Quality Content is the Key to Drawing Search Engine Traffic
You'll no doubt be aware of the phrase "content is king". It is probably the most oft-repeated concept related to website building and blogging. So it was always a good thing to remember. But it is more relevant than ever, in my opinion.
Actually, having good content is now so important that if you only have limited time to devote to website building I'd put the vast majority of it into fulfilling this requirement, and the rest into sharing your pages on social media. (Up until early 2012 I would have said that you should spend about two thirds of your time on this aspect, and the rest on building backlinks and sharing. Not anymore!)
So what is quality content? Well, it must have several characteristics:
Obviously, it has to be well written, with correct spelling and grammar. Inevitably, the the odd mistake will slip through. But that's not going to hurt you.
Specificity and relevance are also key requirements. Just as you want the whole website to focus on a particular subject and not deviate from it, each page should relate to one aspect of that subject and explore it thoroughly.
As well as being specific, your pages must be informative. Try and include lots of interesting facts and figures if you can.
Some sites might not be focused on such things. You might have one containing mostly political opinion, for example. In that case make your articles as insightful as possible, with well argued, comprehensive points.
As well as having these characteristics your content must be above all unique.
One one level, this refers to the arrangement of words on a page, even if the points you are making are not original. And quite often you do have to repeat ideas and concepts -- particularly if you have a "how to" site.
Take fixing a car tyre. Pretty much every article ever written on how to do this will include the same basic steps. They'll only differ in the way these are worded.
This is why many people still use one of those awful article spinners. They put an article they've found elsewhere into it. The software just randomizes the words a bit, making it "unique". They then publish that on their site, or use such variations to build backlinks to it.
For a while that worked. Now it's a good way to get your website punished heavily by Google, or even completely de-indexed. Avoid this method like the plague!
But back to the concept of uniqueness: If your onsite articles have another level of originality and contain unique concepts and ideas then that's even better. Your website will really stand out then.
I think this is what you should aim for, if possible. Fill your website with content that just isn't found anywhere else on the web! It might take a long while for the benefits to show. But Google is certainly becoming increasingly human-like in its ability to assess quality. And originality -- uniqueness -- is a big part of that.
Also, sites that are highly distinctive -- as well as being useful and interesting -- will tend to attract more voluntary links from others. Attaining these will be highly beneficial for your search engine rankings in the long term.