What is Quality Content?

If you read anything about SEO or creating content you have probably seen people say that content is king and that you need to write high-quality content. Perhaps you have heard or read about the idea of “10x content,” the notion that you should be aiming to create content that is at least 10 times better than what others in the market are doing. Ask organic marketers what “quality content” is and you'll get a myriad of answers/opinions. Quality is frivolous, and views of quality vary from person to person.

Webmaster Guidelines from Google

You can access their guidelines here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769

To summarize, here is what Google says about quality content:

Basic Principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don't deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

Avoid the following techniques:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Participating in link schemes
  • Creating pages with little or no original content
  • Cloaking
  • 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


Before You Make Quality Content, You Need to Pick Your Keyword. Psssst, They’re Everywhere...

You most likely have an idea about what you want to write about. You also need to decide what YOU want to accomplish with your content. Are you looking for more organic visibility, to be a thought leader in a particular space, maybe influence people to buy your product, etc. Whatever YOUR purpose, you need to select keywords that will help you accomplish your goals.

Here is a great free SEO plugin tool that I use to find additional keyword data:

Keywords Everywhere - Keyword Tool

The Keywords Everywhere extension is a free keyword research tool that shows you useful google keyword search volume and cost per click data

Here is an examples of what the Keywords Everywhere tool does:

skateboarding search

Take a look right below the search bar. Keywords Everywhere gives us the estimated monthly search volume, the cost-per-click, and the competition of the search term.

With this information, we can decide if this particular keyword accomplishes our goal. If I was looking to increase my organic visibility, for instance, I would want to target the word “skateboarding” as it has 60,500 monthly searches.

On the other hand, if I wanted to reach people that were ready to buy a product, I might not want to make my focus keyword “skateboarding,” since it only has a cost-per-click of $0.50. You are probably asking, “why is an organic marketer worried about CPC?” Well, I use CPC as a relevance metric. If the CPC is high, it means PPC marketers are paying a lot for someone to just click on their landing page. PPC marketers don’t like wasting money, so they most likely won’t pay a high CPC for a term that isn’t converting for them. Low CPC, therefore, typically means lower expected conversion rates.  

Next I look at competition. Depending on how important the keyword is for me and my goals, I may consider avoiding certain keywords if the competition is too high. However, I typically don’t worry about competition as much as I do other factors.

Keywords Everywhere also gives you a “Related Keywords” section and a “People Also Search For” section. These sections are useful for identifying additional keywords that we can target within our content.

related keywords

How Do We Make Pages Primarily for Users, Not for Search Engines? Discover User Intent.

First we need to understand user intent. User intent: also known as searcher intent, it is a theory that blatantly stands up to the pre-Penguin and Panda tactics of optimizing purely for keywords.

What is user intent? In short, it is the reason why someone is searching what they are searching in Google. In other words, what are they trying to accomplish by typing (or saying) that search term?

Searcher intent has been categorized as either navigational, informational, or transactional. That said, some like to define commercial intent or use different terminology such as ‘to purchase something’, ‘to do something’, ‘to discover something’, ‘to learn something’, ‘to go somewhere’, and so on.

How do you figure out what the user intent is behind a search term? It’s pretty easy. Just about everyone uses Google. Put yourself in the searcher’s place and ask yourself, “if I was searching that search term, what would I be looking to do?”

Also look at the types of search results that Google returns for a given search term; this is a great indicator of the user intent that Google itself attaches to that particular query.

Key Point that Needs to be Understood: Google wants to rank content that answers user intent in the most comprehensive way possible.

Ok, cool. How can you determine what Google thinks users are searching for?

Use “People Also Ask” for Your Content Ideation

These are sets of questions that relate to the original search query. “People also ask” boxes are an interesting SERP feature in that they are dynamic.

people also ask

When you click on any one of the questions, specific details are revealed and further questions are added to the bottom of the list.

search gif

For example, earlier when I searched “skateboarding,” the “people also ask,” aka PAA came back with these questions:

skateboarding search2

Using this information I can create quality content that is going to answer the majority of the user’s questions. I am confident that this content, if created using SEO best practices, would be able to rank very well for many keywords around the topic of skateboarding in Google search results. For some awesome tips on how to rank in Google, check out what PJ Howland wrote about how to rank for 'smoked pork butt'. These tactics can be applied to any keyword.

Where is the Proof That Using “People Also Ask” Actually Works?

Let me show you some results that I was able to achieve by using the “people also ask” feature for content inspiration.

A little back story on this client. Their page had previously been optimized using semantic analysis, and on- & off-page optimizations that were led by extensive competitive research. The results of that? We took a keyword that was not ranking and got it to rank between position 13-30 within 4 months. That is pretty impressive, right? Well, we wanted more. Bouncing between pages 2-4  wasn’t good enough.

So what did we do? We checked and rechecked our competitive research. We were stuck. We had done everything. Still nothing changed.

Then the idea clicked! Why not answer the questions that people also ask? Google had been giving us the solution the whole time, but we ignored it. We added those “people also ask” questions and answered them in a unique way. The result? Let me show you!

graph 1

On May 24th, we integrated the “people also ask” questions and answers into the content. At the time, we were ranking 13.

graph 2

By June 16th, we started consistently ranking between positions 4 & 5.

Below is a snapshot of the traffic for that landing page before weaving in the “people also ask” questions and answers into our content.

graph 3

From May 24th, 2018 (the day we implemented the PAA questions and answers) to July 18th, 2018 compared to the previous period, we achieved a 365% increase in traffic and a 367% increase in new users. We also improved the bounce rate from 37% to 31%.

acquisition chart

We had successfully created “quality content” that now answered user intent. As a result, we ranked higher in Google. That rank increase in turn improved organic traffic and brought in new users to a client that was trying to raise their brand awareness. We accomplished our SEO goals while still not sacrificing the user experience.

You can do that same thing. Google is giving you the answers. Try it, I dare you.