Some of you are probably still suffering from the adjustment to Panda that took place last October and resulted in thousands of pages dropping in rank on the SERP. We’ve already discussed the importance of quality backlinks and the avoidance of duplicating anchor text but there is still one issue that you have to address if you want to regain your ranking and that’s content.

We’ve talked about content in the past and we’ve even tried to define quality content but this time I want to get down to specifics and where better to turn than to professional writers. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Nick Jackman the number one Irish writer on Elance and Lindsey Hadwin also on Elance who has been published in numerous popular magazines both in print and on the web.

The Fundamentals of Quality Content

Both Jack and Lindsey agree that the number one characteristic of quality content is its ability to connect with the audience and develop a sense of trust. It doesn’t matter if your website is about rocking chairs or a highly technical industrial process; the fact of the matter is the audience that views your content has to believe what they are reading. So how does a writer come up with this kind of content? Here’s a short list of the steps:

  • Connect with the audience by knowing who the audience is and what their concerns are. There’s an easy way for the writer to determine this and I’ll get to it in a minute but reviewing active forums on the subject is a great way to learn what the audience wants and even the language and terms that they use. Threads that have a high number of responses and views are indicators of hot buttons for the community.
  • If writer’s are going to create authoritative content on a subject they either have to be experts in that field or they have to do enough research so they have a deep understanding of the subject. Research, as we’ll mention later, is not only the key to quality content but also plays a huge part in how your budget is spent.
  • The content has to provide interesting and informative material. Google already does a great job of sorting out “thin” content that has no value so your new competition are those pages that are trying to establish themselves as the authority on the subject. Jack says your page has to provide “insightful analysis” and this applies regardless of your websites specialty. If you are an online insurance site then perhaps you might do an “insightful analysis” of a given coverage. If you sell outdoor furniture the analysis might be on design and material. The reader has to come away from the page knowing something he or she didn’t know before.

The days of adding content for the sake of having content are over. The days of spinning articles or PLR rewrites or content written for spiders are now in the past. Google has become sophisticated enough to spot the “gaming” and is now forcing publishers to pony up with real value.

Quality is Determined by Budget

If you are like most of us, crafting a quality article is probably something that you are not comfortable with and is undoubtedly a huge time eater. That’s why so many affiliate marketers outsource their content to writers like Lindsey and Jack.  But quality costs.

In fact how much you are willing to pay will play a big role in attracting the truly seasoned and professional writers. Elance has a wealth of skilled writers but they are far fewer in number than “writers” who are less skilled in their craft. Determining who’s a pro and who is something less is not that difficult if you check their profiles and feedback from other buyers.

But can you afford them? The real question is can you not be able to afford them. Since content for content’s sake is out the window and the only pages that will rank are those deemed to be high quality, does it make sense to buy bulk articles or to use that budget to purchase four or five articles that will actually rank? I know in my case I’ve cut the number of articles that I outsource but my budget has remained the same. In essence I’m paying double what I used to and the end product is worth every penny.

But there are ways to attract high quality writers at more competitive rates:

  • Know what you want and be as specific as possible in your project description. Be sure to ask for original content but stay away from threats about running the content through Copyscape. Professionals avoid buyers who make those threats as it indicates that the buyer typically deals with lower skilled (cheaper) writers and are not serious business people.
  • Remember that knowing the audience and understanding the topic in depth are both essential for quality content. Include in your description a requirement for a 1 hour phone interview. Professionals will love this as it gives them the opportunity to understand the audience and greatly decreases the amount of time they have to spend on research.
  • Research is the most expensive part of writing an article. The less research required the less time it takes to create content. In the description mention a preference for writers with previous experience in your topic and ask for samples of past work.

If you adopt this quality content strategy, and you really need to do that, you’re going to discover that aside from better ranking, your site is going to look and read far better. If you think your website is good now, wait until you add professional content.

Does it mean that you have to spend more money for content? No…you can keep your budget the same and simply pay for fewer articles. But the articles you get will rank rather than languish on page 200 never to be seen again.

If you have a comment or an experience that you would like to add please share it in the comment box below.

About the Author

You’ll receive money making advice and actionable tips and strategies directly from James Martell when you subscribe to his weekly podcast by email, RSS feed or iTunes. Recognized as a leading expert in affiliate marketing training, James is the host of the “Affiliate Marketers SUPER BootCamp”. A sought-after speaker, James has presented at Commission Junction University, Affiliate Summit, The System Seminar, Digital River Lab, PubCon, Affcon, and more