And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a really good question!” Because everyone talks about how important it is to provide high quality content – but not a lot of people are talking about just what, exactly, that is or how to do it!
The short answer for us bloggers is that high quality content is whatever Google says it is.
Now, before you say “Oh bull!” and hit the back button, hear me out!
See, Google doesn’t really care about us as bloggers, or marketers, or website owners. It’s not Google’s job to help us rank our blog posts in the search engine results (SERPs), and they don’t really care if their algorithm change knocked out half of your traffic and income.
I know – hurts, don’t it?
What Google cares about – and quite rightly – is their customers: the people that use search. Everything they do is based upon being able to provide the absolute best search results to the Google user.
Think about it:
Google’s entire existence depends on people getting good results in search.That’s the basis of their business model – and everything they do, from Gmail to G+ to Maps, revolves around them staying the #1 search engine.
So what does this have to do with high quality content?
Well, if someone wants to know how to make a pecan pie, the best result is going to be a blog post that tells them exactly how to do it – and that’s the post that Google is going to rank highest in the SERPs.
But it’s not just enough to have a recipe and instructions – Google wants the BEST site to be the first site – so it’s going to be the site that is least frustrating for the user: a site that’s easy to read, easy to navigate, and since April 21st, the site that looks good on mobile.
Two or three sites may have the same basic pie recipe and information, but Google is going to watch user behavior (like bounce rates) to decide which of the sites is making users the happiest and then rank the sites accordingly.
If your site has a hard-to-read font, ugly colors, difficult navigation or confusing layout, people aren’t going to stay and read your recipe, they’re gonna bounce. So even if you’ve written what you think is high quality content, it’s not going to look that way to Google – because they want to see that it’s giving the readers what they want.
When you’ve got the combination of the best response for the search (based on your content and keywords) and the least frustrating site for the user – Google’s going to say “DANG, that’s some high quality content right there”, and they’re going to rank it up near the top. (Crazy Egg posted an extremely in-depth post about Google algorithms and high quality content that I really recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about how this works.)
Think of Google As Your Team Mate
So, it almost sounds like I’m telling you that you need to write content that makes Google happy, but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to write content that makes your readers happy – content that answers questions and solves problems and entertains.
When you write that kind of content, you won’t have to worry about Google and algorithms, that’s going to take care of itself. You and Google should be a team, working to bring the readers the best possible information: You by creating it, and Google by ranking it correctly.
Now. All that being true, there’s something to be said for the skill of writing content that people like to read. You want it to be easy to read, with minimal spelling and grammar errors. As explained in this post from Problogger, you want content that’s useful and unique, that educates or entertains your readers.
As a professional blogger, you also want to write content that gets your readers to take certain actions. Whether you call it copywriting or you prefer to think of it as content writing, a lot of it really boils down to the same thing – the ability to use words to promote your ideas, your opinions, and of course, your products and services.
If you’re a lifestyle blogger – you’re promoting your lifestyle! Your goal is to make your life look relatable or desirable, so that readers will click on your links and go visit your sponsors, or click on your ads and buy products you recommend.
If you’re an affiliate marketer, you want to write posts that convince people to check out your affiliate products and click through to the product sales page (where even more copy will work to convince them to actually make a purchase) – or to sign up for your email list so you can market to them that way.
There are expert copywriters out there – the “Mad Men” – who have spent years and years perfecting their skills. But you don’t have to be Don Draper to create high quality content that draws in your readers and compels them to take action. There are some things you can do to improve your writing so that you not only create high quality content that ranks well in the SERPs, you’ll also be creating content that converts readers into fans, followers, subscribers and eventually, customers.
#1 Let Your Writing Flow.
A big problem for us bloggers is that we’re in a constant battle with the reader’s short attention span. In fact, if you’re reading this far down, it’s almost a minor miracle! You might have even skimmed a lot of the previous sections and stopped here because the bold subheading caught your eye.
One way to fight short attention spans and keep people from clicking the back button is by writing sentences and paragraphs that flow into each other. There should be smooth transitions from one thought to the next. There are certain words and phrases that help you transition from one thought to the next and facilitate flow, like:
- What’s more
- In the long run
Another way to create flow that keeps people reading is to use what Brian Dean over at Backlinko calls Bucket Brigades, which are phrases that entice people to read just a little bit more. From his blog:
Create a flow in your blog posts by using transition words and Bucket Brigades to keep people reading and interested.
#2 Show, don’t tell.
It’s a truth as old as time – people believe what you can show them, and it’s even more true in content writing. Don’t just tell people how a product can help them, show them what it does.
Instead of saying “This pie is delicious and easy to make,” talk about how your 5 year old helped you bake the pie (easy!) and how your husband got up in the middle of the night and finished it off (delicious!).
If you’re giving money saving tips, don’t say “Coupons are a great way to save money,” tell them “I cut my grocery bill by 75% with coupons and you can too.” Real life examples are an excellent way to show people what is possible.
Use verbs – actions – when you can instead of adjectives. Don’t say “Bob was a smart guy,” say “Bob graduated top of his class and started his own successful business before he was 25.”
#3 Change It Up
This is absolutely essential in online writing. Using too many short sentences in a row makes reading seem choppy and tense, while too many long sentences can get confusing or even boring. Either one of these things will have readers hitting the back button. Use a variety of sentence lengths and styles to make your content more interesting and easier to read.
#4 Make it Action-Packed
A little bit different than using verbs – this time we’re talking about words that are exciting, impactive and power-packed. Don’t tell someone that they can “Save money” with this product, tell them it lets them “keep their hard-earned money in your wallet”. Instead of “Click here to download”, say “Grab your copy now!”
Use powerful, active verbs and adjectives, but beware of going overboard – you don’t want your writing to sound like it’s nothing but hype. You just want to convey a sense of action and excitement. I find it way easier to do this when I’m actually excited about what I’m writing. so keep that in mind too!
5. Hey, You! Yes, I’m Talking to You!
The most important word you can use in any kind of copywriting is you. Talking directly to your readers helps you create an immediate connection with them. You may have noticed at the top of this section, I didn’t say “Many bloggers have a problem with yada yada…”; I said “A big problem for us bloggers…”
See how that immediately connects you and me? Because we’re a team! I believe that, and I want you to feel it to, so I write directly to you. You, we and us are all fantastic words that you should be using as much as possible when writing your blog, so that you’re speaking directly to your reader.
Being able to write good content or copy is an invaluable talent, and honestly, it doesn’t take too much to put you head and shoulders above 90% of the bloggers out there. Read as much as you can on copywriting – you should definitely read Neil Patel’s guide to content marketing; just getting a grasp of a few techniques can make a huge difference to how many people are signing up and purchasing from your site. You can make it happen!