If the digital marketer’s mantra is “content is king”, authenticity is its crown jewel. Now more than ever, with countless blogs ,articles and social media posts being generated faster than any one person could hope to read them all, the importance of writing original content has never been greater.
But how exactly do you go about making sure that your content is original?
In this guide, we’ll do a deep-dive into how to go about verifying the authenticity of your content through several methods, techniques and technologies. Whether you’re a content marketer looking to establish credibility for your brand or you’re a professional that’s looking to avoid plagiarism, this guide will give you the actionable insights you need to make sure your writing is unique and authentically yours.
Why Does Content Authenticity Matter?
There are several reasons why content authenticity is worth paying attention to, namely:
Readers are more likely to trust and engage with content that’s original and credible, meaning that it’s not just well-researched but also factual, interesting and unique. When people trust content, they’re also more likely to share it and link to it.
Improved Search Engine Ranking
Because search engines penalize duplicate content and this can affect your site’s visibility in the search engines, you’ll want to place special importance on making sure that your content is not only unique and original but also worthy of a click, a share and a link.
Plagiarism isn’t just about academic dishonesty, it can also have legal repercussions as well as financial ones which can seriously damage your brand and your reputation.
When you become known for consistently high-quality content, people will seek you out to read more and will tell others about you, growing your audience and keeping them coming back for more.
How to Create Authentic Content
Now that you understand why content authenticity is important, how do you go about creating content that’s unique in the first place? Let’s break it down:
Research and Cite Your Sources
When writing, always keep an ongoing list of the resources you come across, whether you ultimately use them or not. This will make it much easier for you to reference and cite the sources that you do use, while making sure to avoid plagiarism in the process.
Develop Your Voice
Every writer has their own unique style and “writing fingerprint” in the form of their voice. This shows through the content that you write and as you write more and more, becomes a part of your voice.
Developing your own voice means providing your own perspective on a given topic or sharing your own personal stories rather than just parroting what others have said.
Refine Your Work
You won’t hit it out of the park on your first draft. Great writers write several drafts and continue to refine their message until it’s perfect. If you’re not sure whether or not what you’ve written is at the level you’d like it to be, ask your peers or coworkers or use digital tools like Originality.AI’s Text Analyzer and Readability Checker to make sure your writing can not just be read by your target audience, but understood as well.
The readability checker will give you an approximate grade and age level according to how your content is analyzed by several well-known and popular readability checkers like Flesch Kincaid, SMOG and many more.
Common Content Creation Pitfalls
Even if you’ve done all of the above, it’s still deceptively easy to fall into a regular pattern of “churning out content” to the point where all of your content, even though it’s original, starts to sound like everything (and everyone) else.
Here are some common pitfalls to watch for:
Overuse of Quotes
Writers and content creators walk a fine line between leveraging quotes in a way so as to bolster their argument or give credibility to their point of view, and using them to the point where it starts to dilute their own message and style.
What’s more, there’s no “one size fits all” ratio on when to use quotes and when not to. It all depends on what you’re presenting, how you want to present it, the audience you’re presenting it for, and much more. Quote only when necessary and be succinct about it so that your message stands out as the biggest point to be made in the piece.
Paraphrasing or Synonym Swapping
You have the ability to write out an idea in your own unique and wonderful way. Don’t fall into the trap of swapping out a few synonyms or paraphrasing someone else’s idea to try and make it original. Think about how to put it into your own words in your own way. This takes some practice at first, but the more you’re in tune with how you write and how you present things, the easier it becomes and the better your writing will be as a result.
Being Too Dependent on a Template
Templates are excellent ways to save time and make for a great starting point when you’re starting to rev up your content creation. But it’s also possible to be too dependent on them. When every piece you write starts to sound more formulaic, it’s a sign that you’re too dependent on a template and need to break out of your comfort zone more.
How to Verify that Your Content is Authentic
Now that you know the importance of how to write authentic content, what to avoid when doing so and why it’s important, the next step is perhaps the most important:
How do you go about actually verifying that your content is unique and authentic?
The good news is that there are several ways to go about doing this and it’s entirely possible to use a mix of them depending on what your end goal is. Here’s how to verify the authenticity of your content:
Manual Content Checks
The first line of defense in verifying content authenticity is to proofread your own work, looking for anything that stands out as repetitive or paraphrasing someone else’s idea. No one knows your writing like you do, so doing a self-review is an important first step.
Secondly, opt to have a peer review done. A fresh set of eyes can often pick up on parts you may have overlooked. Take the time to also manually compare your content to the sources you checked out during your research phase to make sure you’re not inadvertently plagiarizing and paraphrasing their content.
Beyond doing a manual check, there are several digital tools you can use to check content authenticity. Originality.AI’s plagiarism checker is a good start to compare your writing to several comprehensive databases of existing material to ensure that the information isn’t plagiarized. Similar other tools include Grammarly, Chegg and many more.
Advanced Content Authenticity Checkers
Today’s more advanced content authenticity checkers leverage a wide range of tools and technologies to verify content authenticity including things like N-gram analysis, which breaks down content into smaller chunks of text to find areas where strings of text have been repeated, and content fingerprinting, which creates a unique identifier or “fingerprint” for your content to compare it to other content fingerprints.
Search Engine Checks
Search engines give you a basic method of checking the authenticity of your content through an exact phrase search or a reverse image search. With an exact phrase search, put chunks of your content (a couple of sentences) within quotation marks and do a search on Google. If there are matches featuring identical content, it’s not original.
If you’re using images, using Google Reverse Image Search makes sure that those images don’t already exist elsewhere.
For deeper, more involved checks, a deep web crawler like Core can provide access to millions of academic articles that it has aggregated from a variety of open access databases. It can also apply different filters to search for publications by type, author and much more. However the use of this specialized crawler isn’t just limited to academia. It’s also used by legal professionals, journalists and writers to conduct deeper, more involved research that goes beyond what search engines like Google can index.
There are also several linguistic methods that can be used to verify content authenticity. One of these methods, stylometry, looks at writing style in order to determine authorship and originality. Another common type of linguistic analysis is a readability checker which uses formulas like Flesch Kincaid and others to determine how understandable your content is, or if it’s similar to other content out there.
In some cases you can verify the authenticity of content by searching specialized databases. For example, news stories and articles are often archived from years past, and databases like JSTOR or PubMed exist for specific academic fields like healthcare or other research.
More specialized checks can be done to do a deeper analysis of content authenticity. For example, Metadata analyzers can check the metadata or “digital signature” of a web page to determine its origin. If you’re checking for plagiarism in software code, tools like MOSS (Measure of Software Similarity) can help, although they are not 100% accurate all of the time (no plagiarism detection tool is).
In some cases, external audits can be done to verify content authenticity. Third party verifications by independent agencies can audit your content to ensure its originality, while other platforms allow for crowdsourced verification in which multiple users can check the veracity of a given piece of content. Examples of these companies include MediaTrust, Storyful, Snopes, Politifact and many others.
In many cases, human intuition when it comes to content authenticity can be the most reliable form of judgment. Having subject matter experts whose expertise allows them to recognize specific styles of writing through their research can be invaluable, as can community forums that actively read material in a given niche and can spot a plagiarized article quickly.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Instead of looking for content authenticity word for word, machine learning and artificial intelligence tools like Originality.AI’s fact-checking tool leverage the very latest in content authenticity verification. One of these methods involves semantic analysis, which is where a tool has been trained to examine the meaning and context of a text to determine how original it is.
Another method used by Originality.AI’s content authenticity tool is its automated fact checking system, which cross-references facts across a variety of sources including academic databases, news archives and more to determine their originality.
The Bottom Line on Content Authenticity
Determining the originality of your content isn’t just about avoiding plagiarism, but about making meaningful contributions to the growth and evolution of the digital ecosystem. By being vigilant with your own content and leveraging these tools as part of your writing process, you’ll be able to ensure that your content is engaging, valuable and worth reading for your audience.
Whether you’re writing an academic paper or submitting a professional, in-depth article in your industry, crafting a blog post or any other type of content, creating that content with authenticity in mind should always be your goal. Content authenticity isn’t just about having good ethics, it’s a smart business move as well!
We invite you to try Originality.AI’s content authenticity tool and see for yourself how the latest advances and developments in AI and machine learning come together to create a tool that’s fast, efficient and thorough. Check your documents, enhance your writing, and craft content that’s optimized, original and authentically your own with a robust tool that helps ensure that everything you publish is rooted in fact and is uniquely your own. Try it today!