You have two options. The easy option; writing poor, sloppy content. Or the harder option; writing great, useful, engaging, high quality content. But only the second option leads to your site being ranked higher in search engines for the keywords that really make a difference, and thus it’s only by taking the second option that you can drive free, high quality traffic to your site. And you guessed it, it’s only the second option that can turn that high-quality traffic into juicy leads or sales.
This isn’t just a “hunch”. It’s been well researched and documented by scores of marketing agencies and bloggers that the main search engines don’t just dislike poor quality content, they actively penalise sites that have poor quality content, and in the worst cases, duplicate content.
The formula is simple, write high quality, useful content = get rewarded with higher rankings for the keywords that matter to you, which results in high quality traffic to your site, of which a portion should turn into leads and sales, or write poor quality content = get zilch – no rankings, no traffic, no leads, no sales. Tough choice, right?
This is all well and good, but one of the crucial issues is that many of you out there really want to start investing in high quality content, but don’t actually know what constitutes “high quality”, and if you don’t know that you can’t move forward.
Thankfully, we’re here to help. In this article, we’re going to break down the 4 main ingredients that make up a high-quality piece of content. Armed with this, you can go forward and write some truly high quality stuff, or confidently hire someone that will.
1. Write Truly Original Content.
There were dark days, quite a while ago, where duplicate content, spun content, and content spat out by bots would manage to rank highly in search engines, mainly because the people pushing this low quality, non-original content had found a way of temporarily tricking the search engine algorithms to rank them highly. The key word here is temporarily.
As you might have guessed, it all came crashing down and in the last 5 years the major search engines have become a hell of a lot better at weeding out the low quality, non-original stuff mentioned above, and so now only the highest quality, original content makes it into the top 10 search results for any, even moderately competitive keyword. The days of gaming the search engines with poor, non-original content are long gone and aren’t coming back. Only unique, original content can win now.
But, original doesn’t mean just manually rewriting and rehashing existing blog posts over and over again so that they are technically original. Original means originality, in other words, providing original ideas, opinions, views and research which is valuable to your target market.
2. Make Your Content Actionable.
Long form, actionable content consistently ranks very highly in search engines, both for super specific search terms, and crucially for broader, relevant, high traffic search terms too. This is especially true for B2B content.
Examples of actionable content are “how to” articles such as “How To Create A Logo For Your New Company” and “guide articles” such as “The Complete Guide To Facebook Marketing”. These actionable articles are incredibly useful and valuable to people as they are teaching them how to do something.
And if you have an actionable article that is teaching people how to do something that hardly any other blog posts have properly addressed, then the positive effect is compounded, as you are filling the void with a high quality, relevant and truly useful piece of unique content.
3. Make Sure Your Content Is Well Researched And Accurate.
If you want your content to be of high quality, then it has to be well researched. When making a point in your article, support it by referencing a reputable journal, blogger, journalist etc. But, it’s crucial that you reference high quality research e.g. surveys or analysed data. Remember, not all research is created equal.
Further, do everything you can, within reason, to make sure the research you are quoting in your article to support your point is accurate and not misleading.
With regards to accuracy, no one’s expecting you to spend hours trying to verify every external piece of research you use in a post. However, it’s super important to conduct some quick tests like checking which other reputable figures/publications have quoted the research before, and seeing how the research was conducted as well as if whoever is releasing the research has a good reputation, or if they have been caught releasing inaccurate research in the past.
With regards to whether the research is misleading or not. If the authors of the research study you are quoting got their conclusions from a survey (often the case), then make sure the survey wasn’t just them quizzing two people they know from the pub, and that the survey sample size is large enough and representative enough to be deemed accurate. Also, check that the authors of the study aren’t being bank rolled by a company with a strong agenda. These things shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to uncover.
4. Try And Make Your Content As Engaging And Thought Provoking As Possible.
Engaging content generates likes, shares, comments and conversation. It not only results in involved, loyal readers (the best kind), this same content is also looked upon very favourably by search engines too, and they reward it with higher rankings. Remember, generally, anything that is received positively by visitors is received positively by search engines.
But how do you make content that’s engaging I can hear you ask, it’s not a completely clear cut thing but there are a few general rules, that if followed, usually result in more engaging, thought provoking articles. They are listed below;
– Pose questions – Pose thought provoking questions that are relevant to the article throughout the article, and especially at the end of the article. The effect of these questions is to help the reader reflect more deeply on your content, as well as to encourage them to leave a comment at the end of the article.
– Start strong – Make sure your first paragraph immediately engages readers by enthusiastically opening the article, and gives them a good reason or reasons to continue reading the rest of the piece.
– Tell stories – Everyone loves stories. A good story is captivating and interesting, and it’s one of the most effective tools for raising engagement there is.
But we don’t mean break off into the next Stephen King or J.K Rowling novel mid article. What we mean is slotting short, interesting, relevant anecdotes into the article that support your articles goal. The anecdotes will get people’s imaginations going like nothing else, and will really raise engagement as well as communicate your point super effectively.
If you include most of the above ingredients, but ideally all of them in your future articles, then congratulations, you are now more than likely producing high quality content. Content that should really be loved by your visitors and as a result, loved by search engines too.