No more loud screaming Panda, no more squealing Penguin. Quietly, the next algorithm updates from Google are to take place. This will give more emphasis to Google’s advice to webmasters “Make pages for users, not for search engines”, as blogger Martin Bahls already formulated several weeks ago. Websites that are made for users offer them added value, which is achieved through “high-quality content”. Of course, other criteria also play a role. But today we will only focus on the content, especially the texts on your website.
Why is high-quality content so important?
Before we get to the actual topic, let’s briefly return to the value of content. Why is it so important for Google? The goal of Google and other search engines is to satisfy their users. Users are satisfied when they receive a suitable solution or answer to their search query without spending a lot of time – whether they are looking for a new pair of jeans or have a problem with their smartphone. For this purpose, Google sorts the websites based on different criteria. Since high-quality content can be assumed to be most likely to satisfy the user, it is also relevant for Google’s evaluation. Directly related to the content is also the bounce rate or the dwell time, another ranking criterion of Google. High-quality content keeps the user on the page: if you feel comfortable on a page, for example reading an interesting text, you will stay there longer. Those who were satisfied with the solution to the problem or the offer will come back.
High-quality content therefore benefits everyone: the user, the site operator and Google. It therefore makes sense to strive for high-quality content. But this is where the pondering begins: What is high-quality content?
First: Content means the entire content of a website. It can therefore refer to the most diverse content types: Images, videos, texts, etc. All factors have to be right to achieve high-quality content. Images and videos don’t seem to be the problem with most sites. It is rather the texts. That’s why we explain here what makes a high-quality text.
What makes a good text?
All too often, you come across texts on websites with errors in punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. With logical breaks, disconnected sentences, missing parts of sentences and confused structure – statements strung together without connection, often with poorly researched facts and incorrect information. Texts that are only there to contain keywords, but do not convey any content. Such texts definitely have nothing to do with high-quality content and harm the website in the long run. Not only because they do not appeal to the user, but also because you run the risk that Google will no longer classify the website as relevant.
A good text, on the other hand, is always the sum of its parts. Starting with the content and the language, through to the target group approach and formal points such as the structure and layout.
Checklist for high-quality texts
First and foremost, a text is good if it is understandable to the reader. A good guideline for assessing the comprehensibility of a text is the Hamburg Comprehensibility Model. The model calls
as the most important criteria for an understandable text.
2. Freedom from errors
A good text is grammatically correct and contains no typos. Surely everybody overlooks one or the other mistake, here nobody is completely error-free. Often you are simply “error-blind” after the umpteenth read-through. But you can always help yourself by asking another person to read the text. Or by using a text analysis tool or a spell checker. Google also uses spell and grammar check programs when evaluating web pages.
3. Optimal keyword density and WDF*IDF
A good text contains the keywords through which users should come to the page. The higher the keyword relevance in the content, the better the page will be ranked by Google. However, over-optimizing the content for keywords is the wrong way to go. No user likes to read texts whose sentences consist of the same words over and over again, and Google doesn’t like to see keyword stuffing either.
There are a variety of tools that allow you to evaluate both keyword density and Karl Kratz’s famous formula WDF*IDF for a text. Tools like Seolyze spit out more terms in the analysis that the text should contain. The background of it all: Google takes into account not only the main keyword, but also synonyms and secondary terms that are semantically related to the keyword. Therefore, when creating high-quality texts, you should not only focus on the keyword itself during your keyword research, but also think about related words.
4. Text structure
A text without structure is a string of sentences without a logical connection, which the reader finds difficult to follow. Instead, a good text is well thought out, has a logical structure and guides the reader along the famous red thread. You should think about the structure and the argumentation of the text beforehand: What content is to be conveyed? What are the communication goals? How can the information be structured in a meaningful way? For comprehensibility, it is important to convey only one thought per sentence and to divide meaningful connections into paragraphs.
5. Comprehensible and lively language
Most texts in online media are read by a wide audience. For this reason, it is important to write in a generally understandable and lively style. The characteristics of such a language style are:
- Short sentences
- Simple words from everyday language
- Verbs instead of nominalization
- Comparisons, metaphors and adjectives
Since sentences are always processed as a unit, short sentences are easier to understand than long nested sentences. Foreign words and technical terms are also an issue. Although they sometimes belong in a text, they are usually not understandable to a layperson without an explanation. Therefore, if you use them, they should be explained afterwards. Verbs seem very lively, while we think of nouns as rigid. Therefore, a text that contains many nominalizations instead of verbs is perceived by the reader as dry and complicated. Moreover, it is also difficult to understand. The liveliness is also contributed by comparisons, metaphors and adjectives, which create a figurative language.
In a good text, the facts are correct. Untruths and inaccurate facts that the reader takes at face value can have serious consequences. It is therefore the duty of the copywriter to check his researched information.
Topicality means on the one hand the topic of a text, for example of a blog contribution. No one likes to read outdated topics that have already been used a hundred times. Texts should therefore address current topics or present new points of view. But topicality does not only concern the topic of the text. Old texts that have been on a website for a long time are of lower quality than new texts. Therefore, one should make sure to create new content on a regular basis. Of course, the time intervals vary depending on the website, because new texts are of course more important for a news site or a blog than for an online store.
Fresh, exciting, unprecedented content makes a text a good text. Anyone can regurgitate content. In addition, a text should also be as unique as possible in terms of language. An own style can help here and create recognition value. Just as the corporate design reflects the identity of the company, so should the language in the texts. You should also try to avoid words that are typical for certain industries or topics and replace them with unused words. For example, in fashion texts you very often read words like hip or trendy. After the tenth fashion text at the latest, these adjectives come out of the reader’s ears.
9. Reader appeal
A text is good when the author has put himself in the reader’s shoes. What does the reader expect when he comes to your website? How can you make it easier for him to find the solution to his problem? The reader approach also includes the text tonality as well as the direct address of the reader. It is important to know your target group in order to decide whether the style should be businesslike or casual, and whether it is appropriate to be on first-name terms or on familiar terms. On a website such as a start-up magazine, which offers entrepreneurs information on economic and tax-related topics, a serious tone should dominate, which stands for the reliability of the information. On a family blog that serves to share parents’ experiences, writing should be done in a simple, casual style that conveys familiarity.
10. Capture the reader
There is an art to capturing the reader with the headline and introduction. If these two do not capture the reader’s interest, he or she will not read the text to the end in most cases. The headline and introduction must therefore do two things: Make it clear what the topic of the text is, and make the reader want to read the text. This is achieved by creating awareness of the problem and describing a concrete problem that the reader has in one way or another. Or by arousing the reader’s curiosity about the further content of the text. As simple as this sounds, it is often difficult. In fact, it’s a real balancing act: Arousing interest and explaining the topic without giving too much away. It is also important that the reader knows after the introduction that the text will help him find a solution to the problem. And that brings us to the next point:
11. Deliver concrete results
The text must deliver what the title and introduction promise. There are enough texts that initially seem promising, but in the end you are disappointed by them because they do not contain the hoped-for answer. The text must propose concrete solutions or offer a concrete conclusion, and not just consist of empty blah-blah.
Last but not least, layout is also part of a good text. We are “eye animals” and first perceive a text visually in its entirety before we read it. Long text blocks are visually unattractive, they do not offer any reading entry aids. Short text blocks are better, which should also be loosened up – by subheadings, images, tables, bulleted lists, etc. Layout guides the eye as we read, and paragraphs tell us that a new thought is coming. This helps the reader follow the author’s thoughts and process the information. Important information that is highlighted by bold and italics is noticed more quickly by the reader. Pictures as well as tables and diagrams visualize the text and support comprehension.
A high-quality text is important because you want to address and pick up the reader with the content. The goal of this text is to answer a certain search query. If you don’t do that, or do it poorly, your users will not be satisfied. As a result, they will leave your site unhappy and may find the solution with your competitors.
Definitely yes! Texts are the basis for your Google ranking, because the search engine crawls them and then displays them to the users with the appropriate search queries. Good texts, which are also search engine optimized, are therefore one of the decisive factors for your ranking.
With the help of headlines, you attract users to your site. If they are already captivating the reader, the chance is higher that they will continue reading. Headlines are also important for Google. They serve the search engine for thematic assignment. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter what type of headline is used – whether H1, H2, H3, … Google uses the information of these text snippets to rank the content for the keywords it contains.
The Google algorithm is learning more and more. As a result, the search engine can now also better understand the relationships of individual words and thus their connections and meaning. The BERT and SMITH updates ensure that context is becoming increasingly important. Regardless of these things, however, you should always make sure that logical connections prevail in your text, otherwise it will not offer any added value for the reader either.
A high-quality text is first and foremost helpful for the user. The resulting user signals send Google and Co. again the sign that it is a relevant contribution, which thus pays off positively on your ranking. Additionally, you can support this process through SEO. For this, you pay attention to some adjusting screws, such as keywords, WDF*IDF and semantics, to help the whole thing again.