How to analyze website content quality

Ivan Paliy
2 June 2020

A survey in the previous article showed that readers are interested in the topic of assessing content quality. In this material, I will examine the reasons for the popularity of the subject and share my algorithm for assessing the quality of a text.

Content is the code that defines the behaviour of whoever reads it. Other than the text, it also includes audio, video, images, and developers’ code.

This material will only regard content for websites and only for promotion via Google. The article’s theses do not relate to promotion on YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, SoundCloud, and other platforms, in which text is not the key content.

My task is to help you conduct a quality audit of already published content and give you the algorithm of selecting good authors for a website.

These recommendations are based upon my experience of developing the Sitechecker blog,  Brammels magazine, and my personal blog.

What is happening to SEO in 2020

While reading Telegram-channels of SEO specialists and talking to them, I see that there are two opposing approaches to the current algorithm of Google ranking. Let’s go over the key ideas of each trend.

1. You shouldn’t overestimate Google’s abilities

Create as many websites as possible. Write content, add links, and over time, pick the survivors and develop them. Getting to the top is completely random. A website is an expendable unit. A few small websites are better than a big one. What Google states in its assessors manual is propaganda, and links have the key importance. This method is often promoted by Andrei Mukhachev.

Post from a Telegram-channel

A similar view on the algorithm is also promoted by the doorway and PBN creators. The key belief of such masters is “no matter how much Google tries to improve the algorithm, it will have blind spots, which googlers don’t care about, which means that our technology and businesses are less vulnerable than the ones promoted with other methods.”

2. Google has learned to rank websites by E-A-T, recognize good and bad links, and understand the text meaning better

It’s hard to trick Google now, which is why you shouldn’t waste your efforts doing so. You should simply follow Google’s requirements: create quality content, attract or nurture expert authors, and search for creative methods for receiving links. An interesting Google May Core Update research was written by Alex Burak.

However, there is a problem. Google evolves, and website owners and SEO specialists can’t keep up with it. The reason is not that webmasters don’t know what to do. Successful SEO specialists update their worldview quite regularly and quickly implement necessary changes.

Webmasters are looking for new monetization options to afford expensive authors, invest more in links from authoritative sources, and go to the dark side of promotion.

But for many niches, website development, according to the new rules, becomes unprofitable anyways. In his latest Telegram-channel post, Dmitrii Sokhach interestingly describes the experience of business restructuring after the decrease of Amazon commissions and the latest Google update.

Post from Telegram-channel

It is only now that webmasters, under Google’s pressure, started thinking about quality content and finding a person who knows how to create it.

I prefer the second approach. Even if Google exaggerates its capabilities now, sooner or later it will learn to do what it claims. Therefore, the question of how to separate high-quality content from low-quality content will become more and more popular.

What is content quality

Content quality is a characteristic with many variables, some of which can not be expressed in a mathematical formula. Google algorithm can calculate the pages’ link weight, the number of keywords, and content uniqueness.

However, without assessors’ evaluations, it is impossible to teach an algorithm to evaluate the reliability of the facts presented in an article, the level of expertise and authority of an author, and the quality of editing and design.

Over the recent years, webmasters focused attention on the form of the text rather than its content when developing terms of reference. The most popular method of setting a text task is still the analysis of the top search results. I spoke more about it here.

This method is useful, but it’s not enough. The more Google will attract assessors and train the neural networks of the search algorithm, the more important it will be to conduct a qualitative analysis of texts. It is necessary to identify the best practices for creating content, its editing, and design, and apply them to your website.

When you are reading an article online, you can notice on a subconscious level whether you like the material or don’t. However, you can’t always explain why. Let’s try to understand which content parameters affect its quality and user satisfaction.

Many useful parameters are listed in Google’s webmaster manual for beginners and assessors’ guidelines, which I mentioned above. In my list, I will try to further analyze some of the parameters.

Parameters of quality content

1. Author

Author’s parameters include education, experience, professional achievements, and authority among other specialists in the sphere.

Actually, authoritative and experienced authors do not necessarily create the best content, but it is a filter, which allows Google to get rid of spammers because of the complexity and high cost of cheating such a factor.

It is better to lose some valuable materials from still unrecognized stars and form a good performance than to spend resources on finding native talents among hundreds of thousands of pages of worthless content.

Tell us more about your authors, their achievements, and provide links to their social networks. Faceless sites with endless rewrite are a thing of the past, and it’s wonderful.

Semrush blog author profile

Besides, when a person knows what’s above or under the text, people will always see his or her profile, it greatly affects responsibility and motivation.

2. Sources

Think back to when you were writing a thesis or term paper. The introduction to such work should contain three important blocks: who has already explored this topic, why it is relevant, and what is the novelty of your work.

The majority of articles created on the internet do not match the requirements of scientific work. However, there is a simple rule, which always distinguished an article among others if fulfilled.

It is the description of what the author’s judgement is based upon. If it’s a personal experience, then what is it like? If it’s the research of other materials on the topic, then which ones?

Backlinko blog, an example of correct source indication

Besides, if a person references sources, the chance of the content not being a rewrite of somebody else’s thoughts increase.

3. Structure

Structure performs several tasks at once:

  • helps to quickly assess whether the text contains answers to user questions;
  • helps create a table of contents and accelerate the transition to the desired part of the page;
  • simplifies the understanding of the entire page content for the user.

Webris blog, an example of a table of contents

Because of the importance of the structure, the study of semantics and analysis of the top before text writing are crucial. They allow you to design the skeleton of a page, which you can further string content on.

4. Content

Good content is:

Comprehensive — addresses the entire cluster of requests. After reviewing the page, the user has no more questions on the topic.

Consistent — all parts of the text are logically connected, one part of the text does not contradict another one, and all conclusions are drawn from previously mentioned facts.

Topical — in case changes in the topic occur, the text is complemented or updated accordingly. The user receives the most exact answer the creator can produce at the time of reviewing the content.

Reliable — the content is true. For different types of content, such is expressed differently. In scientific content, generally accepted views on theories are expressed. For journalistic content, the presence of any evidence of the specified event is confirmed.

If the content meets all four of these parameters, you won’t probably notice the perfection; however, if anything is out of order, it will catch your eye.

Other important characteristics of quality content are:

Cool title — briefly and clearly conveys the content of the page. It is also important that the material inside matches the promise in the title. Title → quick content → content. These are the three control points at which the user decides whether to go deeper into your material or to leave it.

Variety of formats — the same thought comes through different formats of content. In addition to text, there can be infographics, tables, formulas, pictures, videos, audio. I wrote about the difference between types and formats of content in an article about content strategy.

Infographics based upon the analysis of technical errors from the Sitechecker blog, an example of content diversity

5. Design

Good blog and website content design begin with the development of editorial policy. In order not to spend a lot of time on this, you can redo this editorial policy for yourself.

The main thing is that such a policy exists, and there is a person who monitors its implementation. This does not have to be an already experienced editor.

Now, let’s discuss the characteristics of quality design.

The most important ideas in the text are highlighted. They can be either bold, in italics, color, or with designer accents. It is important to give a user a chance to catch onto something when he or she is skimming over the text. According to the Nielsen research, this applies to the majority of users.

The text is divided into small paragraphs. In such a way, a user can easily go back to the needed part if they got distracted. It is also easier to copy the needed idea to save it, leave a comment, or send it to someone. Text division also includes bullet points and numbered lists.

Grammatical and punctuation errors are absent. This will be hard without an editor. However, if your blog is small, it will be enough to edit the content over time by yourself with the assistance of such online tools as Copywritely, Grammarly.

Unique design. Unique blog design and image preview elevate blog authority in the eyes of the reader. It is important for images to display the content of an article or a category schematically. This will simplify navigation and help inexperienced users quickly understand the basics of a new topic.

Among SEO websites, one of the best examples of this method is Backlinko, with its hub and blog.

On Sitechecker blog, we did this too. Our designer studied the content of each article and came up with how to convey a page’s meaning schematically in one image. As a result, the entire internet is using them for its publications.

Unified design rules on all pages. This is also difficult to achieve without an editor. Different indents, quotation marks, different use of italics and bold – all this hurts the eyes. If you can’t hire an editor, start tidying up your posts yourself, auditing pages one by one, starting with the ones with the highest traffic.

6. Layout

If readers share your content, then the absence of Open Graph layout or errors in its content can seriously reduce the conversion to clicks on these links.

7. User rating

People like reading reviews and evaluating the popularity of the material, as this reduces the risk of spending time and money in vain. Show statistics of views, shares, and comments, so that it does not need to be searched.

Example of a good display of social testimony

How to find a good author for your website

Now, let’s get to looking for good authors. You either need to find a recognized expert or recognize a talent that can be transformed into a professional. You can also do both at the same time.

Most importantly, you need someone who wither understands your niche already or will be able to understand it quickly. Such a person does not have to be a good entrepreneur, editor, or SEO-specialist.

Employing a recognized expert

  • Take from competitors. Select the best competitor blogs. Make a list of authors who wrote content for the blog but don’t work in the company. Invite them to write material for your blog.
  • Search on Google. Use such search inquiries as: best specialists in…, training…, conference in….
  • Search on social media and forums. An expert may not even have a website or have a poorly-developed one. Depending on the niche and personal preferences, they can develop their YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora, Instagram, forum profile, or podcast. Don’t be lazy and look everywhere.
  • Search on freelance platforms. Many believe that the majority of workers on such platforms are either newbies or average authors. This prejudice may turn out useful for you. There are many pros.
  • Search on online- and offline-conferences. At good conferences, organizers pay great attention to networking. They offer to fill out your data and explain how you can find interesting people. Among such people, you will surely be able to find a ready-made pro and a novice specialist who is looking for ways of self-realization.

Raising an expert

To raise an expert in a niche, it is not necessary to employ them, but it will increase the effectiveness.

Recruiting

At this stage, it is important to identify a capable and motivated person. They can be either a student or a specialist in another niche who has decided to change the field of activity. To assess the ability of candidates to create content, try the following.

  • Find out what they are fond of, who their favorite content authors are, what they like about the work of these authors. According to where a person looks, what they see and appreciate, much can be said about themselves. To recognize talent, you need to have talent yourself.
  • Give them a couple of pages from your site and ask them what the purpose of the pages is. Evaluate how quickly they can figure it out and how exact they are.
  • On the same few pages, ask them to conduct a short audit. Let them give their advice on improving the content of the page. Let them address all the errors: both in the content and in the design.
  • Find out how they will divide the process of content creation. It is important to know how well they understand the key steps of research and text development.
  • Pay for the test task. Ask them to write an article for your website on a simple topic, which will be easy to understand.

Development

In the process of selecting candidates, it is important to explain what we want, how we’re planning on developing the candidate, and what their training will look like. You need to achieve three goals at the same time:

  • create the conditions, in which the author will learn the real skills of your field;
  • train him to create high-quality content;
  • help him develop a personal brand.

The process of author development can be divided into these stages.

1. Show the best blogs in your niche and convey what exactly you like about them. If there are no such blogs, you can show just good blogs, no matter what sphere. Even better, if you pre-develop an editorial policy and include best practices and popular mistakes in it. A good example of such an instruction is here.

2. Create a content plan. It is good if you have it before employing an author. However, besides following your plan, the author will come up with new ideas of what to write about and what might appeal to the audience. Constantly update your content plan with the author’s ideas, even if there is not much semantics on the topic.

3. Create a training plan for skills in your sphere. Your author should become a pro, not just seem like one. To do this, they need to attend conferences, take courses, and apply all the gained knowledge in practice. If the site is about traveling, they should not sit still; if the site is about cooking, they should cook.

4. Make a plan for the development of the author’s personal brand. Registration and cross-hosting on social media, participation in offline and online discussions, guest posting on reputable platforms, webinars. The sooner you start developing public profiles, the better.

5. Arrange a competition. This is the best one. There is nothing more productive for creativity than the desire to win. If you have several authors, arrange a competition between them. If there is only one author, find someone in a similar position in a competing company and turn him into a virtual rival.

Content distribution technology

As the author develops, your content distribution technology will also develop. There are several key rules in this development that you should always keep in mind.

The main mistake of all creators of good content is that they do not convey it to all possible audiences.

Each time after creating a unit of content (article, video, audio recording, picture) and first sharing it via available channels, you have to choose whether to proceed with the creation of a new unit of content or continue to promote an existing one.

The choice is not easy. Since you do not have a sure process of conveying content to the audience, your actions will be chaotic, and there will be a risk of wasting time and losing motivation of your growing author.

This means that the technology that will rescue you from this oppressive choice is needed. And it is needed as soon as possible, for three reasons.

1. The number of topics for discussing and the creative potential of a creator in a specific niche is limited.

Yes, this is true, regardless of what you’ve been told by successful success coaches. This is what you need to remember. If you reach the peak of the collected audience, then when you have 80-90% of the materials already created, soon you will have nothing left but to post old materials and industry news.

The sooner you reach the peak of subscribers that you can attract by the means available to you, the better you will have a retention rate for this audience, along with a viral growth rate, and the number of organic links built on new materials. You need to let people try out good things gradually.

2. The content sharing technology needs time to evolve.

You do not know which content distribution channel will be more effective, which content is better for which channel, how much the subscriber will cost, the client from each channel, where the viral growth mechanisms will work better. Unless one of the competitors has already fully revealed his technology, and you plan to repeat it. And so, the sooner you make the technology, the sooner it will reach maximum efficiency.

3. The more data there it, the better the next unit of content will be.

Your content is a product. And the rules for developing content are the same as the rules for developing other products. You need audience feedback, analytics of its behavior, and testing of various types of content form and matter. You need a cold shower, which will cure you or the author writing for you of star fever.

I will gladly answer your questions in the comments.

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