How Do We Determine Quality Levels?

targetQuality Levels

Defining quality is a subjective effort. If you ask ten different site owners what they mean by “high-quality content”, you’ll get ten different answers.

So how does the WLE Admin Team decide what “quality score” to assign to your work?

With the release of version 5 of our system, we decided to switch to a more straightforward approach. We now determine quality scores based on a checklist of potential issues. Starting with a score of 100, we deduct points for everything our in-house writers have to rework.

To maintain transparency, we also decided to publish the checklist, so that you can use it to work out how to write better, get better quality scores and earn more money!

Our Quality Scores Checklist

Here is the list that we use to determine every article’s final quality score. You start with a score of 100 for each article, then adjust as follows:

  • Poor Title: -5 points if the title needs significant reworking.
  • First Person: -5 points if you missed occurrences of first-person writing.
  • Grammar 1: -5 points if there is a small number of (simple) grammar errors, such as punctuation, spelling, inappropriate word choices, strange expressions and other oddities that require correction.
  • Grammar 2: -10 points if there are more than a few grammar errors, which will take longer to fix (at least a dozen or so).
  • Grammar 3: -20 points if the article shows consistently bad grammar that will require a lot of reworking (i.e. most sentences).
  • Grammar 4: -30 points if the whole article needs reworking for very poor grammar.
  • Introduction & Conclusion: -10 points if the introduction or conclusion is missing, -15 points if both are missing
  • Conciseness: -10 points for occasional wordiness that needs attention, but which isn’t sufficient to warrant a 20-point down-rating (Fluff).
  • Fluff: -20 points for wordiness, repetition or stuffing the work with unnecessary extra content.
  • Structure: -20 points if the content needs restructuring so that it flows logically from point to point.
  • Syntax: -20 points if a lot of sentences need rewriting because they are poorly structured and hard to understand.
  • Poor Content: -30 points if the content won’t sell because (for example) it is poorly researched, vague, incomplete, uninformative, Wikigurgitation, common knowledge or downright uninteresting.

Hitting Higher Quality Scores

The technical issues are easy enough to understand, but how can you avoid the “Poor Quality” penalty? Here’s the basics of what makes great content, in no particular order:

1. Content that will sell.

We love learning and encyclopaedic knowledge as much as the next person, but the fact is that we’re here to sell your work. Writing content that no one is likely to pay for will earn you lower quality ratings. For better ratings, write content that sites will pay more for – specialise, focus on one aspect, find a new angle.

2. In-depth content that has been researched.

We’re sick to death of trying to sell “What is SEO?” articles for the four hundredth time. The same goes for any article with basic information: yes, “5 Essentials to Look For in a Mobile Phone” will sell – but we’ll have to offer it cheap, because it’s not specialist content. Consequently, your quality ratings will be lower. Find a better subject or look at parts of your topic in detail. Vague, unfocussed content will immediately be branded as fluff and rejected. Would you proudly post your article on your own site? If not, our clients don’t want it.

3. Confidence and authority.

If you are not confident in your knowledge, our clients’ readers won’t believe what you write. Well-researched or knowledgeable, informative content does not walk the middle path and try to please everyone – it states facts, provides sources and promotes argument, debate and ranting! If your sentences include expressions like “You might find that… or you might not…”, stop writing. Go away, do some more research and come back when you can write about your subject with authority.

4. Concise English with few mistakes.

Seriously, how many times do you see “perfect grammar” as a criterion for acceptance? That’s just silly. No one writes with perfect grammar and we don’t expect you to get everything absolutely correct.

That’s why the penalties for spelling and punctuation are so small: they don’t take long to fix. The big penalty is from “Fluff”, so keep things tight. Some examples? Sure:

  • “In order to do something” => “To do something”
  • “You might want to do this” => “Do this”
  • “You should consider” => “Consider”
  • “Owing to the fact that” => “Since”
  • “It should be pointed out that” => remove completely

There are thousands of other examples, but those should give you the idea.

5. An informative or conversational tone.

First-person, anecdotal and op-ed content is not welcome at WLE, but a conversational tone is. You can write in a very dry, academic style or in a fun, friendly tone – or anything in between. As long as the content is good and you’re informing rather than telling stories, it should be just fine. Be careful with humour, though: it’s difficult to express to a global audience.

6. Write for the web.

Our clients buy content almost exclusively for online use. That means shorter paragraphs, a more direct approach and the urgent need to grab the reader’s attention in the first couple of lines. Calls to action are inappropriate since you have no idea how the content will be used.

7. Size is not important (mostly).

Average-length content sells well – blog posts weigh in at around 250-300 words , but sell less easily than average (non-blog) articles at around 500 words long. We do not accept work less than 250 words long, and actively encourage standard-length content.

However, if you’re a long content writer, don’t despair – big articles are popular, especially since Google often considers sites with long content to be authoritative. You will have to pay more attention to structure and flow to maintain the reader’s interest, but higher quality ratings come easier on well-planned, longer work.

WLE v5 removes the imbalance for shorter work that existed in earlier versions, ensuring that a 250-word article can get the same quality scores as a 500-word article.