A technical argument for quality content
What defines quality content, and how can its value be quantified? Columnist Dave Davies reviews studies done on this topic and presents his conclusions.
Those who know me know that I’m primarily a technical SEO. I like on-site content optimization to be sure, but I like what I can measure — and now that keyword densities are mostly gone, I find it slightly less rewarding during the process (though equally rewarding via the outcome).
For this reason, I’ve never been a huge fan of the “quality content is awesome for rankings simply because quality content is awesome for rankings” argument for producing … well … quality content.
Quality content is hard to produce and often expensive, so its benefits need to be justified, especially if the content in question has nothing to do with the conversion path. I want to see measured results. The arguments for quality content are convincing, to be sure — but the pragmatist in me still needs to see hard evidence that quality content matters and directly impacts rankings.
I had two choices on how to obtain this evidence:
- I could set up a large number of very expensive experiments to weight different aspects of content and see what we come up with.
- Or I could do some extensive research and benefit from the expensive experiments others have done. Hmmmmm.
As I like to keep myself abreast of what others are publishing, and after seeing a number of documents around the web recently covering exactly this subject, I decided to save the money and work with the data available — which, I should add, is from a broader spectrum of different angles than I could produce on my own. So let’s look at what quality content does to rankings.
What is quality content?
The first thing we need to define is quality content itself. This is a difficult task, as quality content can range from 5,000-word white papers on highly technical areas to evergreen content that is easy but time-consuming to produce, to the perfect 30-second video put on the right product at the right time. Some quality content takes months to produce, some minutes to produce.
Quality content cannot be defined by a set criteria. Rather, it is putting the content your visitors want or need in front of them at the right time. Quality is defined by the simple principle of exceeding your visitors’ expectations on what they will find when they get to your web resource. That’s it.
Now, let’s look at what quality content actually does for your rankings.