To really get an understanding of what good content is about and why it is so important, Copyblogger is a great site to visit. I subscribe to their blog and really find the advice and examples offered extremely helpful when it comes time for me to sit down and write. And because content will always be one of the most difficult and important aspects of site optimization, getting all the help we can concerning content is quite important.
Good content is simply a well written paragraph or page which communicates to the potential client, exactly what we hope to communicate, with no ambiguity, while it also offers info to the search engines so our site is categorized properly within their database. But the ability to write well isn’t something anyone can do without some training and practice. Writing is more than just using ones imagination, or creatively putting down ideas with nice verbiage, it also has to do with technical guidelines, such as proper punctuation, verb tense and sentence structure, etc. Online content is a very interesting animal, there is quite a bit of it, with more being thrown up everyday for a variety of reasons. All this new content is quite a bit of data for the search engines to process quickly and accurately, and then rank efficiently. However, site owners shouldn’t panic about all this new content, as much of the new and existing content if of questionable quality. In fact, I believe all this new content actually offers good writers an increased opportunity to shine long-term in the search engines ranking, if they continue to create high-quality content.
Let me explain, I personally subscribe to just over 50 blogs. And of these blogs, I would say there are only about 5 that could be considered well written. Most of these blogs are extremely informative, and good advice often abounds, but the sentences one needs to muck through to pull all the info out can be painful to read. I actually shudder at some sentences posted. In some cases reading poorly written blogs kind of feels like taking Nyquil to me. I really hate taking Nyquil, it causes me to gag, and the taste, as well as the aftertaste is putrid. It is a horrible experience. However, I will take it when I am really sick, even though I despise it, because I know I will feel better once I get it down. Reading some blogs is also uncomfortable, but I know by reading them I will learn something, but it sure isn’t enjoyable. (Which doesn’t bode well for their long-term readership numbers and growth rate)
Interestingly enough, some of the most knowledgeable SEO consultants seem to really struggle to write quality content. I originally found this odd, but it now kind of makes sense as I have had time to learn the history of SEO. Early on, when search engine marketing was in its infancy, some very bright individuals learned they could employ various questionable optimization tactics to get a site to quickly perform well on the search engines. One of these techniques was to simply fill site pages with random non-sensical text, then sprinkle in some carefully chosen keywords to fool the search engines into believing the site had some relevance on these keyword topics. Some of these individuals even had this phony content page creation technique automated, so they really had to do very little to have thousands of pages online in no time. So, in a very real sense, they simply used technology to employ their SEO tactics quickly, and frankly got good results with them. But now those days are gone, and they never thought they were going to need to really write something readable someday. Presently the search engines have become quite good at detecting and properly ranking these poorly written and non-sensical sites, while conversely awarding higher ratings to sites with quality content. And as the search engines continue to improve sniffing out poorly written sites, the importance and rankings of good quality content will increase. Think about it, with all the new content flying up online daily, how are site engines going to most efficiently deliver the search results most relevant as quickly as they need to? They are going to have to do better at determining the quality of content provided on sites, and award the well-written sites.
Above just the search engine results, there is also a more basic reason to focus on quality content, which is to give potential clients a good impression of the company. As a point, when searching for an expert on any given topic, it is much easier for us to feel comfortable with them, if we feel we understand them, and what they are about. If we can tell they have taken considerable care in presenting themselves in a professional manner, them we are more likely to believe they will take this care with us as well. Also, let’s face it, when search engines serve up quality sites, and reputable companies on their search results pages, it reflects well on the search engine’s algorithm and the firm’s image. However, when search engines frequently serve up garbage, irrelevant sites, no one will search with them anymore. So since search engines are going to do a better job of analyzing content, we need to make sure we are consistently adding quality content, or perhaps paying some professionals to do it for us. Many of you already know Michael and I started a content creation company, simply based on our understanding of the importance of quality content, and the difficulty to produce it consistently over time.
So how can we become better writers? The easy answer is to read well written content and attempt to learn by analyzing their techniques, but I am of the mind that this method isn’t always practical, possible or long-lasting. Case in point, I am historically not a good writer, I have been told as much by many a professor and teacher through the years. It is so bad, I was required to take various writing classes at almost every level of schooling, from high school, to college, to Master to PhD, each educational level was more challenging to write within, and I have struggled terribly to get my writing skill to a point where it was finally considered acceptable, even if it was only barely so, to some of my educators. But for me these courses were the only way for me to learn it. So, while I didn’t enjoy the writing courses when I took them, I am grateful for the stuff I learned now, and I strongly recommend writing courses to others who struggle as I do. There are many way to take writing courses out there; such as accredited online universities, local community colleges and universities, and even some good home study opportunities where you can move at your own pace. I am confident that any time spent learning to be a better writer will pay dividends in the future. And these benefits will far exceed any short term cost of time, or money required to make it happen. Even if writing content for a site isn’t what you plan do be doing in the future, becoming a better writer is still worth the time and can enhance your ability to communicate in the digital world.
Ultimately, I believe the future of quality content is incredibly bright, and it will continue becoming a more important measuring stick of a site’s quality. And as the search engines get better at properly analyzing the quality of a site’s content, and organizing accordingly, they will be able to more confidently recommend these quality sites to their search customers. It is kind of a cool turn of events, its like search has gone retro like everything else these days. For many years slick technology and automated tactics dominated the search engine rankings, and now we find out we need to draw upon the techniques and skills we were taught, and hopefully learned, in our 9th grade English classes. I guess all these English teachers were actually right, good writing never does goes out of style. Who would have thought that old codger, Mr. Burton, was actually correct all these years?