This is a topic on which I have often debated with other bloggers. I strongly feel that good writing is one of the prerequisites of good blogging. Some might say that I am a grammar-Nazi. But I think that in the anonymous world of the Internet, good writing will always be used as a criterion by your readers to judge your authenticity and credibility.
Look at it this way; if you were the New York Times, you would already have some credibility. But if you were someone.com, how do I know that I can trust you? How do I know that what you’re saying is right? How do I know that you are not a crazed idiot who writes arbitrarily? This is where, writing, which clearly is the result of great effort, and learning, will have a distinct edge in convincing the reader that they are reading something authentic.
But that begs the question: What is good writing? Does good writing mean possessing impeccable grammar? Does good writing mean writing that is highly engaging? Does good writing mean writing about matters that people did not know of, but wanted to know about? What about the use of jargon? Is using technical terminology or other forms of jargon a symbol of good writing? Or should we try to make our writing as simple as possible? These are not very easy questions to answer.
As a blogger, there is a tendency to vomit out large volumes of content. I can see why that might be enticing. After all, there seems to be a direct correlation between the number of readers, viewers, visitors, page views, clicks on ads, etc. that you get and the number of pages and posts that you write. This prevents bloggers from spending a whole lot of time on proofreading/editing their content. Some go so far as to not even bother using a spell checker or grammar checker.
What do you think? As a blogger, would you go about focusing a lot of your energy, and as a consequence your time and money, on well written blog posts? Or are you of the opinion that as long as people can read and understand what you’re saying, your job of communication through a blog post has been completed.
Let us take this one step further: What does Google think? Does Google think higher of content which is written in better English? Or does Google not care? Of course we cannot be so naive to assume that Google cannot figure out the quality of language in a given document. After all, even as a far back as 20 years ago, when I first started using Microsoft Word, it could give me the readability statistics that would evaluate the quality of my writing. And then, we are talking about Google, the almighty Google, which can algorithmically determine the quality of any given page. Thus far, I have not seen any clear evidence that Google gives a lot of emphasis, or for that matter any emphasis, to the quality of writing in a document in deciding how it would rank it. But come to think of it, if two documents are identical in all other respects, and one of them is better written in terms of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure, wouldn’t that be a criteria that Google could/should use in deciding how to rank a page? I certainly think so.
In fact I would go so far as to say that sometimes I get upset when I read very poorly written blog posts. If nothing else I would really like it if Google, in its advanced settings, gives me an option to choose the quality of language in the given post. Just like it allows me to filter-out adult content, I wish it would allow me to filter-out content that is not well written. Of course, you may think otherwise. Regardless of whether you agree with me, or disagree, make sure to leave a comment. I will visit this page from time to time, to respond.
Until next time…
Ajeet Khurana is the author of two textbooks published by Tata McGraw-Hill. He has designed and authored the financial literacy program of the National Stock Exchange. He was the guide/editor of one of the online publications of the New York Times. Today he has set up a new blog where he, along with other writers, write about writing. Aptly named, Essay Tips is a new blog that you must certainly look out for.