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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Jan 26, 2024

A Comprehensive Guide to Crafting Helpful, Reliable, and People-First Content in 2024

The need to create content that stands out as both helpful and reliable has never been more crucial. Since Google is the main way that people access information on the internet, it has changed its automated ranking systems to give more weight to content that meets users' needs instead of content that is trying to get higher in search engine rankings

The first step in optimizing your content for success is a thorough self-assessment. Beyond introspection, seek external evaluations from individuals unaffiliated with your site—someone who is knowledgeable about the topic you are writing about. It is also helpful to do regular page audits of content that has dropped in rankings to find places where it can be improved. 

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So, we present a comprehensive checklist, guiding your content towards producing material that not only aligns with Google's standards but also connects with your audience, with each question aiming to ensure that your material also meets the criteria for search engine algorithms. Let's break these questions down:

  1. Originality: Let’s start by emphasizing the importance of originality. Is your content born from unique information, reporting, research, or analysis? For your content to stand out in a world full of misinformation, you need to build credibility.
  2. Completeness: Address your visitors need for in-depth information; assess whether your content provides a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic you are writing about. Users are increasingly seeking comprehensive insights to fulfill their informational needs.
  3. Insightfulness: Does your content go beyond the obvious? Does it offer insightful analysis or interesting information? We are highlighting the significance of depth and richness in content because it enhances user engagement by delivering valuable insights and making them stay on your site for a longer period of time.
  4. Value Addition: If your content draws on external sources, does it go beyond mere replication, providing additional value and originality? Users expect more than regurgitated information; they seek enriched perspectives that contribute to their knowledge.
  5. Descriptiveness: Does your content provide a substantial description of the topic? Readers today seek in-depth information, and completeness is the key to meeting their expectations. At the end of the day, clarity aids both users and search engines in understanding the essence of your content.
  6. Avoiding Exaggeration: Honesty is crucial in content creation. Does your main heading or page title avoid exaggeration or shock value? This nurtures trust and credibility with your readers, ensuring that your audience receives transparent and reliable information.
  7. Shareability: Is your content something your readers would want to bookmark, share, or recommend with their circle? Assess the potential virality of your content, because shareability signifies user satisfaction and relevance, contributing to the content's broader impact on the web.
  8. Print-Worthy: Would your content be suitable for traditional publication? Aspire for higher standards and analyse whether your content would be suitable for publication in a magazine or a newspaper. This encourages you to create content that meets digital standards and aligns with the quality expected in traditional print media.
  9. Comparative Value: Think, does your content provide substantial value compared to other pages in search results? You should perceive your written content as more valuable than alternatives, encouraging sustained engagement.
  10. Quality Checks: Attention to detail matters. Has your content undergone quality checks for grammar or formatting issues? Polished and organized content reflects on your professionalism and enhances your readers overall user experience.
  11. Mass Production: Finally, let’s think about whether your content is mass-produced or spread across a large network of sites. Recognizing the importance of individual attention, we stress that maintaining content quality requires a thoughtful and tailored approach.By answering these questions, you, as a content creator, can evaluate your content, aligning it with the 2024 content principles of originality, completeness, insightfulness, and user-centricity.

The goal is not to cater to search engine algorithms but to provide a truly valuable and engaging experience for your audience.

Expertise Questions

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Now, let’s explore the aspects of expertise that contribute to the trustworthiness and credibility of your content. Let's break down each point to better understand its significance:

1. Trustworthiness: Does your content build trust through clear sourcing and evidence of expertise? Trust is a fundamental factor in user engagement. It is important to transparently cite your sources, provide references, and showcase expertise to create confidence in your audience. For example, if you're writing a health-related article, cite the studies you referred to, medical professionals, research papers or any authoritative sources you learned the information from. This way, your audience can trust your content.

2. Site Reputation: Does your site convey trust and authority to your readers? A strong site reputation is an essential element in content assessment. Readers can usually tell how trustworthy your content is just by looking at your website. Its reputation, design, and functionality all contribute to how your audience perceives your content's reliability. Building a reputable site, which you can do with Brand Vision, involves the consistent delivery of accurate and valuable information, creating a positive user experience, and adhering to ethical content creation practices.

3. Author's Expertise: Is your content written or reviewed by an expert or an enthusiast who knows the topic well? The expertise of the content creator significantly contributes to the overall quality of the content. Your readers are more likely to believe information coming from people who have actual expertise or experience in a particular field. A professional tech expert's review, for example, is more credible than a summary; try to seek one out and collaborate with them.

4. Factual Accuracy: Does your content have easily-verifiable factual errors? Accuracy is essential for maintaining user trust. Factual errors can erode the credibility of the content you’ve built and harm your reputation. Ensuring that your information is accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable is crucial. For example, if your content includes statistics or historical facts and dates, double-check and provide reputable sources to enhance the factual accuracy of your content.

By addressing these expertise-related questions, you can establish a foundation of credibility and trust with your audience. This is important for user engagement and it also aligns with Google's criteria for evaluating content quality. When your readers trust your content, they are naturally more likely to engage with it, share it, and view your site as a reputable source of information. Beyond content quality, Google's core ranking systems prioritize a positive page experience. This includes factors such as page load speed, mobile friendliness, and overall user satisfaction (aka bounce rate). So, what should you do? First, you can start by adopting a people-first approach where your content serves your audience rather than solely for search engine rankings

Avoid Creating Search Engine-First Content

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Focusing on creating content primarily for search engines, rather than your readers, will negatively impact your site's performance. These are the warning signs you should look out for:

1. Search Engine Attraction: The fundamental question here is whether your content is primarily crafted to attract visits from search engines. This warns against the potential pitfalls of creating content solely to meet algorithmic requirements rather than serving the genuine needs of your audience.

2. Content Overload: Are you bombarding your site with excessive content on a multitude of topics in the hopes of achieving better search results? Wrong. Reconsider the quality-versus-quantity balance. Your content is supposed to be user-centric. 

3. Automation Overuse: Your readers can tell when something is written by AI. It doesn't sound natural nor does it feel original. If you heavily rely on AI to write content for you, its overuse will compromise the authenticity and depth of your content, diminishing its value to your audience.

4. Lack of Value Addition: Are you merely summarizing others' content without adding significant value? Content creation should go beyond summarizing existing information; it should be original and contribute to your readers knowledge.

5. Trend-Chasing: Are you chasing trends without considering your readers’ preferences? Writing about trending topics can be beneficial, but not if it disregards the interests of your existing audience. You should not write about a cat meme that's trending for the purpose of clicks if you have a publication about business. So balance content that is relevant and trending to keep your audience engaged.

6. User Dissatisfaction: Does your content leave readers feeling dissatisfied, prompting them to leave and search again for better information elsewhere? Recognizing your readers dissatisfaction as a warning sign emphasizes the importance of providing valuable and comprehensive content. So, do a little re-evaluation, look into your site's performance and find ways to improve.

7. Word Count Focus: Are you writing to a specific word count based on misconceptions about Google's preferences? This question challenges the idea that longer content is always better and performs better on Google’s search engines, but that is not true; stay relevant; do not write 3000 words covering a topic that is easy to understand for the sake of reaching a specific word count.

8. Niche Without Expertise: This is a big one. Did you choose a niche without possessing real expertise? Entering a niche without genuine understanding and knowledge of it - solely for potential search traffic—is a common pitfall. As a content creator, you should be aligning your content with your genuine knowledge and proficiency.

9. False Promises: Does your content make promises to answer questions that have no confirmed answers? True, this does prompt your readers to click on your article but its deceptive nature is misleading to your audience and will result in mistrust.  

10. Manipulative Tactics: Are you changing page dates to create a false sense of freshness? You might not know this but these manipulative tactics can be perceived as an attempt to deceive your readers and search engines will take notice.

By recognizing and addressing these warning signs, you can steer away from search engine-first content and refocus your efforts on creating valuable, user-centric material that fosters genuine engagement and trust with your audience. While SEO is pivotal for improving content discoverability, it should be applied to people-first content rather than search engine-first content. 

Learn The E-A-T And Quality Rater Principles

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Experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) are essential for content creators to meet Google's high-quality content standards. While E-A-T itself isn't a direct ranking factor, adhering to it influences how Google's algorithms assess and rank your content. Furthermore, learning the Quality Rater Guidelines provides helpful information about the precise criteria used by Google's automated systems to assess material.

1. Experience: This pertains to the expertise and firsthand knowledge demonstrated in your content. For example, if you are writing about a medical condition, E-A-T gives more weight to content written by a doctor or someone who has had direct experience with the condition.

2. Authoritativeness: Authoritativeness relates to the credibility and influence of the content creator or the website. An author with a recognized background in a specific field is likely to be considered authoritative. For instance, an article on climate change authored by a renowned environmental scientist carries more authority.

3. Trustworthiness: Trustworthiness involves establishing confidence in your audience. Providing accurate information, citing reliable sources, and maintaining a transparent and honest approach contribute to the trustworthiness of your content. 

It’s important to note that Google employs human-quality raters to evaluate and refine its algorithms. These raters follow a set of guidelines to assess the quality of search results. By understanding these guidelines, you can gain insights into the aspects Google values when determining the relevance and reliability of content. By adhering to these guidelines, you increase the likelihood that Google's algorithms will view your content favourably. Crafting helpful, reliable, people-first content is not just a strategy for Google rankings; it's a commitment to providing value to your readers. Through a thorough self-assessment, adherence to people-first principles, and avoidance of common pitfalls, your content can stand out positively. The ultimate goal is not merely to appease search engine algorithms but to create a meaningful and satisfying experience for your readers.

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