Are you wondering if quality content really matters for your business website? You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘content is king’, but does that mean any old content will do?
If you’d prefer to listen to this article, our robots have produced an audio recording of it. You can listen to it below.
Quality Content in Marketing
‘Content is king’ is a catchphrase for what we now call content marketing, a subset of online marketing.
Christopher Ratcliffe defines content marketing as an amalgamation of editorial, marketing, PR, SEO, and social media activities. These work in unison towards the goal of producing engaging, attention-grabbing, high-quality online content.
That content could be anything from videos to blog posts, live stream Q & As to in-depth industry white papers. But the point is – it has to be good.
- Quality content cuts through the sheer volume of stuff available on the internet to attract attention
- It engages people because it is relevant and interesting
- It is more likely to be shared on social media.
We touched on this a little in our article on the ideal blog post length for businesses. Longer content tends to be of a higher quality because it’s more detailed and has better keyword inclusion.
Achieve this with your online content, say the content marketers, and you will improve brand awareness, brand perception, grow your audience, and — ultimately — generate new leads.
5 Rules of Quality Content
What defines quality writing on the web? We’ve hinted at content length, so we’ll go into that more in a second. But is there anything more?
As with any discussion of quality, there is obviously a subjective element to this, and there are plenty of slightly dubious theories about sentence length and vocabulary. Tools like Yoast SEO are fantastic for helping the writer to judge readability, but you can’t rely wholly on that magic green light to tell you what’s working.
At Red Robot, we’ve been writing quality content since 2010. Here are our 5 must-haves.
1. Grammar and Spelling
Is grammar really sexy? Well, yes it is.
According to a study into dating sites by Kibin, 43 per cent of respondents said poor grammar on a profile was a turn-off, while 35 per cent said good grammar was attractive.
Apply those figures to audiences reading your latest blog post or guest article on an influential site and you can see the value of getting grammar and spelling right.
If you’re the sort of person who notices mistakes, you’ll likely make a judgement when you see them. And even if you don’t care about mistakes in your content, there will always be customers who notice.
2. Web Page Structure
Did you know that, on average, just over a quarter of the words on a web page will be read? That doesn’t give you much room to make an impression and persuade visitors it is worth their time reading more.
The headline and first paragraph of any piece of writing are absolutely crucial.
In journalism, a reporter will hardly ever write their own straplines, and will routinely have their opening paragraphs rewritten by an editor or senior colleague. Achieving that early impact is a real skill.
The same is true of your content. Everything that the reader sees within the first couple of seconds needs to be compelling. Given that you also need to get keywords into the text, title, and meta description without making the content sound robotic, this is one area where using an SEO copywriting service can be a good investment.
Again, you could keyword stuff to get around this, but that’s not going to win you any quality points.
3. Relevance to Search Intent
knowing who you’re writing for is crucial if you want to match the content to their search intent.
You can apply this to technical blogs and documentation too. Writing a beginner’s guide to a piece of equipment is no use to someone who’s been using similar equipment all their working life.
So it’s really important to think about who you are writing for and work backwards from there.
A good way to produce quality content that’s relevant is to think about the pain points and questions that you hear most often. This is a good way to brainstorm topics for a blog.
Aside from topics, there are all sorts of decisions you have to make about the style of the content; will your readers be most interested in advice and how to articles; are they looking for quick, snappy news updates; do they want serious, in depth analysis and thought leadership?
Hint: posting an article on LinkedIn is very different to posting it on Facebook.
Finally, tone can be crucial. There is a wide spectrum between conversational and formal, playful and serious, and pitching the tone of your writing in the right place is all part of the brand identity you create. Again, the aim is to resonate with customers.
4. Depth and Length
There is a whole school of thought about writing for digital platforms which prioritises brevity. You might think that people are reading on a screen, perhaps their phone, so they want to be able to quickly scan short articles.
It sounds logical, but we believe this is a red herring.
For a business blog or website, it is usually to advise, inform or explain. In that case, there is an expectation from the reader that you will answer the questions they may have, or teach them something they did not previously know or understand. That requires depth.
That’s the main reason we don’t usually write blog posts that are less than 400 words in length. It just isn’t possible to get enough detail in to make that blog worth the investment.
Current SEO advice suggests that search engine bots prioritise articles of 1,000 words upwards. We’ve also monitored the research on this since 2014, and the point where Google ranks something in the top 3 seems to be at around 2,000-2,500 words.
5. High-Quality Original Research
When writing content for the web, it’s very easy just to Google someone else’s content and rewrite it.
That adds nothing of value for the reader.
You need to come across as an authority on the subject. That means:
- Sharing your own experience and insights
- Offering a different angle on a subject that has been ‘done to death’ on your competitors’ blogs
- Investing a writer who spends the time to research content before they write it.
This is all about credibility. The biggest websites in the world have spent a lot of money on producing content. They push their own content that little bit further. They strive to be that little bit better. A big part of that is digging deeper into a topic and spending more time on the preparation.
An easy way to improve your content is to generously reference sources from other websites. Not only does this demonstrate that you’re prepared to do your homework to produce quality content, it’s also good practice for acknowledging copyright.
Search Engines Look for Quality Content
The background to all of this is, of course, SEO.
Google and the other search engines eventually started to penalise content with too many keywords. Keyword repetition, and prioritising keywords over interest or readability, was not doing any favours to the integrity of the internet.
So search engines started to penalise thin content and instead prioritise things like:
- Relevance to search intent
- Depth of research required to write the content
- Presentation and navigation.
Digital content can come in all sorts of forms. But while it might sound sexier and more exciting to talk about high-quality photography and aesthetic video production values, the prosaic truth is this: the written word still accounts for the overwhelming majority of online content.
This is why you can’t separate the quality of your content from your rankings. The two things are tightly linked.
How to Get Quality Content
Now you understand the importance of quality content for your website, you might be wondering how you’ll find the time to actually produce it.
For small businesses, that’s the million-dollar question.
If you launch a new website, you want it to look great and have slick, intuitive navigation, right? So you would hire a professional web developer and designer. If you’re launching PPC ads, you want copy that grabs attention and drives conversions. So you invest in a professional advertising agency.
The same logic should apply to your static web page copy, technical blog posts, white papers, ebooks, and any offline business copywriting that you produce.
Invest in content. It’s an asset.
You are far better off spending money on a professional web copywriter rather than throwing up thin content. Bad content could actually hurt your rankings in search and diminish your returns over time.
What to Do Next
From making you stand out above your peers and command attention, to boosting your search rankings, the quality of the written word on your website matters. Contact us now to find out how we can help you to improve the quality of your website content.