Original content is the a concept you will encounter over and over in the writing world. Most writing sites of any kind, from social blogging sites to work for hire brokers, will specify that all content submitted must be your own original work and that the content cannot be published anywhere else.
But what does “original content” mean?
Many bloggers believe that anything they write in their own words is original content. But if that were the case, why wouldn’t the expression be “original wording”?
Original Content Equals Original Thoughts and Words
In the academic world, we are taught that we have to provide a citation for each and every concept we borrow. Not just for every direct quote, but for any direct quotation or even just a mention of someone else’s idea or research. Not providing that citation opens the writer up to accusations of plagiarism but beyond that, producing a paper that contains mostly other people’s research and ideas generally means failing an assignment. Even if every single borrowed concept is properly cited.
Because original content means your own thoughts and ideas. Not just a retelling of what’s already out there.
And don’t think it’s just in academia where these rules matter. It’s important online too. If an article you post consists mainly of you retelling a published news story, you are technically violating the copyright of the original author or publication. While it’s not likely the big news sites are going to take legal action over a rewritten article unless it goes viral, your content will be penalized by the search engines for not being unique.
Google says that original content must “add substantial value to users.” If you’ve ever had the experience of clicking on several different news links, only to find the same details rewritten by a bunch of different sites, you’ll know there is no value added when a story is retold in different words. You were looking for more details – background information, an update on the action, the story told from a different point of view. That would be added value. That would be original content.
What Does Not Qualify as Original Content
In the same way that you want something new and different when you search for more content relating to a current event you’ve seen in the news, your internet readers want original content from you as writers. They don’t just want you to tell them all the same information in a different way. They want something that isn’t already out there.
In the rush to get content online, and often to earn from its publication, many bloggers post material that has no real added value. The most common mistakes bloggers make are:
- Retelling a published news story in their own words;
- Rewording an internet meme, inspirational quote, or joke;
- Publishing health, fitness, or financial advice repeated from a published source;
- Rewording recipes or tutorials.
All of the above are examples of how not to produce original content. It doesn’t matter if you rewrote the article in your own words, or even if you translated it from another language. It also doesn’t matter if you added your own personal comment in one paragraph, or if you cobbled the article together with information from multiple sources. Even if you give credit to your sources, you still aren’t producing original content.
Original content means your own words, ideas, and opinions are the heart of your article. They must account for the majority of content in your post. They can’t just be added on as an afterthought. Original content means you provide something new and fresh. You put a brand new twist on something familiar, or you provide something completely unique. If you are doing this, your content will be valued wherever you submit it. Your blogs will rank better, your authority as a writer will grow, and the chances are that you’ll earn better money too.
Now that learned why your original content might not be unique as you expected, you might be interested also in reading how reading makes you a better writer.