The SEO landscape is always changing.
Whether it’s through an animal-based update or an automated AI change, Google likes to keep SEO’s and websites on their toes, particularly when it comes to high-quality content.
But what is high-quality content? Why is it important for SEO?
In this article, I’ll break down exactly what ‘quality content’ is and how you can utilise it to amplify your online rankings.
Google’s Guidelines – What Do They Have to Say?
It’s important to first know that Google has their own idea of ‘quality content’. However, as with most things Google, it tends to be very vague.
Nonetheless, the guidelines they lay down can provide useful insight into the kind of content they tend to rank.
On a basic level, Google recommends creating content that is designed to help users, not search engines. They also state that webmasters shouldn’t aim to deceive people or use tricks and loopholes to fool search engine bots. Clearly, this is a self-serving statement, but it’s also correct – penalties to your site are the last thing you need.
In essence, write to actually help your readers solve their problem and answer their search query. Don’t stuff your article with keywords that render it unreadable.
As mentioned, their guidelines are pretty vague. Google likes to keep its algorithm and ranking factors close to the chest, so there is a good chance they aren’t going to go into too much detail.
So, to get as good a grip on what ‘quality content’ means, we moved from the guidelines to their SEO starter guide to work out what they deem best.
Diving Deeper into What Google Wants in Your Content
The SEO starter guide that Google provides is actually very useful. It provides a strong basis for what Google wants in reference to high-quality content.
Again, vagueness is still an issue, but more is revealed about how webmasters can create content that Google loves.
Here’s a short breakdown of what Google mentions when describing how to write high-quality content.
Addressing the User’s Search Query
One of the first things Google mentions is that, when creating quality content, you need to address the user’s questions.
When someone searches something, they are looking for a quick, in-depth answer. Your job is to provide them with just that.
But to do this, you need to have access to what people are actually searching.
Google recommends its keyword planner as a potential resource for finding keywords and search queries, so you can properly address what your audience are wanting in terms of content.
Admittedly, it is a good tool, but if you want specific search volumes you need to pay for an AdWords campaign, and I understand some of you won’t want to do that. However, fear not, there are plenty of other tools to get a good idea of what questions are asking.
Alternative Tools for Finding Search Queries
Free tools such as Answer The Public or Also Asked work well. They may not be the most precise or give data on search volume, but they’ll go a long way to helping you structure your article. Other tools require a monthly payment, such as Ahrefs and SEMRush. These are superior but, again, nothing beats Google since they own the entire search engine.
Once you have access to what your audience are searching you can make an active attempt to answer their queries.
Don’t Overcomplicate Your Content – Make it Simple and Easy to Read
When writing content, it can be tempting to believe that using complex language is the best route to take.
This is incorrect.
You should avoid using complicated language in your content. Aim to keep it simple and easy to understand.
Want an example?
Take a look at this whole section. We’ve limited every sentence to a maximum of two clauses. We’ve also put line breaks in to make it easy for the reader.
In the UK, the general population have a reading age of around nine! If you start using complicated language you might turn your audience off. This will likely result in them bouncing from your page.
However, this doesn’t mean you should completely forget grammar and punctuation. Google also states your writing should be clean and grammatically correct.
If you’re not confident with your grammar and punctuation, applications such as Grammarly can be an absolute lifesaver. And the best part? It’s free!
Nonetheless, write your content as if your audience aren’t experts. Avoid unnecessarily uncomplicated language. Keep it simple. Make it easy to read. Follow this basic tip and your content will grip your audience and shoot up the SERPS.
Create Content That is Fresh and Original
If you’re really looking to give your content a turbo boost, make sure it is original and unique.
Rehashing or even copying existing content that adds little value to your audience can hurt your SEO effort. Aim to create new content that shares something new with your audience – something that other sites have failed to cover.
Taken on face value, this can seem like a daunting task. Coming up with something new and original takes time and patience. Not to mention research and expertise in the topic area.
Given that over 2 million blog posts are published every day, there’s a strong chance your topic has been covered before.
So How Do You Stand Out and Produce Unique Content?
There are a number of ways you can stand out with your content and ensure it is fresh and for your audience.
The trick is to not try and reinvent the wheel. Although most (if not all) topics have been covered on the web, you can still repackage and reframe concepts and knowledge in a way that appears novel to your audience.
However, if you can produce something new – something no one has ever seen before – you’re almost guaranteed to get a flood of links and eyes on your content.
Produce an Original Piece of Research
A classic approach to creating a unique article is by collecting and present a piece of original research.
Experts such as Brian Dean use this concept regularly, producing research on backlinks, content, and keywords. With this tactic, he’s managed to obtain thousands of backlinks and enormous spikes in traffic.
Check out this post! It has over 3000 referring domains!
The technique works and can be applied to any industry with a bit of creativity.
Back in 2016, we used this technique to generate Dreams over 40 backlinks.
We surveyed 15,203 adults to analyse the UKs sleeping behaviour and we found some very interesting statistics.
For example, did you know that 27% of people will have an argument with their partner over something that happened in a dream?!
Crazy, isn’t it?
The survey did superb and attracted lots of traffic and links and is living proof that this technique is solid.
See the full survey here.
Publish a Unique Case Study
If you can, publishing a unique case study is an excellent way to teach your audience something new and astonishing.
The case study could be about a client, a customer, another site or business, a personal story, a curated story – the list goes on.
Case studies work well because they’re unique and often relatable. They normally involve common problems that your audience are experiencing and shows a step-by-step walkthrough on how to solve them.
The narrative element of case studies gives them an extra boost, especially if they have moments of conflict and a hero character to route for.
Find case studies within your industry and use them to create high-quality, unique content.
Create an In-Depth Guide
A quick and easy way to produce fresh content is through producing a huge guide on a specific topic. The guide should combine as much information as possible about the given subject, leaving no stone unturned.
Creating big ‘how tos’ or large list-based articles is a popular approach when implementing this strategy.
Use your expertise and do lots of research. Aim for over 2000 words if you can and make the guide comprehensive.
An excellent real-life example of this technique being used is with the Bed and Mattress guide we built for Dreams.
We built a huge content hub for everything related to bed and mattresses, to aid consumer understanding and boost visibility.
The content piece is divided into different sections, all congregated under one category.
Currently, the guide has 253 first place position and generates a ton of traffic. If you’re looking to create a huge, in-depth kind, we can say with confidence that it works.
See the full bed and mattress guide here.
Chunk Your Content and Make the Transitions Logical
Avoid compressing all your content into large, continuous paragraphs. Make your content skim-friendly and allow your audience to find the content they want fast.
Placing all your content in an incoherent, unstructured manner can make the page difficult to read and comprehend. You need to be helping your readers out by separate paragraphs and dividing up content logically.
This means creating a piece of content that flows naturally from one topic to the next with no awkward jumps.
Use appropriate H2s and H3s to segment your content and use short sentences and paragraphs to help people find answers quickly.
Make the content easy on the eyes and you’ll be on a winning piece of content in no time.
Produce Long-Form Content
Back in the day, content writers could get away with short form copy on pages. 500-word articles used to be all the rave and would rank particularly well despite being obviously shallow.
In recent years, Google has taken a stand against incomplete content and now wants to see longer pieces that explain topics in more depth.
You need to be producing content that is comprehensive, explaining it in detail to give your audience the best answer possible.
Research has found content over 1,800 words ranks well in SERPS, so aim to use this as a baseline. Of course, searcher intent is important and if a topic can be explained in 500 words don’t ramble on to get the word count.
Make Sure Your Content Oozes Expertise and Authoritativeness
Google has made an active effort to ensure content is written by experts, so their searcher is getting the right information. This is particularly true for sites on finance and health, often called Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content.
When producing a high-quality piece of content, make sure you’re linking out to authoritative sites and references. These can include official journals, Government sites, or educational institutions.
Having a fully fleshed out ‘about’ page works well for cementing authority and expertise on a topic. If you have qualifications and official awards in your subject area, make it known to Google.
With the release of Google’s new E-A-T algorithm, it’s more important than ever to ensure your content is written with correct sources and references.
A Quick Overlook of E-A-T
The new E-A-T algorithm changed the way content is found on the web. And therefore, it’s changed how you need to produce that content. Websites now have to demonstrate that the knowledge they’re sharing is updated, relevant, and authoritative.
For those who don’t know, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. All websites are subject to this judgement, even gossip sites and forums!
If you need more information about this update and how it influences the quality of online content, check out our full guide to the EAT update.
Summing it all up…
Writing high-quality content is no walk in the park. It takes time, effort, and expertise to put together a killer piece of content.
Google has laid out guidelines to what they see as high-quality content. Although it is slightly vague, it does provide a healthy baseline for content writers and SEOS.
If you have any questions about Google’s quality guidelines or need more information, feel free to reach out!