The quality of your content is infinitely more important than the volume of your content.
Prior to the last decade, however, there were plenty of websites pumping out reams of crummy content...and it seemed to work. By stuffing high-volume, low-quality content with links and keywords, even new websites were able to buoy to the top of the search engines with ease.
Those less-than-honorable practices and techniques have long been dead, and what matters more than anything else these days is the quality of your content.
The Google algorithm has evolved to become ever more sophisticated, especially with regards to identifying content and judging it to be low quality, average or high quality.
But how does Google make that determination? What is the algorithm actually looking for?
At first glance, when looking at examples of high quality content, it might be easy to form a misguided impression and erroneously think that length (word count, longer videos, etc.) is a key marker. But yet again, content length metrics fall into the quantity category instead of the quality category. Yes, longer content tends to do better, but that's another blog altogether.
So today, we're going to take a look at key metrics, markers and identifiers of high quality content.
Click Through Rate (aka CTR)
Apart from the bottom line results, such as how high Google ranks your content (we'll discuss this in greater detail shortly), the click through rate metric is the best way to determine content quality with few exceptions. There are some bizarre instances where content could have a high click through rate but really be bottom-of-the-barrel content, as is the case with deceptive advertising.
But as long as you're not employing dirty tricks to try to hustle your audience, CTR is a signal for quality content because, in part, CTR is related to engagement. (and if you don't think engagement is important, listen to this podcast about a recent Facebook announcement.)
Think about it – users actually took the time to read or interact with your content, and made a conscious decision to click and seek more. If a particular piece of content succeeds at getting users engaged and clicking on your content without bouncing, it's clearly relevant to your audience.
But consider that the relevancy of your content, though still crucial to success, isn't as heavily weighted as it once was. Content relevancy is still an important factor for overall rankings, but Google also cares about, and has the ability to detect, whether or not users are engaged. And CTR is a strong indicator of how much people engage with your content.
High Social Media Interactions and Engagement
I often tell small businesses to forgo worrying about vanity metrics (e.g. likes, how many people commented, etc.) because they can be distracting. After all, isn't the point to generate more sales to grow your business? Isn't that the real goal? Do comments put money in your bank?
I still stand by the philosophy of resisting the allure of vanity metrics to inflate your ego and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but they do have their uses.
Even if you have a piece of content with a ton of engagement that doesn't generate tons of clicks, visits back to your site or doesn't have a high action-taking impact, anything that generates engagement is worth investigating. Chances are your content struck your audience on an emotional level if it's getting a lot of engagement on social media channels, and you need to fully understand how and why you were able to reach your audience in a powerful way.
Finding Gaps Between High Ranking and Lackluster Pages
It may seem like a no-brainer to most people, but I recommend taking the time to get a big picture understanding of how well your content performs. There will undoubtedly be a spectrum of success among all of your pages.
For instance, you're sure to have several home runs ranking on page one, a large chunk of content performing moderately well and a few downright failures.
Take the time to analyze your content, and ask yourself, “What's different between the pages ranking well and the average or mediocre pages?” Identifying the differences is largest battle. Perhaps you targeted lower competition keywords, maybe the high performing content had comparison tables that the competing content lacked or the length of your copy was longer.
Teams of highly intelligent and hard working nerds have spent years and years honing the Google algorithm to find high quality content. Needless to say, you might be able to mine insights into what works and what doesn't work by comparing how Google has ranked your content.
By the way, you can run an SEO Score for your site here for free. Want a more in-depth audit? We can do that too.
A Readability Score Matching Your Target Audience
Some folks tend to think that quality written content (or even video scripts) need to use a lot of big, fancy, million-dollar words to sound intelligent and authoritative. It's easy for writers to get carried away, but your main concern should always be your audience. If you're producing content with a vocabulary that's dense and obnoxiously wordy, do you think your writing style encourages or discourages readability?
If you're writing content that's targeting novel editors and agents, then perhaps you do want to be a little wordy to cater to your audience – where appropriate, at least. But if your target audience is wider or not particularly known for being vocabulary buffs, then common words are your best friend.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that high quality content needs to be loaded with long words. More often than not, high quality content is easily digestible, especially in today's lightning-paced world.
Furthermore, isn't it more likely that overusing your vocabulary could decrease the quality of your content? I think so. If the average reader landed on your page and didn't understand a handful of words in the first three sentences, that visitor is likely going to bounce because of a lack of understanding and engagement. And content that encourages users to bounce is undoubtedly poor in quality.
Use a tool like Yoast SEO to test the readability of your content. Don't only use this tool though, as it can cause you to start writing content that's not natural. In other words, use your best judgement when creating copy. If it's easily read aloud, it's probably fine.
Ultimately, Quality Content Means More Traffic.
And more traffic means more potential sales or leads.
If you struggle with the in's and out's of creating high quality content, I encourage you to reach out to a qualified professional.
We've even used the 'writing gigs' category on Craigslist before to find writers. Get someone to create good content, then add your edits and expertise on those pieces. You'll cut down on your overall time writing, and you'll end up with some good stuff that didn't take you a long time to generate on your own.
Remember - Everything a small business posts online is a reflection of the company, and it's worth taking the time to make sure you get it right the first time and create genuinely high-quality content.