If Content is King, Quality is Queen

Written by Fresh Egg - 30 Apr 2012

Having fresh new content is naturally going to keep search engines interested, but if your content is never referenced or redistributed, and visitors only come along once or twice before staying away for good, then your efforts at keeping your onsite content constantly refreshed are surely going to count for nothing.

Conversely, if visitors add your site to their RSS feeds, link to your articles and tweet about your updates then you’re doing something that search engines are going to love. Those social signals are going to tell them that your site is producing important, relevant content that people are keen not only to read themselves but to share with others. That’s all pretty simple; the crunch comes when you get down to brass tacks, why would people want to share it?

The simple answer is quality.

Everyone wants a slice of the quality pie

You’re giving away more than necessary; you’re spending time and effort creating content that is informative, readable, pertinent and timely. But you’re not doing it for nothing. It might appear like you’re doing a lot of work just to put it out over the internet for other people to use for their own information and that’s true, altruistic you!

However, sharing is not that altruistic at all, is it? Various philosophers and psychologists maintain that everything you do is driven purely by selfishness. Helping an old lady cross the road not only helps her out, but you get a warm buzz from being a good person yourself. Well, the same thing can be seen in terms of SEO. Make something fantastic, give it away for free and people will love you, share your gift and, just as importantly, talk about it, seeding it across the web for you. Brilliant!

Somewhat off topic, the notion that you give your best stuff away for free is something that print media is having to embrace as news is becoming instantly available online. Hiding your content behind a paywall will mean that only a few of your potential consumers will sign-up and pay, the internet has a long history for sharing things for free (hence there is always uproar when sharing services are closed down thanks to copyright infringement suits). A limited number of visitors makes your advertising model look paltry compared to other news dissemination organs, ultimately resulting in a tailspin of increasing fees and diminishing subscribers.

The solution is plainly simple, produce amazing quality content that people rush to in their droves. Encourage them to share, leave your pages open for comments, add social sharing buttons, in fact do everything you can to create a buzz around your content. Rather than being for nothing it in fact has a hugely positive influence on your positions in search engine results.

Some people say that spelling, grammar, syntax and the like are becoming less important on the net as the nature of the internet is democratising. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the difference between ‘they’re,’ ‘there’ and ‘their.’ It does, however, matter a lot (and no, ‘alot' still isn’t a word).

Why does it matter?

Spelling and correct usage aren’t just important to us word wranglers and grammar bullies. People are going to read your pages and they are going to judge you not only on your ideas but on the details such as spelling. Not only that, misspelled words or poorly chosen words can often be ‘antagonyms’ (homophones which mean the precise opposite of themselves, raised and razed, fast and bolted are some of the most common examples), meaning that if you aren’t perfectly clear in your meaning, the precise opposite of what you meant may be inferred.

Too many easily avoidable typos and the readers’ patience becomes exhausted, while your credibility takes a battering. Make too many mistakes and your message is lost entirely, the reasoning being, “If they can’t even spell correctly how do I know that they know what they are talking about?”

How can you make sure your content has the requisite quality?

There’s no hard and fast single rule which determines a single universal quotient of ‘quality’ but so long as the content you’ve produced can tick these boxes the chances are you’re scoring at least a high B if not an A for quality:

• Does it make its point? If your reader is left with a clearer picture of the subject after having read your content it has done its job well;

• Is it relevant? If your website is designed to attract high net worth individuals, producing content that appeals to cat lovers may not be the right thing to do;

• Is it useful? Nobody wants to read a long article, no matter how well researched and written, if it doesn’t bring anything new to the party. Be different, have an alternative point of view, if you explain it coherently you could change the whole conversation;

• Is it interesting? There may only be a vague link between the content you’ve produced and what your website is intending to do, but if your content is interesting and informative it has value to your reader;

• Is it shareable? This has more to do with your functionality than the work you’ve done, but if you produce the definitive, Earth shattering article which distils all previous content down to one succinct idea, hiding it behind a paywall or awkward user registration process means that, good as it is, fewer people are going to see it and hence share it;

• Does it encourage interaction? Make bold statements, talk up the controversy, or put your own slant on a topical, newsworthy item. If you inform and encourage discussion you create dialectic. Hold that conversation in your comments section. Allowing people to express their ideas on your page means every line posted your site becomes yet more of a repository for knowledge that other people are going to want to resource, share and add to.

If you've enjoyed this article you might like to read the other articles in the 'If Content is King' series.