Last year, Google’s Panda filter shook up the internet. The biggest losers were sites with duplicate content, plagiarized content, sites with obvious keyword stuffing and grammatical errors.
The verdict was out: Google was cleaning up the internet and making it a great place to be once again. Panda brought about a much needed new awakening, a new search for high quality content among site owners. In the wake of Panda, several pundits weighed in on the definition of high quality content. I took this opportunity to ask a few experts what their views were on high quality content.
I gleaned key pieces of insights from that discussion, my own experience and also through talking to several web content managers, directors and editors, over the years. These top 4 characteristics have been on everyone’s list as essential for creating the best content for your audience:
# 1. Unique and Original Content
All 4 experts in my interview unanimously agreed that quality content needs to be unique and original. Web writer and editor, Alan Eggleston summed it up eloquently when he said “The facts may be the same, but it is written with the style, voice, and tone that is unique and original to you as the author and with the interest of the audience in mind for the vehicle in which it will appear.”
In a post Panda world, unique and original content is rewarded by coming up at the top of search results. Plagiarized and duplicate content have always been a no-no but Panda took care of enforcing this rule with heavy penalties for the non-conformists.
The topic doesn’t have to be unique but your perspective does. For example if you have a recipe site, there are tons of recipes for chocolate cake, but what would make your chocolate cake recipe unique would be your own original recipe.
#2. Extremely Articulate and Well Written
High quality content is so well written that your audience will keep coming back for more. It flows well, sounds good and feels almost like a melody.
Here are some key indicators of well written content:
•Besides being free of grammatical errors, well written content is also succinct and to the point. Every word that doesn’t belong is eliminated.
• High quality content is never vague. It paints a concrete picture and captures our imagination because we can picture it in our minds.
• High quality content is never pretentious or pompous. Instead, it has a natural flow. If a sentence feels uncomfortable, it needs to be cut from your copy.
#3. Easy to Understand
The internet revolution has changed the way we communicate – less is always better, easier is always better.
Gone are the days of bombastic language, hyperboles and exaggerated speech. They still work in poetry and prose but as a form of communication, they are passé. The high quality sites are usually where the most complex subject matters are explained (to their target audience) in a surprisingly easy way so that any lay person could understand. The Mayo Clinic is a perfect example. Even the most complex disease or condition is explained in simple terms. The Mayo Clinic has an Alexa ranking of 1,400 which is an indication that it’s an extremely high traffic site, because people who research their conditions can actually understand what is happening to them!
High quality content always makes us think in a new way or rewards us for spending our time because we learn something new. It’s educational without being preachy. As content creators, if we strive to create at least one key takeaway we would greatly enhance the quality of our content.
The following sites are perfect examples of educational content. They are at the top of their game, receive high rankings and plenty of traffic and subscribers, in large part, due to the quality of their content. These sites have interesting informative, educational stuff for content writers, bloggers and people with a passion for great content.
- Copyblogger is an excellent site for content marketing tips.
- Seomoz is a great site for seo advice.
- Social Media Examiner has the best tips for social media optimization.
To sum it up, high quality content is always unique and original, well written, educational and easy to understand.
Do you agree with these 4 characteristics? Do you have more to add? Please share in the comments below.
You May Also Like:
High Quality Content: 4 Experts Share their Views
Google Gets Picky over Content with Panda
How to Write Quality Content that is Search Engine Friendly
Frederic Gonzalo says
Very solid post, Gazalla! I would also add the need to know who your audience is. Content can be well written, unique and original, and even educational… but does it resonate with your target audience? I think this is often a part we forget, as many of us, brands and individuals alike, tend to write about stuff we like, but not always about what our readers or consumers like…
Other than that, your four points are bang on.
Gazalla Gaya says
You are right, Frederic. Knowing your audience and creating the content best suited for them is an important point that should be part of this article. Thank you for sharing and bringing it up. As always, thank you for the feedback.
Erik Emanuelli says
Great Post Gazalla!
In my opinion,
#3 is the most important :
” Easy to Understand “.
You can in fact reach more audience with an easy to undestand content,
which in the same time must be informative and well written.
Not always the complicated words are the best way to share the knowledge.
I enjoyed the article, thanks for sharing!
Erik Emanuelli recently posted..Case Study: How to Turn 400 Words Into Hundreds of Super-Powerful Backlinks
Gazalla Gaya says
Thanks for your feedback, Erik. I agree. That’s what audiences want in these days of information overload – They want content that is easy to scan, easy to read and easy to understand.
I think Frederic has a real point. Take music for instance. Few would argue that Justin Bieber’s music is ever going to trouble the ‘best album’ lists that regularly get produced. Artistically he’s quite weak, yet he clearly knows his audience very well and provides them with what they want.
I think generally speaking if you’re going for a larger audience then keeping things lighter seldom goes wrong. Making things too educational in that context can be a bad thing if many are looking for entertainment as much as education.
We all love to think we’re aimed more at the high brow end of the market, but nevertheless there’s a good market for the low brow end of things that shouldn’t be overlooked, even if our pride wants us to.
Adi recently posted..The death of daily deal sites has been greatly exaggerated
Gazalla Gaya says
Thanks for your feedback, as always, Adi. As both you and Frederic have reiterated keeping your audience in mind is paramount and all content must be created keeping them in mind. This article is for my audience which consists of content creators of all genres (you included) and content marketers actively engaged in selling their brand (thanks to all of you for constantly visiting). My aim is to provide them with the best content and also help create a standard for high quality content. I’ve often found that I’ve gained a lot of value from your posts, Adi when I’ve learned something new or you’ve made me think about something in a new way as with this post – 8 out of 10 cats are sick of rubbish research . I agree with you that entertainment sites need to focus on entertainment and many have high quality content. But some of the best articles I’ve read on entertainment sites have taught me something as well.
Peter Trapasso says
Great post as always. I like your numbering which makes it easy to scan and read! Thank you fo reminding me that vacation time is over, now I need to get writing and posting again.
Peter Trapasso recently posted..What You Need to Know About “Return On Influence” – Book Review
Gazalla Gaya says
Thanks, Peter. I appreciate the feedback. All the best with your writing and looking forward to reading your posts.
Jay Baron says
Very basic information, but important. I think sometimes we just need to get back to the basics of content writing even after doing it for awhile.
Gazalla Gaya says
Thanks, Jay. I believe it’s the basics of content writing that guarantees you will produce the best content for your audience every time.
Your update is really awesome! I was looking for a complete resource which has all the points and I have found yours 🙂 The other content on “4 Experts Share their Views” is also great! 🙂
Swayam recently posted..How to increase Domain Authority
Gazalla Gaya says
I’m glad it was helpful:)