Growth Hacking
Oct 29, 2021

How to Tell Good Content From Bad Content

Tori Stroup

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Have you ever spent hours writing a new blog post just for it to flop? If you answered yes to that question, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Many companies struggle with creating high-quality content that readers are excited about. Without a clear goal in mind and insights into who your customers are and what they’re interested in, it’s easy to get lost along the way.

But it doesn’t just boil down to what your customers are most interested in. You need to find ways to make your content stand out without being too pushy about selling products and services.

There’s a lot to consider, and that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article. We’ll take a look into what the difference between good and bad content looks like to help you produce quality content.

Let’s Start With the Bad Content

Before getting into what is considered good content, let’s start with the bad.

No one sits down to write a new whitepaper and thinks to themself “I’m going to write this content, so no one wants to read it.” But, sometimes, even the best-laid plans go awry.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid spending hours on that whitepaper and ending up with poor-quality content. You just need to understand what bad content is and how to avoid falling into the poor quality trap.

To do this, you need to understand what constitutes poor quality content and what you can do to avoid creating it.

What’s Considered Bad Content?

Everyone you ask this question may have a different answer. Maybe they think it’s content under a certain word count or content that’s simply incorrect.

While neither of these things is incorrect, bad content goes beyond these simple elements -- but we’ll get into that in a few minutes.

First, let’s talk about how you define bad content.

For most companies, bad content is identified by poor results. Whether that be low engagement, high bounce rates, or zero conversions, all of these things could indicate you’re producing bad content.

When you find that your content isn’t performing like you thought it might, you need to take a step back and understand where the problem lies.

Are there errors in your content? Is it something your customers simply just don’t care about? Does the content come across as a sales pitch?

All of these things could result in poor content quality -- which leads us to the next topic. What makes content bad?

What Makes Content Bad?

Okay, so you’re frustrated because the content you spend months developing isn’t quite connecting with your audiences how you thought it would.

Does this mean you created bad-quality content? Maybe.

There are a variety of different things that can make content bad. Some are foundational things like grammatical errors, neverending paragraphs, and inaccurate information. But there are other factors to take into consideration as well.

Here are just a few reasons why your content isn’t resonating with your audiences:

  • You’re recreating the wheel and developing content that already exists
  • Your content mentions your brand and products too much
  • You aren’t writing with the customer in mind
  • Your content isn’t living up to its promises
  • You’re developing content that is simply irrelevant to your customers

And the list can go on and on. It’s important to consider these things when you’re developing new content. You can quickly find yourself moving down the path to poor-quality content if you lose sight of who your customers are and what they need.

How Google Defines Bad Content

Another important consideration when it comes to bad content is how search engines are rating your content. If your content doesn’t stand up to Google’s quality standards, you’ll never see that content rank.

The following characteristics are what Google considers low quality content:

  • The quality of the main content is low
  • The page returns an error message
  • There is an unsatisfying amount of content for the page
  • The website or author does not have enough authority
  • The website has a negative reputation
  • The sub-content is distracting or unhelpful
  • The page design or layout is distracting and difficult to use
  • The website is lacking maintenance and updates

As you might notice, Google ranks content quality by more than just one piece of content. It takes into consideration things like site authority and reputation and page design and purpose.

Each of these things works together to tell the search engine what websites are producing quality content. That means that if you’re consistently producing landing pages and blog posts that don’t serve your customers, you’ll likely continuously find yourself struggling to rank on Google.

We all know how powerful positive SEO content can be. Producing bad-quality content will keep your content from reaching the first page and keep you from reaching your engagement goals.

Bad Content Examples You Don’t Want to Follow

It’s easy to sit here and read about what bad content is and tips on how to avoid creating this so-called bad content -- but can you identify bad content when you see it?

We already established that you’re not going to find bad content on the first page of Google for all the reasons we just talked about.

Bad content is the content that no one is engaging with, meaning it’s probably going to be hard to search out and find. But when you do come across an article or marketing campaign with bad content, you’ll be sure to know.

Let’s look at a few real-life examples of content that didn’t quite live up to its expectations and talk about why.

Example: A Lengthy, Keyword Stuffed Blog Post

This blog post is a bit older, which could be why it doesn’t necessarily live up to today’s good quality standards -- but that makes it the perfect example of what not to do today. Take a look at this example previously shared by Adept. Can you think of a few ways this example could be improved?

When this article was written, it may very well have met a number of good quality best practices -- but it wouldn’t cut it in today’s content marketing era. By looking at content that isn’t quite up to good quality standards, you can learn about improving your content. Image courtesy of Adept.

While it’s true that things have changed drastically in content marketing since 2014, a few specific things stand out when looking at this example. Here are the top areas of improvement from our point of view:

  • The content is not broken up into easily scannable sections making it harder for the customer to read
  • The blog seems to have a lot of keywords thrown in to try and catch Google’s eye, something that has become a big no-no in today’s marketing world
  • The content doesn’t seem to provide customers with much value beyond telling you not to buy a watch that’s too tight for your wrist

There’s always room for improvement, and just because you’ve identified a bad piece of content doesn’t mean it can’t be saved. The beauty of the internet is that things can always be updated and reworked to move towards higher quality content.

Now, Let’s Talk About the Good Content

Okay, we’ve got the details around bad content out of the way. Let’s take a look at what is considered good content.

Of course, you want to create high-quality content every time you produce a new piece, but it can be challenging to know what will resonate with your audiences.

Luckily, you can bake a few things into your development and creation process to help set standards for your content. Applying these standards to your content will allow you to produce high-performing, quality content all the time.

What’s Considered Good Content?

Just like bad content, when you ask someone what good content is, you may get an array of answers.

We’ll define good content as content that provides your customers with value, fulfills all its promises, and encourages them to engage with it.

To identify a high-quality piece of content, you may look at things like ranking on Google, page views, customer engagements, and conversions. The more people that engage with and share your content, the chances are good the higher quality it is.

Suppose you have a lot of content that checks all of these boxes. Congratulations! You’ve probably already figured out the formula to what your customers want and need.

But for many companies, this can be a challenging task. To help you improve your content and start producing the things your customers (and Google) want to read, let’s dive deeper into how to make your content good.

What Makes Content Good?

By understanding what makes content bad, you probably already have a few thoughts on what makes for good content.

Good content has no mistakes or errors. It provides the customer with the insights they look at, it provides them with value and something to take away from the piece. As always, this may be easier said than done -- but there are ways to set your content up for success.

Here are a few criteria for good content that will help guide your content creation process:

  • Deliver content that is not only high-quality but also trustworthy, useful, and interesting to the reader
  • Create content that is different in scope and detail from other topics already available
  • Develop content that evokes an emotional response of awe, surprise, joy, anticipation, or admiration
  • Create content that solves a problem or answers the questions your customers have in a comprehensive and accurate way

If you keep these things in mind while you write your content, you’ll start to produce high-quality content that your customers actually want to read.

How Google Defines Good Content

Good content will ultimately result in a higher SEO ranking.

That means the better your content. The more people are going to find it when they search for relevant terms in Google. And the more people who can find your content, the more engagement and sharing you’ll see.

So how do you ensure your content is good quality writing and meets the standards of Google and other search engines?

By following E-A-T. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These are the main factors that help Google determine what is considered good quality content, along with:

  • If the main purpose of the page is beneficial to the user
  • The quality and length of the main content
  • Information and repudiation of the website and the main content creator

While it’s not as cut and dry what Google considers good content, by making sure your content meets the E-A-T standards, is relevant to the needs of your customers, and provides value -- you’ll be off to a great start.

Good Content Examples You Do Want to Follow

Now that you have a little better idea of what qualifies as high-quality content, let’s look at another example to understand what good content looks like.

Remember, good quality content is free of errors, provides value, and resonates with the audiences it’s targeting.

The example we’ll look at does a great job of reaching its targeted audience with the lure of delicious home-cooked meals that anyone can make.

Example: A Blog You Didn’t Know You Needed

This Cracker Barrel example originally from Search Engine Journal is an example of good content from a brand you might not even know has a blog.

The reason this example made our list of good quality content is because, with such a wide range of customers, they do a great job at grabbing a reader’s attention and holding up the actual value of the brand -- home-cooked meals you’ll love.

Having a holiday recipe keeps the content fun and engaging, while the crunchy brown fritters make you want to stay home on a Sunday and gather around the table.

The content is engaging and light and will keep readers interested. It also incorporates products that people can purchase from the store to make these recipes. While pushing a product isn’t always a best practice, it makes total sense in this scenario.

Cracker Barrel does a great job reaching audiences with its blog content and weaving product placement into it. With a simple format and easy-to-read content, this is a great example of how good content can work. Image courtesy of Search Engine Journal.

Are You Producing Good or Bad Content?

So what do you think? Does the content currently fall under the category of good or bad content?

Well, after reading this article, you’ll have the tools you need to start creating good content every time you sit down to write a new piece. Just keep in mind that your content needs to meet the needs of your customers, have authority, and keep people engaged.

If you can do that, you’ll have the recipe for high-quality content success.