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:
- Google Webmasters: Create valuable content
- The Role of Content Quality in Bing Ranking
- Quality Content Factors: A List That's Actually Helpful
- How Google defines 'quality content'
- 7 Tactics to Write Quality Content Your Audience Will Love
- Google's 'Quality Update': What Content Marketers Need to Know
- How Google Judges Quality and What You Should Do About It
What's Your Opinion? How do you define 'quality content'? Join the conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.