When Is Your Article Quality Too Low?

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Low quality writing loses readers. It’s a good idea to write clearly enough that a 12 year old could understand what you’re saying. It’s not a good idea to produce work that looks like it was written by a 12 year old. There are a few simple points to check before releasing your article to the world.

A Checklist for Avoiding Low Quality

1. Your headline must make it clear what the article is about.

2. The first paragraph may be your only opportunity to get some visitors to read the entire article. Tell them the main points and they will have reasons to read it.

3. The length of your article should be between 500 and 2000 words. In some cases, your topic may force you to a length outside this range. Otherwise, a quick note or long winded essay isn’t going to make your “most popular articles” list.

4. Use subtitles to break up the article. Subtitles give your readers a chance to pause and think about what you’ve written so far. When an article has none, readers can feel it’s going on too long and give up before the end.

5. Your conclusion needs to wrap up your topic or prompt the reader to action. When they get to the last word, they need to feel they’ve reached the end.

6. Use a spellchecker and also read your article for spelling errors. Spellcheckers can’t catch a wrong weird spelled correctly.

7. Read your article aloud to reveal run on sentences and passages that just don’t make sense when you hear them.

8. The last check is also the most important. Read through your article and make sure it flows. The headline relates to the article. The intro is what the article is really about. The body text follows a logical order. And the conclusion has a feel of finality.

I’ve failed point 3 and written an article of less than 500 words. I hope you’ve managed to enjoy it anyway.

Article by Ivan Izo.


4 thoughts on “When Is Your Article Quality Too Low?

  1. Mike April 23, 2011 / 10:24 pm

    Thank you David for this post. Your checklist is very helpful, I’m certainly gonna use it.

    I sometimes fail on number of the points you mention:

    – I write posts that are too long, which puts some readers off. Do you think splitting posts into parts, and publish them as a series is a good idea?

    – My headlines are sometimes “enigmatic” (which means that it’s not immediately obvious what the post is about). The idea is to attract curiosity, but maybe I’m losing on clarity. What do you think about headlines such as or ?


    • David Smith April 26, 2011 / 4:51 am

      Those are good questions, Mike. I was always going for magazine article quality on my posts. Then I noticed that a lot of bloggers write short sidebar-type articles. Now I do that too. It’s one way to be sure I have an article to post once a week. A short simple article is better than no article. It gets a site’s Alexa rating up too since there’s activity.

      My current thought on writing series is to do it, but I don’t make it a numbered series. Each article should be able to stand on its own. But then short articles get comments about not being clear enough. The solution seems to be to write lots and keep reading more about writing. I read all the blogs listed at the right here. Every now and then I see a new writing idea and try it out.

      I looked at those two articles. “How to Ride the Waves of Uncertainty” would probably rank better for SEO and get more hits when the article is shared on social sites. It makes it clear you’re proposing an answer.

      “The Spiral of Personal Beliefs” is perfectly clear. Some of the writing blogs say we shouldn’t write about ourselves; to turn it around and talk about “you”, the reader. I try to do that when I can, but I still post articles about me. We’re supposed to write what we know and I think our personal experiences should count.


  2. Mike May 4, 2011 / 9:33 pm

    Thanx for the great advice David. I guess “how-to” titles can indeed attract some SEO juice.

    Interestingly, my most popular article is 4 Levels of a Relationship: growing from strangers to partners for life. I guess its true what they say about including numbers in the posts – 3 ways to do that, 5 tips to do this.

    You mentioned Alexa, are you using it to track your blog’s growth? Do you find it useful?


    • David Smith May 9, 2011 / 4:29 am

      I use a Firefox plug in that shows me the Alexa ranking for every site. I’ve noticed that when I post at least once a week, my ranking stays in the top million. For a while, both sites were in the top half million. I can also try different things and see how it affects Alexa. For example, when I commented on lots of blogs for a couple of weeks, both my visitor count and Alexa rankings went right up.


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