You read and hear about it everywhere. To be well-referenced, to attract readers, and capture leads, you need quality content. Ok. But what exactly is quality content?

Quality content forms the foundation of a solid content marketing strategy. It is arguably the most important element for your site to be ranked in the SERPs and to attract your target audience.

But what does “quality content” really mean? How do search engines know you have good content? What are their criteria? How can you determine if a visitor will take the time to read and engage with your content?

In this article, I will share with you the quality indicators of content according to Google, how to determine if your audience is engaging with your content, and, of course, what to do if that’s not the case.

Quality content according to Google

Over the past 15 years, Google has refined its ability to determine the quality and value of content, radically transforming the concept of search engine optimization. It uses a combination of site-crawling bots and human evaluators to review sites, judge their quality, and determine their place in the SERPs.

First, Google’s bots crawl sites using artificial intelligence and semantic technology to determine the theme of a page and associate it with a search term.

Years ago, Google stopped matching search terms to a page’s keywords, eliminating practices aimed at cheating content value by amateur SEOs of the time.

Thanks to topic modeling, Google can understand the subject of your page. This is a complicated procedure that involves analyzing text to identify relationships between words, phrases, and word meanings to better understand what is actually being offered within content.

These bots also crawl links to related content on your site, outbound links, and backlinks from other sites. If they find good links, it’s a positive signal.

Google’s ranking algorithms are not perfect, and that’s where human evaluators come in. Their evaluations are used to train and refine Google’s algorithms.

Google has a 164-page document called “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.” It is a set of rules given to their evaluators so they can determine which sites contain quality content and which do not (you can find an infographic at the end of the article summarizing the crucial points).

The definition of high-quality content according to Google varies depending on the type of site hosting it. In their guidelines, they explain:

“The purpose of the page will help you determine what should make it high-quality content. For example, high-quality informational pages should be accurate, clear, and complete. High-quality online store content should allow users to find the products they want and easily purchase them. High-quality humor or satire should be entertaining, while factual accuracy is not a requirement as long as the page is easily identifiable as satire by users.”

Google uses a five-level rating system to assess the quality of a page: very low, low, medium, high, very high.

There are several technical standards your site must meet to receive a high-quality rating, such as information about the site owner and the reputation of the site or site holder. But there are also important content standards.

These standards must be deduced from the evaluators’ assessment criteria, Google’s help pages, and their webmaster blog. I have reviewed these three sources to establish these benchmarks.

1. The purpose of the page

Evaluators first examine the actual purpose of the page. If it has little interest to users or provides no help, or if it spreads hateful ideas or aims to cause harm, it receives the lowest rating.

2. EAT – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness

Pages must exhibit these characteristics to receive a positive quality assessment. Content demonstrates its reliability by being written by experts or by citing specialized sources.

Note that ordinary people can be considered experts through their life experiences. If you have a travel blog, for example, your descriptions and advice based on your own trips are considered expert content.

3. Original content

Google seeks content that does not duplicate anything on your own site or other sites. Obviously, duplicate content is not inherently “bad.” There are sometimes valid reasons for its existence – content syndication being one of them. It’s just that Google has no interest in displaying duplicate content in its search results – understandably so.

So, if your marketing strategy relies on other people’s content, consider allocating more budget for your content creation efforts. It will do wonders for organic traffic!

4. Well-written and well-edited content

Content should be clear and grammatically correct, without syntax or spelling errors. It should give the reader the impression that it has been written for them and carefully edited.

5. Content that considers the interest and needs of the user

Content must be relevant to your audience. It should address their challenges, questions, and needs as consumers.

6. Solid backlinking and internal links

Google looks for quality backlinks on other sites. This means you need to attract links from reliable and recognized sites. You can do this by offering your expertise and writing talent to reputable sites.

It’s also helpful to create internal links to related content that will help meet the user’s needs. This will also help Google crawl your site and recognize the quantity and quality of your website content.

Finally, note that there’s no mention of content length. Good content is not defined by its word count. Essentially, Google is looking for meaningful and useful content for the target audience.

In fact, in one of the articles on Google’s webmaster site, they write: “Our advice to publishers remains to focus on the best possible user experience on your websites and not to over-focus on what they think constitutes Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals.”

So, let’s take a look at the types of content that your audience will deem qualitative.

Quality content tailored to your audience

So, how do you know if the content you create resonates with your audience? There are a few methods you can use.

SEO statistics

Google Analytics is an excellent starting point. There’s so much data, beyond page views, that can help you understand how your content is performing.

The type of content assessed will influence the type of metrics to examine. Basic data like time spent on the page, scroll depth, bounce rate, and the number of pages per visit will help you see how long users stay on your content, how far they scroll down the page, and whether they continue to consume content or leave after finishing their reading.

Of course, you can (and should) delve deeper into the possibilities offered by Google Analytics. You can search for very specific data on your audience to ensure your content reaches its target.

Reactions on social networks

Closely monitor how users interact with your content on social networks, what people share, and which blog posts help you get clicks to your site.

Click-through rates on your emails

Similarly, monitor your email open and click-through rates. What headlines and themes have prompted people to open your emails, and which links have they clicked to go further. These are the topics that interest your audience.


And then, there’s nothing more direct than asking your audience. You can include a survey in your next email campaign, via an automated bot on Messenger, or in your next newsletter, depending on where your target audience is and their habits. You will likely need to provide an incentive to engage your community. Ask your regular users a series of specific questions about the content that gets the best (and worst) engagement.

Page quality signals

And what if your content doesn’t resonate with your community? It’s not necessarily related to your theme. It could be more technical issues on your site.

I’ve already mentioned earlier the need to present well-written and grammatically correct content. I cannot stress enough the importance of proofreading your content to ensure it’s clean. If your content contains spelling errors or other issues, it signals to the reader that you didn’t take the time to create quality content. And if you rushed through the writing and revision process, there’s a good chance you also rushed through your fact-checking process (yes!).

Among the quality signals of a page are the readability of your content, its tone, and the overall user experience.

The tone and readability level of your content should match your audience. For example, if you have a homework help site targeting elementary school children, your content should match their reading level, using simple sentence structures and easier vocabulary. It should use a light, fun, and non-condescending tone.

If your homework help site targets high school students, your sentence structure and syntax can be more complex, and you can use more sophisticated vocabulary. Your tone might also be more serious.

Avoid broken links at all costs and be mindful of internal links. Your content should be easy to find, with clear navigation and a clear organizational structure. If users can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave your site (it’s happened to all of us, hasn’t it?)

Be especially careful if your site hosts ad banners. These can detract from the user experience. Pop-ups are also something to use in moderation. Many web marketing sites use this technique outrageously, to the point that to access the content, you have to click on two buttons and reject the “deal of the century” on a completely dispensable ebook.

And what about those contents (often related to celebrities) where you get one example per page, which is itself filled with ads? There’s no reason to configure the navigation so that only a few lines of text appear per page. The navigation is designed solely to display more ads, not to improve the website visitors’ experience.

Thematic authority

The last piece of the puzzle for evaluating quality content is thematic authority. Sites acquire thematic authority over time (sometimes called domain authority) as they thoroughly and in-depth cover the topics they’ve chosen.

There are many online tools that can help you measure your site or page’s authority. A simple Google search will give you plenty of choices.

A good balance is to provide content that is dense in writing. By this, I mean there’s no point in providing a 4,000-word article if more than half of it is just uninteresting fluff. Content creators who engage in keyword stuffing are prone to receiving low scores!

At the site level, you can build thematic authority by covering each of the topics you’ve chosen to address with a variety of content that approaches the subject from different angles. Start with a central (pillar) article on your theme. Then, develop a series of complementary articles and expand your offering by building internal links between the various articles.

Approach the subject from all angles and provide as much content as possible in a variety of formats. This signals to your readers and Google that you’ve created quality content that meets your users’ needs.

A content writing process that provides quality content tailored to your target audience has multiple facets and requires careful planning. Find the topics that interest your users, cover them completely with well-researched and well-written articles that address all angles, and check with your audience to ensure they find your content useful.

Do this, and you won’t have to worry about what Google thinks of you. With such content, you’re already on their side.

Below is an infographic that includes some of the most relevant and important criteria for producing high-quality content for your readers… and for Google!

Search Quality Rater's Guide Infographic - Google

How can you create SEO-friendly content in Steps?

An SEO-friendly article is content that has good visibility on search engines. It plays an essential role in search engine optimization, which will bring qualified traffic to your site.

Discover the tips to follow for creating SEO-friendly content:

1. Research relevant keywords

The entire SEO strategy is based on keywords. Each keyword has several attributes that need to be studied before selecting it.

To effectively target your audience, it’s crucial to know them well. The primary query should have high potential to outperform your top competitors.

The secondary query should have medium potential and competition. Using relevant keywords will promote better search engine rankings.

2. Work on your tags

Writing high-quality content is essential, but don’t forget the importance of tags. They must be considered in an organic search strategy.

Tags allow search engine robots to inspect and index your article. They are often overlooked, but it’s crucial to understand their functions and specifics to optimize them better.

Meta title

The meta title is the search engine optimized title of your article. The title tag is displayed in the search results’ “snippet.” It tells Google the topic of your web page.

  • Don’t confuse it with the H1 tag!
  • For an optimized title tag:
  • Place the keyword at the beginning of the title;
  • Avoid repeating the query multiple times to prevent over-optimization;
  • Prefer titles with “how-to” or list formats.

The meta title should be between 50 and 70 characters maximum. If this length isn’t respected, the search engine may display an incomplete title.

Meta description

The meta description appears below the meta title and serves as a website’s header. It should start with an action verb and entice users to click on your link.

For a relevant meta description:

  • Place the keyword near the beginning of the description. Prefer a short, effective text using call-to-action;
  • Include a relevant keyword;
  • Ensure the description matches the content;
  • Maintain a length of 150 to 155 characters.
  • Make your meta description appealing to encourage clicks!

This tag doesn’t directly impact your pages’ positioning on Google, but it can help attract new visitors.

H1 title

The H1 is the HTML tag that indicates the article’s title. It must describe your page’s subject and is the most important of all Hn tags.

It should be eye-catching and unique. H1 is a vital component for organic search optimization.

For a successful H1:

  • Include the main keyword;
  • Avoid exceeding 90 characters;
  • Use only one H1 on each of your pages.

The H1 is highlighted and easily identifiable through formatting and style elements.

3. Ensure a readable and understandable text

Your text must be comprehensible, meaning it’s tailored to your target audience. Tools exist to rate your texts’ comprehensibility.

Among others, the Gunning Fog Index, invented by Robert Gunning, measures the readability and comprehension of a text. A high index means the text is more challenging to access.

The average index for articles aimed at a general audience usually indicates a Gunning Fog readability index below 12. Texts requiring near-universal understanding need an index below 8.

You can test your readability on this tool: Gunning Fog Index

To ensure your texts are readable, make sure your sentences are of appropriate length. The longer a sentence, the harder it is for a reader to remember all the information it contains. Therefore, it’s better to use short sentences, with one idea in each.


In summary, to increase the chances of achieving higher rankings in SERPs, your site, optimized for organic search, must possess characteristics that help search engines understand your site’s content.