You must have heard this several times, "If you want your content to go viral, make sure it is valuable". But, what defines value? Google has described 5 key attributes which make a piece of content valuable and this post will demystify what those attributes are.
In a section of its Webmasters Academy Course, Google shared that creating valuable content means that your content should be:
Useful and informative
More useful than others
Don't worry if these terms sound fairly simple. We will go into the depth of each attribute and try to understand what Google exactly means by them. Let's begin with the first one:
I. Useful and Informative
Do you know which content gets appreciated by others? Quite simply, the content which solves a problem. Let's imagine that it's a sunny day and you're feeling quite thirsty. To quench your thirst, you search for some easy-to-make cool drinks that you can prepare in no time at home. Now, there are a lot of variables present in your need:
These variables result in what marketers call as "user intent". Now think about it - which piece of content will be of value to you as a searcher? If you come across an article which tick-marks 3/4 points mentioned above, will it solve your problem? No. So, in order for a content to be valuable, it has to be useful and informative. And, what all comes under useful and informative depends on the user intent.
I've always established while writing this blog that the only reason you should blog is to help others. If your piece of content doesn't solve the problem of the intended user, then it's not useful and hence, not valuable. That is why, whenever you decide to write something, first list down what all will your intended user expect to read in your article.
II. More Useful than Others
Whenever I think of writing something, I feel like it has already been written by others. There are billions of websites out there. I'm not the only one to think like this. About 121 years ago, a US Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner, Charles H. Duell, thought of resigning from his position. He presumed that the patent office will shut down soon because "everything that can be invented has been".
But, is it true? New innovations keep popping up every now and then. That is because an invention is different from an innovation, which is an incremental improvement to the base case. So, in order to be more useful than others, you need not be radically different, you just need to be slightly unique.
That uniqueness often comes from having and sharing a different perspective. When you write something by using your own experiences, it adds that incremental value which goes on to make your content more valuable than others.
When you are surfing the web, looking for an answer, you'd start with an established trust on the blogger whose post you're reading. Let's say, you're reading the recipe of making chilled mango shake. If by following the recipe word-to-word, the end product of your cooking efforts is not at all what the blogger had promised, you would lose that trust.
That's one extreme. Another extreme is when the blogger shares relevant links, images, videos and illustrations to prove to you that what he is writing is trustworthy, your initial trust will get reinforced.
As a blogger, it is your duty to ensure that your readers trust you. Trust develops by showcasing care towards your readers. For example, if you're writing about Website Analytics and you choose to show your own website's statistics as an example, your readers will trust you more. That builds credibility.
Another way is to include more numbers and links in your content. Facts and figures often indicate that the blogger has put in the due effort to produce the content. That is why this point makes it to the list of the top 7 content writing tips.
IV. High Quality
A blogger is not equal to a researcher. Often bloggers misunderstand point number 2 i.e. "more useful than others". Being more useful doesn't mean that you'll pool-in the opinions of all other writers and create a repository of each and every topic you come across.
A content of value becomes high quality when it is unique and specific. For example, if you wanted to learn how to make chilled mango shake at home, you'd expect the blogger to write the steps of his own recipe and not collate the different mango shake recipes available on the web.
It is important to research well before you write and verify whether what you're planning to write is unique or not, but it doesn't mean you'd go about adding others' perspectives to your own and unnecessarily increasing the length of your content and ultimately decreasing the value of your content.
The most common way to engage your readers is by making use of multimedia tools like images, videos and slideshows. But, in my opinion, there is an important tool which is often overlooked. Your way of writing.
Personally, I love to read Quora answers that are engaging. And, what defines engaging for me is the ability of the writer to connect with me. Therefore, when I wrote a piece on the tips to write better answers on Quora, I mentioned that one should always try to address the readers as "You".
It creates a sort of connection between you and the readers and it almost feels like you're talking to them. In turn, it is also easier for your readers to read longer answers/posts like this one. So, try writing in a simple and personal manner which engages your readers. That will add value to the content you write.
So, these were the five attributes of valuable content as suggested by Google. Hope this gives you a different perspective on how you can make your content outshine. Let me know how you applied it :)
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