How do you define quality when it comes to your SEO best practices? The content you create for your website, blog, and social media is subject to countless metrics. Metrics point indirectly to quality, but they can’t always tell the whole story.
Part of “quality” comes from less-definable attributes, like how good you are at getting your point across and the tone you use in your content. Your trustworthiness is hard to quantify, yet it is exceptionally important to the perception of quality.
Don’t ignore attributes of quality just because they cannot be easily measured. Empathy, narrative skill, and trustworthiness can elevate the quality of your content and make it more effective. Here’s how to ensure quality is incorporated into all of your SEO best practices.
A “Content Engine” Fueled by Expertise
The goal of all of your content should be the dissemination of expertise that benefits your target audience. If you think of content production as an engine, then expertise is its fuel.
Google has no patience for content that isn’t original. Neither does it like content that appears to result from “scraping” content from high-ranking sites and then replacing words with synonyms.
Key activities in building your expertise-based “content engine” include
All of these have their quantitative aspects. But what often separates great content from good content are the qualitative aspects of these activities.
Quality is evident (or not) when you answer the question, “How will this content benefit my target audience?” It takes expertise, insight, and often intuition to answer it properly.
Quality Can’t Always Be Quantified
Humans generally know quality when they see it. They may be more hard-pressed to identify measurable aspects of quality.
Search engines can only recognize signals that correlate with quality, but they do an amazing job with it. Conveying those signals by fulfilling technical and quantitative SEO best practices is table stakes when it comes to quality.
You have to do more to make your content great. You have to provide the mojo that makes people — including your customers — want to keep learning from you. It takes practice.
Google Ranking Signals Aren’t Everything
You can find out exactly what Google considers in terms of content quality by reading their Webmaster quality guidelines. Much of this has to do with technical SEO such as ensuring your content can be crawled by the search engine bots.
Don’t neglect these guidelines, but don’t consider them comprehensive either. We have all tried to read books that “check all the boxes” in terms of what we like but lack that spark that makes us want to keep reading.
You have to provide the spark. You do that by conveying, “I understand what you’re going through and the challenges it presents. Here is what works in overcoming those challenges.”
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not always. Just always bear in mind that an actual human will be reading your content and either believing and trusting you or dismissing you.
Keyword Research Needs Human Touch
Keyword research seems to be the most straightforward SEO best practice. You probably use a tool that tells you how many searches a candidate keyword has and how hard it is to rank for that keyword.
But even keyword research needs a reality check. Getting bogged down in identifying every possible variation on a keyword isn’t nearly as effective as finding out which keywords your top competitor ranks for.
The number of searches in a month that a candidate keyword gets tells you nothing about click-through rates. They can vary substantially.
You have to focus on what your customers talk about, ask about, and think about. You can do this by asking them, looking at your email marketing metrics, or even sitting down with someone from sales and saying, “What questions do you encounter most often from leads?”
Soft Skills Make Your Content Engine Purr
Your audience needs to know that you have their best interests at heart. You demonstrate this through the “soft skills” you use in the creation of content.
These skills include
- Critical thinking
- Listening to customers
- Good storytelling
Conveying empathy means speaking to your reader as an equal colleague. Talking down to them or coming across as a lecturer imparting knowledge from on high does not convey empathy.
Critical thinking shows in content that is well-organized and logical. It demonstrates that you have thought things all the way through before creating the content.
Listening to customers is the number one way of determining what content they can benefit from. Often they will ask the questions you can answer in your content.
Good storytelling pulls it all together. People retain narrative more easily than a dry recitation of facts. Content that flows naturally is more likely to “stick” with readers.
Remember Who Is Reading Your Content
While “quality” has many facets, all of them must, in some way, reflect the person reading your content. You know your customers better than any keyword tool ever can.
One of the main purposes of Google’s recent Helpful Content update was to promote content written for actual people rather than search engines. Search engines are not stand-ins for real people.
Fulfill the technical requirements for SEO best practices and then create your content for human beings and you’re far more likely to deliver high-quality content that performs.
The Human Element Is Essential
The web may appear vast, uncaring, and impersonal, and maybe it is. But actual three-dimensional people are web users.
You can use the web as a tool, to communicate person-to-person. When you do that you can make it feel like something valuable rather than a huge, uncaring entity.
SEO Best Practices Are Demanding
Much goes into the nuts and bolts of ensuring search engines crawl your content and find that it fulfills quantitative SEO best practices.
If it feels overwhelming, maybe we should talk. SEO-enriched content goes into every website we build. SEO and SEM go into every digital marketing package we create.
We have millions of words of SEO content under our belts, and we would be more than happy to help you put SEO best practices to work to get the business results you deserve. Schedule a call with us today!