Does Your Online Content Pass the SMELL Test?

bulldog noseThe massive volume of information available to audiences online has changed the world and made it easier than ever for people to educate themselves about any topic. However, easy access to news and information brings a mix of high and low quality content publishing to audiences. As a result, a lot of information that people find, believe, and share online isn’t accurate.

In fact, news audiences aren’t the only people who are fooled into believing and sharing online content that is actually false. Even traditional news organizations have been caught reporting information that was first published by a blog, tweet, or Facebook update which was later found to be inaccurate.

Today, not only do content audiences need to learn how to find trustworthy content, but journalists, media organizations, and content publishers need to do the same thing. In other words, vetting sources is still an important part of creating fact-based content. Just because more people are publishing content and the online world seems to have few rules doesn’t mean that publishers who want to be viewed as reputable and authoritative can skip crucial steps.

How can Authoritative Content publishers make sure they’re content is perceived as being trustworthy and accurate? The answer is quite simple. Look at your content as a consumer audience would.

For example, John McManus of MediaShift suggests that audiences put all content through the SMELL Test. He advises content consumers that If the content passes the SMELL Test, it’s safe to give it your time and consideration. If the content fails the SMELL Test, then you should move onto another publisher to find the information you need.

The same test can be applied from the publisher’s perspective. Here is an overview of the elements of John’s SMELL Test:

  • S stands for Source. Who is providing the information?
  • M is for Motivation. Why are they telling me this?
  • E represents Evidence. What evidence is provided for generalizations?
  • L is for Logic. Do the facts logically compel the conclusions?
  • L is for Left out. What’s missing that might change our interpretation of the information?

The five elements listed above are the ones consumers use to analyze the trustworthiness of your content. To be a true Authoritative Content publisher, all of your content should pass all five of these elements. Does yours? If not, make the necessary changes to ensure that it is in the future.

You can get all of the details by following the link above to read John’s complete article. It’s filled with insights that can help you ensure your content passes the SMELL Test.

Image: Donald Champion

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