One of the most important yet obvious factors for ranking in search engines is having high quality content. Less obvious is exactly what Google considers quality content. Even though quality has been one of the most important ranking factors since the “Panda” update was released in 2011, there is still confusion over how to create quality content. While most people know what low quality writing when they see it, high quality content isn’t as noticeable.
Most simply, this on-page SEO factor consists of creating content that is authoritative, unique, and useful to readers. Even though search rankings are determined by an algorithm, that formula was developed by people who asked basic questions about the content. Google Webmaster Forum once mentioned specific questions that were asked by the creators of the algorithm. Some of the most important questions are listed below, grouped together by three trends that are important to creating high quality content; expertise, originality, and editing.
Questions about content expertise:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
Make sure that you are only saying things that are true, and be sure to back up any information given. This can be done by linking to reputable internal and external sources, or by taking the time to thoroughly explain your position.
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious?
A lot of low quality pages try to rank for keywords by having meaningless content. Avoid fluff content that simply restates the obvious, as it does not stand out from other sites and isn’t very helpful to readers.
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well?
Show your expertise. Although you need to write at a level your audience will understand, don’t provide basic information. Take it one step further by adding in your own analysis or by making connections to relevant topics.
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
Thin pages are rarely considered authoritative. Longer answers aren’t always better, but being thorough and having content that is well thought out helps your authority.
Questions about content originality:
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping or redundant articles on the same or similar topics?
Don’t copy other articles. This goes beyond legal issues such as plagiarism. While it’s okay to take inspiration from the work of others, be sure to put your own spin on things and make a post with a unique structure and point.
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research or original analysis?
As mentioned before, use your own original analysis. Drawing conclusions that others writers aren’t mentioning helps your content stand out from the rest.
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
Google knows that users don’t want to go to multiple pages to find the answer they’re looking for. Having a complete description helps people find answers more efficiently, which is a big marker of quality content.
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend or recommend?
Have engaging content with a unique angle that keeps visitors on your site. Think about pages that you’ve bookmarked of visited multiple times. Why do you keep returning? Use those pages as examples for how in depth to make your own content.
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Most searches will yield millions of potential results, many of which will be very relevant to the search query. Ask yourself what the top search results are missing, and write about that. Don’t follow the same cookie cutter approach.
Questions about content editing:
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic or factual errors?
Taking time to edit your content shows a dedication to having high quality content.
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
Proper grammar and spelling go a long way towards proving your intelligence and expertise.
How to Create High Quality Content
When reviewing your content, ask yourself the same questions. If you’re able to check off these boxes, you’ve likely created high quality content in Google’s eyes. To put it as simply as possible, quality content is helpful, original, trustworthy, and well-written.
When deciding what content to write, try to find questions that people want to have answered. Think about the most common questions you are asked, as well as your most popular services. These are great places to show your expertise. When writing, don’t be overly concerned with the optimization and keyword phrases. Minor tweaks can be done later if needed. If you believe your content is high quality, search engines probably agree.
Finally, remember that quality content has an additive effect on your site. Google has said that poor quality on a part of your site can hurt the overall ranking of your domain. While it would likely take more than a few less-than-helpful posts to hurt the standing of your entire site, it would be beneficial to make sure your entire site is filled with quality content.
Supplementary Content & Use of Space
Another aspect of your page that Google considers when search for quality content is the supplementary content, use of space, and availability of contact information.
These are all factors that Google considers to be associated with quality. According to a past Google Page Rater guideline document, which Google gives to human quality raters, these factors are all important to quality and a positive user experience.
Supplementary content includes additional information on the page that doesn’t directly help the page to achieve its purpose, but helps users to navigate the site. The most common example of this is links.
Use of space is important because you need to be able to easily identify the main content of the page. The page shouldn’t have large blank spaces, and the main content shouldn’t be hidden in any way.
Contact information should be available on most quality pages, although it depends on the type of the website. Including this in your footer or header usually will suffice.
Avoiding low quality content
There are also a lot of signals of poor quality to avoid. Luckily, most of these factors are specific to spam content, and you likely have no desire to include these in your site. These include:
- Linking to malicious sites with viruses or phishing
- Pages without any meaningful content
- Hacked pages
- Filling the page with incredibly large pictures or excessive ads that pose a distraction
- Extreme keyword stuffing or fluffing content – Having words hidden in the background, taking a full paragraph to explain a concept that could be completed in four words, etc.
Creating quality content takes time, but it’s what will keep people coming back to your site. Optimizing your site around what Google considers quality content is important, but it’s far from the only SEO success factor. Find out what else you need to do to get your site on the first page of search. Request a free competitive analysis which will examine your site and the sites of those doing best in your market.
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Beverly A. Giarrusso