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by Stephen Logan on 26th April 2012
If there is one phrase within the online marketing field that is (mis)used to excess without any clear definition, it is ‘quality content’. In many ways it is indefinable; especially when you consider that the written word is open to multiple interpretations, including assessments of ‘quality’.
Whilst some may enjoy the rambling, ranting nature of my posts, others might consider them misdirected and lacking in structure. It’s all about perception. So when somebody tells you to create quality content to populate your site or to market your services, what does that actually mean?
By accepting that you can’t please everyone, you can begin to write content that sits well with the majority. Accuracy and formatting are essential of course, but these are just the building blocks on which purported ‘quality content’ is built. You have to have a message that will resonate with the target audience and present it in such a way that they won’t become listless midway through.
Being overtly quirky, using unnecessarily complicated language or endlessly repeating yourself (and keywords) will always alienate certain audiences. So work out who you’re targeting and write for them. If it’s an audience of scholars, use technical language. If it’s football fans, you can afford to be have colloquialisms and related jargon.
Who’s going to find it?
It’s all well and good pouring your heart and soul into an article, blog post or piece of on-site copy; but if you aren’t able to promote it, who’s going to read it? Plenty of well-written, sometimes even expertly produced text never finds its way in front of the eyes of a receptive audience. More often than not, this is simply because the writer doesn’t know how best to market what they’ve produced.
It’s easy when you’re writing for a newspaper, magazine or major blog. You create content, your editor approves it and it gets published to a ready-made audience of receptive consumers. But when you’re uploading it to smaller sites, which only ever receive passing traffic, you can’t guarantee that it will ever get seen, let alone shared.
Content in a semantic world
Semantics are integral to content, and soon they will be a key part of search too. This could be good news for those who do take the time to write in-depth and struggle to get it seen; however, many of the same problems will still exist. Foremost of these is the need to share your content and keep getting it shared time and time again. Quality will be a factor, but so too is visibility.
Google regularly purge their results of low value sites offering up duplicated or keyword heavy text. But this still isn’t enough to ensure that your work will rise to the top. In some instances, timing is a key factor. If you’ve made a recent discovery, you don’t want it to start getting traction months down the line when everybody knows about it and search queries are plummeting.
Hopefully though, with social circles informing search results, content should have a much better chance of reaching an audience. As long as you can get the ball rolling and push it under the noses of influential folk within the industry, it can quickly gain momentum.
But again, there are no guarantees. Even if your content gets shared, it could be roundly rejected. So you have to work on your definition of what quality is. If you’re happy with the text you’re producing and it generally receives a positive response from others, then you might be able to apply some form of ‘quality’ label to it. However, it is, and will probably always be an empty term. You can’t qualify or quantify what ‘quality content’ actually is. As long as it’s working for you and your needs, then that’s all you should worry about.
Remember, luck can be just as important as lexical accuracy and proficiency. A badly written piece on an engaging subject could easily outperform a fantastic article on a bland topic. That’s the way of the world unfortunately, not that this should be an excuse to let standards slip of course. If at first you don’t succeed…