Losers have content. Winners have quality content.
The Internet has no shortage of content, but it's definitely missing quality content – the stuff people are searching for, those informative pieces that help guide decisions, the useful material put out by thought leaders.
But how do you know if you have just plain old content or quality content? Here are the five features that separate the best from the bland.
Quality content isn't just chock full of interesting ideas and useful tips. In order to turn a good blog post into a great one, you need to use the proper page and text formatting.
Readers are crunched for time, and they need easily digestible information – if they have to work for it, they're gone. Most users are skimmers and scanners, so you should structure your content to make it simple for them to navigate through your posts. Optimal formatting includes appropriate usage of:
- Bolded and italicized words to convey the importance of an idea
- Bullet points and numbered lists (like the one you're reading!)
- Playing with white space to prevent text blocking
- Short, concise sentences and paragraphs
- Headers and subheaders to break up text
2. Grammar & Spelling
Nothing cuts into your credibility more than mixing up "you're" and "your." Professionals should know the difference (if you don't, please take a refresher course – I beg you) between these common errors, so it should be easy to make sure all your content is grammatically correct. If you can't be bothered to learn and execute impeccable spelling and grammar, find a content marketing team to help you. Quality content should be error-free.
Visitors want to see you as a credible source of information, and such amateur errors severely affect their ability to do so. Worse, Google puts strong emphasis on weeding out spelling errors, grammar mistakes and typos, so an error-ridden site shows up much lower in the SERPs.
There's always some discrepancy between content marketing thought leaders about how long posts should be. Some say 2,000 words should be a minimum, while others are writing fewer than 100 words.
It's true that Google shows a preference for long-form content that digs deep into a topic. At the same time, users (especially those on mobile devices) are more likely to skip a blog that's too long and opt for one that's readable in a minute or two.
The truth is the ideal word count depends entirely on your audience. Brian Solis, a social media marketing guru, routinely posts book-length blogs – because that's what his audience likes. Seth Godin, an inbound marketing expert, sometimes posts 60 words, all in bullet form – because that's what his audience wants.
You must have a goal in your content marketing strategy. Once you establish it, then you need to make sure all of your posts achieve that goal, regardless of how many words it takes. If you're more interested in jumping your rank in the SERPs than you are in mobile accessibility, focus on longer content. If you'd rather gain a big following, make your posts more easily digestible for the mobile platform.
4. Images & Video
Quality content doesn't have to be image-rich, but it certainly helps. A picture is worth a thousand words, and nothing is more easily digested than an image, so use images to your advantage.
Visual content outperforms plain text in social media shares, engagement, time spent on page and inbound links – but don't just fill your pages with images without first thinking about the roles they play in your overall content marketing strategy. Consider whether:
- Your images support the message of your content
- Your media is high-quality from a technical standpoint
Are your images grainy? Does your video take too long to load? Are your infographic stats too small to read?
- Your images are aesthetically pleasing
- Your audience is likely to share or link to the content or the image
People aren't looking for a plain piece written by Joe Shmoe – they're looking for quality content that answers their questions or solves their pains. Typically, trust is placed in thought leaders or those with extensive expertise in a given industry. If the topic is academic, does the author have credentials or a degree? Ask yourself what authority you have in the topic you're discussing, and make sure you're constantly working to improve it.
Nowhere is this focus on expertise more prominent than through the Google Quality Rater Guidelines, which explains, “There are some pages for which PQ [Page Quality] is particularly important. We call these pages Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages. They are pages that can have an impact on your current or future well-being (physical, financial, safety, etc.). YMYL pages should come from reputable websites and the content should be created with a high level of expertise and authority” (emphasis added).
Start Today Tip: High-quality content is what helps your site rank high in the SERPs. It's the source of equally high-quality inbound links. It lets you earn trust and credibility, which transitions into a meaningful relationship with your audience. If you don't know how to develop worthy content, seek the help of a content marketing specialist.