When it comes to content strategy, some publishers think the key is to push as much content out across the web as you possibly can. This is true, but it should be carried out with a strong emphasis on quality.
In general, the key for any web publisher is to find the sweet spot, or the perfect balance between quality and quantity. This ratio could vary from publisher to publisher, and even from blog to blog, if you operate more than one.
Quantity of Content
Quantity of content is crucial for earning high search engine rankings, because Google and other search engines crawl pages with frequently-updated content more often. You’ll want to set a publishing schedule, or even an editorial calendar, to outline the types of content you want to publish and how often. For example, set a goal to publish a blog post three times each week, one static article or page per week, and one white paper, press release, or e-book each month.
Sticking to your established schedule is important, because readers will come to expect content from you at certain times. Failing to follow through is an easy way to lose a lot of valued readers in a very short time. Regular contact, through fresh blog posts, new web pages and other content maintains brand awareness and builds trust. Readers are more likely to report you for spam if you haven’t contacted them by email in several months, because they may have forgotten they ever opted in.
Quality of Content
Quality is also an essential piece of the content marketing puzzle. This variable is more difficult to define, because standards can vary so drastically among individuals. Further, not everyone is capable of producing a New York Times-quality piece. At a minimum, your content should:
- Engage readers
- Convey complex concepts in an easy-to-understand manner
- Follow good general grammar and style rules
Quantity and quality are inversely correlated. In other words, the more content one person produces in a set timeframe, the lesser the quality of each piece. Of course, those rockstars do exist that can churn out thousands of words in the blink of an eye and develop an award-worthy piece at the drop of a hat. For most of us, producing quality content takes more time than haphazardly throwing together a disorganized collection of words loosely tied to a central topic.
The solution is to set a minimum quality standard for your content. Whether you’re writing it or paying someone else to write it, you should have a set of rules and guidelines for producing content for your web properties. A rating rubric is an excellent way to present this information, especially when utilizing outsourced writers. Include factors such as:
- Spelling and grammar
- Reading level (a 7th to 8th-grade reading level is a good rule of thumb for most web content)
- Originality (is it a fresh topic, or has it been covered dozens of times before?)
- Relevancy (will it impact your readers or solve a problem?)
- Engagement (is it interesting and thought-provoking?)
- Readability (will it make sense to your audience?)
Image via Wikipedia
As a general rule, you should only utilize content that meets these minimum quality standards and produce as much content as you can that meets these requirements.
The Lifecycle of a Website
As if it weren’t already complex enough, the lifecycle of a website throws another wrench into the works. As a web property evolves, the quantity versus quality equation shifts. New websites should place a greater emphasis on quantity to build a foundation for the site, drive readership, improve SEO and build backlinks. Quality should be maintained as much as possible.
As a website grows and obtains readership, the focus shifts to place a greater emphasis on quality. You’ve brought your readers in, now you need to offer them something of value to keep them coming back for more. Don’t bore them with the same concepts rehashed over and over again; give them something new and exciting to think about!
The Content Balancing Act
The bottom line? The best content strategy is to develop as much content as you can without stepping below your minimum quality threshold. This will vary between publishers and even change over time as your priorities shift. Both quantity and quality are extremely important for developing a targeted audience and moving up in the search engine rankings. Finding your ideal balance takes time and practice. Over time, most publishers find their groove as writing ability and efficiency improve.