When you are thinking about writing for the internet, or designing a campaign on behalf of a company, you need to create quality content. Why, you ask? Isn’t it enough to write something cool and kick it out the door?
If you are interested in writing jobs, or are writing from home with the intent of offering useful content, you’ll find that the “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” approach won’t work here. That might work in informal settings, but not if you are hoping to become a serious content creator.
So, what is quality content, and what does it do?
In short, quality content is well-written information that accomplishes its purpose. What that goal is, is up to you.
At the most basic level, quality content is good writing. That means your writing skills must be outstanding. You know how to spell, punctuate, and construct sentences that make sense. You know the rules of tenses, capitalization, and how to paragraph properly, and you never mix up “it’s” and “its” or “there,” “they’re” and “their.” You should also not put too much faith in spellcheckers, as technology doesn’t always get it right.
If you don’t have the basics down, now is the time to turn to some of the gazillions of websites that will help you learn these rules, or brush up on your knowledge. Once you have the tools of a writer sharpened and in your toolbox, you’re ready to start.
No matter its ultimate purpose, all quality content has common aspects
Quality content is easy to read, well-researched, accurate, helpful, up-to-date, valuable, and comprehensive. Let’s take a brief look at each of these qualities.
If something is easy to read, it’s likely to also be enjoyable, and therefore, readers will remember the content. If they have had to struggle through a piece riddled with misspelled words, tangled tenses, and garbled meaning, they may not finish it, let alone remember what it said.
When you write for the internet, you need to present information that is both accurate and well-researched. To do this, you also should be aware of the biases that are built into search engines.
The brilliant astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calls search engines “the epitome of confirmation bias,” because the algorithms that search on your behalf look at your search history and return the results they think you want to see. You need to look outside your bubble, seek out authoritative sources (the JSTOR database hosts journals) and use your critical thinking skills to determine if what you’re reading is accurate.
Since webpages last forever, you also need to make certain you’re seeing current information. Many organizations seem to leave their website unchanged, adding pages occasionally while not remembering to take down old ones, even when new information is found that makes the current posting obsolete or incorrect. Make sure you are looking at up-to-date information by cross-referencing with other sources, if necessary.
Your work should result in a comprehensive piece that discusses issues in depth. If you raise questions, answer them, using the research you have already done. You should strive to provide expert writing so readers can use your piece confidently, without feeling a need to look at dozens of other sources.
Your piece must be helpful, providing precise information to the people who are searching for it. That’s why they’re out there scouring the net, after all.
Finally, your work must deliver value. This means you have to know the audience you’re writing for and what their interests are. Even after identifying your target, you must also ensure your work is specific enough for the individual subgroup you’ve identified. A piece about “felines” is not going to have value for a subgroup who are looking for “what to feed Maine Coon cats.”
A difference in approach . . .
You should also consider the difference in approach between quality SEO (search engine optimization) content and quality content written for social media. Quality SEO content will use techniques to bring your work to the top of the results page. Conversely, poor SEO may cause search engines to miss the site entirely, or rank poorly.
Quality content for social media will be much less formal, and does not need to consider SEO in depth, though you should still think about using some terms that will bring your content to the web crawler’s attention. This is where you want to be original, informative, friendly, and entertaining.
So, basically . . .
Bring your A game. Sharpen up your writing skills and use them. Make sure your pieces are worth the reader’s time by providing accurate, valuable information, and be aware of SEO requirements. Finally, if you’re just writing to have fun, make it entertaining.
Go forth and write! And if you enjoy putting your skills to work, talk to us at Words of Worth. We would love to hear from you.