Elements of Quality Writing for the Web, Part 1
We all know that quality writing matters from an SEO perspective. Last year's Panda update made it very clear that Google values quality writing as one of the central pillars in determining website ranking.
But what do we mean when we say "quality writing"? Some say that quality is a purely subjective factor, that everyone interprets quality differently. However, as an experienced writing teacher, author, and longtime web writer, I believe there are very definite characteristics that distinguish good writing from bad, and even great writing from good.
Thinking about this question, I came up with the following factors that I think define quality of writing, from most basic to rarer, and perhaps more subjective:
- Free of errors in grammar, usage, and syntax (though not all "errors" are created equal)
- Free of errors of fact
- Has a clear focus that it maintains throughout
- Contains substantive information on the focal topic
- Uses subheads as signposts to guide reader
Formatted for scanning:
- Subheads give information as well as guidance
- Bulleted lists break out relevant information
- Links are used to direct reader to information elsewhere rather than repeating unnecessarily
- Text is free of SEOisms, keyword phrases that are meaningless but are tossed in anyway to "optimize" content (ex: Los Angeles rhinoplasty, since there is no such thing as a specifically "Los Angeles" variant on the procedure)
- Original concept, research, and/or perspective
These characteristics are just the beginnings of describing quality in web writing, but writing that has these characteristics will give a strong foundation for optimization as well as avoid driving readers from a site.