If you’re in the marketing space, you’ve probably heard the expression “content is king.” There’s no question that great content can take you a long way, from increasing brand awareness to establishing your position as an industry expert. But as more and more of your competitors are starting to produce content, it’s going to take more to stand out from the crowd.
Generic blog posts and awkward, keyword-stuffed copy won’t cut it anymore. As the quality of content across industries begins to rise, it’s time to raise the bar.
If you want to learn how to improve content quality, we have a few proven strategies to help you level up your blog posts. But first, let’s explore the basics: What is quality content? What does it look like, and why is it so important?
Why Does Content Quality Matter?
Now that content marketing is on the rise, creators have turned to different strategies to drown out their competition.
While some focus on creating vast amounts of content — putting quantity over quality — this can have the opposite effect. With so much content out there, most website visitors and blog readers don’t have time to stick around for low-quality content. If it’s hard to read or doesn’t deliver value, they’ll move on to better content.
It won’t just fail to leave an impact on readers. A site filled with low-quality content will struggle to rank in search results. Even if you write better content later on, a history of poor content quality can tank your site’s reputation.
Content quality and search engine optimization (SEO) go hand in hand. It doesn’t matter how much you refine your keyword strategy or include relevant links. Without content quality, ranking becomes an uphill battle.
Key Differences Between Low-Quality Content and High-Quality Content
Compared to more tangible SEO factors, the quality of content can be difficult to define. How do you decide what content is “good” vs. “bad”? There are a few key differences between low-quality content and high-quality content.
Low-quality content is often produced quickly, with priority given to the amount of content rather than the quality. Here are some criteria for poor content quality:
- It’s poorly written, with too-long sentences or awkward phrases
- It’s shallow and doesn’t provide any substantial information to readers
- It’s overly stuffed with keywords in an attempt to improve SEO
- It’s full of irrelevant or insignificant content topics
- It’s blatantly copied or rewritten from other ranking blog posts
On the other hand, quality content is thoughtfully created. High-quality content can still be written quickly, but it must also be written with care. Here are some criteria for high content quality:
- It’s well-written and easy to read
- It’s original, providing a unique take or new information
- It’s focused on expanding readers’ knowledge of a particular niche
- It’s relevant to the interests of website visitors
- It’s optimized for SEO without sacrificing value
7 Strategies for Improving the Quality of Your Content
If some — or all — of the content on your site could be deemed low-quality, don’t panic. While it can damage your site’s reputation, that doesn’t mean you have no hope of building it back. Brands that invest in creating quality, meaningful content can build a site that garners results with both website visitors and Google’s algorithm.
With that being said, creating quality content is easier said than done. It takes the right strategies to write blog posts that have what it takes to stand out in the sea of content.
Here are seven proven strategies to take your content to the next level.
1. Know Who You're Writing To
A key mistake many brands make is creating content they want to write — not what their audience would want to read. Knowing your customers is the first step to creating relevant, high-quality content.
With this in mind, let’s dig deeper into the strategies behind audience research.
The more you know your audience, the easier it will be to create something relevant, practical, and packed full of value.
Consider these questions:
- What would your target audience want to know?
- What content is most popular with your current audience?
- What platforms does your target audience spend the most time on?
- What does your target audience value the most?
- What problems does your target audience need solved?
Thinking about the wants and needs of your audience is the best place to start. But if you want to get even more specific, it might help to construct a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is the profile of what you consider your ideal customer. From age demographics to values, a buyer persona can give you an idea of how your target audience may think, act, and behave.
Think about how your buyer persona would speak, what they would like to read, and the type of content that might appeal to them the most. Every part of your writing should focus on this buyer persona. That includes the tone you strike with the reader, your choice of language (jargon or lack thereof), the length of your content, and even the type of images you choose.
2. Format Your Content for Readability
Nobody wants to read an unbroken wall of text. And as it turns out, Google doesn’t either.
Readability is more important than you might think. With the massive amounts of information available online, most readers are accustomed to jumping from webpage to webpage. They tend to skim their content, taking in the parts that stick out or seem the most important. In fact, more than half of all visitors will only read your article for 15 seconds or less.
To make your content easy to read — for consumers and crawling search engines — you’ll need to pay close attention to your formatting. Using headers, subheaders, bullet point lists, images, and smaller blocks of text (three to four sentences at most) can make your content easier to read. Anything that breaks your content into smaller pieces can improve readability.
3. Provide a Clear Answer for Search Queries
When people turn to search engines like Google, there’s a good chance they need an answer to something. That’s why more than 14% of search queries on Google are question keywords.
One way to boost content quality is to make sure your content provides clear answers to some of these common queries.
This isn’t just about search engine optimization. Focusing on user intent is also a way to ensure your content is relevant — it’s something your target audience is already searching for. Using this strategy, you can appeal to the algorithm while still answering your ideal reader’s burning questions.
4. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
While keywords are an important part of any content marketing strategy, that doesn’t mean there aren’t limits. In the early days of search engine rankings, brands used to use this strategy as an easy hack — filling websites with keywords to get their content to the top.
Unfortunately, this did a lot more harm than good when it came to content quality for SEO. There were sites full of unnatural keywords stuffed into prose, sometimes completely out of context. Some blog posts became impossible to read.
That’s why Google updated its algorithm to give keyword stuffing a stiff penalty. Keywords can be a part of your content strategy, but they shouldn’t be overwhelming the user experience. Keep relevant keywords in mind, but make sure to integrate them naturally through your content.
5. Think About the Lifetime of Your Content
In today’s digital age, brands are publishing content daily. That means there are always new, fresh pieces of content for people to read. If you deliver the wrong content at the wrong time, you could find your words drowned out by a flood of more relevant, timely pieces.
To optimize your content, you need to consider whether it falls into one of two categories: Evergreen or topical.
Topics that are “evergreen” don’t necessarily need to be timely. These topics have consistent interest and search demand over time. An evergreen content piece outlasts the test of time — remaining relevant and informative over weeks, months, and even years.
For example, a topic like “Side Hustles to Earn Extra Money” is something that people will always be interested in. A topic like “Ways to Earn Money This Summer” is more seasonal and timely.
Writing a piece of evergreen content may take more time and effort to create upfront. But over time, it can yield powerful results. As the article is shared again and again over time, the benefits compound.
Topical content is much more timely. It might depend on recent events or recently discovered information. That’s what makes it such a powerful tool to capture attention — it delivers highly targeted, actionable, and relevant information that users are eager to read and share.
The benefits of topical content are short-term compared to evergreen content, but these topics don't take as much investment to put together. With the fast-paced news cycle, it’s easy to grab on to the next exciting and timely idea.
6. Partner With Subject Matter Experts
The best content is content that looks at a topic from a brand-new angle. Better yet, it provides insight that only an expert can provide.
Partnering with subject matter experts is one way to instantly upgrade your content quality. Readers can instantly tell when an article was written by someone with deep knowledge of and experience with a topic — they bring a level of personal experience and thought-leadership that a generic blog post could never match. Look for writers or industry leaders who excel in your niche and work with them to create next-level content.
7. Focus on Producing Original Content
With millions of other content pieces out there, it isn’t easy to make something original these days. It can sometimes feel like every content topic has already been covered.
But producing original content is one of the biggest factors in content success. Readers are tired of seeing the same article written hundreds of different ways. Bringing something fresh and unique to the table is a surefire way to catch their attention.
That being said, your work doesn’t necessarily need to be groundbreaking. While it would be a real asset to bring original research or case studies to the table, you can still bring a unique perspective to something that’s been covered before. Put effort into doing research — finding topics and data that your competitors have overlooked — and put a new spin on it.
Tools You Can Use To Aid Your Content Efforts
It isn’t easy to transform your content quality overnight. It takes determination, patience, and a long-term effort to truly see your efforts pay off. However, if you want to learn how to improve content quality, there are a few content writing tools that can help you get there.
Here are a few of the best content writing tools out there — one for each stage of the writing process.
Planning — HubSpot Blog Generator
If you’re struggling to come up with engaging blog ideas, HubSpot has a tool for that. Its blog topic generator lets you input up to five keywords — then it delivers five title ideas to inspire your next blog post.
Drafting — Evernote
While it’s mainly a note-taking tool, Evernote can be an invaluable resource for content writers too. This tool lets you organize your research, sources, and other materials while you draft up a blog post. It’s also accessible on any device, making it ideal for team collaboration.
Editing — Grammarly
This digital writing assistant offers automated grammar, spelling, and punctuation checks to help you revise your work. The free version only offers grammar checks, but the paid version offers higher-level editing, including phrasing, conciseness, and word choice suggestions. It can even help you remove passive voice and evaluate your tone.
Optimizing — Answer the Public
Using data from Google’s search suggestions, this SEO tool helps you find the best and most relevant keywords for your topic. While you'll need a paid plan for unlimited searches, you can use the tool up to three times a day for free.
Creating High-Quality Content Doesn't Have To Feel Impossible
In an increasingly competitive content marketing world, putting quality over quantity is the best way to set yourself apart from the crowd. Everything from formatting to keyword usage can contribute to the way your content performs for both the algorithm and your audience.
But the real value of high-quality content goes beyond reaching your SEO benchmarks or marketing goals. When you put effort into creating meaningful content, you show readers that you care about creating a brand they can trust.
If you’re ready to take your content strategy seriously, it might be time to consider professional help for better content quality. When you work with professional writers, you get what you pay for — top-quality, industry-specific articles that deliver value for your readers. Whatever your industry, Compose.ly has a writer for you. Learn more about our blog writing services or request a sample today.