The Virtues of Creating Valuable Content

by Tom McEwin on 19 June, 2011

I recently watched a webinar by Ed Dale and Michelle McPherson that reaffirmed one of the views I’ve had for a while about content creation. What it highlighted to me is the virtue in creating content that is truly valuable and not solely targeted towards ranking on Google for revenue purposes.

SEO and monetisation is great if the content is the sort of thing that people want to read.  But there are a lot of spam sites out there which add little value to the world (except for the owner) and just clog up search engine rankings.  As Ed and Michelle explain, the last few Google algorithm changes seem to have been targeted to redress this.

I’ve tried to avoid churning out fluffy or insubstantial content – not only because it doesn’t deliver value to readers, but also because I would be too embarrassed to do so.  Now it seems there is another good reason to make content valuable – because it will be easier for it to rank well.

Here’s the webinar if you are interested (which runs for 80 or so minutes):

YouTube Preview Image

Google Guidance on Creating High Quality Websites

In the webinar Ed and Michelle refer to guidance that Google has released regarding what it will take into account when considering whether a website is high quality.  Here is the relevant post on the official Google blog.  Google poses a number of questions to indicate the mindset that it uses when considering the quality of a webpage or site:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

My Rule of Thumb

The rule of thumb that I try to apply is to only publish content when it is worth bookmarking or sharing, and is something that I am really happy with.

I think this approach not only delivers value to readers, but also stays on the right side of the Google mindset.  This is a good idea – as the world’s most popular search engine by a long way, Google sets the rules.  Better to employ a strategy which means I am happy with the content I produce, and also means that content is less likely to be slapped down by future algorithm changes.

For anyone who has been hit by the Google Panda algorithm change or wants to start improving quality in Google’s eyes, check out this survival guide.

© Tom McEwin
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David Moloney June 19, 2011 at 9:24 PM

Hi Tom,

I see valuable content as being generated to achieve a long term relationship – something that makes the reader want to come back again and again. Short term content may make the grade when it comes to SEO, but it’s for very specific ‘fast in / fast out’ readers that won’t be coming back anytime soon. In determining Google’s quality score, I’m sure they’d need to assess time spent on page / sites bookmarked from a wide variety of users and prevalence of pictures/media which could add to the overall user experience.
David Moloney´s last blog post ..Evernote Review

Harry Lynn June 20, 2011 at 8:35 PM

G’day Tom,
From the 1st time I met Sean he insisted that content is king. This is a great article, mate, so Thankyou
Dugg, Stumbled, Pinged and booted with Hellotxt
Cheers
Harry
Harry Lynn´s last blog post ..Learning Piano – My Learning Journey Part Four

Jan Littlehales June 21, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Hey Tom,
I totally agree with your virtues of creating valuable content… right down to your rule of thumb “… something that I am really happy with”.

Checked out the Google Panda Survival Guide at the end of your post – boy does that guy create valuable content!
Jan Littlehales´s last blog post ..Prawn Pasta – in Ten Minutes

Tom McEwin June 25, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Thanks for your comments David, Harry and Jan.

@David – I totally agree that valuable content is much more likely to lead to building a relationship with readers. It wouldn’t surprise me if bounce rate gets factored in to SEO for those sites with google analytics installed – the Panda survival guide seems to suggest so.

@ Harry – Cheers, mate

@ Jan – Yeah, I found that post was really valuable (bookmarked it for future reference, and good enough to share). There are plenty of great sites delivering helpful information on the internet, it’s just a shame that sometimes it is hard to find them.

John July 28, 2011 at 7:56 PM

David,
For one there is plenty of valuable content on this article. Great read, thanks mate.
John´s last blog post ..Understanding Domain Names

Charie August 19, 2011 at 4:41 AM

Reading this post and watching the video is all worth the time.. You have a great article. Thank you for sharing.

Rudy October 17, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Its always worth reading your posts Tom. Thank you for your effort, and ofcourse thanks for sharing :)
Rudy´s last blog post ..Laptop huren

jullianeforth October 31, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Great article… You really said it well and I am happy I have the chance to read this and watch your video… Thank you for sharing.
jullianeforth´s last blog post ..meeting singles

Jenifer Medly November 15, 2011 at 3:18 AM

I found that post was really valuable (bookmarked it for future reference, and good enough to share). There are plenty of great sites delivering helpful information on the internet, it is great post, thanks for sharing.

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