“Search engine optimization only works if you have quality content.”
“Content is king.”
How often have you heard people say one of the above phrases or another version that essentially boils down to the need for high-quality blog posts if you want to succeed as a blogger? The word quality is throw around more often than any other, and justifiably so. I fully agree with the advice that, as a blogger, you will live or die by the quality of your content.
But what is quality?
One of the main problems I see in blogging world right now is that few people actually define what constitutes quality content. So let me ask right now: What is quality blog content? I personally don’t think there is a single, all-encompassing answer, but if you aren’t asking yourself that question, I wonder: how can you honestly be providing true, quality content?
What Quality is Not
I think we need to be disillusioned about the true definition of quality content as it relates to blogging. What comes to mind when someone says quality blog content to you? I’ll tell you my knee-jerk reaction:
- Quality content is well-researched.
- Quality content is written artistically and with care.
- Quality content is original and interesting.
That’s my knee-jerk reaction…but I’m not sure it’s correct. At least not entirely.
If your blog needs quality content to be successful, and quality content is well-researched, artistic, created with care, original, and interesting, I have to ask: Why are there so many popular blogs online that do not have any of these characteristics?
I’d like to suggest that quality is not the same online as it is in the print media world. In fact, I think the definition of content quality online is still evolving.
What Quality Really Is
So if quality isn’t any of those things I’ve listed, what is quality content?
I’d like to suggest that quality content is this: Content created that will help you reach your overall blogging goal.
We’ve been talking a lot about goals here on the NMX blog recently. Last week, I asked, “Are Your Blogging Goals Realistic?” and before that, I posed the question, “Are Your Actions Aligned with Your Online Goals?” As a blogger, you probably have (and should have) several goals, but if pressed, what is the single thing you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is your goal to…
- Sell a product?
- Raise brand awareness?
- Position yourself as an expert?
- Educate your community?
- Entertain readers?
- Promote a cause or idea?
- Enjoy the blogging process?
Any of these are justified goals, and most bloggers will point to more than one. But what’s your one general, most important goal? In order to create quality content, everything you write has to be created with that one goal in mind.
Quality in Action
To illustrate how this works, I’m going to use two very different blogs as an example. The first is celebrity gossip blog TMZ, and the second is social media blog Social Media Examiner. Very different blogs, right? But in their respective niches, they are both extremely popular.
TMZ’s goal is to entertain readers. You don’t go to TMZ for education, and they aren’t really trying to sell anything. Readers visit TMZ as a guilty pleasure, to pass the time, and to satisfy the natural curiosity we have to know how celebrities live.
Social Media Examiner isn’t about entertaining readers. This site is all about education. Yes, they sell products, and I’m sure they certainly want to be seen as experts in the social media field, but overall, this site is about educating their community.
Forget about niche, if you put content from TMZ on Social Media Examiner, readers will absolutely not think it is quality. The opposite is true as well. TMZ readers would not be happy if they started blogging in the same style as Social Media Examiner.
The Subject Nature of Quality
To everyone reading this post, the choice may seem simple: You’ll take Social Media Examiner over TMZ any day, am I right? But we’re an insular community in many respects, and what we like isn’t necessarily what others like. A lot of people use the Internet not for work, but for relaxing when they get home. The last thing they want to read online is educational content. They want fun. To them, Social Media Examiner may seem extremely low quality because the posts are long and boring.
In other words, quality is subjective.
It’s important to remember that why you’re throwing around advice that writing quality content is important. What’s quality in one niche or even to one blogger might be drastically different in another niche or to another blogger. So before you point to someone and say, “You content is not quality” and more importantly before you give advice about how to create quality content, it’s important to step back and ask whether or not the content is aligned with the goal of the blog.