High-quality content is to bloggers what the Fountain of Youth was to Spain's Juan Ponce de León.
The only difference?
León had no chance in heck of finding Father Time's magical cure, and any blogger with a half-decent laptop who's willing to put forth a bit of time and effort can very much make awesome content happen.
Obscure history lesson aside, there's a reason for which "high-quality content" has become a buzzword for bloggers and content marketers in recent years-its' super important.
Shocking stuff, right?
There's No Getting Around Top-Tier Content
Seriously, take a step back before hammering away at another blog post and consider just how important incredible blog posts are.
First and foremost, at its core, the need for top-of-the-line content comes from the fact that people don't want to read complete and total garbage.
Sure, few are the professional writers, editors and content marketers who are likely to pass by you or your client's official blog, but it's easy to differentiate between something that required some real brain power and a post that was thrown together in a mere matter of minutes.
Additionally, the technical side of things craves great information. Search engines and the best of inbound links want little to do with blogs that are unable to keep their own readers' attention.
What Does Quality Blog Content Actually Look Like?
Yup, that's the million-dollar question, isn't it? Truth be told, depending on a given niche, industry, subject or target audience, the look and feel of stellar content is going to vary.
And yes, just in case you were wondering, Bing's own set of resources has been left off of this piece's list of go-to tools, but who's using that search engine anyway?
7 Points to Delve Into the Meat of the Matter
That's right, if you know anything about lists out on the World Wide Web, you know that the "listicle" is currently about as clickable as they come.
They're easy to digest, fun to skim and highly shareable. While the headline of this particular piece doesn't call upon list-like powers, this subheading certainly does.
Back on track-simply put, if you're still uncertain as to what quality content looks like, fear no longer.
Though by no means a checklist, the following nine points serve as a guide to help bloggers, regardless of level of experience, determine whether or not they're headed in the right direction with the posts they're publishing:
1) Content Length
Honestly, there's a bit of debate surrounding content length at the moment. Though studies have shown that Google prefers long-form content, mobile usership says otherwise.
Seeing as how choosing one and ignoring the other isn't always an ideal strategy, it's best to mix it up. If search engine recognition is at the top of your wish list, opt for longer content. Blog posts of at least 1,000 words are great for this. Be sure to use relevant keywords and focus on long-tail SEO strategies.
However, with 60 percent of mobile web users preferring to use their smartphones more than desktop computers, shorter content can also do the trick. To make this happen, use a lower word count and format each post for easy reading through mobile interfaces.
2) Proper Grammar, Spelling and Contextual Flow
Clearly, if a blog's promoted content fails to strictly implement basic grammar principles, proper spelling and editorial flow, it can hardly be considered reputable.
This should come as a bit of a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised as to how many of the Internet's blogs ignore these kinds of things. Also, it never hurts to double-check any factual information you may have included in a post.
Understandably so, nothing crushes professionalism and credibility like a poorly-written piece.
3) Content Enhancers
No, not SpongeBob's classic "sentence enhancers." These are a bit different, and substantially more appropriate for readers of all ages.
While text will usually provide the bulk of information for visitors of your blog, people love visual enhancement.
In fact, unbeknownst to may bloggers, 90 percent of information that comes to the human brain is of a visual nature. Because of this, it's no surprise that 40 percent of people respond better to visual information than plain written text.
What are these content enhancers, you ask? Here's a few to get you started:
- Creative images
- Unique videos
- Enlightening infographics
- Engaging podcasts
- Interactive quizzes
4) Social Media Shares
More often than not, when hilarious videos of young, unsuspecting fathers being hit in the groin by their adoring children and cat memes go viral-in large part, at least-it's because of the interactive forces of social media.
Now, though "going viral" isn't necessarily the goal of any and all blogs, social media still has an incredible way of "getting the word out" about your latest post.
As such, social shares are often seen as digital currency. Your reputation could very well hinge on them.
If a post is being liked, retweeted, repined or shared on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, odds are high that said post is of a fairly high quality.
Heck, even if you're struggling to gain social traction with your blog posts, at least include social sharing buttons. This is by far the easiest, most simple way to increase an audience's interaction with your blog.
SEO even has its social ties.
Says Jayson Demers of Forbes, "... multiple correlation studies have have shown clear ties between higher amounts of social shares and higher search engine rankings. Even though correlation is not causation, it's logical that the more a particular piece of content is shared, the more awareness and inbound links it will generate."
5) Internal Linking
A piece of content's external linking profile is arguably the best indicator of a post's overall quality.
Think about it-if well-known, industry-leading websites are reverting back to your blog for information, you clearly know your stuff. Over time, Google's ever-changing algorithm will take note and consider your blog both a trustworthy and credible source.
Seems simple enough, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, making this happen requires some real grunt work.
Guest blogging for interest-specific, authoritative websites and blog syndication through publications such as Business2Community and Social Media Today, though demanding a hefty amount of time, can do wonders for blogs looking for some robust external linking.
6) User Engagement
Blogs that allow for user comments, and have a high frequency of reader interaction, are generally seen as being more authentic. However, this can be a double-edged sword if not carefully monitored.
For example, if a post has a ton of comments, but each is filled with spammy links and irrelevant jargon, the blog as a whole is likely to be seen as an unmonitored mess.
You've been on these sites and know they're awful.
On the flip side, however, if comments are made and genuine responses are promptly supplied, not only must the content be good, but the blog's founder-hopefully you, soon enough-is a reliable content creator.
7) Real Value
You've heard that "content is king," correct? Well, "the king of content is real value." That phrase hasn't quite taken off yet, but stay tuned.
Anyway, this can be a hard one, because up-and-coming bloggers often feel that they have little new information to offer an industry.
Moreover, if you're working on the content marketing side of things for a client, you might not feel like you're experienced enough with a company's area of expertise to be considered a thought leader.
While groundbreaking content is excellent, it's not the only way to provide value for readers.
Furthermore, if your blog posts solve a problem, respond to a specific question, provide unique insight or just flat out entertain the masses, rest assured, you're doing this whole "quality content" thing correctly.
A Few Parting Thoughts
If you're running your blog like a content farm, you're in for a world of hurt.
Without providing any sort of real value for readers, blog progress can only go so far before being recognized for what it really is-an imposter of a publication.
Needless to say, when the aforementioned strategies are combined with the continuous promotion of enlightening content and a truckload of patience, it's only a matter of time before audience expansion begins.