If you are just getting started with SEO content writing (or even if you have been at it for a while), it can be challenging to make sense of all the advice you read. There are few definitive rules and a lot of loose guidelines. The most important (and the most ambiguous) seems to be: “create quality content.”
But what is “quality” content, anyway?
When I first heard this advice about producing “quality” content, I wondered… are we talking about quality for the reader or quality for the search engine? And what’s the difference?
This is one question I can now answer definitively: quality content must always focus on the intended reader. That’s because Google has evolved to focus on the reader as well. Today, the most important rule for SEO content writing is to optimize your content for your target audience. When you do that effectively, you’re also optimizing your content for search.
After six years as a content strategist and SEO content writer, I’ve uncovered the following elements that define “quality” content that’s optimized for both the audience and search engines.
5 elements of quality content for SEO content writing
1. Quality content satisfies the reader’s intent
When starting to write a piece of content, my first question has always been: “who is going to read this, and what do they want to know?”
It turns out, satisfying intent (what the reader is looking to achieve with his or her search) is a big factor in SEO content writing. Search engines have gotten very good at understanding the context and the intent behind search queries, and ranking the pages that provide the answers people want. So, when you’re planning a piece of search-optimized content, start by figuring out what your readers are looking for.
I know, that’s easier said than done. You didn’t expect writing quality content to be easy, did you? Here are a couple of suggestions that can help:
- Do persona research to learn everything you can about your target audience. Uncover the pain points and situations that trigger them to search for information and solutions. And find out what they want to know at each point in their buyer’s journey.
- Google your topic and SEO search term(s). Review the top-ranking pages in the search results. As I mentioned, Google is very good at understanding what searchers want, and has chosen to rank those pages for a reason. You can learn a lot about what people expect when they search for a specific term. Then, you have to figure out how to do better than those other pages, using the other elements described below.
2. Quality content has “authority”
Google has recently increased emphasis on trustworthiness or “authority” in ranking content. The algorithm seems to look for evidence that the content author, and the website domain in general, have expertise in the subject matter. When they do, the content tends to be more accurate and useful for the reader.
What does that mean for SEO content writing? Focus on topics that are closely related to your website’s subject matter and purpose. That doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally write a fun blog post about football on an HVAC website (yes I have done that). But you’ll have a harder time getting that content to rank.
Including author profiles on your website can help search engines understand the expertise your content authors have. Also, when you write content about subjects outside your wheelhouse, it helps to work with (and credit) a recognized expert on the topic.
3. Quality content is appropriately comprehensive
Longer content almost always outperforms shorter content in rankings. It may be that Google tends to rank longer (more comprehensive) content higher because it can meet the specific needs of more searchers.
But how long is long enough? Remember element #1: user intent. Quality content provides the information and level of detail that your audience wants to read.
There are all kinds of ways to find that out: persona research, A/B testing, and reviewing time-on-page and visitor behavior patterns.
4. Quality content is easy to read
Now we seem to have a dilemma. Comprehensive content is good because it can answer many of the questions searchers have. But, it’s also true that most people are no longer willing to spend a lot of time reading to find the answer to their specific question. That’s especially true when they’re using a mobile device. So what do you do?
Write as concisely as you can. Structure your content and design your page for easy readability. That way, visitors can skim and find the part they care about. That means:
- Use headings to introduce each new topic area
- Break up long sections with subheadings, bullets, indents, and bold
- Break up long paragraphs and long sentences
- Avoid passive voice whenever possible
- Minimize jargon
5. Quality content includes engaging visuals
Visuals help to make your content more engaging and easier to consume. Try breaking up long pages of text with visual elements that reinforce your ideas:
- Embedded videos
It’s not all that difficult to create interesting and compelling visual elements, even if you’re not a graphic artist. Use a tool like Canva that provides customizable templates to create just about any kind of visual you could want. Or, create slideshow-type videos with photos and text overlays using a tool like Lumen 5. The possibilities are endless!
Want a more visual way to remember these tips? Download the infographic
Want help with creating quality content?
Does SEO content writing sound like more than you can manage on your own? That may very well be true if you’re not a seasoned writer and you have lots of other work to do.
HELLO Marketing can help. We ARE seasoned content writers and can work with you to produce quality content on any subject. We do the hard work and make you look like knowledgeable experts with helpful, engaging content to share.
Sound interesting? Call Lauren at 973.214.5942 or email her at [email protected] to learn more.