If you’ve just started a blog, or if you’ve been blogging since Al Gore invented the internet, you have probably read time and time again that in order to be successful at it there is one fundamental requirement: Write good content.
If you’re like me, you think to yourself:
Awesome, I can write good content! … What is good content anyway?
With that question in mind, you head to Google. “What is good content,” you ask. What you get back is a cacophony of ideas. Most often I see:
I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know here; you’ve seen it all. After all, you probably found this post because you Googled “what makes good content?” The problem with all of those bulleted items is that they are junk. It’s all internet noise. This is not to say there aren’t good articles, lists and the like that fit those criteria. However, when everyone follows the same “this is good” formula, you end up with the unfortunate scenario where the gem is hard to distinguish from the junk — which begs the question: What is good content, honestly good content?
In my opinion, defining good content in a practical manner is pretty straightforward: Provide the content consumer with new and useful information. This can be a point of view about an existing subject matter or something that forays into entirely new territory. The content itself, however, should be created by you and help the reader solve some sort of problem, or provide a useful insight. The short definition of good content: Give the end user something useful. Herein lies the real challenge.
Everyone has a different point of view which is informed by a unique, fingerprint-like frame of reference. These differences, wonderful and terrible, are what make the world go round. However, with a full spectrum of inherent differences of opinion and definitions of what is considered useful, the content creator may, understandably, tremble a bit before clicking “publish.”
While it is impossible to land on useful 100% of the time, there IS a synergy in what we find to be useless, regardless of individual opinion or point of view. Keyword stuffed articles, the same top ten lists we’ve seen on hundreds of other sites that shows up on yours — the list goes on. Noise, the natural enemy of good communication, is unfortunately abundant on the Web. If you find yourself contributing to the noise, it is fair to assume people will generally find your information useless.
Do not despair.
Here are a few rules that should apply to writing good content:
Understand that SEO is a side effect of good content. Good content gets shared. Good content gets backlinks. Good content enjoys discussion. Why? Because, by its nature, good content is interesting and people share and talk about things they find interesting. How many times have you looked for something on the Web only to stumble onto drivel of awkwardly worded sentences in order that the author could meet some sort of keyword goal? It’s frustrating, it’s almost always useless and, as search engine algorithms continue to improve, it will be buried. According to Google’s Matt Cutts:
“Good content trumps SEO.”
If you don’t believe me, you should believe the head of Google’s webspam team. If you don’t believe him, then you may want to peruse the details of Google Panda and more recent Penguin update, a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm. The new reality, and what has always been the truth, is good content is SEO.
“Just say it”.
There are many more items that play into authoring quality content on the Web, but continuing would violate rule #3 … Plus we want to save room for Part 2.
What do you think makes good content? Be sure to weigh in below.