From the Tinder Swindler to the misinformation spread by the COVID “Disinformation Dozen”, the Internet is full of lies. Company executives who have lied have gotten jail time. Some companies even went out of business.
You might not lie intentionally in your content, but if you don’t fact-check, it can cause reputation damage. Google has announced that they consider Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) a key ranking factor. If your content can affect the reader’s finances or well-being in any way, EAT becomes even more important.
What to Avoid When Conducting Online Research
Shoddy research isn’t helpful for content marketing. Rank Secure CEO Baruch Labunksi believes content marketing is about usefulness, and spreading bad information is the opposite of useful. Your goal is to maintain high standards by avoiding the following mishaps.
1. Outdated statistics
A good content writing practice is to only cite statistics that are less than three years old, depending on the subject matter. You should also attribute the stat with a link to the primary source. Sadly, not all content marketers follow this.
Content marketer Precious Oboidhe calls out the use of outdated stats in content marketing
2. Conflicts of interest and biases
Check if the company website or the expert has a bias or a competing interest. Do they stand to gain financially or personally from the data they are presenting?
Cross-check information for accuracy. If the source has a conflict of interest, find a neutral one. Elizabeth Hanes, Registered Nurse and content marketing expert, recommends government institutions, major non-profits, and independent research institutions as the go-to source for credible, unbiased information.
Sometimes, faulty methods can skew research results. Such statistics can be misleading. Freelance SaaS writer Rochi Zalani suggests asking yourself the following questions:
- What’s the sampling method used in the study?
- Are there enough data points and diversity to make a sweeping generalization about the trend/result?
- Is there a conflict of interest?
You want to maintain the readers’ trust and become the go-to for reliable and authoritative sources. To do so, you must eliminate any potential conflicts of interest.
3. Misinformation, disinformation, and credibility issues
Many people think the Great Wall of China is visible from space. Not true, according to NASA. That is an example of misinformation, false information that is spread, regardless of the intent to mislead.
Disinformation, on the other hand, is deliberately misleading or biased information. Both disinformation and misinformation will harm content credibility.
Any Subject Matter Expert (SME) you interview or quote should be vetted. They should have expertise, credentials, and credibility. Look for people who meet the following standards:
- Academic credentials and/or relevant experience in the subject
- Authority to speak on behalf of relevant organizations (spokespersons and media liaison officers)
- Featured or published by major media and publishing houses
Be wary of self-proclaimed experts who might not have anything to back their expertise. It is also important to be careful with SMEs associated with controversies or scandals. You do not want to be tainted by association.
5 Ways to Find Credible Sources
Time is of the essence when it comes to publishing content. Here are five tips to efficiently find credible sources and SMEs as a content marketer.
1. Implement the CRAAP test
Developed by a team of librarians at California State University, Chico, the CRAAP Test is a simple 5-question framework to ensure the trustworthiness of the information.
- Currency: The timeliness of the publication and information. Is this information recent?
- Relevance: How relevant or important is the information for my needs?
- Authority: Source of the information. Who published it?
- Accuracy: How truthful and correct is the information? Is it showing any bias?
- Purpose: Why does this information or publication exist? What purpose is it serving?
Marketer Audrey Truitt explained how she uses the CRAPP Test in her work.
“SEO metrics like a source’s backlink profile and domain authority are usually a good indicator of how credible Google considers the source. The first three criteria of the CRAAP Test can be determined whether or not the source ranks on the first page of Google.
Another thing to do is check spelling and grammatical errors. Does it look polished or clean? If not, that implies the source is not as credible.”
2. Add PrimoStats to your toolkit
Use PrimoStats’ database of credible marketing statistics to reduce your research time. Now, you can add credibility to your content in minutes, rather than hours. All statistics in the database are sourced from reputable sources, like HubSpot, Fiverr, and LinkedIn.
You can search and filter stats by topic, source, and publication year. More importantly, you get a link to the original source.
3. Try Google search hacks
Use string searches and Google’s advanced search functions to get better search results. Google has two separate search engines for scholarly literature and books as well. Use these hacks to get better, more up-to-date information faster.
- Get the most recent results with Tools > Past Year
- Do a site:search + topic to search reputable sources in the niche you are researching.
- Use Google Scholar to search for research papers.
- Use Google Books to pull quotes from authors writing about a topic.
4. Create a list of key resources
Bookmark key resources you regularly use to access statistics. These resources may include databases or even single web pages with stats. You could even keep separate lists for each client or campaign.
Consider creating a Google Sheet with a link to your personal collection of ungated reports. Try Source by PrimoStats; it’s a Google Chrome extension that helps you quickly source stats as you research online. With one click, you can save and organize stats in Google Sheets.
5. Connect with vetted SMEs
There are many ways to find connect with experts. You can reach out to them directly via email/LinkedIn. Be respectful of their time, explain who you are, and tell them what they will gain (backlinks).
You also can get in touch with a PR specialist or agency who can put you in touch with an SME. Vet the SME to ensure their focus isn’t purely free publicity.
Elise Dopson, the co-founder of Peak Freelance, shares her method of finding credible experts via recommendations.
“My best way to find credible sources is through recommendations from other people. If you’re writing about email marketing, for example, a simple tweet that says, ‘Tag your favorite email marketers’ will get you a list of people who are experts in that topic. Anyone tagged instantly has some credibility–at least enough for someone else to vouch for them.”
Start Searching for Credible Sources
Back up your claims with reliable sources. Improve the trustworthiness of your content and win your audience with reliable content marketing.
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