Tag Archives: Quality Content

What is quality content and how does Google recognize it?

what-is-quality-content-and-how-does-Google-define-or-recognize-itIf you want to enjoy good search engine rankings you need to understand how Google defines or recognizes quality content.

Since the Penguin and Panda updates Google has been putting more and more stress on quality content. All its ranking algorithms are focused towards crawling, indexing and ranking as much quality content existing on the Internet as possible.

Read 20 Evergreen characteristics of quality content

In order to understand what is quality content and how Google defines or recognizes it, you first need to define for yourself what is quality content.

For me, the definition of quality content is quite straightforward:

  1. Well-written content
  2. Content that educates and informs
  3. Content that does not mislead
  4. Content that delivers on the promise of the page title or the headline
  5. And in terms of copywriting, contend that improves your conversion rate

These are the basic definitions of what is quality content and these definitions don’t change no matter what the format of your content is. Whether you are publishing text, images or videos, the underlying purpose is to provide quality content that delivers value, whatever that value is, to your particular audience.

Read Why quality content writing matters and how to maintain quality

Why should you bother how Google defines or recognizes quality content?

Although there are multiple search engines in the world Google sends you the most traffic. So, this is why it matters to you how Google defines or recognizes quality content and then ranks your content accordingly.

As you can see in the chart below, almost 90% of the search market is dominated by Google whereas other “major” search engines like Bing, Yahoo! and even Baidu, have more or less remained at the bottom.


But carefully note the red line representing Google at the top. If you notice, there is a slight downward slant. Although it is still miles ahead of its competitors, it is losing market. Since most of its revenue comes from search advertising, even a small drop in the share of search traffic means a lot to Google.


So there are two reasons why you should bother how Google defines quality content:

  1. Most of your search traffic comes from Google
  2. Google would tenaciously like to hold onto its market dominance by continuing to provide quality content through searches

If Google is unable to find quality content – no matter how it defines it – people will move on to other search engines.

Give Google quality content and Google will rank your website or blog higher

give quality content to googleThis is not completely true, but it is indisputable that Google will only rank you higher if you have quality content on your website or blog. I have personally experienced that quality content alone doesn’t help you much unless you have tons of it. There are many other factors that affect your ranks including:

  1. The quality of your content, of course
  2. The frequency with which you publish content (the greater the frequency, the better the rankings)
  3. The quantity of quality content that you already have
  4. The age of your domain
  5. The keywords and search terms that you use in the title tag and the headlines
  6. The number of authority websites linking to your content
  7. The social validation your content gets (how many people share your content on social networking websites)
  8. The popularity of your content

A cocktail of these reasons gives you better search engine rankings but all these reasons originate from the fact that you need to have quality content.

Read How to strike a balance between SEO and quality content writing

If you don’t have quality content nobody is going to bother about it and if they don’t bother about it, they won’t share it, they won’t link to it and your content won’t get validation. Without getting social validation, it is very difficult to enjoy good search engine rankings no matter how much quality content you have (although it does have some benefits).

In fact, Google wants quality content so much that it has even created a tutorial on how you can create quality, valuable content.


How does Google define quality content and then ranks it accordingly?


To understand how Google defines quality content, again, you need to understand why Google craves for quality content and not for every type of content irrespective of what its quality is.

Why do you use Google and not another search engine? There might be two reasons:

  1. You are not aware of the existence of any other search engine
  2. You believe that Google gives you the best results for your searches

It’s the second reason that keeps Google hungry for quality content. Whenever you do a search on Google, Google wants to find you the best results. If it doesn’t find you the best results, gradually some other search engine will, and you will move on to that search engine.

This is why among the most brilliant minds on earth working at Google are constantly creating algorithms to find quality content on the Internet.

Now that we know why you need to bother with how Google defines or recognizes quality content and why Google craves quality content, we can come to the topic of how Google defines quality content.

Listed below are the examples of inferior content, according to Google:

  • Scrapped content
  • Thin content (Read What is thin content according to Google? Does it harm your SEO?)
  • Doorway pages
  • Pages and blog posts senselessly stuffed with your keywords
  • Webpages and blog posts solely created to draw traffic with no value
  • Content containing hidden text or links
  • Cloaking
  • Automatically generated text strings
  • Content lifted as it is from other websites and blogs

The folks at Google dislike inferior content or low-quality content so much that they penalize your website by lowering its rankings or worse, completely removing your links from its index.

You may also like to read quality content guidelines straightaway from Google.

Listed below are a few factors that Google uses to define quality content:

  1. Write content for your users not merely for search engines.
  2. Provide information people are actually looking for – don’t mislead people by deceptive titles.
  3. If possible write expert-level content. According to this Search Engine Journal blog post, Google’s human raters as well as algorithms can distinguish between content written by an amateur and content written by a pro.
  4. Become a resource. Link to high quality content from other websites and blogs. Cite reputed publications like the New York Times and Time whenever possible. When you come across quality content on other websites, refer to it from your own website.
  5. Publish fresh content as much as possible. Google is ravenous about fresh content. It crawls your website or blog repeatedly, sometimes multiple times a day to check whether you have published something new. Though, publishing with great frequency doesn’t mean you compromise on quality content. Publish less, but definitely stick to quality.
  6. Abundantly use images and videos. It enhances your presentation and it has been observed that the top 10 ranked sites in Google search results normally have around 6-8 images.
  7. Deliver what you promise in your web page title. Misleading titles attract penalty from Google. Your page title and content should always match.
  8. Create lengthy posts and webpages. Since it is difficult to create long content, and if you are publishing lots of long content, the Google algorithm assumes that you are publishing quality content. Longer blog posts and articles also tend to have lots of information and useful images.

These are the factors using which Google defines quality content. These factors may not play a crucial role all the time at the same time, a majority of these factors are considered when Google tries to assess whether you are publishing quality content or not.

What is thin content according to Google? Does it harm your SEO?

what-is-thin-content-according-to-GoogleThin content according to Google is little or no original content. Google wants to provide information-rich search results to its users so obviously it doesn’t like it when valueless content appears at the top of the search results. This is why when Google considers your content as “thin content”, it penalizes your website and consequently, this harms your SEO.

What sort of content is thin content according to Google?

Many web owners start generating meaningless content hoping that this would improve their search engine rankings. This can be auto generated content. It can be doorway pages. It can be scrapped content (a web script visit pages and scraps contents of them). It can be duplicate content – same content but different headlines.

The content that is not generated by a human after due thought is basically thin content. Google has advanced algorithms to make out if you are generating thin content to improve your SEO.

It is not entirely true though. Even human-generated content can be thin content. For example, you have been creating webpages and blog posts that are just 200-300 words. This can be termed as thin content. In itself it cannot be harmful for your SEO but what would Google prefer? 200-300 words on a topic by you or 1500 words on the same topic by someone else?

This is what Google has to say about thin content:

Some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content. Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.

Here is a video where Matt Cutts describes thin content

Although thin content was in vogue in the early 2000’s and mid-2000’s, some ill-informed website owners and SEO experts still think that quickly generating lots of content can get them good search engine rankings.

The problem may lie in the fact that by fluke sometimes the websites begin to get good rankings but these rankings don’t last. Sooner or later these people get caught but before they get caught, there is so much noise about their fete that many more people get misguided.

The story has it that Google Panda was released precisely to tackle the problem of thin content.

Difference between thin content and curated content

Content curation is a very good content marketing tactic. You find high quality content on the Internet and then you compile the links on your own blog or website or on your social networking profiles. Read Should you create content or curate content?

Since in content curation you’re basically linking to outside content and you write a couple of paragraphs to briefly describe the content and present your own view, is it also thin content?

Google’s advanced text analyzing algorithms can easily make out whether you are curating content or generating thin content. There are no instances of people being penalized for curating content.

Again, thin content is all about creating lots of useless content in order to generate search engine traffic. Advanced machine analysis can easily make out if you are creating random strings of text with no meaning. If you don’t deliver value and are simply creating blog posts and webpages to use your keywords, Google can make that out. Read 10 tips to write high-quality content extremely fast.

On the other hand, if you are curating high quality content from other websites, Google can make that out too and rank your individual links accordingly.

How to avoid the thin content penalty from Google

Now that you know what is thin content according to Google, how to avoid thin content penalty?

Publish quality content. Publish content that delivers value. Publish content that people would like to share and link to. Read 20 Evergreen Characteristics of Quality Content.

This is precisely the reason why Google takes into account social validation when ranking your webpages and blog posts. If people like your content, Google automatically likes it.

Aside from this, take care of the following steps in order to avoid the thin content penalty from Google:

  1. Use your keywords and search terms but avoid using them needlessly. Read How I select and organize keywords for writing optimized content.
  2. Write content keeping your visitors in mind and not search engine crawlers. Read How to write content for humans but optimize for Google and other search engines.
  3. Try to pack lots of information and lots of research because this will enable you to write long webpages and blog posts, which are preferred by Google.
  4. Make sure there are no spelling and grammar mistakes because low quality content normally has lots of spelling and grammar mistakes.
  5. Create unique content. Read How to help your business stand out with unique content.
  6. Write to impart knowledge, educate people and to provide them help instead of simply writing content to get better search engine rankings.

It is very important that you are careful about the various Google search engine guidelines on creating content. Sometimes, even unintentionally you may end up creating thin content and attract Google penalty consequently.

How better content improves your search engine rankings

Better content improves your search engine rankings

I have many clients who need content to improve their search engine rankings and this is why they hire me. They know that I can write them optimized content without having to resort to keyword stuffing and creating nonsensical content just to fill up blog posts and webpages. But how does it actually happen? How does better content improve your search engine rankings?

Better content and search engine rankings are interconnected

Search engines survive on the strength of the content they can index and rank for the users. Why would you use Google if you don’t find what you’re looking for? When you use a search engine you’re looking for some information that you can trust and rely on. Suppose the search engine is unable to provide you that information? What do you do? Perhaps due to the preconceived reputation you go on using it for some time but eventually you give up and then you try to find another search engine that can give you better results. When you shift your focus to another search engines, the search engine you have abandoned (Google, for instance) loses business because in order to earn money, they need more users.

This is the reason why the quality of your content matters to the search engines. Is this foolproof? No way. Lots of shoddy content shows up, undeservedly, on the first page, even at the first spot at the first page, but with every successive update (Penguin, Panda, etc.) they are weeding out such aberrations.

You will be surprised to know that the search engine algorithms these days also take into factor your bounce rate. If people aren’t spending much time on your blog or website, it means you’re not providing value. If people are going through various links within your website and spending a couple of minutes going through your important pages, the search engines can make out that your content is worth reading, and hence, good. If you don’t have well-written content, if your content doesn’t provide the information people are looking for, they leave your website within a few seconds. How do you keep people on your website longer?

  • Create compelling headlines.
  • Deliver on the promise you have made in the headline and in the title
  • Use shorter sentences because many people access your content via smaller screens, for example mobile phones and tablets
  • Don’t create very big paragraphs
  • Don’t clutter your webpage with unnecessary animations, images and links (every distraction can cost you a customer)
  • Make your content shareable

Social validation these days is as important as creating quality content (but don’t just focus on social validation at the cost of creating quality content). How many people find your content worth sharing? In this Moz Whiteboard Friday presentation Josh Bachynski explains how it matters that authoritative people in your niche talk about your content and share it on their own timelines and blogs. The more such people promote your content, the greater search engine improvements you experience.

Social validation depends a lot on how better you can make your content. It is voluntary action. People will promote your content only if it adds value or at least delivers something they are looking for.

So focus on the quality rather than quantity. Hire a content writer not to produce bulk content for you, but high-quality content.

Content matters at every layer of your marketing funnel

Most of the people think that content matters only till people have reached your website. Once they are there, they are simply going to stay or go away if they don’t want to buy from you. This is like telling people to visit your brick and mortar store and then not attending to them once they have entered your store. How much care and attention you give to people who have come to your shop or office? You show them everything you have got. You employ best people (according to your capacity) who guide your prospective customers and clients through your various offerings and make sure people don’t miss out on anything important.

The same sort of attention is needed once people are on your website. Whether they are on your homepage, your landing page or one of the in-between pages in your sales and marketing funnel (by the way, do you have a logically arranged funnel on your website?) It’s very crucial that they stay focused and don’t lose track, because it is very easy to lose track on the Internet. People may suddenly move away without even realising. There are so many distractions on an average computer or mobile device that even in the midst of making a purchase people can get distracted and end up going through an endless stream of Facebook updates, realising after a couple of hours that they were trying to purchase something from a website they can no longer recall.

What exactly is marketing funnel and how your content keeps it closely focused

Or even sales funnel?

This is how a marketing funnel looks:

Quality content at every layer of your marketing funnel

In terms of content marketing, it means making people aware of your presence, or the presence of your product or service, through continuously writing, publishing and broadcasting highly relevant and quality content. The more content people get from you the more aware they become of you, your product, or your service. In the context of my own business, the more you read my content, the easier it will be for you to decide whether you want to do business with me or not in case your business needs quality content.

Provided that they are aware of your existence they may consider doing business with you and while they are considering it, they may visit your website multiple times to explore various options and read more about your offer. This is the place where you need to keep them hooked. It’s no use creating great content trying to create awareness and then losing your customers and clients once they start exploring your website.

In the “intent” stage they intend to purchase from you and now it depends on your flow. What is the purchase experience? Is it straightforward or is it replete with distractions? Is your copy engaging or totally indifferent (you have already assumed that they are going to buy). Does your content keep talking to them till the checkout form?

Eventually they purchase. Remember that even before filling up their credit card details they can get distracted or develop a doubt. Hold their hand through your content. Be with them. Keep them hooked.

Is your job done after someone has done business with you? For most of the businesses, around 40% is repeat business, that is, those who have already done business with you and have had a good experience, preferably do business with you rather than with someone else. This also holds true for my own content writing business: unless I truly screw things up, people for whom I have already written content keep on hiring me even if they contact me once or twice a year.

After they have purchased your product or service you need to keep the channels of communication running. Customer loyalty depends on 2 factors: the sort of experience they have with your product or service, and the way you keep on communicating with them and providing them all the information they need, promptly. Actually, after they have already bought from you it’s more important to pay close attention to the sort of content you’re providing them through blogging, helpful tutorials, social networking updates and more importantly, email newsletter.

Provided they are totally happy with your product and they are thrilled with your content, they become your advocates. The more advocates you have, the easier it becomes for your marketing funnel to attract new customers and leads. That’s why it’s very important to take your content seriously at every layer of your marketing funnel.

Why you can’t ignore content marketing as an SEO expert

SEO and content marketing

The title of this blog post comes with a touch of irony. I address you as an SEO expert and then I try to explain why you cannot ignore content marketing. But it is not a complete irony – I still come across well-meaning SEO professionals who think that content is important, but it is optional and good search engine rankings don’t necessarily depend on good content. So this blog post is for them.

You may also like to read Why SEO companies are putting more stress on content writing?.

What exactly is SEO? Is it merely getting good search engine rankings? I remember once a client came to my office and requested me to set his website as my homepage so that every time I loaded my browser, it would increase his visitors count. I asked him what he was trying to achieve by that, and he said, it would instill confidence in his other visitors. When I asked him what effect a higher visitor count had made to his business, he flatly said, “None.” SEO hadn’t become a buzzword back then and nobody on this planet had heard of social media.

Why your SEO needs a healthy dose of content marketing?

I’m not an SEO expert but over the past 12 years that I have spent eking out a living on the Internet I have found out that there are 4 things that decide your search engine rankings

  • The quality of your content
  • General well-being of your website
  • The quality of your incoming links
  • The level of competition you face

The recent addition, the fifth thing that has an impact on your search engine rankings, is your author rank – how much social relevance your name enjoys on the Internet.

The relation between content marketing and SEO

What are people doing when they are using the search engines? They are looking for content in the form of information or entertainment. They seek information to keep them aware, to educate themselves, for researching, to find product or service they need, and to make good buying decisions.

Suppose you get good rankings for “garden sprinkling system” but when people come to your website they cannot make out what you are trying to do. The content is not convincing. Or it is full of errors. Maybe you haven’t highlighed the greatest benefits of the sprinkling system. Are you merely providing information or you want people to buy from you? And if they should buy from you then why? Just because you have got good search engine rankings or your sprinkling system is actually better than the others? People don’t do business because of your search engine rankings; they buy from you when your written content, your copywriting, is able to engage them and convince them.

This is just one aspect of content marketing. Once you have written credible and convincing content you also need to make it accessible to as many prospective visitors as possible.

The relationship between content marketing and quality incoming links

The days of paid links are gone, or going. Google heavily penalizes websites that aggregate incoming links by either paying for them or through link-exchange schemes. People should link to you for the value you provide, in terms of content or branding. Two legitimate ways of getting quality and reliable incoming links are:

  • Website owners, authors and bloggers voluntarily linking to you
  • You write for other websites and blogs and your link appears in the small bio or profile on the same link as credit

In both the cases you need high-quality content. If people voluntarily link to you then they must find something worth linking to. If you write for other blogs and websites then too, they won’t publish your blog posts and articles unless they are of a certain standard.

So you can see, whether you are focusing on onsite or off-site SEO, ultimately it’s the combination of the quality of your content and a well-coordinated content marketing strategy that decides what sort of search engine rankings you are going to experience.