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What does Google consider ‘quality content’ and how can you create it?

By Alexandra Gavril - September 8, 2015

Everyone is talking about the need to provide quality content on your site if you want to rank highly in Google’s search engine results. But how exactly does Google identify quality content?

Several of Google’s algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin aim to refine results so they match the intent of the search query as closely as possible and deliver the most relevant answers. In other words, Google (and other search engines too) are constantly looking for quality, relevant, easily accessible content, and are becoming smarter at finding (and dismissing) sites that try to trick the system.

So what exactly should you focus on if you want to produce content that Google will recognise as quality?

What is quality content?

Google has been offering lots of useful guidance on how to build high-quality sites. They have even created a course for it to help site owners create the best possible experience for their audience through valuable content.

google content course

Here are a few things that you are asked to avoid:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Participating in link schemes
  • Creating pages with little or no original content
  • Sneaky redirects
  • Hidden text or links
  • Doorway pages
  • Scraped content
  • Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
  • Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
  • Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
  • Abusing rich snippets markup
  • Sending automated queries to Google

In its “Steps to a Google-friendly site”, Google explains additional features of quality content:

“Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”

How to create quality content that Google will love

  1. Make it relevant, comprehensive and readable

Make sure that the content you create is long enough to treat the subject with sufficient detail. Word count and Flesch readability are ranking factors that are becoming increasingly important to Google, according to a study from Searchmetrics.

The study shows that the average text length of the top 30 pages has increased by 25% compared to 2014. This suggests that Google is starting to value longer form content that goes deep into a subject.

Do we know what longer form content means in terms of word count or page count? No. But we do know that you should provide as much information as you think would be helpful for your users. So whatever topic you’re covering make sure that you give as much useful information as possible to help your audience make an informed decision.

When it comes to the readability factor, it’s obvious that if you create content that includes lots of jargon and convoluted language your visitors will lose interest quickly and leave your site since they’ll have a difficult time digesting the information.

  1. Write at an expert level

If you want your content to rank well, it needs to be written at a professional level. Make sure you master the topics you’re writing about and give as many great insights and useful information as possible. You can’t expect your readers or Google to consider you an expert or an authority in your industry if your content is written at an amateur level.

  1. Write for human readers first

Don’t worry so much about keywords but instead focus on how to make your content readable and enjoyable. If the content you’re writing is relevant to a specific search term, it should naturally include keywords related to that subject anyway.

So forget about stuffing your content with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to rank higher in Google’s search engine results. Not only will this harm your reputation as visitors will leave the moment they realise you’re not providing any of the information you promised, but also your rankings as Google is now smart enough to detect keyword stuffing with ease.

  1. Focus on user experience

Good user experience (UX) is a great way to turn more of your website visitors into customers, but it can also help increase your Google rankings.

Think about it: if your content is well-structured and you’re making it easy for people to go through it, then they’ll spend more time on your site, visiting other pages as well. More time on the site tells Google that your visitors are enjoying your content and that they find it interesting, which means that other people should discover it too.

Just make sure to focus not only on desktop user experience but also on mobile as it’s becoming hugely important. With Google giving more priority to mobile friendly sites in mobile search results, you need to ensure that your site is optimised for mobile so people can easily access the information on your site without any issues.

  1. Create content that people will naturally want to read and share

According to the Searchmetrics study, backlinks with keywords in the anchor text have significantly declined. This is a result of Google’s attempt to stop unnatural link building. So to build valuable links and increase your rankings, focus on creating great content that people will naturally want to read, share and link to.

Remember, these points don’t apply to just blog posts but to your site as a whole. If you have an informational site, you should create content that shows expertise and builds authority. If you have a business site, add evergreen content that tells your audience what your business is about. And if you have an ecommerce site, make sure your product descriptions are unique and not copied from elsewhere.

Wrapping up

If we were to sum up Google’s quality guidelines in one sentence it would be this: Focus on creating high-quality content that serves your audience as best as possible.

Don’t worry so much about keywords, word count or number of outbound links, but instead focus on your audience and how you can create content that they find useful and interesting. Bottom line – focus on pleasing your audience, and not Google or its algorithms.

Have any other tips on how to create quality content?