We’re bombarded by an avalanche of content every day.
Just think about Facebook. It’s impossible to consume all of the content in your news feed every day, whether you have hundreds or thousands of friends on the social network.
Yet, even with this onslaught, we’re still being encouraged to “create high-quality content” so that we can stand out from the content noise.
Over the years, “high-quality content” has evolved and has held different meanings.
The current consensus is generally that content is high quality when it’s over 1,000+ words as that is what Google loves.
But is slapping together 1,000 words on a topic the one true mark of high-quality content?
Of course not.
What Is High-Quality Content?
If you ask SEO professionals and other marketers this question, you’ll get diverse and sometimes biased answers. Or worse, a regurgitation of what you’ve already heard or seen elsewhere (e.g., using content length to determine content quality).
But quality content is primarily content that achieves its marketing goal. For you, that might be:
- Increasing brand awareness.
- Ranking well on search engines.
- Improving click-through rates.
- Generating leads.
- Getting social shares.
A piece of content that achieves any (or all) of these marketing objectives is quality content.
So how can you create quality content?
1. Research Good Content & Always Have a Backlog of Content Ideas
Your content ideas will determine whether your content will turn out great or forgettable.
When you develop the right content idea, your audience will literally devour it and help spread it for you.
To get the right content ideas, you can check your competitors’ sites to see what type of content is working for them.
If you’re like me and you think that’s drudgery, then a tool like BuzzSumo can help you see what’s popular on any site of your choice.
Whatever route you take, you’ll likely have lots of ideas which you can save for later dates on your editorial calendar.
When you perform content research, you don’t necessarily need to use the same idea or directly cover the same topic (more on that later).
2. Perform Research on Your Chosen Topic
It doesn’t matter whether the content you’re creating is visual, audio, or written — research is imperative.
Even if you plan to write solely based on your personal experience, you still need to research your topic.
I know some writers who, after researching topics similar to theirs, end up sounding like the posts they researched on the first page of Google, although they had their own unique insights to share.
Don’t be like them.
Research to know what you can improve on based on the already existing content you find.
If your ideas are different from what you discover during your research, don’t be afraid to include them in your content. Otherwise, you’ll end up sounding like everyone else.
Want to give your content more credibility? Cite current studies or data.
Here’s an easy way to do this using Google Alerts:
3. Choose Your Own Unique Perspective
Creating content that is similar to what others have already created is sometimes inevitable.
But that often means you can stand out in several ways with careful forethought and planning.
Let’s use the headline of this post as an example.
You could separate your content just by changing the headline to something different, like:
- How Not to Create High-Quality Content
- A Data-Driven Guide for Creating High-Quality Content
- Why You Shouldn’t Create High-Quality Content
- Why Creating High-Quality Content Doesn’t Work
These are some examples showing what’s possible and you can apply this to a host of other topics.
4. Apply Your Own Data or Experiences
Do you have any data or experience in relation to your topic if any?
If you have any experience and/or data supporting or disproving a popular opinion, you can – and should – use them.
- Falling From A “Skyscraper”: Why Famous SEO Strategies Won’t Work For You from the Ahrefs blog.
- Guest Post ROI: The Data Behind 273 Guest Posts Says It’s No Good from BloggerJet.
Your experience doesn’t necessarily need to be an isolated case.
From the examples above, it can be borne from a series of experiences (yours or other people’s) that form a pattern that contradicts popular opinion on an idea.
5. Create Content on a Subtopic
Technically, most topics we write about are subtopics, but in a different context.
In an world where clickbait-type headlines and just creating “quality content” is all the rage, I discovered this fascinating article about making compelling introductions.
Or this one about how to write a sentence.
Think of subtopics in your niche that are not regularly discussed and do research to see if it will resonate with your audience. Then create content about it.
6. Use Different Content Forms
You can complement written content with other media, such as:
Visual content generally may include text, while videos can have charts, pictures, screenshots, and text.
The point is, use multimedia to enhance your content. Don’t skimp on adding different content forms to your piece.
7. Review the Final Piece
One big problem with creating quality content is a lack of time.
When you’re under pressure to publish content on a fixed date following your editorial calendar, sometimes you may produce less than stellar content. That’s why you should always create content ahead of time so that there’s enough time to review and determine if it’s good enough for publishing.
If it’s written content and you just write and post immediately, what you publish is a first or rough draft. And most writers agree that first drafts are crappy.
Let the article stay for a day or two, then come back to it. You’ll easily identify areas you can improve or areas you should remove for clarity because they don’t add much to the discussion.
I’m not a video or audio person, but I know they need editing to make them more refined for consumption by your audience.
How you review your content will differ across different content formats, but do it anyway to ensure that what you’ll publish is the best it can be.
8. Measure Your Content’s Performance
After creating and publishing what “you think” is high-quality content, you can’t tell it really is until you look at the numbers after publication.
What were your goals for creating the content? How does the content stack up against these goals?
For example, common marketing goals for content can include but are not limited to:
- Ranking on Google.
- Increasing customer engagement.
- Improving brand awareness.
- Increasing conversions.
Let’s say you’re trying to increase customer engagement. You’ll look at metrics like time spent on page, social shares, and for written content probably use a heatmap software to check how people are reading your content or if they’re scrolling to the end at all. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea.
In a world brimming with content, standing out requires creating high-quality content. It’s an important part of any your SEO arsenal.
Sure, due to the prevalence of poor content, some niches have a greater need for high-quality content than others, but there’s still room for you to create exceptional content in your niche.
More Content Marketing Resources:
- Why Content Is Important for SEO
- Create Great Content from the Start by Following These 3 Steps
- 7 Ways to Create Authoritative Content (Even if You’re Just Starting Out)
Screenshot taken by author, June 2018