You’re probably aware that much of the content found online is misleading at best and unfortunately, a good amount is downright false. That makes writing credible, accurate content not only a necessity but also a bit more difficult.
Presenting yourself as a business that is authoritative and credible is important for long-term relationships, trust, and customer loyalty. If you rely on online resources to find your facts, then you have to take a few extra steps to make sure you’re using credible information.
The following steps can help you improve your credibility and earn the trust of your audience.
Presenting Facts and Data
When you add facts and data to your content, you help add credibility to it. Instead of an article or blog post being 100% opinion, facts add a level of information and value that gives your piece more impact. For example, think about the difference between the following sentences:
Many people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions by February.
According to a CNN poll, 79% of people who made New Year’s Resolutions this year gave them up by February.
The second sentence, with a fact and a source, has more credibility and therefor more value. It puts the information in context and helps the reader trust it more as well as connect to the information more. Make sure the facts you present are relevant to your content and that you include your source.
Quotes are another way to add credibility and value to your content. Like facts, they should be relevant to your content and add interest and value to it. When quoting someone else, make sure not to get carried away. Use a few sentences and perhaps a paragraph or two, depending on how you’re using it. However, using more of the quote opens the door to copyright issues, even if you give credit to the original author.
Finding the Original Source
With so much false information online, it can be difficult to find the original source of something. First, consider googling the fact that you want to use. For example, you might find this fact on a website, “79% of people who made New Year’s Resolutions this year gave them up by February.”
Google it and see where else the fact shows up. Even if you find it on dozens of other sites doesn’t make it true. You’ll want to find the first website that published the fact. Look at the date of the article or post. Look to see if any of the articles sourced their quote. Do a bit of digging. What you’re looking for is called “Primary Sources.”
“Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects, which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts, or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.” (Source: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/)
Tips for Verifying Facts
When trying to verify a fact, the following tips can help:
• Find the primary source. This can take some digging.
• Look at the URL. For example, cnn.com is a legitimate news source, but cnn.com.co is not.
• Read the “about us” page. This section should tell what the company that published the story does. This can give you an idea about whether it’s a legitimate source.
• Does the website cite their facts? If so, follow that link and evaluate the source.
Adding facts and quotes to your content improves the value of your material. It also adds credibility and authority. When you cite your sources, it increases trust through transparency. Sure, you have to do a little bit of extra digging to make sure the information is factual and accurate. However, your reputation and your audience are worth it. Additionally, you can outsource research and fact checking to your virtual assistant, making the process simple and easy.