What is the true key to creating high-quality content? Is it word count? Keyword density? Or, even, originality? The answer is no, no, and surprisingly, still no. High-quality content is many things, but most importantly, it’s incredibly difficult to quantify.
Google generally promotes content on the basis of a few important factors that count towards search engine optimization, or SEO.
Creating high-quality content is somewhere in between, on one of the branches that might be higher up on the tree yet are still within reach.
The importance behind content quality goes beyond what Google’s algorithm thinks of your site. There’s the human factor, too – high quality may be subjective, but there are a few objective ways of distinguishing between different sources of information, and it’s in these objective ways that we begin to see why some people are more likely to use one page or site as a resource over another. Here are a few of them.
What Are People Looking For?
Reader interest is important when quantifying quality. While a piece of content can be good, its usefulness to others is what makes it a high-quality resource. To that end, try to figure out where the Internet might be lacking.
It could be that there isn’t a concise guide to raising a specific type of succulents in subtropical weather. Or, if there is, then there isn’t a good long-form guide to the topic instead.
Figure out what topics of relevance to your business are inadequately explored or explained online and create your own resource for them.
Focus on Readability
It’s not enough to compile an infodump for unsuspecting readers. There needs to be structure, intent, and even rhythm. Good typography matters too. Keep sentences short. Don’t ramble on for too long and soliloquy. Use stories, parables, or examples to help reiterate something or provide a break from dry information but avoid getting lost in analogies.
Yes, grammar and formatting are important as well. But while most readers won’t be professional literary critics, people can tell the difference between something that’s informative, and something that’s both informative and pleasant to read. They’ll probably remember the latter.
Keep a Finger on the Pulse
In other words: research, research, research. Once you’ve figured out what people are looking for, it’s time to find out what else they might be looking for.
Search and trend analytics are immensely useful here, as they help you figure out what people who searched for any given term are most likely to search for in addition to that first search.
Don’t Worry About Being Completely Original
It’s nearly impossible to be “completely original” on the Internet. That does not mean you should plagiarize other content wholesale.
But think of content online as more of an exercise in creating a kaleidoscope of information from existing resources and references and providing your own unique input to bring in a touch of something new.
Even if that touch is something as simple as taking information from a number of disparate sources and formatting it in a way that’s easy to navigate and understand and provides a single page for people to use as reference in the future.
Do More Than Just Write
We aren’t talking about video content or infographics, although those are important topics in their own right. We’re talking about breaking text up with multimedia, from short clips used as reference, to GIFs and images for humor or visual information.
On one hand, the use of multimedia can help improve readability and provide a break for readers of a post. On the other hand, it allows you to represent a point made in text through an image, and reinforce an important tip or quote. This is especially important in information-dense or difficult-to-understand topics such as medicine and research.
Review and Improve Older Posts
As your website matures and your content begins to take on a certain style or flair that sets you apart from the competition, it’s worth taking the time to rehash old topics, revisit old posts, and renew old information.
While you can’t go back and drastically edit an old video on YouTube, you can take the time to edit and improve old blog entries, articles, or other forms of content on your own site.
Note that Google tends to rank pages that are older and have a considerable history of traffic quite a bit higher – leveraging this and improving on the information on your older and most successful content can help you retain new visitors and improve the trustworthiness of your site.
Don’t Ignore the Data
One of the worst things you can do is continuously put out content without taking the time to examine how certain editing and production trends are affecting your metrics. Toy around with different formatting styles and ideas.
Figure out what’s reaching people the most. Use impressions, views, clicks, and leads to gauge whether your new approach is successful or a step backwards – whether it’s a change in editing, a different tone in your videos, a different writing style, a different topic, less or more text, less or more pictures, and so on. You can even do this in real time through A/B testing.
Find Your Niche
At the end of the day, there’s a lot more you can do to make your content better. But is it what people want out of your site? Identify what brings you the most interest from your readers or viewers and invest in that idea.
Don’t think of it as something banal as chasing eyeballs – at the end of the day, you’re putting your time and energy into producing content that people want and are looking for, whether just for entertainment, information, or both.
It’s worth repeating that you should take the time to revisit old content at least once a year, if only to figure out what exactly made some posts much more successful than others.
Is it the editing? Is it the use of multimedia? Is it formatted differently? Is it the topic, the content itself, the references, the research, the readability? Some videos, posts, blogs, or images are a bit like catching lightning in the bottle – and trying to force it a second time might not go as well. But we can still learn a lot from our successes.