What Makes Great Web Content

All webmasters should be updating the static content on the pages of their websites.  Internet users have become very savvy and now notice very soon after landing on a webpage if the content they are about to read is worth spending time on. They determine very quickly whether it contains what they have come looking for.  But what makes great web content?

Great Content Is Not:

Just text on a page.  It is not something to fill the white space on pages.  It is not text that focuses on a cheap marketing strategy or SEO.  Content that is quickly written or easy to produce is usually not great. Taking the time to think before writing and to find references is always going to take longer and result in richer content.

Content should not leave readers no wiser than when they arrived on the page.  It should not leave them confused, or unsure about the meaning or validity of the content.  It is not defined by a metric, and it defiantly is not selfish.

Great Content Is:

Great content comes from writers who know the topic they are writing about, and have something of real substance to share with readers.  It comes from writers who know about great products. These writers also have a burning desire to share what they have passion for.  Good content can be a new functionality, which can provide answers and substance to users.

Great content will be respected and quoted by your peers in the industry. It will be of value to the returning visitor.  It is worthy because the writer has approached the topic from a new angle, or has used a new angle to make a point.

Great content can be more than just text. It can include anything that makes the point clear to the reader.  It is important to remember that users read headings and other introductory text to orient themselves on the page. But there are other ways to transfer information to a reader, such as by using photographs, infographics, video or even a simple masterpiece created in MS Paint.

Great content involves the community in some way, and allows them to make the page a better resource for others who are going to visit it.  This is one of the hardest things do to, but asking yourself a couple questions will give you insight into how users might contribute information to your page.    These questions could be:

  1. What experiences have the visitors of the page been able to have after reading this information?
  2. What specific aspects of the content allowed the readers to make a decision?
  3. Can you provide an outlet for the person who is now passionate about the content, to share this with future readers?

After answering these questions, it is then the job of the writers, the designers and the coders to allow these process to take place on your page.

Lastly, and I placed this deliberately last, what do the Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines tell their raters to look at when judging the quality of content?  Google’s raters focus on the utility of the page:

Utility: The utility of the landing page is a measure of how helpful the page is for the user intent. Pages with good utility are helpful for users. Pages with no utility are useless. Utility is the most important aspect of search engine quality, and is therefore the most important thing for you to think about when evaluating webpages. [Source]

In other words, the bottom line for Google is that great web content is above all, helpful.

Examples of Great Helpful Content:

http://smittenkitchen.com/ is a cooking blog self described as “Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York City”.  It is everything that a blog should be.  It checks all the boxes.  It is descriptive, fun to read, gives the readers a lot more than they probably hoped to get before visiting the website, and the use of imagery mixed into the text is done perfectly.  There is a contact to the author who clearly states that she answers emails herself, and it promotes an active community.  One post I checked, which has been online for a couple weeks, has 296 comments.  Now that is engagement by the community! It is also a good indicator of this site offering helpful content.

https://www.airbnb.com/locations/london/hammersmith is just an example of a page within the neighborhoods section of the Airbnb website.  It is intended to help people understand what the London neighborhood of Hammersmith feels like, and ultimately assist potential visitors to this suburb make a decision about whether this is where they wish to stay.  This page is definitely of the quality that it would make it quoted by its peers. It also uses the community to create the content and even the tagging system. It has great imagery and above all, it is the definition of great substance.

Other Resources I enjoyed:

Pot Pie Girl – http://www.potpiegirl.com/2013/02/quality-content-what-is-it/ – it comes across as a bit of a rant, but there are great lessons in here – the ultimate being that “if real people do like your content, Google can’t destroy you with an algo tweak.

Living what I preach – if you see other website you think I should know about and share, please leave them in the comments below!

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