Last Updated on October 3, 2020 by Michael Brockbank
When writing articles, especially for clients, you want to avoid content filler and fluff. Not only does it make the piece read horribly, but it can result in losing a client. And it can also have a negative impact on SEO.
In a nutshell, you should be more concerned with the quality of any given article instead of a word count. But what if a client wants a specific number of words and you just can’t come up with any ideas?
Today, I’ll break down nine methods I use to make sure I don’t include content filler or fluff in what I create.
And before you ask, that’s Max in the post’s image. She’s my mascot.
What is Content Filler and Why is it Bad?
In terms of online content, filler and fluff refers to adding sentences that hold no real value for the topic. It’s usually material strung along together, sometimes in a repetitive manner, to reach a certain number of words.
It can also reference using exhaustive language to stretch out a paragraph as long as possible.
The problem with content filler is that it makes the piece long, boring, and sometimes incomprehensible. This is why most clients as well as Google takes a dim view of this practice.
You want the audience to engage with the content, not bore them to tears.
In the case of using content mills like Textbroker, some authors will add as many as possible to meet a specific number of words. This is because content mills usually pay per word, and writers want to make as much as possible.
However, in most instances, filler and fluff create a disconnect within the article. Instead of keeping a reader interested, it can lead to him or her leaving the website.
And no blogger or client wants that to happen.
9 Ways to Avoid Using Content Filler or Fluff
I’ve had many clients over the years, and I’ve never had a revision request due to content filler or fluff material. And it’s all thanks to these methods.
Sometimes you’ll have to put in a little imagination to make something work right. But if it’s done well, you could create a viral article.
What can you do to avoid adding non-sensical content into any given writing project?
1. Adding More Definition to the Piece
One of the most obvious ways to lengthen out any given article is by adding more definition to the topic. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Include a what, where, why and/or how paragraph. For example, I added the “what” to this particular article to set the groundwork for why it’s important to avoid filler and fluff.
- Add greater, and relevant, detail to the topic. Usually, this means you’ll put in a bit more time for research. However, the end results are far worth the effort.
- Add a bullet list of points highlighting the main topic of the article. You’re reading one right now, actually.
The point here is to dive into the piece a bit deeper while still offering value to the reader.
2. People Also Ask in Google
One of my favorite tools to avoid content filler is by using Google’s own “People also ask” section. This is rife with information regarding almost any topic.
And if you’re capable of providing a better answer than what is given, your article can appear in the section as well. In which case, you’ll increase visibility and click-throughs for yourself or clients.
Don’t forget, you can also expand deeper into this section. Every time you click on a question to expand the answer, a few more relevant questions appear below. You can go pretty far into this virtual search engine rabbit hole.
3. Pre-emptively Answering Questions
Depending on the article I’m working on, I’ll often add questions that people might have regarding the topic.
For example, if I was working on a WordPress tutorial, I would answer hypothetical questions regarding the use of a plugin, feature, or tool. Usually, I will put these questions in the form of an H4 header and then write a few sentences for the answer.
4. Expand with LSI Terms
Latent Semantic Indexing is when you’re using keywords and phrases that are relevant to the primary focus. This way, you can possibly connect with a searcher who may be using different terminology to find the exact same answer.
However, using LSI can result in creating content filler just as easily as anything else. Not all LSI terms are relevant to the exact topic you’re writing.
If you need help with finding LSI terms for the content you’re creating, I often use LSIGraph.com. It’s a free site that shows you what people are also searching for when using your specific terms.
5. Using Answer the Public for Content Filler
I tout using Answer the Public a lot for various things. That’s because it has plenty of uses. From blog content ideas to finding keyphrases to attract an audience, its database is quite large.
In this regard, you can use the site to find relevant topics to add to something you’re working on. Just put in your keyword or phrase and Answer the Public will show you an array of what people are looking for right now.
Not only will this help you by expanding your content, but it will also aid in getting ranked for other keywords.
Find a term that is relevant to your topic and write up a few sentences.
6. Recon Work on Competing Articles
One thing I push a lot on my team of writers is not being afraid to do a bit of reconnaissance work. This is when you search for the topic online and see how someone else structured the piece.
Now, you don’t want to copy what the other author created. But, you can get a feel and a few ideas about how to proceed with your own article.
This is actually part of the skyscraping technique. What can you add or change about the piece to make it better?
7. Stating and Citing Relevant Facts
A common practice that helps me get a few sentences at least is by providing statistical facts. If you cite the stats and link to a credible source, it does two things:
- Demonstrates quality for the reader by coming from a place of authority.
- Impresses the Google search engine because high-quality, out-bound links are valuable to rankings.
Almost any stat can give you two or three sentences ranging around 20 words each. And like I said, it just looks better to the reader when you start providing numbers and showing where those stats come from.
Part of being a successful freelance writer is showing your commitment to credibility and reputation. Quantifiable evidence provides this in vast amounts.
8. Combine What Others Separate
Sometimes, you’ll come across a few different pieces of content that would look better if they were combined. For instance, what if we were working on a backup tutorial? Adding how to restore from a backup would be relevant while increasing the word count.
Instead of a backup tutorial, it’s now a backup and restore tutorial. And for many, this would be a one-stop article as it fulfills two needs instead of one.
This actually happens more often than you’d think…especially when it comes to tutorials regarding popular platforms.
On the flip side of that, though, breaking down one article into two or more can give you quite a few blog posts. That is, as long as you can add enough content to make them worthwhile on their own.
9. Include Personal Views and/or Experiences
Another effective way to avoid bad content filler is by adding personal experience or insights. I’ll add a lot of these myself simply because I do have a lot of experience when it comes to freelance writing.
You see, I just did it with that last sentence, as well as this one.
Adding your personality and points of view give a piece more “life” to the reader. Instead of a stagnant article, it delivers more engagement when you make the reader feel like you’re directly addressing him or her.
But, you don’t want to go too far with personal takes on subject matter. Otherwise, you’ll give the impression that you’re simply rambling on to increase the word count.
And keep in mind that not all clients want first-person content. This is especially true when writing for content mills or other forms of ghostwriting.
Avoid Content Filler at All Costs
Experts will agree that any content filler and fluff is just bad in general. It can lead to a variety of issues ranging from poor search engine ranking to losing a client.
The above are things I do on a regular basis, and they have worked very well for me over the years of creating content for clients. Hopefully, you’ll find value in one or two yourself.
Which do you think is the most effective method for you? How often do you catch yourself repeating the same points just to stretch out the word count?
For more information about freelance writing and blogging, check out WriterSanctuary’s YouTube channel.
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