The Holy Grail of Blogging: “Good Content”
Good content for the beginning blogger may be the most elusive of all the quests for successful blogging.
A quest you say? Knowing the meaning of what is good content is the holy grail of blogging.
More organic traffic overtime is the consequence of higher quality blog content – as regurgitated from all the SEO advice I have read so far.
We are bombarded by SEO experts telling us what good content is.
Google has published guides that tell us what good content should be.
In the end, all the research and all the guides, tips, and suggestions amount to more questions.
What is this elusive essence of “good content” that everyone is talking about?
All The Research And Pondering I Have Done Leads Me To Conclude That Good Content…
- may not necessarily cutting edge new content
- does not always equate to extensive content
- is practical, relevant, and helpful
- has insight and meaning
- engages the reader, is easy to read, and honest
- is what Google deems to be good content
Let’s explore each of these propositions and see what conclusions we can derive, as well as possible implications.
Good Content Is Not Necessarily Cutting Edge New Content
If you look at the latest search on SEO and all of the other well-known sites about content marketing research, it all points to great cutting edge NEW content as key for a successful blog.
There are countless theories and hypothesis (I see a lot of SEO experts claiming something works) that are probably untested (good on paper) or poorly tested but claimed as the “latest and greatest”.
There Is Much Great Content Out There…
You will ALREADY find a lot of great content out there making headlines on the net. Also, there is a tremendous amount of nonsense and outdated information that merits our effort in doing some more content curation.
The latest and greatest content can’t hurt your blog, but it helps just as much to help tidy up more than once in a while. Let’s salvage the best content we can find and keep all other snake-oil-sales advice at bay, for the sake of our readers.
Creating Responsible Content…
We can start by actually testing more extensively some of these tips and apply some common sense to sort, distill, and collect the ones that make the most sense in terms of practicality, relevance, and implementation.
Do the reading mass a favor in terms of good content: make responsible content part of “good content”.
Good Content Does Not Equate to Extensive Content
You will see A LOT OF experts telling you about the size of your blog as an indicator of good content and that the longer blogs provide more value.
At first, this advice sounded like great advice.
Now, I find this advice to go against common sense.
This is likely an “educated guess” from the experts. This claim comes from research (which could be true), but research sometimes needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
This is the impression I got from reading several blog posts published by respectable sites that adhered to the proper writing conventions of good authoritative content.
Some Of This Authoritative Content I Found…
- hard to read from beginning to end because they were too long
- contained a lot of good info, but there was also a great deal of “fluff”
- could have delivered the same info with half as many words
Maybe we should use some common sense when writing and apply some of the rules that good English teachers taught us about creative writing and writing in general:
Good Writing Communicates Effectively by…
- being clear about what you want to say
- using only as many words as you need to get your point across
- offering something truly valuable to your readers
- using your “voice” to add personality and create engagement with the audience
- providing focused and specific information about the topic
- staying on topic (as much as possible)
A blog of 300 words might be on the side of “not enough”. Recommending at least 2000 words as the gold standard for a quality blog is an open invitation for writing fluff that is not worth reading.
Writing that is specific and focused lends itself to more informative content that doesn’t necessarily mean lengthy.
Write your very audience-engaging blog with only as many words as you need to make your point and no more.
How many words is that? You decide.
Spicing Up Your Writing
Some experts suggest that a good story is a great hook to create engagement with readers. My humble advice is to be careful about this particular tip.
A story that is relevant and clearly illustrates your point is a powerful tool to hook your readers.
A bad story with an obscure relevance to the topic your blogging will only make your blog worse.
A little humor, tastefully done, breaks the ice and creates great reader rapport.
Make the most meaningful content YOU can write, which is the greatest favor YOU can do for your readers.
Also, read this blog from Ana Hoffman, to easily learn how to write good blogs.
Good Content Is Practical, Relevant, And Helpful
Good content should provide advice that is practical and easy to apply. The content in question should show relevance to current modern practices – whatever the topic might be.
It should not be a content rehash of old, shady, and poorly tested tips that many experts claim to be relevant and up to date.
It should also aim to fix problems or address a problem that tends to be overlooked, whenever possible.
Blog about what readers need – not just your passion.
If we take this one step higher, good content should be information that is thought-provoking, with the power to guide readers to reach their goal or solution to a problem.
Good Content Is Insightful and Meaningful
The heading is almost self-explanatory, but I will write a few words just to make sure.
Does your content reveal something interesting in terms of perspective/application/depth?
What can readers take with them in terms of a lesson/advice/tool to add to their “utility belt”?
Content repurposing would be a good strategy to give your content the ” insightful and meaningful” edge that it needs.
Ana Hoffman To The Rescue…
Once again, hats off to Ana Hoffman, who eloquently explains Content Repurposing to help prove my point.
When unabused and done correctly, Content Repurposing can give your content the good old “slinky effect” (for a lack of a better metaphor).
Take existing good content and add a new spin or find a new way that a concept can be re-applied to another problem.
If you can find a good lesson or an almost infallible rule of thumb for your readers to take with them, then you’ll impart more insightfulness and meaningfulness into your blog content – adding more depth.
Good Content Is Engaging, Easy to Read, And Honest
If you managed to read for this long and get this far, then congratulations!
Frankly, the content that I offer here is good valuable content, but it is not the most engaging. It is not the easiest to read either. I could probably be using fewer words, and I try.
Maybe you can use this blog and learn what NOT to do for YOUR blog.
Make It Pretty Please…
A few pictures placed strategically at the right places might improve the reading experience, but I’m just not very good at dealing with visuals. Maybe referencing a few good videos will boost this blog’s appeal.
For now, I will stick to two things that I know I can try to achieve: write easier to read blogs and make writing as honest as I can.
As for engaging, I’m probably stuck in the same boat as you are.
If you find this EXTREMELY un-engaging, then you have probably learned enough from me on HOW NOT to write great engaging content.
I think I have made my point.
Let’s move on.
Good Content Is What Google Deems Good Content
I hope you can sense the sarcasm for THIS particular heading. Google IS the new Microsoft. I forgot who said it but you can Google it – pun intended.
From all of this mambo jumbo about Google and its “good content” guide, it is easy to conclude that the latest and greatest techniques for SEO, content marketing, and any other buzzwords out there about pushing content, all stem from one source: the Google search engine “breakthroughs”.
RankBrain Thinks Of Good Content If:
- you content gets lots of clicks
- it sees your content gets lots of links to it from other blogs
- people share your content a lot via social media
- your blog contains a high percentage of specific high demand “keywords” (a sign of content relevance??)
- it is a long piece of writing (hinting at extensive valuable content based on quantity)
The aforementioned criteria list LOOKS obvious, but I highly doubt that the criteria used by the search engine are good enough to determine what is or is not good content. This it justs opens a window for hacks and exploits.
What do make of all this? Content is gold when it comes to blogging, but knowing the caveats of the Google search engine is just as important. SEO experts will have us believe that content is first, but I think they know better.
Read the following article from blog.scoop.it to get a good idea of what other ingredients need to go with “good content” to make your blog stand out.
I wonder if the Google engine truly plays fair with the way it indexes information.
On The Brighter Side…
Regardless of what the Google engine does or doesn’t, good valuable content still weighs heavily on Google’s SEO strategy for ranking.
Stay honest and true to what you write.
Give your readers value by creating an engaging and informative experience when reading your blog.
Your content does not have to be new and cutting edge, but it does need to be accurate, relevant, and practical.
Make Your Blog One of A Kind…
Offer your readers the value of your unique insight and perspective, and show them new alternatives and ways to apply proven techniques in new and innovative ways.
Make yourself stand out by being a resourceful and creative problem-solver.
Last but not least, give your writing life by infusing “voice” and personality to create a connection with the reader.
If All Else Fails…
If you hate reading this blog, at least you would have learned what NOT to do for your blog.