Sunday, January 10, 2016

How to Write Good Content: What is Your Point?

Over the years, the Organic SEO Blog has focused much of its attention on content--the text and images that make your website a useful or attractive destination. In the SEO realm, the goal for any website is to provide good, unique content that is relevant to its audience.

Beyond a site's functionality, good, unique content is by far the most important factor in an effective SEO campaign. (We define "good content" here).

Effective content is defined in the SEO world in many ways. Rand Fishkin of Moz, for example, writes that "good, unique" content is not enough--"Really, where I want folks to 10x," he writes, "10 times better than anything I can find in the search results today."

The problem with this definition--and most like it--is the explicit focus on SEO. Fishkin, in defining 10X content, for example, focuses on keywords:

"If I don't think I can do that, then I'm not going to try and rank for those keywords. I'm just not going to pursue it. I'm going to pursue content in areas where I believe I can create something 10 times better than the best result out there."

Fishkin's article speaks about how to prepare to write content, yet offers little practical advice on how to write good content. For most writers, in fact, we believe the term itself, "SEO content," is not helpful. Analyzing your competitor's content and discovering the best keywords for your content, as Fishkin suggests, can be helpful, but this sort of research is not writing.

In a previous post, we offered helpful questions to inspire your writing:

1. "What question am I answering?"

2. "What am I adding to the conversation?"

We have also discussed the crucial difference between quality and quantity--how in the content world, less is often more.

Finally, we have also discussed how to write "relevant content" that engages your audience.

In reality, though, many website owners--and would-be content writers--need more elemental advice. To begin, we recommend turning away from talk of "SEO content."

Focus, instead, on the most essential part of any good piece of content: the writing itself.

Ernest Hemingway. To write content, you're better off following the advice of writers--not tech-centric SEO gurus.

A Basic Structure

Here is one way to create a basic structure for a good piece of content:

1. Analyze your topic precisely
2. Make an inventive point (thesis or claim) about the topic
3. Support your claim with evidence organized to make an argument

What is a Good Point?

A good point will help you and you audience understand your topic in a new way.

A good point will not be obvious.

A good point will invite debate.

Your reader might not agree with your point, but he or she might be intrigued.

How to Discover Your Point

You might not see your point until you write your content. Don’t fret too much about articulating your point precisely before you begin. Instead, sit down with an idea and explore that idea in writing. Very often, your writing process will generate a viable point. Write to discover your point, then revise.


Revision is the key to good content—to all good writing. The more time you save for revision, the better. As many writers will tell you, writing is revision.

As you re-read your writing, keep reminding yourself of your point. Ask yourself: Did I make my point? In revision, you have the opportunity to perfect your argument. If it helps, read out loud.


We emphasize basic writing here (instead of SEO writing) to prove a point: as Google's algorithm has evolved the best content has proved to be the best writing. More then ever, the mantra is true: write for people, not search engines.

Without a backbone of good writing, no piece of content--no matter how it is optimized with keywords--will perform well in the rankings. Of course, once you have created a good piece of content, optimization can only help. The key, however, is to focus on the quality of your writing before you worry too much about optimization. Remember: Make a good point.

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