Several years ago (July of 2013, to be a bit more precise), I read an article by SEO guru and noted industry consultant Alan Bleiweiss wherein he discussed the idea that the weaknesses of underperforming websites can all be summed up by assessing QUART: Quality, Uniqueness, Authority, Relevance, and Trust. It’s a theory that stuck with me, and I now use to evaluate a whole host of things, from individual articles that I write for my clients to the wines I choose to recommend to my own readers. On occasion, I’ve used it to pick a restaurant for dinner, too. Today, though, we’re revisiting Bleiweiss’s original application: optimizing your site for traffic and conversion.
When it comes to content marketing and site optimization, the idea of quality is tied to so many things. Content wise, you need words that mean something, that convey a message in an interesting, compelling, and memorable way. You are what you publish, so if you make just enough effort to slap some garbage on a web page and call it a day, well… you get the idea. You also need high-quality links. You need to link to a combination of your own articles (driving up traffic and driving down your bounce rate) and source articles from authoritative (i.e., not Wiki or other contributor-based content sites), and those links need to be active and open in a new tab or window.
Not only is plagiarism wrong, it also makes Google mad. This includes plagiarizing yourself. Your content needs to be original, both literally and in terms of the ideas it contains. Don’t regurgitate stuff everyone already knows: be different and be you. Your voice, after all, is inherently unique. Even if you have a freelance content writer interpret your POV, their voice becomes your voice and your brand will begin to build.
Are you the best in your field? If not, you had darned well still act like it. If your readers aren’t coming to you because you offer the best content, product, service, and overall experience in the business, why should they come to you at all? Your content, from your actual website to social media posts to newsletter blasts, should be crafted using language that reinforces your authority as conveys how strongly you believe in everything you do. Note: you can love yourself without tearing your competitors down. No one stays clean in a mud fight.
Bleiweiss’s definition of relevance is befitting of his status as a well-respected SEO auditor; I’m going to simplify things here with the help of Angie Schottmuller at Convince & Convert and her “Triangle of Relevance.” Your content needs to be relevant to your business objectives, to your users’ interests, and to what’s happening in the world at any particular time. Hit all three of those things and you’ll have a pretty good article on your hands.
Trust is about relationship building, reliability, and loyalty. Are you and your business going to be there tomorrow? How about the next day? How about next year? People want to care about and have a connection to the organizations they choose to spend their time or money supporting, and you foster that connection by posting regularly, responding to comments on social media and emails, and being consistent in your message and demeanor. Be honest, be forthright, and honor your audience – that’s the best way to achieve long-term success.
Alana M is is a pint-sized QUARTer. When she isn’t hard at work writing all kinds of witty and engaging content, she enjoys long walks on the beach, lion taming, nuclear physics and lying about her hobbies.