Everyone has an opinion about what makes content successful – and most of them are correct.

Content definitely needs to be engaging, easy to share and distributed through the most appropriate channels, but, I believe good content should start with these three fundamentals:


Content should be useful for the target audience as well as Google. Usefulness to your target audience means answer a question and/or helping them make a decision.

Providing information that your audience cannot afford to pass by will ensure your content (and therefore your brand) will be saved, referred back to and shared.

Useful content positions the author as the go-to contact or expert in their field.

Google will index content based on its relevance to long-tail searches (amongst other things) as part of the Hummingbird update last year.

This has reduced the reliance on keyword placement in content and means Googles emphasis is now on usefulness and relevance.


Helpful content is not the same as useful content.

There is a little overlap but helpfulness can come from other elements such as being easy to read, understand and engage with. This can come from the format and layout but also, how easy is the content to share?

Helpfulness can also come from thought provoking elements of the content, are you providing information your audience didn’t know they needed to know?

An excellent example of this is around moving house or writing a will – people often know they should research this but don’t know what questions to ask. Helpful content will provide the answers to the whole process, not just the answer to the initial question.

Again, layout can be used to make the content easy to read and understand – helpful!


Content needs to be relevant to the target market, the situation they find themselves in and what’s going on in the world at that time. Other elements of relevance in your content need to be the title used, articles you link out to and channels used to distribute this content.

Email content will need to be a stripped back version with relevant links back to the full version on your content. A guest post will need to be relevant to the regular audience of the site you are contributing to, which may be slightly different to the visitors of your own website.

Social media demographic statistics will be a good guide of how to use this effetely to distribute your content but it’s important to remember that the real value comes with your own data

Useful, helpful, relevant content is a winner with both your target market and Google.

Over to you

Which traits would you add to the list?