The Importance of Fact Checking When Writing SEO Content

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By Boris Dzhingarov

Being a fabulously talented SEO content writer doesn’t always mean that what you have to say is in any way accurate. For so many years, content writers have been led to believe that the two key ingredients of well-written content are the strategic use of search engine optimized keywords and an engaging flow to their content. While those are both important, they are not as important as getting the facts right.

Many writers aren’t even aware of the fact that Google may be your worst enemy when it comes to checking your facts, so to do anything less may mean that your lovely content doesn’t rank well and may never be found. With that said, let’s look at just why fact checking for accuracy in your content is so important to Google, for starters.

Trust Is a Dying Commodity

There was a time when journalism was a trusted source for getting the facts. Old school journalists went through rigorous periods in which their every word was dissected by their editors. There was no such thing as taking a political stance when reporting on anything from global events to political campaigns. Today, journalism often reads more like an op-ed. The personal view of journalists, and we use the term loosely, always seems to shine through. Is there any wonder why there is an outcry at every turn of events that they are ‘reporting’ fake news?

While journalism and content writing are two different fields, they are somehow interconnected in that today’s reader wants to trust the source. They are tired of ambiguities and referencing nonexistent facts. Even though content writers have a bit more leeway in terms of artistic liberty, they are still going to be held by the same strict edicts when stating facts. Before even alluding to something being factual, do the research. Getting the facts straight is important to the client for which you are writing, your own personal reputation and to your audience who trusts you to be honest and factual.

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Trust Leads to Authority

For just a moment, let’s turn back to Google and why trust is so important. Remember, we are talking about search engine optimized (SEO) content here. Therefore, Google is a major consideration. The entire purpose of writing SEO content is to primarily rank highly with the search engines, of which Google is the leader of the pack. As mentioned above, accuracy in facts is an important part of their algorithms. If you want to rank highly with Google, and consequently the other big search engines out there, the element of trust leads to being ranked as an authority.

As for why you would want to be ranked as an authority, it should be self-evident. In organic searches, sites of authority are ranked highly, vying for that coveted place on the first page of the Search Engine Results Pages, SERPs. Most people searching for content will rarely click through to anything beyond the first few links on page one. Some may be willing to view the second or third pages in the results that come up, but they are few and far between. Isn’t the point of writing content to be read? So, with trust being a major factor leading to authority, it is imperative that you learn to establish trust with factual writing.

Learning Where to Get the Facts

Within the past several years there have been a few fact checking sites that have sprung up around the Internet. It became popular on social media that everything was fake news unless validated by the fact checkers. After a time, there were instances when even the fact checkers were thought to be in error. Quite often this was because readers simply didn’t want to believe that their personal opinions were just that, opinions, and not based on fact. With that in mind, it became trendy to hear the outcry, “But who is checking the fact checkers?”

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You may remember when Snopes, a well-regarded fact checking site in the industry was accused of leaning to one political side because they hired a person who had previously run for office within a certain political party. They were then accused of being biased toward that ideology (be it left or right) and an immediate outroar arose, mainly on social media. While a great many consumers felt that it was impossible to be impartial if the fact checker was an ardent supporter of one political party over another, Snopes’ CEO David Mikkelson strongly disagreed. He actually has a very good point in that it would be virtually impossible to staff a company as large as Snopes with employees who had no political affiliation whatsoever.

A Step Beyond Human Fact Checkers

One thing that you can, and should, do is look at the references listed on any fact checking site so that you can follow up on them. This isn’t implying that they are in any way incorrect or biased. Rather, we refer to the old adage, “To err is human.” With that said, there has been a huge amount of research and development of AI in the field of fact checking. Although it is still in its infancy, technology is even further away from programming emotion and bias into artificial intelligence and machine learning. Some fact checkers are beginning to use AI in conjunction with human resources and are seeing great results, but again, it is the beginning of a long road ahead.

What This All Means to You as a Content Writer

In the end, the onus is on you. There is no room for blaming the fact checking sites you’ve relied on because it is not their responsibility to ensure you are factual. They are a great resource to start with, but even then, it is up to you to go to the source if there is any question as to the veracity of what they’ve found. Also, fact checkers may not have checked the exact facts you are researching.

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Keeping in mind that SEO content is partially ranked on truth, trust and authority, it is your duty to ensure that what you are stating as fact is, in fact, fact! Now, that was a mouthful, wasn’t it? To sum it up, search engine optimization is how you will be found through organic searches and factual writing plays a huge role in gaining that rank. If you want to excel as an SEO content writer, you will become proficient in fact checking your sources. It may take a bit of time, but it’s more than well worth the effort.