In this post, discover 1) what Google wants from your blog posts, 2) what readers and prospects want from your blog posts, and 3) how to give Google and readers what they want—high quality blog posts!—so you get what you want too—more sales, clients, and money.
If you're reading these words, you may be:
- Getting ready to start blogging
- Preparing to get serious about an existing blog
- Feeling unhappy with the blog you have now
- Longing for a blog that brings you more leads and sales
Take heart, because ALL of those things are possible.
I've been writing and editing content for entrepreneurs and companies since 2002, and I've seen a lot of blog action during that time.
I can say with assurance that it IS possible to create a space on the web where your brand lives and breathes, a space so strong that people GET you.
They get your vision. They understand your thinking. They see your brilliance.
Creating this space is possible on your blog because, whereas your website is the "face" of your business, your blog is its "soul."
(Yes, I just "quoted" myself. Feels strange, but I'm doing it anyway!)
From my experience, I can also tell you that it IS possible to create so much credibility that people know you're a top contender when they're shopping around.
It IS possible to use your blog to get more clients... and to earn enough to finally afford that deep blue metallic Tesla with Ludicrous mode.
To do those things, you need to create a blog that makes YOU happy.
You can't just "blog" because I told you so, or because some big-time guru told you so. Just as with anything else in life, if you dive in for the wrong reasons, you'll never be able to create, not to mention sustain, any momentum.
A blog that brings you all of those client-y and cash-y benefits has to do more than just make YOU happy. It must also make PROSPECTS and READERS happy.
And, most important, your blog must also make GOOGLE happy.
How do I know what Google thinks? How do I know what makes Google happy?
I know because Google has told us—and continues to tell us even today by rewarding posts that make it happy with higher search rankings!
Here's something most people don't know : Google has an army of 10,000+ search-quality raters out there testing the accuracy of search results.
I was floored when I first discovered this fact several years ago.
Here's what Google says about the people in this army, emphasis mine.
We work with external Search Quality Raters to measure the quality of search results on an ongoing basis. Raters assess how well a website gives people who click on it what they are looking for, and evaluate the quality of results based on the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content. These ratings do not directly impact ranking, but they do help us benchmark the quality of our results and make sure these meet a high bar all around the world.
You'll learn soon why I highlighted the words "expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness."
For now, just know that, to train those raters, Google published a text-dense, almost 200-page guide called Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
I sifted through that mammoth document for you and, from it, pulled seven elements of what Google considers a high-quality post.
Let's dig in.
1. PURPOSE - Is the purpose of your blog post crystal clear?
Purpose is a thing proposed or intended; it's an object to be kept in view in any operation or course of action.
Purpose is also the intended or desired effect of something; it is the practical advantage or result.
Before writing a blog post, jot down its or your purpose. What is the result you intend for your reader?
Do you plan to:
- Educate on a topic so that your reader understands the full implications?
- Dispel myths so that your reader can make better decisions?
- Deliver a how-to so that your reader can carry out the task at hand?
Notice how each of those purposes encompass "so that your reader...."
Always keep the reader in mind when considering purpose.
Also, after you write a blog post, review it with your stated purpose in mind. Ask yourself whether the post you just completed accomplishes your purpose.
Something to think about
Does THIS post you're reading right now achieve its purpose? As you read, keep your mind on purpose and objective. See if you can glean what I'm hoping to accomplish by writing this blog post.
2. PAGE TITLE - Is the page title helpful or descriptive?
In Google's eyes, the title of your blog post ought to be helpful and descriptive enough to help searchers decide whether or not a post will be useful.
Both types of titles—helpful and descriptive—add to the overall quality of a blog post.
Your job is to make sure that your title is one, the other, or both.
Here's an example of a page title for a blog post I wrote about the elevator speech:
The Elevator Speech: It's Not Just for Elevators Anymore
The image that follows comes from the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, which shows how the post title I wrote will appear to search users.
Here's how that title appears on the actual blog post page.
What do you think?
If you were searching on Google for "elevator speech," would the title let you know whether or not you should click in?
Is it helpful? Descriptive? Both?
Descriptive page titles help readers make informed decisions about which pages to visit.
For instance, is a searcher looking for:
- Pork pie or peach pie recipes?
- Pork loin or loin cloth examples?
- Tablecloth or end table for sale?
Helpful page titles summarize the main content on the page.
Think "5 ways to trim your toenails in public" or "How to give your cat and dog a bath at the same time."
Something to think about
How does the page title for this post strike you? Is it descriptive? Helpful? Neither? Both?
I won't make the change because I want you to see what it's like to create content like this post, but in thinking about the title for this blog post, it might be more descriptive to say, "7 elements of a high-quality blog post—according to Google."
3. OWNERSHIP - Can readers tell who's responsible for a blog post?
Letting readers know WHO is responsible for your blog post is crucial for building trust.
Google says that WHO can be an individual or organization, a company or foundation, so you don't need to reveal personal information if you don't want to.
Let readers know WHO's responsible in one or more (more is better) of the following places:
- Your blog's footer
- Your Contact page
- Your About page
- Your blog's sidebar
4. REPUTATION - Do the site and its main content creator have positive reputations?
Reputation is tricky.
First, let's look at its definition.
According to the Century Dictionary, reputation is a reckoning, a pondering, an estimation. It is the estimate attached to a person by the community.
Google's search quality raters derive reputation from diverse sources:
- User ratings
- Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies
- Independent articles published about you or your company
Notice the word "independent" in the last bullet point. Google, and therefore your reader, is not interested in what you have to say about yourself.
Google warns its search quality raters to look beyond self-aggrandizement.
Many websites are eager to tell users how great they are. Some webmasters have read these rating guidelines and write [ sic ] 'reviews' on various review websites. But for Page Quality rating, you must also look for outside, independent reputation information about the website. When the website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources.
But what about your readers?
If you're not supposed to tell readers how great you are, how can your blog posts support a positive reputation?
Just talk about and link to those outside, independent reviews and expert recommendations if they exist.
If not, consider how you might pursue those reputation boosters.
In addition, gather and share client reviews on your website.
What if you're new?
If you're just starting out in business or online, you might not be able to provide any elements that cement your reputation just yet.
That's okay because there are six other elements you can lean on. There's no rule that says you must infuse each blog post with all seven elements before you can press publish.
Before we go into the fifth element, let me tell you a little bit more about what Google is looking for.
Understanding Google through YMYL and E-A-T
Inside that 200-page document I told you about, Google makes a big stink about the fact that high quality blog posts have E-A-T:
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
Having E-A-T is especially important if your website is a YMYL website—a "Your Money or Your Life" website.
YMYL blog posts and pages:
- Directly affect a reader's health, happiness, safety, or financial stability
- Provide medical information
- Dish out financial information
- Give legal information
- Offer safety information
- Provide shopping or money transfer services
- Share information that affects a reader's current or future well-being
Here's how Google ties together YMYL and E-A-T (emphasis mine):
For these “YMYL” pages, we assume that users expect us to operate with our strictest standards of trustworthiness and safety. As such, where our algorithms detect that a user’s query relates to a “YMYL” topic, we will give more weight in our ranking systems to factors like our understanding of the authoritativeness, expertise, or trustworthiness of the pages we present in response.
This means that, to make Google happy, your blog posts must include elements that help the search quality raters, and therefore your readers, understand-GET-know that you have expertise, that you're an authority, and that you're trustworthy.
That said, now we can move on to our fifth element of a high quality blog post...
5. EXPERTISE - What kind of expertise do you need to achieve the blog post's purpose well?
I want to mention here that we're talking about not only individual blog posts, but also your site as a whole.
And although you don't have to cram each blog post with ALL of the seven elements, you do want to strive towards painting an overall picture of expertise, authority, and trust.
To paint a picture of expertise, pull on three different expertise levers:
- Website expertise, such as credentials, industry awards, or external recognition
- Author expertise, such as credentials, degrees, certifications, client work, client wins, classes
- Everyday expertise, something Google considers when the post or page has a satisfying amount of main content PLUS when the authors have high expertise on the topic
Website and author expertise are self-explanatory.
But what is everyday expertise?
In its search rater quality guidelines, Google provides the following example of a page exhibiting everyday expertise.
The page contains a YouTube video called "An Engineer's Guide to Cats."
According to Google, the video has a satisfying amount of main content, or the content promised by the title, plus high expertise on the topic of cat ownership. Google says that the two engineers in the video have everyday expertise on cat ownership; they don't have to be veterinarians to share a video like the one featured.
What this means is that, in your content, YOU can lean on your everyday expertise as well—great news for those of who without a degree or "work experience" in your field of expertise.
6. AUTHORITY - Is the blog post owner an authority on the post's subject?
Google looks at the following to gauge authority:
- Website authority, or the website is an authoritative source for the page topic
- Author authority, such as the number of citations and types of sites the author's work appears on
- The factual accuracy of the content
- The content is supported by expert consensus where it exists
Authority is the power to influence others, especially because of your recognized knowledge about something. It is also a source able to supply reliable evidence.
When thinking about how to demonstrate your authority while blogging, consider how you've influenced others—your clients, a membership organization, or perhaps even your industry.
Another way to exhibit authority is to blog about OTHERS who've recognized or provided evidence about your knowledge, something you can do by simply weaving client or customer testimonials into your content.
Someone on my list just joined my year-long journey!
Yipee! Thanks to this group I am more intentional about my writing and someone who has been on my list for a long time joined my year-long journey BECAUSE of a Beltane article I sent Monday! Thank you, Renae!
7. TRUST - Are the website, main content, and author of the blog post trustworthy?
In evaluating for trust, Google's search quality raters look at whether:
- The site, content, or author are highly regarded by authoritative sources
- There is clear information about who is responsible for the website and main content
- There is clear information about customer service, especially for online stores and financial transaction sites
Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
To trust you, your readers must feel safe.
In my article "How to Infuse Know, Like, and Trust into Your Content" for the Content Marketing Institute, I share examples of three companies that make me feel safe, and have therefore earned my trust—Amazon, Tervis, and Carbonite.
To fulfill the trust requirement of Google E-A-T on your blog, include social proof and testimonials in your blog posts, or in a sidebar.
Offer and call attention to guarantees if you can.
And show readers that you're accessible by including your contact details on every page of your site, either in a sidebar or in a footer.
Another option for engendering reader trust is to use a widget or plugin that pulls in the size of your Facebook audience or Facebook comments.
Here are a few free plugins to check out if you're a WordPress user:
- Simple Like Page (allows readers to "like" your Facebook page from your website)
- Easy Social Feed (display a like box, social posts and photo feeds on your website)
- Smash Balloon Social Post Feed (display feeds from your Facebook page or group)
You can find more plugins and widgets, including lots of paid offerings, by searching for "facebook wordpress widgets" and "facebook wordpress plugins" on Google.
Here's something else about trust I want to share with you. While conducting research on trust, I found an amazing description by Tam Thao Pham on Quora.
I share it with you now, hoping that it will give you the same "ah ha!" that I had when I read it. (Emphases are mine.)
Trust is about the intersection of the past and future. It’s taking the evidence of the past (sometimes your own past and references) and extrapolating that into the future – what can I expect going forward? – and then being able to apply this information within a context of risk. To trust a human being is to be able to anticipate generally how (that person will) behave in most of the future situations in which you might encounter them, and to feel comfort in taking an (often emotional) risk based on that (anticipated behavior).
Isn't that great?
When you trust someone, it's because you can generally anticipate and predict how they will behave.
WRAP UP: Why bother trying to create high-quality blog posts?
Someone once asked me, "Renae, why should I bother doing all of this work?"
Bother because you need content to attract, communicate to, and connect with your people.
Also bother because what Google thinks reflects what your readers will think.
Bother because if Google thinks your blog post is high quality, so will your readers.
Bother because if Google things your blog post is low quality....
I know, I know....
Let's not think about that!
No one wants Google to toss their blog posts into the low-quality pile.
But many DO wind up with what Google considers low-quality blog posts simply because they lack the information, resources, or desire to aim for high quality.
I suspect you're a bit different though, because here you are, reading a post about using your blog to build up expertise, authority, trust, and clients.
That kind of blog...
- Showcases your expertise
- Positions you as an authority in your field
- Builds "know, like, and trust" with potential clients
- Generates conversations and shares
- Grows your email list
- Makes Google happy
- Gives people the confidence they need to say YES to your offers
If you're interested in building a blog like that, then you might be interested in my Blog Your Brilliance online program.
The Fall 2020 version—a hybrid model with instant course access and three bonus calls—is available now.
If you'd like to get in on the bonus calls coming up in November, I invite you to check it out: Blog Your Brilliance, Fall 2020.
P.S. Did you figure out the purpose of this blog post?
If you think that my purpose was to lead you to want to check out my Blog Your Brilliance program, you're RIGHT!
If you think that my purpose was to educate you on what it means to write high-quality blog posts, you're RIGHT!
If you think that my purpose was to prove my expertise and credibility in matters related to blogging, you're RIGHT!
Anything else? Did you notice any other objectives? If so, get in touch to let me know!