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The Secret to Deciphering 'Quality Content'

The Secret to Deciphering 'Quality Content'

The Secret to Deciphering 'Quality Content'

The war between Search Engines (read Google) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) practitioners, which has raged since Google's birth in 2000, shifted focus this year - and not only Google Users, but all website visitors are the winners.

In the early days SEO was much simpler and SEO practitioners had the upper hand: The primary requirements to improve Google performance were simply to focus on the density of relevant keywords and then gather as many inbound links as possible.

Alas, that resulted in websites filled with low quality content - repetitive keywords and phrases - and countless links between unrelated websites that may have improved Google performance, but delivered little value to Google Users or website visitors in general.

Google's evolution, driven by the goal of delivering the most relevant search results possible, led to the release earlier this year of the Quality Update.

This newest weapon in the Google arsenal has forced SEO practitioners down a new path, and the by-products are an overall improvement to the quality of Google search results and the quality of website content generally.

What Is The Quality Update?

Around May of this year, Google started to give more weight to pages that it deemed to have a higher quality of content.

The technical details of how Google determines the quality of content is still being debated, but as one expert has put it: "we do know that it wants to provide users with the best information possible."Source

In a nutshell, it means shifting your focus away from creating content for Google, and towards creating content for your visitors.

Google explicitly states this as the first point in their article Steps to a Google-friendly site - "...give visitors the information they're looking for: Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do...".

What Is Quality Content?

When first hearing the term "quality content", you could be forgiven for thinking that you need to hire the services of Shakespeare to write the content of your website.

There are many, many (many) articles about how to go about writing quality content, but let us save you some pain and share some insight.

The Internet is the world's largest resource of information. You can search for anything, at any time, and get an answer to whatever question you may have.

Having such a vast volume of information available to us at the click of a button, however, has overwhelmed us, and it has changed the way we sort through and process information.

Now, instead of reading through content line for line until we find the answer we're after, we skim across it impatiently; and if we can't find our answer quickly, we move onto the next website to scour through their content instead.

This puts some weight on the amount of time we spend on a single page of a website, because if you've spent more than 30 seconds on a page, clearly there is something of value to you on that page.

And there's the secret to deciphering the term "quality content" - It's actually "valuable content".

Create content that is meaningful to readers, that's valuable to readers.

Readers will come back to content that is valuable to them in some way. Readers will share content they think will be valuable to others.

How to Create Valuable Content

As Google outline in their Webmaster Academy course, the content of your website should be useful and informative, credible, and engaging.

Microsoft's search engine, Bing, have boiled their guidelines down a little further, breaking the aspects of content quality into three pillars - Authority (how trustworthy is the content), Utility (how useful is the content), and Presentation (how well-presented is the content and how easy is it to find it).

The simple fact is, creating content that keeps people reading (or watching) is all you need to do to create valuable content.

And here is where you can think outside of the box. Your content could be informative, or it could be entertaining, or it could be convenient, or a mix of all three.

So while your competitor may have articles fit for a peer-reviewed journal on their website, your content could still be valuable if visitors find it more convenient, or more entertaining.

As an example, think of the numerous Do-It-Yourself related videos on Youtube.

There may thousands of videos that demonstrate exactly the same topic - how to change a tyre for example - but you can find videos that only cover the basics of how to change a tyre with just as many views as a video that shows every single step with detailed explanations.

A video may be just as popular if it is a little more entertaining, or if it covers the steps of the task a little faster (more convenient).

Different audiences will put differing levels of value on different formats and structures of content, which is why you can still create valuable content.

To help you to create valuable / quality content for your website, I've gathered a list of articles that cover the topic in more detail.

They all provide a different angle to decipher and understand the term 'quality content', and how to tackle the task.

Great Articles About Creating Valuable Content:

What's Your Opinion? How do you define 'quality content'? Join the conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.

Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

Social Media is all about sharing. Sharing insights, sharing information, sharing opinions.

Not everyone is using social media at the same time however.

Some people use it throughout the day, others just a couple of days a week.

So how can a business ensure that their clients and followers see the information that is shared by the company on social media?

Is it acceptable to post the same information a number of times, or should the business focus on encouraging their followers to be following at the time the company shares their information?

At some point in time, a choice will need to be made - Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

If we compare social media practices to real world social interaction practices, re-tweeting something you have already said could be compared to sharing a story with one friend about your children winning first place at the sports festival, then walking over to another friend and sharing the exact same story, and then moving onto another friend...

I've been to many a gathering and have seen people repeating their stories, and the crowd seem to clue on pretty quickly about what is going on.

People see this as overemphasising the story, trying to give it more importance than it may actually have, and they react negatively to it.

It doesn't matter if the story is a great tale worthy of being set in stone, more often than not the more times people see or hear it, the less they like it.

It's tempting to categorise re-tweeting a tweet (or re-posting a post) the same as "that guy with only one story", however, that's not the reality.

Unlike a real world social gathering, where everyone is present and with at least some awareness of things going on around them, social media followers are not always present and can be very easily distracted when they are on-line.

Despite the fact that around 10 million Australians are on Facebook every day^, few, if any, are actively there 24 hours a day, and with only a fraction of the followers in your network receiving each individual content item you publish the chances of a social media post being missed is extremely high.

This is why re-posting your social media content is an actually an acceptable thing to do.

Compare the practice to that of a TV or Radio station, who regularly repeat the top stories of the day.

It isn't because they don't have any new stories to cover, it is because not everyone tunes into the 7am broadcast.

If the information you are sharing is valuable enough, people will accept the repetition rather than reject it.

It is very easy to cross the line however, and come out looking like you're desperately trying for everyone in the entire world to know you have a new blog article on your website.

There are best practices and bad practices that you should consider when re-posting your content on social media.

You don't need to re-share every type of content.

The more valuable the content is, the more acceptable it is to re-post it.

While it might seem like a good idea to re-post a photo that received a lot of likes, re-posting the same photo won't be received the same way the second time around.

Generally speaking, the best type of post that can safely be re-posted is a link post  - be it a link to your blog or website, or links to other content you want to share.

Re-posting other content, especially those with the same image can look like you're platform is just stuck on repeat.

Change Up the Message

When re-posting or re-tweeting, don't re-post the exact same post / tweet - and be certain to change the image.

For example, if your typical link post looks like [Article Title] [Link] [Hastag], then try a completely different format when you re-post the link.

The second post could be a question related to the article followed by the link, or you could include a block-quote from the article followed with the link.

The more you change the format, the less your page will look like it is being managed by an automated script.

Get the Scheduling Right

When it comes to timing your re-posts, each social media platform has it's own requirements.

Twitter is very busy. A tweet can get lost among the clutter very quickly. And for this reason, you will want to re-post more frequently than the other platforms.

Re-tweet a tweet 2 hours after the initial post, then once the following day, then once the following week, and once the following month, and one more time 2 months after the first post.

Again, remember to change the content of the message so your feed doesn't look like you're just hitting 'repeat' every few hours.

Facebook and Google+ are much more forgiving. The lifespan of content is longer, and it is easier for people to follow up on what you've posted in the past week/month if they are interested.

It's safe to re-post on Facebook and Google+ a week after your initial post, following up again a month later.

When it comes to getting the balance right with your audience however, it is very much trial and error.

Consider what you deem to be enough, and not too much.

Try one schedule, and measure the results. If your followers mention something, or start to leave en-mass, then you know your current schedule is too much and you need to cut it back.

So there we have it.

Done appropriately, and with some attention to detail, re-posting your link posts is an effective way to ensure that your content has a longer lifespan, remains useful and accessible by your followers, and has the potential to reach a much wider audience than just posting it once and hoping for the best.

^Source: These incredible stats show exactly how huge Facebook is in Australia.


Do you repost your content? What are you thoughts on the practice? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.

Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

From showcasing products, to providing visual support to the text on the page, images can maketh or breaketh a website*. As Andy Warhol famously said - "I never read, I just look at pictures", and we all know "a picture says a thousand words".

When it comes to selling products on-line, there are countless studies proving the benefit of images in relation to conversion rates and as a provider of platforms that have processed millions of on-line transactions dating back to the 1990's, we've learned that quality images are often the difference between making sales and not.

We actively encourage all clients using our iASP™ platform, which provides full control over all content published (text, images, movies, files etc.), to invest in production of quality, original images, which can then be adjusted to suit the layout of the area they are publishing.

Providing your photographer or designer with the final image specifications you require is always the perfect option, but if you have images that still need further manipulation we've put together our simple 5-step process to creating perfect content images.

Before you start you'll need image editing software. You can pay for professional level applications such as Adobe Photoshop (like we do), but there's cheaper and even free options available. Today we're going to use a free image editor that is available on-line called Pixlr Editor. It's similar to Adobe Photoshop, and it is very easy to use.

Step #1: Find the recommended image dimensions.
Your images will need to be made a specific width and height, depending on how/where you want to use them. For example, an image used in the banner of your website will need to be a lot wider than an image that is used on an inner page.

For iASP™ Clients:

  • Navigate to the page you plan to use the image on, and edit the record.
  • The image field should have a recommended width and height either under the image label, or in a tool-tip alongside the image picker tool. If not, please just copy the address of the page you want to add the image into and e-mail it to us asking for optimum image dimensions
  • If you are creating a new image for the banner of your website, then you can find the recommended dimensions in the Banner module of the CMS Control Panel.

Step #2: Open the original image.
Next you want to load the image into your image editing application.

  • Open Pixlr Editor in your web browser (or you can use your usual image editing software).
  • Click File in the menu at the top of the application, and then select Open Image
  • Find the image on your computer and select it, press Open.

Step #3: Crop the Image
Now you want to crop out the part of the image that you want to use:

  • Select the Crop tool
  • In the tool options that appear under the menu, select Aspect Ratio from the Constraint options.
  • Enter the recommended image width from Step 1 in the Width box
  • Enter the recommended image height from Step 1 in the Height box.
  • In the image window, drag the mouse to create a crop box over the image. Then use the mouse to drag the edges of the crop box to cover the part of the image you want to keep.
    • This is usually as large as you can make it, or enough to cover the subject of the image.
  • When you are happy with your crop selection, crop the image by hitting enter, or double clicking inside of the crop box. The parts of the original image that were outside of the crop box should disappear.

Step #4: Resize the Image
If you are starting with a high resolution image, in most cases, your newly cropped image will still be larger than the recommended image size in step 1, so you need to resize the image down to the correct width and height.

  • Select Image from the top menu, and then select Image Size
  • Tick the Constrain Proportions box.
  • Enter the recommended image width from Step 1 in the Width box
  • Enter the recommended image height from Step 1 in the Height box.
  • Press Ok.

Step #5: Save the Image

  • Select File from the top menu, and then select Save
  • Select My Computer from the options in the left column
  • Enter a name for the image file
  • Select the Format
    • For photographs, always select JPEG
    • For images that are graphics, or that require transparent areas, select PNG
  • For JPEG, adjust the quality slider until the size is around 100Kb, increase the quality if the image looks pixelated or boxy.
    • The smaller the file size, the faster the image will load.
  • Select the location on your computer to save the image into and press Save.

And Viola (that's her name, don't wear it out), you now have an image perfect for your website.

Pro Tip: Before saving the image, have a look in the Adjustment menu at the top. Experiment with Colour Vibrance or Curves to change the colour balance of your images. You can also apply some automatic filters like Sepia or Old Photo to create different effects.


How do you create your images? Got any little tips or tricks that you'd like to share? Let us know on our iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.

*A statement supported by this website: Be Seen In 2015.

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

In a world where more content is generated every day than in all of history up until just a few years ago, content authors must not only instanty grab attention, but maintain engagement for at least long enough to successfully deliver their message.

At Hub Communications Digital content is a big part of our daily life and we've learned a thing or two about writing engaging content for your website.

  1. Picture Web Readers as Wild Animals

    In the article Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster, Jakob Nielsen at the Nielsen Norman Group likens readers to 'wild animals gathering food' who are looking for the 'maximum benefit for minimum effort' while searching the Web for information.

    Jacob describes the term 'Information Foraging' as the process of hunting for information and 'Information Scent' as the process of tracking or following the trail to the information they are hunting for.

    By considering this analogy, writing with the informavore's navigation behaviour in mind, you will improve the chances of catching the reader.

  2. Spend Time on the Headline

    The headline is the most important part of the article.

    Authors tend to focus more on the body of the article, putting a simple headline or title at the top. However, for the reader, the headline is their first sniff of the information scent.

    Typically on the web links to articles are the headline, which the reader uses to determine the relevance to their search for information.

    Headlines must inform the reader of the subject of the article, arouse their curiosity, encourage them to continue reading and be short and memorable, all in one line.

    While there is no perfect formula, there is evidence that six worded headlines have been found to be the most effective.

  3. Use Simple Language

    Writing for the Internet is very similar to writing for a newspaper or a magazine. The use of abstruse (hard to understand) words that are not part of everyday language will distract the reader (as just demonstrated).

    Even if you include hyperlinks to the definition of words that you have used, the simple act of wondering what a particular word or sentence means can distract the reader and break the flow of their reading.

    Unless your audience are academics looking for peer-reviewed journals, your readers will quickly lose interest and find something easier to read.

  4. Follow the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing

    A popular technique among journalists is the inverted pyramid writing style - putting the most important information at the top of the article and expanding upon the idea as you move down.

    Try to imagine your average reader as someone who is late for work in the morning, but really wants to know what is in your article, and write your copy accordingly.

    Include the most important information in your opening paragraphs instead of having the reader go through an entire page.

  5. Pick Your Key Words

    Writing for the Internet is not just about writing interesting copy. You must also make sure that your content is search engine friendly.

    As an author, you need to consider the keywords of the topic you are writing about, and incorporate them into your writing to give your content the greatest visibility on the web.

    Some forethought is important however, as some search engines penalise the misuse of keywords, such as using unqualified or unrelated keywords, or using them too frequently.

  6. Write for Easy Flow Reading

    Write content that can be skimmed through quickly whilst still delivering the important details easily.

    Readers want the answer to their question immediately, so give it to them and make it clear, but reward those that take the time to read deeper by expanding upon what the reader would otherwise take away just from skim-reading.

    Stick to a single idea per paragraph or use bullet points to separate out the ideas in long paragraphs.

  7. Write Accurate Information

    One of the most important aims for any author must be the use of accurate information.

    Don't underestimate the ability of your readers to independently verify claims made by you in your article. Only provide them with well researched and factual content.

    If you learn that information in an old article has become incorrect, add a correction into the article or write a new article with up-to-date information.

  8. Make Sharing the Article Easy

    While following the steps above will make a tasty article for the 'informavore', making the article easy to share will add the cherry on top.

    Add tools to allow readers to easily quote paragraphs of text from your article and post to their social media platform of choice. Provide the means for the reader to easily create a link to your article, or e-Mail the link to a friend.

In Summary

While writing for the web might be different from writing a book, or an essay; with continuous practice, authoring web content can become as easy as catching fish in a tank.

Keep the above points in mind when writing your next article and you are on your way to creating quality content for your website.

Further Information:

Got Your Own Writing Tips? Share them with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.

5 Steps to Better Link Building

5 Steps to Better Link Building

5 Steps to Better Link Building

We have been covering the shift in web content and SEO practices recently, and now we get to the practice of link building.

Links are not the beginning or the end of Search Engine Optimisation, but they do hold a large portion of weight in the algorithms employed by Google/Bing to rank websites on their Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

It is worth spending some time to understand link building, to incorporate link building into your content creation processes, so that you can reap the rewards from the effort in the future.

A Short History of Link Building

In their simplest form, links are like map locations for search engines to navigate between on their endless quest for information. Another way to look at them, is to consider a link as a vote from one website for another. Links help search engines calculate the popularity of websites and specific pages based on the number of other websites that carry links pointing to them.

Rand Fishkin of Moz, in 2009, summarised the history of link building and described it as follows: Between 2000 and 2002, direct link buys, email requests for links and link exchanges were popular. In 2003 and 2004, link networks, blog commenting and paid text links became popular. 2005 saw the advent of social media links, linkbait and quizbait and in 2008-09 came content licensing and editorial content for links.

After 2009, Google started introducing software like Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda which fished out websites that were aimed at fooling search engines. These complicated software algorithms were created to penalise such websites and to stop them from appearing at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

The Better Way to Link Build

Nowadays, the best practice for link building is to consider the bigger picture, and focus on building your link profile. QuickSprout has a great article - What is a "Good Link Profile" and How Do You Get One - that is worth reading if you have not heard of the term before.

Step One: Focus on Content

The first step is to produce quality content which is relevant, meaningful, and will gain popularity on the Internet in its own merit. Unless you create content which readers would want to share, you aren't going to create reason for other websites to link to your website.

As mentioned earlier, links are like votes. So if a website posts a link to your content, it is like the owner of the website voted for you. If a website which is considered an 'authority' links to your content, the value of the 'vote' increases. All of this affects where your website shows up on a Search Engine Results Page.

There are several ways in which you can structure content on your website to make it more appealing. Articles which list the '10 best' or '10 worst' of a topic are very popular with readers. Infographics or white papers providing insight into specific areas of your industry are also very popular and make the content easier to share as well.

Step Two: Only Aim for Natural Links

According to Google, their algorithms are configured to use only natural links for indexing and ranking websites. Search engine algorithms are able to distinguish between genuine links to your site posted by people who think the information would be helpful to others, and links which are posted specifically to "boost votes". The latter are referred to as spammy backlinks, which hurt your link profile.

Step Three: Promote, Promote, Promote

The content that you have created needs to be promoted aggressively by you. Do not wait for people to notice your content first and then start sharing. Instead, reach out to authority websites and "influencers" in your industry and share your content with them. If they find it useful and share it with their followers, your reach will increase exponentially.

Use paid options offered by social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote posts. You can also buy ad space in online journals using content syndication networks like Taboola and Zemanta to promote your content.

Step Four: Diversify your Back Links

Mix things up by requesting backlinks in different formats and on different platforms. Aim for some backlinks to be through social media, and some to be contained within content.

Another popular way to diversify link building is through guest blogging. However, today, guest blogging has become vastly more complicated than before. To establish your own set of followers, it is imperative that you contribute high quality content regularly. You must also promote the content you contribute and respond to queries / feedback.

Step Five: Backlink Management

Keep a constant watch out for any websites which feature your name or that of your brand. Check these websites regularly and request backlinks to your website if you have been mentioned, but not linked to. Another popular way of tracking mentions is through Google Alerts. You can enroll for competitions and also submit reviews of products to websites in return for a backlink.

In Summary

We have provided a very basic introduction into the practice of link building for today's content writers and provide a list of articles that should provide you with some more in-depth information. If you would like to discuss how you can improve your link building strategy or your overall content strategy, feel free to Get in Touch.

Further Reading:

Want to discuss this some more? If you would like to know more about content marketing or about anything in this article please let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.