There is no shortage of blog posts and videos talking about Google ranking signals. Backlinks, internal linking keyword placement, and more. All identified factors matter when it comes to seeing results in search. These are all true, by the way. What you do well in the aggregate matters more than any one signal…except for quality. 

We often overlook the idea of quality when it comes to SEO. People care about primary and secondary keywords. They focus on internal linking or old-school tactics to get high placement. People will guest post on blogs or spend a fortune on backlink companies. They often fail to ask themselves the most important and fundamental question for SEO: is it good? 

It’s the most critical metric when it comes to SEO. We'll show you why and how to use it when creating content. 


There was a time when it didn’t matter what you said as long as you said it within the right keyword context. Keywords were the password to open doors to higher rankings. Want to rank for “Best Running Shoes?” You better have that in the title. 

Those days are long gone and while keywords matter to some extent, they aren’t what matters most. Google has gone from relying on keywords to surface the best content to focusing on quality. 

In 2014, Google introduced E-A-T. Expertise. Authority. Trust. This was to combat years of black hat SEO tactics. EAT is the cornerstone of any good piece of content. You’re reading this blog because you think I have some credibility to write about SEO and marketing. You wouldn’t read an article from me on cancer prevention or managing diabetes. Even if I thought I knew something about that, I’m not an expert. I have no expertise authority and shouldn't be trusted by anyone as a source worth consulting. 

Since 2014, Google has only doubled down on those metrics as a cornerstone of their algorithm. Look at the Quality Rater Guidelines (actually released in 2013). It's filled with instructions for spotting quality. Everything from verifying the author to spotting things like misspellings and punctuation problems. There are mentions of things like links, but for the most part, it’s all couched in the conversation of quality. 

Future algorithm updates have furthered the quest for quality. They send SEOs like me into a panic, but their intent is good. 

In 2018, Google released the Medic Update. This meant to address pages in the Your Money, Your Life(YMYL) section. This meant financial and health information would be further scrutinized.

This helped address a few things: 

Sites that claimed to be safe were selling products that could compromise safety. 

Sites that have a negative reputation. 

Sites that had negative reviews or no reviews compared to their competitors. 

Fast forward to 2023, and the “helpful content update” went live. This was another significant impact on the world of quality. The aim was at sites that were writing content to rank in Google. They weren’t addressing users' questions. They weren’t providing an experience on-page that left users satisfied. It’s the kind of site we’ve all seen. You type a question into Google, get a page in return that repeats the question or answers it vaguely. 

The goal was to try and aim users toward sites that put thought and care into their answers. Sites that were credible. Sites that provide you with the right information.

With all updates results are hit or miss on the helpful content. SEO experts continue to see some low-quality sites get high-quality rankings. Google is always progressing. Sometimes that progress is not linear.


This isn’t an easy answer. Quality can vary from topic to topic. The realm of pro wrestling might be a well-put-together slideshow with some rock-solid opinions. Medical information would need citations, studies, and an author or reviewer with a medical background to check the content. With everything else in SEO, the answer is always: it depends.

Simply put, quality is subject-dependent but not completely unique to each subject. While users can differ on which article they like, most users can spot a low-quality article.

Take an article from a financial institution. It contains solid opinions, an understanding of market trends, and case studies. You wouldn’t go to them for information on cancer screenings and treatment. If the institution attempted to do that, it would be substandard.


There are three things to consider when we think about quality. 

  1. Relevance. Is the content you are writing relevant for the time you are writing it in? An article that focuses on strategies for overcoming the Panda algorithm change would be outdated. A real estate article touting the interest rates of 2016 would be irrelevant as well. 

Good content contains information that applies to the time and place you're reading it in. This is why updating content is essential, especially for a blog that deals with a topic where information is ever-changing. 

  1. Depth. How much information can you supply on a given topic? People misunderstand the idea of depth in content. It’s not about how many words you can write; it’s about answering someone’s query to the fullest. Did you provide a complete and thorough answer to the question? Did you explain everything? If not, then it lacks depth. 

Say you are a real estate professional writing a blog on applying for a loan. You’d expect that article to have some information about credit scores, factors that affect your credit score, job stability, bank statements, and more. They might also include how interest rates affect loan applications, and how job loss or change can affect your ability to get a mortgage. Then, steps you might need to take to ensure that job loss or change doesn’t impact your ability to get approved.

  1. Uniqueness. There’s no sense in spending any amount of time pumping out the same exact article that is already at the top of Google. Unless your expertise is world-renowned, it won’t make a difference in the rankings. Your job is to create something that conveys similar information but feels different. 

If you’re walking through a loan application or mortgage underwriting process, there will be similar information. 

But there are things you can do. Pull added information from interviews or other relevant articles. Add a timeline or a checklist that a user might find helpful. Add a glossary or an FAQ. There are a lot of ways to differentiate your content, but it should be better or different to stand out. 


There is a litany of factors that affect the quality of your content. We’re going to touch on a few things here. You should keep these in mind when you are putting together content for a page on your website.


This seems pretty obvious, but we’ve all been to a page where it’s clear the person did not edit it. The spelling is substandard. The grammar is bad. It’s not hard to use a service like Grammarly Premium. This service costs around $90 a year and will help you fix a lot of the mistakes you might encounter. 

We would also recommend the Hemingway Editor. The editor costs $10 a month, and you might be able to buy it outright. It helps deal with long, confusing sentences and lets you know the grade level you are writing at. Your goal is to say less with more and make it simple for any audience to understand.

Editing can be time-consuming. What’s the point of writing content that won’t surface in search because you failed to edit it? 

Feel free to experiment with AI as an editing tool but be mindful. Sometimes A.I. doesn’t understand the nuance and style of human language. Make sure you reread what it edited and save an original version so you can return to it.


Layout is so important. It’s not about subsections and making sure you have H2’s labeled. It’s about the organization of information. If you’ve ever read content that meanders, then you know that it’s so important how we organize information. 

Don’t be afraid to create an outline. Also, this is where AI can be helpful. They can take some context from you and rework it to something that makes more sense for your audience. Some tools help make every aspect of creating compelling content easier. They are all either free or low-cost.


Comprehensive Keyword Research And Analysis- 

This is essential because you have to know who you are talking to. Are you talking to someone on the higher end of your funnel? Are you talking to a person at the lowest point in your funnel? 

How are you reaching them? Are you using a query like “best tips for mortgage” or “mortgage application tips?” 

It might seem so similar that it doesn’t matter. It does. The related keywords, and the type of content that ranks near the top can matter. All these things will play a part in how the content is constructed. So be smart and do in-depth keyword research. We go in-depth on this in another post, so please make sure you check that out. There’s a stiff penalty to pay for not getting the keywords right.

Crafting Engaging and Informative Headlines

Think of this as the packaging when you’re walking through a store. It doesn’t matter if the product is great if the packaging is so bad you become disinterested or don’t notice it at all. 

The headline is your opportunity to grab the attention of your target audience. You can sell them on why a click matters here. You don’t have to resort to insane hyperbole and clickbait, but a vanilla headline isn’t the answer either. Be enticing and honest. Give the reader what they expect but with the most style possible. It’s a difficult needle to thread, but with practice, you will get there.

Update As Needed 

Even the best piece of content can feel outdated after some time. Do yourself a favor and update your articles on a regular basis. The key to providing high-quality content is to make sure you are auditing the information. 

Back to the real estate scenario. Interest rates change. Markets change—the standards for a loan application change. Everything changes. Make sure that content reflects the latest and best information for your audience. 

Is the information changing? 

Are your solutions to help people change? 

Is there more context and information you can add that would improve the experience? 

Are there ways to make the information more digestible? 

Are there new tools available to make your content better?

Our recommendation is to revisit your content every six to twelve months. Give it a read and see if it makes sense to you. Does it hold up? 

Don’t update for the sake of updating. You might take a great piece of content and turn it into a substandard piece of content all in the name of updating. When you feel like your piece can be better, make it better.


Quality is subjective, but we can use tools to improve our content. SEO tools, search console, and analytics help us understand elements we can improve.

  1. Use Google Search Console to check on queries and search traffic over time. Here’s a screenshot. In the “search results” tab on GSC, you can filter by page:

Paste the URL of the article you have written after a few weeks and see what it’s ranking for. That should inform changes you can make to your content.

  1. Is it ranking for the intended queries? 
  2. What query is getting the most clicks? 
  3. What is the universal position of those queries? 

If something doesn’t fit then ask yourself why. If your intended query isn’t in there, then ask yourself if you optimized for that keyword. The article you wrote might not meet the intent of the user. 

2. Use Google Analytics to Give You Key Article Metrics. If GA4 you can use the “Engagement” and then  “Landing Page” sections to isolate your URL. Again, give GA4 time to process and gather data on your content. But in time, you can see key metrics such as: 

  1. Average engagement time per session. This tells you how long people are engaging with your content. 
  2. Conversions. If your page aims to drive signups or purchases, was it successful at doing that? 
  3. Bounce rate. What percentage of users bounced off the page? 

Make sure that use the date range to look at these over time. Because there’s definitely data and insights to learn as you look at trends over time. 

  • If your engagement rate has fallen in the last three months, why? Did you make changes to your website or the page itself? Was there an algorithm update? Has your site traffic fallen? Is this single-page part of a more significant trend? 

3. Use SEO tools on your website to help you determine if other changes need to be made. Companies like Yoast have all-in-one SEO tools. These tools are good at showing you if you are hitting certain SEO metrics. 

  1. They might tell you if you have included your focus keyword enough. 
  2. They can tell you if your headline is the right length for search. 
  3. It will help you with the right meta-description length as well. 
  4. It can tell you if you’ve included your focus keyword in the introduction.

There’s a host of information out there that these plugins can provide. 

Stop asking yourself if you have the right keywords. Or you’re asking yourself if the H2’s are optimized then take a step back and ask “Is it good?” Because that is what makes good marketing. That is what makes good content for SEO. While there are some very helpful tools to give you a leg up in the details, don’t ignore the heart of the matter. 

If you have questions or just need a quick conversation about your marketing strategy you can book a free 15-minute consultation. We’re always here to help.