The 4 Characteristics of Quality Content

It’s always said that content is king, and when it comes to the ways we share, process and incorporate information, that’s certainly true. But there’s much more to the story than simply having content to dole out. In a world where new content is continuously being created in droves, the quality of your curated content is of paramount importance. But just what is it that separates a mediocre piece of content from one whose quality is spectacular?

Here are four characteristics that separate the wheat from the chaff:

  1. Relevancy. Whether a topic is timely — following an event, news story or current development — or timeless — where the story will be just as fresh months or years from now as it is today — it absolutely must address an issue that’s of paramount importance to your audience. We might be drawn in or distracted by pictures of kittens riding tortoises, but as far as addressing your audience’s needs, that type of content won’t get you anywhere. Quality content needs to speak directly to a pain point, information gap or opportunity available to the demographic you’re targeting. When you can find content that fills that role, then, you’ve found relevant content.
  2. Originality. So why should they care about this particular take? Why is this story the one I should read, particularly if I’ve already looked at a story on this topic before? Because there’s a perspective or a set of points in here that isn’t present elsewhere. This story has a unique value for the very reason that it’s doing something that the other stories on this subject aren’t doing: it’s telling you something no one else is.
  3. Informative. This is where you — with your unique expertise — really get to shine. With thousands of voices clamoring for attention out there saying hundreds of original things, which one should people be paying attention to? Not the one with the highest searchrank, clout or prestige, but the ones with the most valuable information in them. Before you share a piece of content, you need to ask yourself, What will they have gained from reading it? Can you identify important pieces of information packed into that piece that are worth having? That are worth sharing with your target audience? That help demonstrate that you understand what’s vital in your industry? That’s what you should be asking yourself.
  4. Compelling. You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak,” and every piece of content should not only be like a great steak — delicious and satisfying as you devour it — but tantalizing from the moment you’re first exposed to it. Everyone reading it should feel hooked, and should feel like they’re missing out if they don’t click on this article and read it end-to-end. Does this article do that? Is it as memorable at the end as it is alluring at the beginning? That’s the kind of quality you need.

These four points:

  • whether the piece of content you’ve found is relevant to the needs of your target audience,
  • whether it displays originality in the perspective it opens up to your readers,
  • just how informative it is to the people you’re trying to reach
  • and the extent to which it communicates its points in a compelling fashion

are the biggest factors to consider when evaluating something for quality. If the content’s not relevant, original, informative and compelling — and it has to be all of them — why would anyone be interested in reading it? With so much original content out there, readers can afford to be choosy with what they dive into, and they remember not only the gems (and the rhinestones) that they find, but also who brought them there.

Trust flows naturally from integrity and competence, and there’s no faster way to establish trust than by demonstrating how well you understand the nuances of the issues vital to your field, and by sharing what everyone needs to know with the world. By being selective about what you share — and by identifying and demanding the highest quality content — you set yourself up as a voice worth listening to. Make sure you know how to do it, because if you don’t, someone else will!


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Image credit: © bcm public relations Ltd 2013.

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