Stop writing bad content just for SEO
(3-4 minute read)
Attention spans are short and average content is rife, yet we often see brands putting out mediocre content that has clearly been written for SEO purposes only; there is no thought around what their audience might actually want to read.
Now, don’t get us wrong here, we’re not saying don’t consider SEO when you’re producing content (you definitely should consider it), we’re just saying don’t put it first and don’t lose sight of what your audience really wants from you.
A high-quality piece of content should be high-quality in both the eyes of your reader and the scanners of Google. It should offer real substance and actionable ideas as well as being well-written and easy to find.
Far too often we see digital content writers worrying so much about keyword density, keyword variation, local modifiers and content length that the creative piece they were originally writing slowly disappears into a sea of technical terms and sentences that sound like everything else on the internet around that subject.
In a world where customer experience is such a fundamental part of business success, businesses should really be taking the quality of their content more seriously.
Google is designed to recognise good content
Its algorithms are getting better year on year and the value of your content to your audience is far more important than how many keywords you can stuff into each paragraph.
Google doesn’t need us to write for it, it needs us to understand our subject area well enough that we can write engaging, easy to understand, innovative content that is of value to our readers when they’re looking to solve a particular problem.
There are 4 main reasons we create content as businesses:
SEO is not one of them.
If you’re creating content that does one of the above, and is well-written and thoroughly researched, it’s likely you won’t have a problem getting your content seen by the right people.
Relevancy is also incredibly important. It may seem obvious but one of the most important success factors for content in the digital world is relevancy to the query.
Does your content answer the question your audience asked?
How do we know what Google considers to be ‘good’ content?
For detailed information on what Google deems to be ‘good’ content it suggests reviewing its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
This document is 164 pages of detailed guidelines given to quality raters (people that work for Google to rate its search results) when manually evaluating the success of the search engine’s algorithms.
But, don’t let yourself get too bogged down in the technical specifics. The Google algorithm is changing all the time and while it’s good to keep up with quality standards it’s more important to focus on creating high-quality content that your audience will read and share.
How to produce GOOD content:
Define a purpose
There should be a reason behind every piece of content you produce. Your purpose will tell you who your audience is, what it is they need and give you a point of focus when writing. Don’t write simply because you think you should, dig deeper and find your reason for writing. Are you helping your audience learn how to do something? Are you educating them on how your industry works? Are you inspiring them to try something new? Whatever your purpose for writing, don’t forget it and let it guide your content structure.
There is a lot of great content out there and your audience only has so much time to spending consuming it. Remember that you are competing with the writers, bloggers and experts in your industry when it comes to the attention of your audience online, not just your competitors. If you’re not providing the same amount of value your content will quickly sink to the bottom of the pile and take your reputation along with it. Look at the current content in your field that people love and work out what you can add to it that will set you apart.
It’s only possible to be a thought leader in your industry if you really know what you’re talking about. Do your research and assess other sides of a particular argument before sharing your own opinions - this helps to provide credibility for your organisation.
Cite your sources
Remember to always cite your sources. Statistics mean nothing if they don’t have a credible source. Cite your sources so that your audience can trust you and appreciate that you take your information from legitimate resources.
Think like a media company
If you’re a media company your content is your product so it needs to be valuable, shareable and easy to find on Google. Don’t produce content because someone’s told you you should, produce it to showcase your expertise, to provide value to your audience and to drive interesting conversations in your industry.
Know what you stand for
Strong opinions always cause a stir, and generally fuel traffic and engagement. Knowing who your audience is and that they’ll agree with what you’re saying is important, yes you undoubtedly come across those that don’t agree, but you can’t please everyone. As long as you are able to back up what you’re saying, it’s worth putting out bold opinions.
No matter the industry you’re in, keep your finger on the pulse and create content that sparks engaging conversation around particular topics. It’s no good just creating content that’s ‘optimised’ anymore, it needs to be GOOD and worth your readers’ time.
Good content shows that you actually care about what you do and the people you do it for. Show your audience that you care more about them than you do Google results.
One of our favourite examples is the well written, thoughtfully produced content that Finisterre put out on their Broadcast. Their content naturally speaks to their audience and strengthens the authenticity and trustworthiness of their brand.
Are you ready to start creating content that your audience will love?