More content no longer means more success in SEO. It just means too much content.
When it comes to content creation, we’re seeing a shift in quantity to real quality. The launch of Google’s original Panda algorithm, which targeted thin content, started this big focus shift, which continues to this day.
1. Goals Define Your Definition of Quality
Quality is in the eye of the beholder (the reader or customer). That means quality varies from person to person.
Ultimately, quality is defined by your goals. The content you create needs to be beneficial to you as a company.
What sells? What’s profitable? The content you create should have a business benefit.
If you sell 50 products, but only 10 are real movers and shakers, start there. Explore related topics to those products and prioritize creating content around those items. Don’t start with the whole company or every product.
Don’t be too commercial or create content that is totally unrelated to your business. Find balance.
2. Winning Types of Content
The best sites are those that are resourceful, helpful and interesting. People link to and share this type of content. You also want to be viewed as forward thinking.
Some examples of content that, when executed well, are popular include:
- How-to guides
- Long-form content
- Lists (Greatest/Best/Top 10/15/20, etc.)
- Visual guides (especially on Pinterest).
Content should exist for a reason, such as to solve a problem or answer a question. Visit a support forum and see what questions people are asking. Wherever there are lapses or content gaps, there is a content opportunity!
When your content is really resourceful, it will be shared and referenced. And it can help brand you as an authority on a topic.
3. More Minds = More Great Ideas
You’ve done your keyword research using your tools of choice. You’ve explored popular hashtags on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. And you’ve looked at sites like Reddit to see what is being written about in your niche.
Don’t stop there.
Once a week, gather everyone on your team together in front of a whiteboard and start coming up with ideas. Most people get ideas from other people’s ideas.
By pulling in all the minds you can, you’ll get a lot better variety of ideas. Come up with 100 ideas in one session.
Once you’re done, have everyone involved in the process score the ideas from 1-10. Put it all together in Excel and you’ll get a good sense of what ideas have the most potential to be popular and help you successfully hit all your goals.
4. Look at Your Competitors’ Content
What is getting the most social shares and comments on your competitor’s site? What are they showcasing?
Certain content succeeds, some doesn’t. Look at what content works, and compare it to what content doesn’t work. See what is getting the most traction for your competitor and figure out what similar types of content might also work for you.
5. Push Your Content Further
Your content can always be better. Your goal is to be at least a little better than the competition.
Ask yourself these questions when you’re writing:
- Is there more to the story?
- Has it happened before?
- Does it relate to current events?
- Are there unanswered questions?
- How are you adding perspective?
Also, make sure to do a quick search and social lookup to make sure your article is complete, add quotes and references, and link out to related information that adds value.
People are going to share the best source, the one with all the information. Make sure your content isn’t just one of 50 stories about a topic.
6. Formatting Your Content
- Provide quotable, shareable, linkable text excerpts. Providing people with excerpts will help them share on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites, which will then drive more people to your site.
- Break paragraphs for easy skimming. Try to limit yourself to one idea per paragraph. The majority of folks have lost interest in deep-form reading, so make it easy for people to skim.
- Use bulleted lists. These help break up content, are easier to read and let you highlight key words and phrases.
- Images. Use pictures to summarize concepts, break up content and provide something socially shareable.
- Optimize for mobile. Make sure people can read and share your content on mobile devices, and make sure your content loads fast with a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights.
- Avoid commercial elements (e.g., shopping cart buttons) or pop-ups (e.g., ads, signups). These end the user experience. Users are turned off, close your page and leave the site (and may never return). Also try to avoid ads within content.
- Get rid of old junk: Ditch those calendars, tag clouds, counters, and any old social buttons.
7. Don’t Forget the Power of Social
If you see a bunch of people waiting outside a restaurant to get in, you presume it’s good. The online equivalent of this is social engagement.
If you see that a piece of content has many likes, retweets or comments, this sets up a subconscious expectation in a reader’s mind that the content they’re about to experience is of a certain level of quality. Don’t forget to promote your content socially and engage when people comment (or start the discussion in a positive way).
Creating blockbuster content is only half the battle. You must plan for social promotion.
You can check out Csutoras’ presentation here.
About the Author
Danny Goodwin is the Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. You can find him on Twitter.
Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to wiredforlego.