What do you do when you need to hire a plumber? The first things that probably come to mind are to ask your friends and family for recommendations, read reviews, and check to make sure that the plumber they suggested is licensed.
What do you do when you need to hire an electrician? The first things that probably come to mind are to ask your friends and family for their recommendations, read reviews, and check to make sure that the electrician they suggested is licensed.
That was a bit repetitive, wasn’t it? That’s because those are the steps people take when hiring any sort of technician or contractor. And therein lies the problem. Articles that provide generic advice don’t provide our clients with good SEO value, and they don’t provide readers with the useful information that they are looking for.
This post explains why approaches that only offer general information and advice don’t work well for SEO and how WritersDomain rates articles for keyword relevancy.
Why Generic Topics Aren’t the Best Approach
Generic topics aren’t ideal for online content because they aren’t prioritized by search engines like Google. Generic content results in two major issues.
Articles from WritersDomain are part of small businesses’ SEO campaigns. In order to improve SEO, the content must meet Google’s standards, as well as standards for other search engines, while also being user friendly.
Google prioritizes content that provides users new and helpful information. In fact, Google’s algorithm has only gotten better at telling if the content of an article is good for users. One of the best indicators of that is keyword relevancy. Google says that their “algorithms assess if a page contains other relevant content beyond the keyword.” Relevant content is content that expands on the keyword and is specific to it — related phrases, examples, and context all improve keyword usage and relevancy.
The issue with generic topics is that the approach is not specific to the keyword. If the keyword can be swapped out for almost any other keyword, like in the case of plumber and electrician from the beginning, then it is not specific and therefore not relevant enough to either keyword. In these articles, the keyword becomes an example of a way the generic advice can be implemented rather than the focus of the piece.
Use Value Issues
Another thing Google says it looks for is “fresh content that users want.” Overly generic approaches are not truly fresh or what users want. For example, most users know instinctively that they should ask their friends and family for advice, and many already check reviews for everything they purchase, whether it’s a consumer good or a service. They also don’t have to think too hard before realizing that they should move their car out of the way before a professional comes to do work outside or around the house. This means that users don’t find value in being told this kind of advice — they already know it.
What Ratings WritersDomain Gives for Generic Content
Most often, if you submit an article that has a generic approach, you’ll receive either 2 or 3 stars for keyword relevancy. Let’s look at what the differences tend to be between star ratings (though, of course, the actual rating depends on the article itself and how it does across all of the Article Guidelines’ categories).
To start, let’s look at the Article Guidelines for tier 2 keyword relevancy. They say that an article merits 2 stars if “the majority of the article is too general to be useful for any reader.” If the article is too generic, then the content will likely be information the reader already knows. For example, let’s say you’re writing an article about how to find a supplement supplier and your main points are:
- Check reviews
- See what payment options they have
If you just talk about this information without going into too much detail, then you’ll most likely receive a 2-star rating for relevancy. These topics simply apply to too many industries. They apply not only to supplement suppliers but also to florists and construction workers and a whole host of other keywords.
In addition, some advice like this just can’t be made more specific. The above examples are two that are very difficult to make specific enough. Even if you list specific sites to find reviews on, the sites will likely be the same or similar for most work. And for the payment option example, only so many payment options exist, and so, what’s available from the supplement supplier is likely the same as what’s available from a steel fabrication company.
Again, let’s look at the Article Guidelines to see what they say for tier 3 keyword relevancy. They state that an article will be awarded a 3-star rating if “at least one section clearly addresses the keyword or relevant services, but over half the article isn’t relevant; or, the information is too general and the keyword is specific.” That means that as long as at least one of the sections is specific enough, then the article will likely get a 3-star rating for relevancy. But just including the keyword in the article does not make the article specific. To better understand this, let’s look at an example.
Say your keyword is “mulch delivery” and the sections you plan on writing are:
- Make sure they have the products you need
- Find a company that works quickly
- Use a local company
These are all things a reader likely wants from any company that provides products and delivery services. So how can we make it more specific? One way to make the information specific enough for a 3-star rating is to be specific about the products. Here are two approaches we could take for the section:
- Generic: “You’ll need to see what types of mulch the delivery service stocks and make sure they have what you need.”
- Specific: “See if the delivery service has organic mulch, such as sawdust, compost or wood chips, and inorganic mulch, such as geotextiles, depending on your project.”
For the first, the word “mulch” could be replaced with any kind of product, but in the second example, you couldn’t change “mulch” to be anything else. An article needs more than a single specific sentence to be considered relevant, but if the whole paragraph was that specific, then even if the other two sections were very generic, this example article would likely get a 3-star rating for relevancy. If all of the sections are as specific as the example mulch paragraph, then the article may even get higher than a 3-star rating for relevancy.
Remember, though, that this specificity should be in your body paragraphs. If the intro and conclusion are the specific parts of the article but the actual advice is generic, then the article will likely get a 2-star rating rather than a 3 for relevancy.
Sometimes, even if you make a generic approach as specific as possible, the article won’t get above a 3-star rating. Unfortunately, this is the highest score that generic advice can typically get because of the issues with relevancy, specificity, and value. We’ve already discussed relevancy and specificity, but now let’s look at value. Generic approaches, because they’re so unspecific, do not bring a lot of value. This means that they have an examples issue as well as a relevancy issue.
For tier 3 basic examples, the Article Guidelines state, “The article was too intuitive/obvious or didn’t adequately describe a task, product, or service.” In other words, if most people already know the information you’re presenting in the article or can guess it, then the information has little to no value.
For example, say an article discusses how parents should remove their kids from the house while a technician comes over to work. Not only is this advice general, but parents who have young kids can intuit that they should get the kids out of the house while any sort of technician or contractor is working. Advice like this is very difficult to write in a way that isn’t intuitive or obvious to readers.
In addition, these kinds of obvious solutions are more likely to be flagged for plagiarism because many people have written about them before. Even if an article isn’t plagiarized, providing the same advice in the same way can look like duplicate content to search engines and to our editors, which, unfortunately, means it will still need to be revised. To avoid that, avoid intuitive advice and make your articles more specific.
How Do You Make Sure You Write a Passing Article?
If you want a passing rating for relevancy, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is at least one section of my article specific to the keyword?
- Does the information in my article have value?
- Will the information in my article still make sense if I change the keyword/close matches to the keyword to something else?
If your answer is yes to the first two questions and no to the third, then your article will likely get a passing score, provided the other categories in the rubric would also receive a passing score. While most passing articles with generic information will only receive a 3-star rating for relevancy or examples, you can increase the likelihood that the piece will get higher than a 3 if you make all sections of the article specific to the keyword and provide advice in a way that isn’t intuitive or obvious.
In short, approaches that have advice that applies to a wide variety of keywords are not usually relevant enough for users or search engines. The most helpful (and highest-rated) content is specific and actionable.
Let us know in the comments what techniques you have used to make articles specific and valuable.