The idea of quality content has been around since 2011 when Google's Panda Update first hit and sites with bad content were sent to the basement of search engine results.
Since then, content providers have had to be on their toes to ensure that everything they create and post is high quality. But what, exactly, does that mean? If you are worried about your content falling short, this five-point checklist will put your mind at ease.
1. Is My Content Error Free?
Trustworthiness is a major factor when it comes to a page's ranking with Google. Boosting a company's integrity is also one of the main focuses of any content marketing strategy as consumers are much more likely to make a purchase from a business they trust. Content that is riddled with grammar errors and misspellings, uses bogus or outdated sources, or is poorly organized will not only fail to rank well with Google, it will not rank at all with consumers.
Before marking any project as complete, take the time to read the text out loud to yourself. Reading aloud forces you to go slower and hearing your words can help you find clunky sentences and other errors. Don't be afraid to use tools like Grammarly, Ginger, or PaperRater. While none of them are perfect, they will all help you catch basic errors and typos.
2. Did I Follow Proper Formatting Guidelines?
Most people do not have time to carefully read everything they come across on the web. Instead, people tend to skim through a page for the most important details and only go back and read everything if something clues them in that it's worth it. Make skimming efficient by breaking up large blocks of text with descriptive subheadings and breaking out long lists into bullets. It is also helpful to keep most of your web content light and conversational to make it easy to digest quickly while keeping paragraphs short so readers are not overwhelmed with huge blocks of text.
3. Is My Content Useful?
Think about what people are trying to do when they type keywords into a search engine. Create content that addresses what they want to do rather than the particular words they type. In other words, if someone types "signs of a failing furnace" into a search engine, it's probable that her furnace is doing something weird, and she wants to know if it's failing. Don't waste everyone's time by writing about a variety of home appliances while artfully working in a few instances of "failing furnace" because that's your assigned keyword. Instead, be useful and provide a cohesive list of signs.
4. Is My Content Relevant?
Kardashians might draw a lot of attention, but they do not have any business hanging around an appliance repair website. Google's algorithms are pretty smart, and they can detect when you are trying to piggyback on a hot topic to draw attention to yourself and will not be fooled into thinking it's quality content. Whenever it works out that a hot topic is relevant to the industry you are writing for, then by all means, use it. Otherwise, stick to topics that make sense for the content's destination.
5. Did I Use Keywords Correctly?
Even if you are writing something useful to support a keyword phrase like "signs of a failing furnace," keyword stuffing will not earn you any love from Google. Cramming a page with many instances of a keyword may have been effective in the past, but now it's one of the fastest ways to get sent to the bottom of the pile. Keep in mind that keyword stuffing is not always intentional. If you are writing really tight, highly-focused content around a particular keyword, it can be easy to end up repeating it too many times without realizing it. Do a quick search and if your content has more than a few mentions, reword your sentences or substitute synonyms instead.
Always Write for People
Understanding what makes Google give one page the green light while dumping another is an essential part of creating content for the Web. Quality content may be only one of hundreds of factors, but it is one that we have direct control over every time we create something new. The easiest shortcut to creating quality content is to make sure it is written for real people who need help solving problems. After that, check this list for a few technicalities and you'll be good to go.
This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit