The Five Elements of Quality Content (According to an End-user)
The problem with quality is that, it is subjective. Quality shoes, quality car, quality laptop, and so on. That makes quality content subjective, too. People just have so many ideas what quality something is to them, just as content marketers have a thousand thoughts on what makes content “quality”. If I had a dollar for every article that tried to teach me what quality content is, I’d have $81,800,000 – that’s the number of results I got when I googled “What is Quality Content?” – in coins, way too heavy for me to drag to the nearest bank. So forget those results. Here’s what quality content is for me, not as somebody paid to do SEO, but as an end-user. And these are non-negotiables.
Nothing created by man is really ever original. Almost everything is influenced by things around it, just as people who create things for a living are influenced by things or people around them. Everybody copies from somebody else. Sometimes it’s unconscious behavior. Sometimes, there is conscious effort to remember or take note of certain thoughts and ideas and we store them as hard or soft copy – we write them on paper or file the “memory” somewhere in our brain – and retrieve them when the need arises.
However, there are two kinds of copying: one is copying like a machine, with the intent to just reproduce something and pass it off as one’s own work; the other is to borrow and be inspired by an existing idea and modify it to make it even better. The first one is bad, obviously because it is done in bad faith. The second is something everybody actually does, and most of the time, we may even not know we’re doing it.
When I said quality content means original content, it doesn’t mean like it has to be something that has never been thought of before, like the wheel or the Pokemon Go app. It means it has to be in a voice that says, “You may have heard or thought of this before, but I’m saying this again with a few extra nuggets of helpful wisdom.” Your content may have been inspired by a book or article or an actual experience or a combination of all, but it still is original when your objective is to convey your own message and you do it in good faith.
#2: Focuses on customers
Never do hard sell when making a blog post or an article. Yes, the bottomline is to get somebody to buy your product or service, but that’s farther down the funnel. The purpose of the article or blog post is just to create awareness, to stir curiosity, to generate interest, to hype something, and you do that by focusing on the reader – the customer.
When I’m reading something, I always ask myself: What’s in it for me? Why am I spending precious time reading this? Will I get something of use from this article/blog post?
If the answer is No, then there’s no use reading. At the end of the day, the article or blog should at least make a connection with the reader – something that was not present before he or she read it. Once you’ve succeeded in creating some semblance of relationship with the reader through your material, then you can sell your product. Provide links to your merchandize or service at the bottom should the reader feel that you’ve won him over.
#3: Informs and/or Inspires
Why do you go to Google or any search engine? Right. To find the answer to something. Sometimes, you don’t even have a question in mind. You just go there because there’s a thirst that needs quenching. Maybe you just need new information. Maybe you need inspiration. Whatever it is, you’re looking for an answer.
It’s the same when you find yourself reading an article or blog post or listening to a podcast or watching some video. You want more knowledge than before you came upon that reading material or video.
Ultimately, that’s the question you ask yourself when you publish your work: Will my reader come out a better informed person than when he first stumbled upon this content? Did I answer a question in my target audience’s mind?
If you believe you were able to inform somebody, good. If you were able to inspire somebody, even better.
When you are writing a blog or making a video as a form of content marketing, you are not simply expressing yourself. You are communicating. Now, don’t get confused between the two. Expression is a one way street – one does not need feedback. Communication is a two-way thoroughfare where reaction is expected. Because communication requires feedback, it is important that the material engages the target audience. When I say engage, I mean it has to affect the reader in such a way that convinces him to make an action or a reaction.
One way is to make a catchy headline. It is popular knowledge that most people decide whether to continue reading an article or not merely by its headline. In other words, your headline makes or breaks it for you.
Another way to engage your audience is simply by framing your ideas in a thought-provoking manner.
But you can do even better. Research shows that people react more easily to visual stimuli. Add images or videos to your content. Your blog is full of numbers and statistics? Add infographics, charts, graphs, and so on (make sure they’re shareable, too). Your goal is to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Aside from some mad writing, this is a sure way to engage your target audience.
Here’s one example I did for my Email Marketing Video Series.
Check out: How to Make your Emails Impossible to Ignore [Video]
#5: Easily understood
The title itself is easily understood. Still, I will explain.
Quality content has to be easily understood in a way that even the audience who have no idea about technical stuff will be able to grasp the concept. In other words, speak in the language the reader. Avoid jargon. Instead of helping, it will just create more problems for the reader.
Quality content is easily understood when there are no grammatical and spelling errors. It is coherent. There is order in the way it is written. It does not jump from one topic to another without proper transition.
Quality content is easily understood when it is factual. Claims should be supported by facts or figures from a legitimate source.
Lastly, the right font, font size, and number of words also contribute to an article being easily understood, and ultimately, being classified as quality content. One may take it for granted, but ask anybody if he’s ever going to read an article written using Algerian, font size 10. Or if he’s going to sit down and read a marketing blog with 15,000 words. No? I expected so.
For your material to be easily understood, settle with basic, simple fonts like Arial or Calibri. Don’t go any smaller than font size 12, and no bigger than font size 16. Based on experience, a good article is 800-1,200 words long — 1,500 tops when the topic is particularly interesting. Bottom line is, it should be easily understood, not sleep-inducing.
Related: Is Quality B2B Content Dead?
Sometimes, the kind of content you publish is all the difference between a “thumbs up” and a “thumbs down” from a prospective customer. Make poor content and you will not only discourage people to try your product or service – they may even spread the word. Make quality content and maybe, farther along the sales funnel, a reader remembers that he benefited from the content you published and decides to do business with you.