You’d be forgiven for thinking content quality was a completely subjective notion.
With every writer - and, indeed, every reader - on the face of the earth having their own unique collection of tastes, preferences and ideals, how can any piece of content achieve objective, universal perfection?
We may as well get this bombshell out of the way now: it can’t.
Put perfection out of your mind. The coveted bar for any piece of content is best-in-space status. The quality of being superior to all other offerings on that topic.
Don’t merely imitate what your competitors do - the onus is on you to do one better.
There’s no shame in not knowing where to start when it comes to achieving best-in-space status. That’s what we’re here for - to demystify this particularly complex content concept.
Think of this as your cheat sheet for measuring content quality. Sit down with a brew, pore over some of your brand’s greatest content hits and ask yourself these questions.
On the other side, you’ll know whether or not your content is simply the best in space.
Is your content magnetic?
Attraction is a powerful principle in content marketing. Books are invariably judged by their covers - and when those covers take the form of page and post titles, email subject lines and the like, your window of opportunity to attract engaged readers is narrow to say the least.
The content marketer’s paradigm of the ideal page or post title, for example, embodies all of the following at a minimum:
- Succinctness: keep it as short and sweet as physically possible. Say what you need to say, and say it quickly
- Accuracy: ditch the clickbait. Summarise your content in a descriptive, truthful way so your content can deliver on the title’s promise
- Optimisation: create your content with the relevant platform in mind. Whether your content is destined for organic search, social media or email inboxes, it needs to belong
- Intrigue: unless you’re writing a whodunit, there’s no need to go overboard with this one. But leave a little something to the imagination - your headline should clearly imply value without giving it all away for free
- Power: magnetic content grabs readers by the scruff of their neck and demands attention. Whip out your power word dictionary and inspire fear, anger, excitement, desire - whatever the topic calls for
Is your content original?
Duplicate content is a cardinal sin in the world of SEO. Plagiarism in online marketing is a fast-pass to seeing keyword rankings plummet and your brand name all but scrubbed out of existence. Content crime doesn’t pay.
And anyway, manual actions aside, there’s no honour - nor art - in duplication.
Beyond originality of phrasing, though, there’s also originality of concept. You won’t be punished by the search engine gods for regurgitating tired themes, but you certainly won’t be rewarded, either.
Bringing something truly new to the table - a new idea, a new angle, a new take, a new solution, a new voice - will deliver the originality your content needs to surpass all alternatives.
Is your content accurate?
Fact-checking is a woefully underestimated exercise. In the world of SEO, for example, achieving organic visibility is an uphill battle without a website that clearly demonstrates expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT).
This means being an authority on the topic at hand, reporting information with the utmost accuracy, and being meticulous in your data sourcing and attribution.
Creativity should always remain at the core of content writing - but not at the expense of reality. Truth is everything.
Do your research - and where you’ve benefited from the research of content marketers before you, do them the courtesy of acknowledging their work.
Is your content informative?
Best-in-space content solves real-world problems. It provides the answers users are looking for. It educates, illuminates, explains and informs.
Delivering value is utterly essential in content. Whether it takes the form of a written how-to blog post, an educational infographic or a video tutorial, content must succeed in delivering informational value.
There’s the big overarching question your content needs to answer - the topic your entire piece is built around. But there are also the many smaller, more specific, peripheral questions that come with that big, meaty central question.
Leave no stone unturned in your quest to create informative content. With all other things being equal, informational value will be the final deciding factor in whether your content reaches best-in-space status or falls short of the mark.
Is your content concise?
We touched on this a little earlier - but keeping things short and sweet extends far beyond your headline.
Wage war on fluff throughout your content, from sentence to sentence, from paragraph to paragraph, and in its entirety.
There should be no word wasted - every surplus sentence increases the likelihood of readers switching off and abandoning your content.
Longer word counts are unavoidable from time to time (this post is proof of that - whose idea was it to write about content quality anyway?) - but the mantra ‘less is more’ should remain firmly at the forefront of your mind when creating any piece of content.
Say what there is to say on the topic, and nothing more.
Is your content digestible?
Best-in-space content is, among many other things, digestible.
Getting to grips with this concept can be tricky, so it’s best to think of great content like eating a scrumptious meal at an amazing restaurant (we’d certainly rather think of it that way).
What makes for a stand-out restaurant experience?
- A well-laid-out menu: high-quality digital content is carefully and logically structured, made scannable by clear and descriptive subheadings and topped off with a clickable table of Contents so users can navigate straight to the section that most takes their fancy
- Clear, concise (and accurate) dish descriptions: content marketing is about delivering on promises. Your page or post’s title makes a promise to readers, and it’s your job to fulfil that promise through user-friendly, easy-to-read content that informs without overwhelming the reader with needless jargon
- A meal that’s mouth-watering to look at: visuals breathe new life into text-based content and illustrate points the written word just can’t do justice to. From diagrams and infographics to product imagery and video demos, there are formats galore to play with. The key is finding the right visual tool for reinforcing your message
- Delicious, perfectly proportioned food: digestible content comes in moreish, manageable chunks. Think short, sharp paragraphs that get straight to the point, and sustain the intrigue needed to keep readers engaged. There should be value in every ‘bite’, so to speak
Is your content engaging?
Make every paragraph, sentence, word and syllable count. Engaging content creators have readers hanging on their every word. Engagement is immersion.
Think of your introduction like your opening gambit. This is where readers’ expectations are set, the tone is established and your topic is laid bare.
If the topic allows for it, there’s no better way to engage readers than by provoking thought and inspiring discourse. As human beings, we crave debate - and any piece of content able to educate and evoke reaction all at once has the makings of best-in-space stuff.
If ever in doubt, find a narrative thread that makes your topic relatable to readers on a real level.
Storytelling is the backbone of content marketing past, present and future. By finding the character, conflict and narrative arc hidden in your topic, you can bring any piece to life.
Is your content actionable?
You know by now that informational value is essential in high-quality content. The best content gives - all the while playing its part in driving key commercial goals.
More than just informing, though, best-in-space content needs to inspire action - and give readers the know-how they need to take that action.
Once readers have ploughed their way through your latest content offering, they should not only have the theory, but also the tools to put their new knowledge into practice.
Being conscious of users’ lifestyles, circumstances, skill levels and resources is all crucial to creating content that’s truly actionable.
The question isn’t whether what you’re proposing can be done, but whether it can be done by the people your content was written to help.
Last but by no means least is the action you want users to take - the action that serves your brand (because, let’s be honest - content marketing isn’t an entirely selfless act).
Every piece of purposeful content should conclude with a simple, powerful, easy-to-follow call-to-action. That way, there’s zero chance of your readers missing the point.
Is your content up to date?
Content marketing is a labour of love. And the work’s never done.
Rather than viewing this as a chore, we prefer to see the beauty in this steady, continuous evolution.
Nurture, enhance and augment your content over time, as new best practices come into play, new information becomes available, and the benchmark for success is heightened.
Giving your content the TLC it deserves prevents it from ever becoming tired, irrelevant and unloved. Best-in-space content is - and will always be - a work in progress.
The results are in...
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above - and we mean honestly - congratulations. Your content is the crème de la crème. Content that Tina, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll herself, would be happy with.
Your content is best in space. You should be one Proud Mary.
If, on the other hand, you’re a few points shy of full marks, fear not - you’re exactly where you need to be.
That’s because at Paragraft, we help brands find their voice in the form of best-in-space content, whatever the format. Get in touch now to find out how we can elevate your brand with stand-out written content.