006 An Idiot-Proof Guide to Writing Blog Posts That Google Loves

These 21 questions from a Google engineer will help you create original, high-quality content …

If you’re a good web writer, then February 24, 2011 was your day. Bad web writer? Not so much.

February 24, 2011 marks the day Google took low-quality content sites out to the woodshed. It’s the day they rolled out their search algorithm update known as Panda.

And here’s how you can benefit from that development.

In this roughly 9-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • What sites were destroyed by the Panda update
  • Google’s definition for “low-quality content”
  • How Google engineers think about high-quality content
  • The wonderful thing that starts to happen when you create unique, useful content

The Show Notes

An Idiot-Proof Guide to Writing Blog Posts Google Loves

Demian Farnworth Hi, welcome to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I’m your host, Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media. And thank you for sharing the next four minutes of your life with me.

And this is episode 6, “How to Write Blog Posts Google Loves (an Idiot-Proof Guide).”

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What Sites Were Destroyed By the Panda Update

On February 24, 2011, Google did something that changed the landscape of search marketing. If you could equate this to a natural, real world catastrophe, then it would be like an earthquake. An earthquake that devastated entire empires. Unlike a natural earthquake, Google didn’t devastate indiscriminately.

See if you were a good web writer, then February 24, 2011 was your day. Bad web writer? Not so much.

February 24, 2011 marks the day Google took low-quality content sites to the woodshed. It’s the day they rolled out their search algorithm update known as Panda.

Google’s Definition for “Low-Quality Content”

The Panda update was designed to do one thing: reduce rankings for low-quality content sites. That was, according to Google, “sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.”

Think ezine article sites like eHow.com, Mahalo, and Business.com. Don’t recognize some of those names? Business models destroyed.

On the first rollout eHow.com managed to escape damage, which had a lot of people scratching their heads.

But in the expansion of Panda during the week of April 16, Google caught up with eHow.

It’s not good news for eHow. But it was good news for good web writers, good web content.

If you are a blogger, web copywriter, or online copy contributor in some capacity — and you are good or great* — then here’s the upside: Panda will provide better rankings for your pages …

As long as — and here’s the hitch — it’s high-quality content.

What makes content high-quality? Original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, and thoughtful analysis. That means if you write quality content more than likely you can rank high where your competition once did.

Your competition, my friend, is hosed.

Who’s your competition? Offshore writers. Machine-generated content. And really, really bad hack writers. In other words, people — or things — who write online content next for nothing.

In fact, what this means is you are actually worth something. How much remains to be seen.

How Google Engineers Think About High-Quality Content

The trick to writing high-quality web content is to think like an engineer. A Google engineer working on search algorithms to be exact.

What does this look like? Google Fellow Amhit Singhal gives us a hint. Here’s my interpretation:

  • Is the subject coverage shallow or deep? Can you go deeper with original research or a never-before-seen interview?
  • Is what you wrote original? That means the information isn’t redundant, duplicated or stolen.
  • If you were asking people for a credit card number, would they feel good about that transaction?
  • Did you correct any spelling, grammar, or factual errors?
  • Is the topic of interest to a reader, researcher, or a machine? [Hint, don’t say “machine.”]
  • Can you provide something nobody else has as it appears to other pages in search results … and not just a humdinger of a headline?
  • How many times did you edit the article? Can you have someone else edit it?
  • Are you balanced or biased in your approach to the topic?
  • Is the content mass produced or shared?
  • You did edit, right? (Just seeing if you are paying attention.)
  • Would you trust your article if it was giving medical advice? Would people trust what you wrote? Did you employ the curious secret to getting people to believe you?
  • Does the site you are posting on have authority?
  • Were you comprehensive in your coverage of the topic?
  • Are you providing insightful or interesting information beyond the obvious?
  • Would you bookmark your article? Share with a friend? Recommend?
  • Does the article distract with call-to-actions, ads or promotions?
  • Would a magazine or journal print your article?
  • Is your article short, weak and useless?
  • How much time and attention did you give to detail? (Your answer should be “a lot.”)
  • Would someone complain if they saw this article?

So, if you want to create content that ranks high, keep the above questions in mind as you write. And feel free to print this list out and tape next to your laptop.

The Wonderful Thing That Starts to Happen When You Create Unique, Useful Content

Here’s the goal. When you create a valuable asset for an end user, Google will love you. Google wants to rank you. And when you create these original, useful assets other people will start sharing and linking to your content.

And that’s exactly what we are going to talk about in our next episode.

But before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favor. Please jump over to iTunes and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me. So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance … thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Rough draft.