No matter how well you know your audience, it’s practically impossible to please everyone. Readers view the quality of your content subjectively.
However, search engines view your content more analytically. If you want to rank in a Google search and generate leads, then there are a few SEO quality guidelines that you just can’t argue with.
In our ten-part Quality Content Series, we investigate how Google assesses quality content and how you can get your pages to appear higher in search results.
Why should you care about producing high-quality content?
When your business offers content your ideal customers care about, they’ll download it, share it and revisit it. All these actions benefit your business by generating new leads or nurturing existing customers.
But they have to find the content first.
If your content appears higher in search engine results, then people are more likely to discover your business and click through to your website than if you were placed lower on the page.
Google wants to provide searchers with the best results possible, which is why it places high-quality content near the top of results.
The struggle many content marketers face is finding a balance between producing high-quality writing and high-quality SEO. But you need both to see results. You shouldn’t just be focusing on writing for SEO, but you also shouldn’t be writing without optimizing for search engines.
What kind of content are we talking about?
For the whole Quality Content Series, we’ll be discussing your brand’s digital content including blog posts, on-page content, eBooks, whitepapers, infographics and anything else with the ability to be crawled by Google.
Whether you’re looking to generate leads by promoting gated content or build your brand’s authority with thought leadership blog content, these are the marketing resources that will help you grow your business.
What does “high-quality content” mean?
High quality content supports one or more of the goals you set in your content marketing strategy (and if you don’t yet have one, here’s how to get started). Common goals for branded content includes:
- Attracting new readers
- Generating new leads
- Converting leads to customers
- Nurturing existing customers
- Establishing authority
- Building awareness
Low-quality content will not meet goals and instead could:
- Achieve a poor CTR
- Result in little to no downloads
- Return poor organic search results
- Deter readers from doing business with you altogether
How do you determine high-quality content?
There are two main factors that determine the overall quality of a piece of content:
- It’s well-written
- It follows proper SEO guidelines
The two must exist together. When you produce well-written content, Google will reward you with SEO benefits.
Yoast calls this a “holistic SEO strategy.” You’ll focus less on stuffing keywords and breaking the code of Google’s extremely complex algorithm (it changes hundreds of times a year!) and rather, you’ll focus on the users.
This still includes maintaining strong technical SEO practices, but done with the intention of creating the best experience for your user. That means your users can navigate to a safe website that’s both easy to maneuver and answers the questions they need answered. These factors will build trust with users and establish your brand as a reliable and authoritative source.
The challenge is to identify what makes a piece of content “well-written.” Google outlines a few guidelines and explains desirable characteristics of a valuable site, but we’ll dig deeoer into the connection between well-written content and SEO, and how to achieve that balance.
Why do you need both well-written content and SEO?
Google used to be pretty basic (I know, it’s hard to believe), so keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks worked to improve a site’s search authority. In the early 2000’s, such behavior was penalized, and a more localized, user-focused search algorithm was introduced.
Today, Google still uses keywords and backlinks as a ranking factor, but it’s trivial compared to the importance of quality content.
In March of 2017, Google made an update to penalize “ad heavy, low value content sites.” According to the Search Engine Round Table, websites fitting that description saw a 50-90 percent drop in organic traffic. But they saw improvements after removing these ads.
It makes sense. If Google produced results that annoyed users, were covered with an abundance of ads, linked to unreliable sources, didn’t answer questions or were just plain unhelpful, then people would probably stop using Google.
View Google as your friend. It’s going to help you reach new customers. You just need to create content that your customers want to read, then plug in the SEO that will deliver it to Google.
Can a content creation team succeed without an SEO specialist?
You betcha. SEO specialists have a crazy amount of knowledge about Google’s algorithms and it’s their job to stay up-to-date with all of its changes. But as a fellow content marketer, I know that you don’t have time for that.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a SEO specialist to successfully optimize your content to rank in organic search. Our Quality Content Series will outline the most important SEO basics you need to know. We’ll also cover the key characteristics of well-written content that will help users and rank in search. We’ll help you achieve that balance.
This post is part of the Brandpoint Quality Content Series, which analyzes how Google assesses quality content and how you can get your pages to appear higher in search results.
Part 1: What is High-Quality Content?
Part 2: Google Search Quality Guidelines: What is E-A-T?
Part 3: Are High-Quality Links Important for SEO?
Part 4: How to Create Readable Content
Part 5: How to Create Comprehensive Content
Part 6: Duplicate vs. Original Content
Part 7: Latent Semantic Indexing and Long-tail Keywords
Part 8: How to Optimize Images and Visuals for SEO
Part 9: Content Freshness and Generating New Topics
Part 10: SEO Success Stories