What’s valuable content and how do your readers, and search engines, decide if something is valuable or not?

That’s really the $10,000 question, and thankfully Google has given us the information we need to figure it out!

This is part of a series I’m writing looking at the 20 questions Google suggests for digital content creators to ask themselves when optimizing for SEO, and they all focus on delivering great content to your reader.

Here are three questions I pulled where they define what valuable content looks like:


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  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?

AN OVERVIEW

These questions give a basic framework for how to provide valuable content to your reader by looking at these three principles:

  • Insightful
  • Substantial
  • Original

Not every blog post needs to be heavy on each category. Focusing on one principle in your post is fine, but be sure to keep the others in mind.

Below I break down each part of the I-S-O principles, giving tips and suggestions for each one.

Insightful

It may be that creating insightful content is really what you’re all about.

This principle falls within what a traditional blog entails, and as long as what you say when you talk about your life has “insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious,” you are creating valuable content.

For a food blogger this might mean your blog post has a more insightful narrative than just strict information. For instance, you could spend time talking about how a recipe affected your health, or how cutting down on prep time impacted your home life.

Or, if you know interesting information on the history of a recipe, that would be great to include. People love hearing stories behind what they are cooking or baking.

But, make sure this information is truly insightful and interesting. Be sure to read it through the perspective of someone who doesn’t know the stories you know, and really try to see if they would still resonate with this information. Make sure it’s unique.

Asking a friend or family member is also a good idea. It’s easy to get something in your brain and think it’s ah-ma-zing, but everyone else is like, “huh?”

SUBSTANTIAL

Providing valuable content that is “substantial, complete or comprehensive” can leave you feeling like there’s always more to do. Be sure to draw the line somewhere, as too much content can be too cumbersome to read. Here are my three suggestions to analyze this principle:

Jump into your reader’s brain.

Read your post from the perspective of someone who knows very little on the topic. Are there things you assume people know? Do you use terms common to you, but may not be to a novice home cook or baker?

When someone finishes reading the post, will they come away thinking the post answered their questions, or will they still wonder how you got from step A to step B, or where to source certain ingredients?

Check other blog posts on the topic.

This should be a small part of what you do, but it doesn’t hurt to read through a few other blog posts on the topic or recipe you are writing about and see what they say, and where you can add more information or answer more questions.

My thoughts on using keywords and question research.

Advice for how to create substantial or comprehensive blog posts often revolves around keyword research and/or using sites like answerthepublic.com. These are great tools, but more often than not I see them used incorrectly.

Remember, first and foremost you need to write for your reader, not for SEO. Let me say it again, write for your reader, not for SEO. The problem with keyword and question research is that they often produce fragmented blog posts rather than cohesive pieces of writing. And trust me, your readers can tell.

Question answering is becoming the new keyword stuffing. And just like keyword stuffing, it is bad for the user and not as great for SEO as you think.

ORIGINAL

What makes something original? There’s the old adage that “there’s nothing new under the sun”, so making something original is often hard, especially in the food world.

For tips on specifically writing an original recipe, I suggest reading Kathryn’s insightful article on how to research and write original recipes that she posted on her blog, Cardamom and Tea.

Google’s original question to ask yourself breaks down the different types of original information your post could include:

  • Information
  • Reporting
  • Research
  • Analysis

Original Information

An example of original information on a recipe post would be a new technique or testing a new product on the market. The recent rise of the Instapot is a great example where food bloggers share completely original recipes for that product. Be sure to include all those details in your post!

Original Reporting

Writing a review of a new product, or telling your readers about a new product release that you heard of from a brand you work with would fall under original reporting. Similarly, you could also talk about trends you see with products and/or food.

Original Research

Creating original research is the most common way food bloggers present content in their blogs. For each recipe, share about the times you tested it, what you tweaked and why, and the details of creating the perfect recipe.

Great amounts of value can be added here. For instance, if the first few times the recipe didn’t turn out because the oven was too hot…share that! People want to know all of the details that went into your research.

Original Analysis

Research dovetails into original analysis. For example, you might share about a problem you had in the course of fine-tuning a recipe, and share how you analyzed the issue at hand. Hearing tips on how you solved a kitchen problem is valuable content for your readers.

Summary

By remembering and applying the principles of I-S-O: insightful, substantial and/or original, you’ll be creating amazing content that your readers will love!


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