Time and time again you'll have heard that, if you want to rank higher on Google, you need to produce quality content. But what exactly is content quality?
And why does it matter? Because that's what Google wants. And because Google is the world’s biggest search engine that's probably responsible for most of your traffic, you kinda have to give it what it wants.
Indeed, when Google goes down, overall worldwide web traffic plunges dramatically by around 40%. And when Google updates their algorithm, everyone pays attention. And Google recently updated their algorithm to focus on content quality. Check out the below graphic to see what I mean:
This means that marketers need to do as Google says and produce more high-quality content. But what does that mean and how can you create top-notch content? This article will show you how Google measures content quality, and what you can do about it.
Content Quality Means Google Values Expertise
Imagine if you were running an affiliate website on the camera niche.
You've got your affiliate products all sorted and you've written a few blog posts at 500 words each. So far, so good.
The thing is that you're not an expert at cameras — in fact, you know nothing about them. The only reason you're driving any traffic in the first place is that of your decent marketing skills (and perhaps a PPC campaign). Because you have no real knowledge of cameras, your blog articles suck and your conversions are down.
Not just this, but your bounce rate is through the roof. And a high bounce rate is an indicator of poor content quality. People have found you out and know that you're not an expert on cameras.
The real problem is that Google has also found you out, and as a consequence, your ranking has dropped. Not cool.
What Google wants is experts producing content they know inside out. This improves the user experience, ensuring that the right content is matching up with the right search queries. The site visitor is able to resolve their problems satisfactorily and everyone is happy. Including Google, who's algorithm measures engagement with content as a content quality factor.
Link to Other Websites
If you've used data or any kind of facts and figures in your articles, great. This gives you more credibility in the eyes of your readers.
To establish more credibility with Google — which is of equal importance — you need to reference any source where you got your data from. This is in keeping with co-citation best practices, and it shows that you're keen to be a part of the Google family.
Get other, authoritative websites to link back to you, too. This is called a backlink and it gives your website and articles a seal of approval because it shows that what you're offering is of a high content quality.
To secure more backlinks you can launch a guest blogging campaign. This is when you pitch a blog idea to a related website in your niche, write a solid blog post and publish it with a link back to your site.
As well as that, just focus on content that you know is offering lots of value. The more value you offer, the more share-worthy and link-worthy your content will be. And, don't forget an internal linking strategy to other articles on your own site, something we refer to as cornerstone content.
Produce Long Form Content
Research has been done into whether short-form content performs better than long-form content.
And the answer is that long-form content is considered by Google to be of higher quality, and therefore ranks better.
Long form content is considered to be of a higher quality because a 2,000-word blog post naturally has more opportunities to offer more value to the reader than a much shorter 500-word blog post. A longer blog post also has more opportunities for backlinks, useful data and it can go deeper into the problems experienced by your audience.
Long form content is also considered to be more share-worthy and this further increases its quality status with Google.
Creating long-form content can take time, of course, but don't forget that you can repurpose it so that you get as much juice as possible out of it. If a lengthy blog post performs well, repurpose it for a video that a different audience gets the same value out of it.
And if you're stuck for ideas on what to write about in the first place, use the skyscraper technique. This is when you take an existing piece of content on a particular niche and improve it with more value, data, actionable advice and so on.
Make Old Content Relevant
Google wants to see fresh content from you, which means you should strive to publish new content as much as you can.
Of course, freshness itself doesn't indicate content quality. Moreover, you shouldn't post new content just for the sake of newness. What you can instead do is go back to your old content and make it more relevant.
For example, let's say I wrote an article in 2016 on car tax. It was a really good article that people enjoyed. It was informative and educational.
However, since we're now in 2019 and the rules on car tax have changed, it's also now old and irrelevant — and that means it's lost the quality piece of content it was.
Instead of rewriting the article from scratch, I can make the necessary tweaks that make it relevant again. It will be fresh, and it will have the quality that Google is looking for.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing and Duplicate Content
As you can see, content quality is all about improving the user experience so that they get the best answers possible. Google wants to offer people more bang for the buck, so to speak.
To this end, Google uses a search filter called Panda to look for, and then penalize, poor quality content that's obviously just trying to drive as much traffic as possible without actually offering any value.
To make sure that you don't fall fool of Panda, avoid Keyword stuffing and duplicate content. Avoid doorway pages too, and don't take part in link schemes. All of these things will result in penalties and your ranking will plummet.
As long as you focus on creating in-depth, long-form content rich in links and data, and which offers lots of value to the reader, you'll be well on your way to success on Google.
Aljaz Fajmut is a digital marketer, internet entrepreneur, and the founder of Nightwatch— a search visibility tool of the next generation. Check out the Nightwatch blog and follow him on Twitter: @aljazfajmut