Is It OK to Have Bad Content?

Web content is an essential part of search engine optimization. If you want people to find you online, you must post regular, original content. Google is constantly trying to improve their search algorithm to ensure that users find the best and most relevant search results, and that nearly always means stronger content. Without quality, searchable content, you won’t see your site on Google’s search engine results page, no matter what kinds of tech tricks you try.

There’s no disputing the importance of web content, but will any old content do? Do you need masterfully crafted sentences that are grammatically sound and a joy to read, or can you just have a pile of words with a fairly discernible message? It’s not as though Google gets cozy in a high-backed chair and reads through content based on tastes in literature. It’s an algorithm that picks content based on a set of rules.

Those rules include factors associated with spammy sites, like spelling errors and poor grammar, as well as factors associated with high quality sites, like rich semantic webs and longer content. They also include links from human beings, intentionally designed to factor in human judgements about your content. The better your content is, the better your SEO results will be. It’s easy to settle for good enough, but you should strive to make your content as good as possible.

Humans vs. Machines

You have to write in ways that are clear to search engines. Search engines are good at understanding human language, as machines go, but machines don’t go very far. They’re less likely to understand metaphors, for example, than humans are. They don’t get jokes. They’re working on recognizing factual accuracy, but they haven’t really got a handle on that yet. So it’s important to communicate well with search engines.

However, search engines don’t buy your products, sign up for an appointment with you, or donate to your cause.

People use search engines to find the answers to their questions. They want entertainment, information, and good stuff in general. The quality of your web content reflects on the quality of your good and services, and gives people an idea of the value of your company or organization.

You might be able to squeak by with some sub-par content, but it won’t give you the best chance for success.

So why do so many websites have poor content? Here are some mistaken beliefs that might be getting in your way:

  • “Anyone can write.” We used to think this, too, but amazingly enough, it’s not true. Most people can’t write well, in fact. Randomly picking someone to write your web content because it’s just words so how hard could it be is not a good strategy.
  • “Nobody cares about punctuation.” Actually, some people are ready to froth at the mouth over punctuation errors. Just as some people really understand the saying, “Tune it or die,” some people are maddened by apostrophe faults. They will think, “If this dentist doesn’t use semicolons correctly, I’m sure not going to trust him with my dental work.” But even if you’re willing to lose those people as clients, even people who don’t notice specific punctuation problems get a subliminal negative feeling that your website just isn’t professional enough. They feel like your company isn’t successful enough to hire a competent proofreader, so they don’t quite trust you. Spelling errors are even worse.
  • “Nobody reads any more anyway.” This one’s just false. We read fewer books, but we read way more of everything else. Your web visitors are likely to skim your content, but the very nature of skimming means that they may read any part of what you’ve got on the web page, including the poorly written stuff with grammatical errors. Whatever you write, someone will probably read. Don’t they deserve high quality?

Good content makes people read your words. It makes them come back to your website. It makes them like you. It’s worth the effort.

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