine rankings, and original content is more engaging (and therefore more apt to be shared) than content of any other type.

However, if you truly can’t spare the time for crafting your own content, don’t enjoy writing, or don’t have confidence in your own writing ability, creating content can feel like a burden. That’s where hiring a content creator can help you tremendously. Outsourcing your content alleviates the majority of that burden, and content creators (like me) love this kind of stuff.