When push comes to shove, the Siren song of mediocre, frequently-published content can seem irresistible (Ugh, don’t you just hate it when mythological creatures interrupt your workflow?). Low-quality content is easier to create, takes less time to fine-tune and is able to generate brief but reassuring bursts of traffic.
But for those who consistently produce high-quality content, the long-term rewards are well worth it. From increased authority, to stronger customer loyalty, to steadily growing traffic, the fruits of top-tier content creation can be yours with a thorough understanding of high-quality content and the right tactics to effectively craft it.
- How Can High-Quality Content Creation Boost Traffic?
- Develop a Content Strategy
- Get to Know Your Audience
- Put Value First
- Mix Things up with Multiple Media Formats
- Leverage Internal Links
- Optimize for Featured Snippets
- Prioritize Originality on Every Platform
How Can High-Quality Content Creation Boost Traffic?
In the overlapping worlds of SEO and content creation, the phrase high-quality content is endlessly repeated. Yet the existence of ever-changing search engine algorithms makes an exact definition difficult to pin down.
At its most basic level, high-quality content always:
- fulfills a purpose;
- demonstrates originality; and
- provides value to readers.
Pay particular attention to the first point. As Google’s 2019 Search Quality Rating General Guidelines specify, the primary goal of Page Quality rating is to “evaluate how well a page achieves its purpose.”
That purpose can vary wildly from site to site. For example, one site might cover celebrity news and fashion trends, while another may focus on breaking current events.
By creating original content supporting a site’s distinct purpose, you won’t just appeal to search engines—you’ll also provide visitors with genuinely valuable information. Original content drives traffic by:
- satisfying Google’s quality guidelines to achieve higher rankings; and
- earning long-lasting visitor trust.
With the one-two punch of algorithm- and user-friendliness, high-quality content creation is more than a buzzword. It’s a powerful strategy for generating consistent traffic, establishing authority and providing a truly memorable user experience.
Develop a Content Strategy
It’s easy to jump straight to the writing and optimization process when creating content.
But without a clear-cut plan in place, even the most talented content creators will find it frustratingly difficult to crank out high-quality content on a consistent basis. Why? Top-notch content takes time and creative energy to produce. Having a predefined plan saves precious hours and minimizes frustration.
Think of it this way: If someone is writing a series of books, they already have a rough concept of each books’ content and role in the overarching narrative. If they’re trying to write multiple standalone novels in succession, though, it will likely take much longer to settle on each book’s topic, determine a tone and develop a unique cast of characters.
The same idea applies to any other type of content, from blog posts to social media posts. If there’s not a plan in place, each one must be conceived, created and fine-tuned on the fly. Establishing a comprehensive content creation strategy slashes production time and boosts efficiency.
Such a strategy will include:
- Alignment: Before any content is created, the brand’s personality, values, audience and purpose must be defined. These elements govern the tone, voice and objective of all content created thereafter, whether it’s for Pinterest or a white paper.
- Format: Consistency is key, and a pre-planned format helps ensure it. For instance, will each blog post’s introduction consist of one paragraph or two? How will images be credited? How will ebooks be organized?
- Process: Determine how long each piece of content will take to produce, how it will be exchanged between writers and editors, and where it will be stored upon completion.
- Publication: Who will publish each piece of content? What day and time should each one be published? Which accounts will they be published from? How will authors be credited?
- Promotion: Save yourself some time by figuring out how and where a brand’s content will be promoted (and by whom). Consider using social media metrics to decide the best times and platforms for posting different types of content. For example, blog posts will be promoted on Facebook, while products will be promoted on Twitter, white papers on LinkedIn, etc. No matter the content or approach, ironing out the details ahead of time can significantly boost efficiency and draw more valuable traffic.
Get to Know Your Audience
Unlike the LiveJournal blogs of the early aughts (hello, teen angst!), branded content creation isn’t about satisfying the author’s creative drive. It’s about satisfying the audience’s desire for useful, high-quality content.
The first step to accomplishing that goal is identifying the people who will actually be consuming your content. In other words, you’ll need to research your audience, nail down their common characteristics and create reader personas.
From income and location to hobbies and purchasing habits, your reader personas should contain any and all information that may affect their taste in content.
Looking for an intuitive way to create detailed personas? It doesn’t get much simpler than HubSpot’s free downloadable templates:
Once your personas are created and fleshed out, you can effectively tailor each piece of content to your audience’s wants and needs without starting from scratch each time.
Put Value First
Remember how Google named purpose fulfillment as the most important aspect of high-quality content? For your audience, that translates to value.
Users need motivation to consume content. The desire to learn, passing amusement, inspiration—whatever the case, your content needs to provide value by not only fulfilling that desire at face value but also providing a uniquely compelling reason to choose your content over the competition.
Not every piece of content you publish needs to contain first-hand research or exclusive interviews. Rather, the insights you offer and visuals you present should be both original and custom-tailored to meet audience expectations.
If you’re creating a how-to article, for example, don’t just cover the same points that other sites have covered a thousand times. Instead, take the time to develop your own unique perspective, even if it’s on a widely-discussed topic. Especially if it’s on a widely discussed topic.
Alternatively, let’s say you’re creating a video reviewing the new iPhone. Countless other reviews on the same phone litter the internet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a one-of-a-kind take and visual style.
For example, a quick search for iphone 11 pro max review on YouTube shows how some of the platform’s top creators differentiate themselves. While Linus Tech Tips takes a straightforward approach with a simple, positive title and personable thumbnail, Marques Brownlee uses clean, product-focused thumbnails and offers different reviews for different aspects of the same phone (long-term use and camera quality):
No matter what type of content you’re creating, the ticket to success with both search engines and users is genuine value.
Mix Things up with Multiple Media Formats
Want to learn how to create content that’s actually interesting? Get familiar with using graphics and videos.
Put yourself in a user’s shoes. You’re reading an article explaining how to solve a Rubik’s Cube (the jury’s out on whether this counts as cheating), but there’s not a single picture or video in sight. Instead, you’re forced to read a wall of text with no visual points of reference or even links to sites where you might be able to find some. To a reader looking for answers, this text-only article isn’t just unhelpful, it’s boring.
While text-only articles certainly have their uses, spicing things up with other media formats can maximize engagement and minimize the risk of readers walking away (or nodding off!). For marketers, the proof is in the pudding—a 2020 study from Venngage, a graphics tool provider, found 49 percent of marketers say visual content is a “very important” part of their marketing strategy:
While they take longer to create than static graphics, videos in particular serve as a powerful tool for engagement. In a December 2019 survey from Wyzowl—an explainer video production company—88 percent of video marketers said video generates a positive return on investment (ROI):
Videos don’t just drive results on video-focused platforms like YouTube, either. Twitter reports tweets with video get 10x more engagement than those without, and business analytics platform Databox reports nearly 60 percent of marketers say Facebook ads with videos get the most clicks.
Leverage Internal Links
Content quality isn’t determined by the number of pages linking to it, but some strategically placed internal links can help it rank higher and generate more organic traffic.
Internal links guide both search engine crawlers and users toward your content. They accomplish this by:
- increasing the site’s crawlability;
- passing link equity (i.e., authority) between pages;
- helping users and search engine bots identify relevant content; and
- encouraging visitors to remain on the site for a longer period of time.
To ensure high-quality content is reaping the benefits of internal links:
- only use them when relevant;
- don’t include more than one link to any single piece of content per page;
- add new links to freshly published content; and
- craft natural-sounding anchor text indicating the linked page’s contents.
Optimize for Featured Snippets
Let’s say you want to know just how deep the sea can be. So you pull up Google Search and type what is the deepest part of the ocean. Despite millions of results for that exact phrase, only one may be highlighted at the top—the coveted featured snippet:
Featured snippets are Google’s way of choosing the best, most straightforward result to answer a user’s query (think of it as the Hunger Games of search results). Given their prominent placement at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), securing a featured snippet for your high-quality content can help to boost site traffic and earn users’ trust.
But how can you optimize a piece of top-notch content to land such coveted Google real estate? Featured snippet optimization boils down to a few core tactics:
- target relevant long-tail keywords, especially in the form of a question;
- format key portions of content (i.e., those most likely to provide users with answers to their questions) as a paragraph, list, video or table; and
- strive to answer users’ questions both completely and succinctly.
Even if your content isn’t chosen for a featured snippet, adopting those strategies supports larger goals such as providing value to readers, creating easily readable content and ranking for a broader range of keywords.
Prioritize Originality on Every Platform
You already know content can’t be classified as high quality if it’s not original (at least we hope you do!). What may not be as obvious, though, is that originality’s value isn’t limited to blog posts and articles.
To create exceptional content, strive for originality on all platforms, including:
- social media;
- landing pages; and
- paid advertisements.
That email newsletter you’re working on? Don’t settle for generic wording or an uninspired subject line. Drafting a tweet promoting a new blog post? Give your followers something more interesting than “New blog post!” followed by a link. The Instagram post you’re about to publish—well, you get the idea.
Incorporating originality into every post across every platform has benefits outside of piquing reader interest, too. As top social media sites tweak their algorithms to favor the content people care about, engagement is now the linchpin of exposure.
For you, this means prioritizing unique content designed to elicit conversations with your audience. Don’t focus on creating high-quality, long-form content while neglecting to hold your short-form content to the same standards, and vice versa.
Instead, never stop striving to create attention-grabbing, high-quality content across the board, whether it’s 200 characters or 2,000 words.
Looking for an example? Take one of Netflix’s tweets:
Yes, the tweet is technically promoting one of the company’s offerings (in this case, its original nature series Tiny Creatures), but it’s doing more than saying “here’s a product, click the link.”
Rather, it’s capturing attention with both images and emojis, giving users a taste of the content contained in the series (squirrel drama!) and riffing on the name a more iconic duo meme. It’s a combination tailored to resonate with Twitter users, and it demonstrates how Netflix’s dedication to quality content extends beyond movies and shows.
Want Better Rankings? Create First-Rate Content
Trying to overcome the Siren song of easy, so-so content? Fortunately for you, there’s no need to stuff wax in your ears à la Odyssean sailors (phew!).
Instead, implement the right content creation strategies and see for yourself how high-quality content can keep your site from foundering on the rocks of mediocrity. From higher rankings to happier users, its benefits are more than worth the effort. We promise you won’t look back.
Screenshots by author / August 2020
Venngage / March 2020
Wyzowl / December 2019