What is quality content?

Nov 5th, 2019

While we are often told to create ‘quality content’, the advice on what quality actually is is a little thinner on the ground

Our latest eBook deals with this subject in more detail, but we’re going to cover a little of what makes quality content here.

‘Quality’, by its nature, is generally qualitative – there’s something ephemeral and subjective about the definition. However, in a field which – rightly or wrongly – prides itself in being predominately data-driven, such a non-specific term is virtually useless to us.

For that reason, what we need to do is to break down this ‘quality’ that is much discussed in to quantitative terms. Measuring the immeasurable is not as much of a losing battle as it may first seem, however, as the ‘quality’ we are looking to define here is a series of machine translatable aspects of a larger whole.

Because we are looking at quality as it could be understood by an algorithm, we can bypass the quality of the writing – beyond structural, grammatical and accuracy measurements (spelling, punctuation etc.) and we can look at elements of a piece of content or a web page which an algorithm could easily understand.

We’ve covered some of these in greater depth in the aforementioned eBook, but rather than focus on the more advanced aspects of this ‘quality’ that we deal with there specifically for YMYL (your money or your life) queries, we’re going to start from the ground up.

  1. Can the content be reached?
    Firstly and importantly, the ability for the data to be discovered by search engines has to be the first point in any checklist. This means that you should ensure your content is not blocked by robots.txt or any in any other way out of the reach of search engines.
  2. Is the content quick for users to access?
    With the shift to mobile devices, search also developed the need for low demand, high speed pages. In order for your content to be considered ‘quality’, it will need to load quickly – so you will need to avoid render blocking scripts, loading too many animations, images or excessive numbers of fonts to ensure that the content is fast loading.
  3. Is the content well written?
    This is not a measure of literary value, it simply refers to the use of correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. As far back as 2011, Matt Cutts was advising that such things were already a ranking factor (though presumably of low weighting), so ensure you’re running your copy through a spell checker.
  4. Is your data using the right structured data types?
    Schema helps to add machine readable context to your content, so ensure that you’re employing the various schema types that are available to your content and your industry.
  5. Are you attracting the right links?
    There has been an over reliance on DA as an indicator of quality as far as links are concerned – but in reality, we should be looking at industry relevant domains to build our authority in order to serve as a frame of reference for our content.

Among other things, these are five quantitative measurements we can make that can allow us to better build our chances of producing ‘quality’ content. While this is part of a broader movement toward the automated assessment of online content, there is a gap between human and machine interpretation of quality that has yet to be bridged, therefore there is a requirement to break a subjective concept into qualitative measurements, and therefore we need to ensure that in addition to attempting to produce the ‘best’ content we can, we are also ticking the boxes that algorithms require us to in order to succeed.

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