What Does “Quality Content” Mean?
Marketers know that quality content is the cornerstone of a successful campaign. But what exactly is “quality content”? And how does it help brands and businesses attract readers, customers and fans? Depending on your marketing goals, quality content can mean many things—but the best content on the web shares some key features that resonate with readers and provide value they won’t find anywhere else.
What Is This Thing Called “Quality”?
A quick survey of content marketing trends and expert opinions reveal plenty of conflicting and confusing ideas about the elements that make up high-quality content. Some claim quality content can only be created by industry experts or writers with degrees in the subject. Others say good content must be long—three to four thousand words at minimum, so readers feel that they’re getting the most value. Still other content marketing specialists say the real marker of quality is how many shares and likes a piece receives.
Not so long ago, search engines such as Google ranked content based on a few simple things—and they had very little to do with the actual quality of the work. These factors included, in large part, keyword inclusion—how frequently keywords appeared in a post or article. That led to the questionable practice of “keyword stuffing,” when writers packed simple articles with target keywords with little regard for the actual content of the piece.
But times have changed, and largely in response to these practices that flooded the Internet with poorly written, keyword stuffed articles, Google and other search engines decided to prioritize the quality of the content itself over keyword frequency in search rankings. Although search engine algorithms are hidden, it became clear that high-ranking articles, posts and other content were frequently longer, more developed pieces that used keywords naturally and sparingly, and included references to authoritative outside sources.
Those features became the search engine standard for “quality” content, and marketers worked hard to make sure that they produced similar material. But in today’s marketing world, quality content needs to have other dimensions as well.
Quality is often in the eye of the beholder, it can be difficult to find just the right combination of factors that make your articles, posts and other content memorable and relevant for the specific audience you’re targeting. But even if you’re new to the world of content marketing, quality content isn’t so hard to achieve. Here’s a guide to the essential elements of creating outstanding content, no matter what niche you’re in.
Content marketing experts say that a key to quality content is trust and transparency. Readers need to feel confident that they’re getting the best possible information on a topic, from a source that’s confident in its expertise. High-quality content answers questions clearly and completely, with support from authoritative sources.
It’s Well Written
Quality content also creates authority with presentation – flawless grammar, spelling and other writing conventions. Poor editing and careless writing mistakes can undermine even the most in-depth discussion of a topic and compromise your company’s reputation for professionalism and authority. Your content serves as your company’s online ambassador, so it’s essential to make sure your articles and posts are clear, connected and correct.
Millions of pieces of content are constantly being posted online, so anyone can do a quick Google search and find plenty of similar articles on any topic. But content marketing specialists point out that simply creating a new post from existing information won’t give readers much value. Quality content is unique—it gives readers more information, more relevant insights, and more useful tips than any other content on the subject. That’s what the Content Marketing Institute calls the “10x Rule”—make your content 10 times better than anything else available, and be the only place on the web where readers can find it.
It Resonates With Readers
Today’s best web content is passionate, relevant and engaging. It adds meaning to readers’ lives, solves their problems, and stays with them long after they click out of the page. They want to share it with friends and use it to make decisions. Quality content is reader-focused, not writer-focused. It gives readers what they want, not what authors think they want, or should want -- and there are both technical and emotional factors that combine to make a piece of content engaging, valuable and shareable.
Technical factors include content types, which resonate with readers in different ways. Videos engage more than written content, and quizzes, listicles and image-based pieces grab attention and shares. Other technical factors might include whether or not the content is equipped with share buttons or whether it’s easy to scroll through.
Emotional factors, on the other hand, include things like utility (will it be helpful to readers and their friends?), engagement (is it inspiring, entertaining or moving?) and even shock value—is it strange, surprising or even disturbing enough to be deemed share-worthy? Quality content makes a connection with readers, and that connection can take many forms. The best content is not “one size fits all”—it’s written specifically for its target audience and their unique needs and interests.
It Provides Value
Like “quality,” value is a subjective term. But if your content doesn’t add anything to the web’s worldwide knowledge base, why would Google want to rank it? And if it doesn’t benefit readers in some way, why would they want to read or view it? The best content on the web provides value. It takes into account your bank of resources and ideas, available market space and unaddressed customer needs, and makes these things the foundation of a convenient, high-impact post that continues to help readers long after it’s been published.
The way your content provides value depends on your industry and your readership. For example, a tourism business might add value by posting content on how travelers should prepare for a trip, or what they should pack when heading to a particular destination. A software company could post articles on troubleshooting installs or FAQs for users. These things are valuable and helpful for their audiences now and in the future. Content can be valuable in other ways, too. It might be entertaining, such as a short story, or just provide interesting information, such as an article on the life of sharks.
It’s Real and Personal
Readers crave connection, so your personal voice can have a place in your content. A recent Econsultancy study revealed that 52 percent of digital marketers believe that personalized content is essential to a good online marketing strategy. Although adding a personal touch to your content depends on your goals and audience, consider adding some personal flair where appropriate. Be funny, be real and passionate, and let your unique voice shine through the words. Showing that there’s an actual person behind the content helps you to build trust and connect with readers on an emotional level.
It’s Optimized for Easy Searching
Writing from both the heart and the head are both essential to high-quality content—but so, too, is writing for the search engines that make it possible for readers to find that content. Today, the best content on the web is optimized for SEO. Here are a few ways to make sure that the content you create follows the best practices for search optimization.
- Include your target keywords throughout the copy, including titles, meta descriptions and content tags. Don’t fall into the bad habit of keyword stuffing, though—sprinkle them naturally throughout the piece.
- Add a compelling call to action (CTA) at the end of each post. Whether you ask readers to share, subscribe, or do something else, a CTA boosts engagement and gets the results you want.
- Use high-quality images and optimize each one with ALT text.
- Write engaging headlines that make readers want to click and find out more.
- Streamline your page’s load time by compressing images and eliminating other features that slow loading times. Thirty percent of web users will abandon a page that doesn’t load within six seconds.
Quality Content Drives Marketing Success
As the world of content marketing becomes more competitive, the importance of quality has increased tenfold. And the success of your content strategy hinges on putting out the best content possible. You can’t afford anything less than your best showing.
But creating quality content is not as hard as it seems. The key is understanding what your audience wants and needs, and then exceeding their expectations with the best content you can create. When you focus on putting readers first, and serving them with content that’s relevant, useful and trustworthy, they’ll keep coming back—and share your content far and wide.
Scripted’s content marketing solutions center on high-quality content created by professional, pre-vetted writers with expertise in industries of all kinds. Whether you’re a solo blogger, a new startup or a long-established business with a content strategy in place, Scripted can provide the quality, SEO-friendly content you need to boost your brand’s visibility online.