Marieke van de Rakt is the founder of Yoast SEO Academy and CEO of Yoast. Her favorite SEO topics are SEO copywriting and site structure.
Writing quality content should be a key aspect of every SEO strategy. But when is your content considered high-quality? And is this the same for your users as it is for Google? In this article, I’ll discuss what quality content is and how you can make sure your own content hits the mark. It will require some creative writing skills but don’t worry, you don’t have to become the next Hemingway. By focusing on the right things, you can create high ranking quality content that your users will be happy to read.
What is quality content?
That is the million-dollar question. Because knowing how to write quality content helps you get more visitors, lower bounce rates, and higher conversions. But who determines the quality of your content? The easy answer is: your users. Which also makes creating the right content somewhat more difficult. Because every user is different. Every user has a different search intent. And every user knows what they want but unfortunately, you might not. Not exactly, anyway.
That’s not how you would expect an article about writing quality content to start, is it? Don’t worry, we’re definitely not done yet! Although the quality of your content is eventually determined by your users, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you end up with well-thought-out, readable, and attractive content. Making that content way more eligible to be considered as high-quality by your users and search engines. And yes, this will take some time. But it’s all time well spent, trust me. Just remember what I said earlier about what quality content can get you.
How to create quality content
1. Write for your readers, not for yourself
If you have an eCommerce site, you want readers to know about the products or services you offer. If you’re a blogger, you want your readers to get to know you and what topics interest you. Of course, these are the things you want to write about. However, it is important to take into consideration what your users actually want to read about. What interests do they have? What events or news do they follow, that you can relate to your business? And what ‘problems’ are they trying to fix that have led them to your site?
The first step in creating content that users consider high-quality is making sure that it contains the information they’re looking for. To find out what information your users are looking for, you have to conduct proper keyword research. This will help you determine what subjects to write about and what words your audience uses. This also helps your rankings, as more visitors and lower bounce rates tell Google that your page is a good result to show in their search results.
2. Make your content readable and engaging
If you want to get your message across and make sure that people read your entire blog post or page, make your content easy to read. Which means thinking about the structure of your text and the words you use. Too much text without any headings or paragraphs tends to scare people off, so make sure to use paragraphs and several headings to give your readers some air while reading. Also, try to limit the use of difficult words and be cautious of the length of your sentences. These can both make your content harder to understand which slows your reader down while reading your text.
Have fun while writing and make sure to use variation in your text to make it engaging. Use synonyms, alternate longer sentences with shorter ones and be personal in your writing. This helps you write quality content that’s different from your competitor’s and helps users get to know you and your brand. Want to know more? In this article, we dive deeper into these tips for writing readable blog posts.
3. Think about search intent and your goal
Let’s start by explaining what search intent means. Search intent is the reason why someone conducts a specific search. It’s the term used to describe their purpose while searching online. Do they have a question that they need answered? Or do they want to buy something online? Someone’s search intent makes a difference in how they will consider the quality of your content. Does it fit their need at that moment? Then they will stay on your page longer. But when they need an answer to a question and the page they land on only tries to sell them products, they’ll be gone before you know it.
It’s important to take search intent into consideration while you’re creating the content for a specific page. That’s why I would advise you to match your own goals to the different search intents users might have. Is one of your goals to get more subscriptions to your newsletter which contains a lot of news and other related information to your field? Then you should try to add that subscription button to your pages on which users with an informational intent land.
Does your user have a transactional intent, meaning they want to buy something? Make sure that this user lands on the right page right away. If someone searches for the term “Product x”, you don’t want them to land on one of your blog posts discussing a topic related to your product. You probably want them to land on a page dedicated to “Product x” or a category page when you have multiple variations of “Product x”.
Of course, experience tells us it’s not always that black and white. But considering the search intent your users might have, helps you determine the focus of your content and what call-to-actions you want to add to that specific page or post. A great way to get started with this is by adopting a content design mindset, which helps you produce user-centered content based on real needs. Also, for some input, I would recommend having a look at the search results to create intent-based content.
4. Be trustworthy
When people land on your page it’s also important to build trust. Especially when they’re not that familiar with your site yet, you have to show them that you’re trustworthy. Writing in a clear and user-oriented way helps you lay the foundation, but there is more you can do. Try to stay away from stock photos, as genuine photos create way more trust and give your site a personal feel. This also goes for your ‘About us’ page, where you should try to add photos of your team.
Also consider adding ratings to Google, testimonials to the right pages, setting up HTTPS and adding other trust signals. All these help your users and Google understand that your site belongs to an actual business or actual person, which allows them to happily and safely browse your site. Do you own an eCommerce site? Then I would recommend having a look at these 7 ways to increase sales by creating trust.
5. Keep your content up to date
Another key element of quality content is making sure it’s up to date and relevant at all times. This means that posting a well-written page or blog post is not the last step in this process. You have to update your content from time to time to make sure people are able to find the right information there. This is important for your users, as it shows them that you’re on top of recent developments and can always provide them with accurate information. This builds trust and will keep them coming back to your site. It’s also important for SEO, as rewriting your content shows Google that your site is ‘alive’ and relevant. That’s why keeping your content fresh and up to date is an important step in creating quality content. So, make sure to give yourself the time to update your content regularly.
Bonus: Invest time in site structure
The five steps we’ve discussed so far help you write content that is easy to read and user-centered. Now I would like to discuss an extra step that has less to do with writing, but will help users and search engines find your quality content. The step I’m talking about is working on your site structure.
Site structure refers to the way you organize your site’s content and is a vital part of any solid SEO strategy. It helps Google determine the importance of your individual pages and which pages are related to each other. When you structure your site well, search engines will be able to index your URLs better and users will be able to find their way more easily. Helping them find your quality content in the search results, but also when they’re already on your site. That’s why there’s quite a lot to gain from spending time on your site structure. Read more on how to work on your site structure and the importance of doing so.
A quick recap on quality content
Although well structured and readable content might not instantly take you to the top position in Google, it will definitely have a positive effect on your SEO in the long run. So, before you start publishing post after post (or page after page), it’s worth it to consider a few steps.
Make sure to write for your readers, make your content readable, match search intent with your goals, be trustworthy, keep your content up to date and work on your site structure. That way you will end up with attractive content that your readers will appreciate. This will have a positive effect on your number of visitors, bounce rates and conversions. If you still need a bit of guidance when it comes to writing, our guide to SEO copywriting can help you with that!
Read more: SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide »