It can be hard to recognize quality - whether it's a product or content on the Internet. By definition, quality means "native excellence or superiority," but what quality content looks like can be subjective and hard to determine.
There are hundreds of articles debating the pros and cons of various content elements and that makes it difficult to decide which side of the fence is the quality side. Here are nine of the most debated elements of creating content and where you may want to consider standing, depending on your situation of course.
1. Length of Content
What's better: Long-form or short-form? You're not going to find a clear-cut answer in this post. This issue is one that many people debate and have strong opinions on, as short-form content is more approachable to people with shorter attentions spans, while there is evidence indicating that long form content is more appreciated by Google. Long-form content is also often higher in quality because it leaves room for more in-depth information on a subject.
At the end of the day, I believe you should have both on your editorial calendar. You might want to lean in the direction of going longer with your content as long as there is a reason to do so and it's not just filler.
2. Amount of Research
Do you include everything you find or just keep it to a minimum? It's important to present data-backed information in your content, but you don't want to flood your readers with scientific data - that wouldn't be fun for anyone.
Here, quality can be determined by knowing how much data your readers want to see. Depending on your piece, it could be a simple link to the research or it might be a long, detailed explanation of a study. Most authors tend to use research as a way to introduce a topic or to strengthen a point, so you might want to consider that when using it in your content.
3. Biased Viewpoints
When presenting valuable content, you'll generally want to give facts and allow your readers to form their own opinions.
There are always exceptions though. As this post demonstrates, it's all too easy to mention where you stand on issues. However, depending on the subject of the content and the audience you are catering to, it's typically best not to taint the reader's opinion.
4. Spelling and Grammar
Because almost anyone anywhere can publish content on the Internet, we've become accustomed to seeing spelling and grammar errors in articles. This can be a sign of low-quality content, as the owner may not have proofread or edited the material before publishing it.
This doesn't mean that only low-quality content has errors, but higher quality content will typically only be published after it goes through several sets of eyes with professional backgrounds and standards. If you want to be seen as professional yourself, this process is a must for your content.
5. Readability Score
As content is seen by a variety of readers, it's important that the majority of people reading it easily understand the information. Typically, you want your content to have a readability score between 60 and 70 (easily understood by most 13-year-olds) on the Flesch Reading Ease scale.
That being said, just because it's easier to read that doesn't mean it's of higher quality. If you know your audience expects content at a higher readability level, you need to cater to that expectation.
6. Level of Author Expertise
Almost anyone can speak like an authority on a subject. But, not everyone actually is. Who wrote the article? What makes them an expert on the subject?
Doing a little research on the author will give you a good idea of how knowledgeable they are and how much authority they have on a subject.
7. Social Media Shares
Take this metric with a grain of salt. Higher quality content won't always have more social media shares.
However, it's often the case that content with more social media shares is considered more valuable to its audience.
8. Number of Links
It's important to consider inbound links (sites linking to an article) and outbound links (sites that article links to) in your content. In general, the more valuable the information, the more that people will link to it.
Link building also significantly helps your content's SEO performance.
9. Content Comments
Taking a glance at an article's comments will give you an idea of its audience.
If there are insightful, thought-provoking comments being made, then you know the content is relevant and interesting to its audience.
These are some of the most important factors involved when trying to determine what quality content looks like. While the definition of quality content is not always easily defined, you can use this list as a guideline in seeking out content of higher quality.