Quantity vs Quality: Are you missing the point?
I am always fascinated by the quantity vs quality argument, not just as a content creator, but as it relates to productive work. A school of thought believes the more you do, the faster you get to the results. And the Pareto school of thought (am a student) believes you just have to focus 80% of your efforts on the 20%.
Let’s come back to content. To compete in the big leagues, it is said, you have to produce 6 articles each week and each article needs to be at least 1,500 words long. That’s about 9,000+ words every week. It’s a lot of words, almost like writing a new 30-page book every week. This is easy for big brands, who have up to 10 freelancers working on different aspects of content production.
But why? Is content all that?
Real estate, like many revenue generating businesses has grown much competitive than it was 10 years ago. And 10 years from now, it’s still probably going to be competitive (likely more competitive). Big brands are leveraging authority content to retain their spots. Small brands are creating content to get their voice heard. And everyone fights for the first page on Google. And rightly so. Because Google drives about 51% of blog traffic.
Note that this stat actually applied mostly to big brands with at least 8 year old domains, making at least $5 million in revenue yearly. It may not always be the case for small brands. These big brands probably have sufficient backlinks and domain age to keep their first page spots on Google. Yet, the point is SEO traffic is still a big deal in 2019. Why? People make millions of searches within minutes.
The Argument in Favor of Quantity
Using a marketing analogy, if you send out more sales pitches, you are more likely to get a sale. In that sense, you think of your content like pitches going out, the more you produce, the more your chances of getting seen by someone who probably would become a customer. In this sense, it would be better for you to create more long form posts than creating one super long post. The former would garner more SEO-benefits and get you more accumulated views in a short period.
The Downside: Content Shock
The more content being produced with click bait titles, the more we tend to want to dig in and the more information overload. Currently, content output outpaces demand – a phenomenon termed content shock by Mark Schaefer in 2014.
“According to Nielsen and other sources, the amount of content we consume on a daily basis has grown from two hours a day in the 1920s to nearly 11 hours per day today. Propelled by mobile devices, the average amount of content we consume on a daily basis has gone up by two hours a day just in the last three years!” – Mark Schaefer, BusinessGrow
We find that the majority of what is produced is outright irrelevant to us. The more information we accumulate on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google, the more strained our ability to pay attention for long.
The Argument in Favor of Quality
Again, if you were a marketer, quality in this sense means you’d likely get more value sending out the right pitch to the right people than sending out more pitches. Obviously, you’ll need to have a concrete, well-defined strategy.
This thinking is important because content production hs grown past just writing and slamming posts on your blog page; you need to market your content via every platform available to you, create impressive visuals, capture visitors’ information and update old content as methods are changing fast.
“When you are building out your content marketing team, focus 50% of their effort on updating old content.” – Neil Patel
The Downside: Less Reach
Obviously, as there’s limited time in a day, if you’d do quality, you’ll compromise on reach. If you want to produce far better content, that’s going to take a lot of time than picking one new topic from the stack.
There are more questions that need to be answered; more things to do. That means less content overall and less eyeballs viewing your posts.
What’s the point of content creation?
It’s impossible to maintain a consistent standard with content when you produce 12,000 words per week. You’re basically writing for robots. So your previous content would be 80% good quality while your new content is 20% good quality. By quality, I mean unique, customer-centric content.
The point of content creation is THE BUYER. What serves them? What is irrelevant? What is useful? What is useless? Pareto’s law applies here. 80% of our content mass is useless. So, instead of touching on many different points or needs haphazardly, making the majority of 80% uselessness, let’s focus on a particular need, treat it comprehensively, before moving on to the next touch point. This is focusing 80% of our effort on the 20%. The end result, more conversions, instead of more “generic” traffic. Yet quantity shouldn’t just be cast aside as a new age hype. It’s still very important.
But with so much existing noise, can we find a balance between too much information and necessary information? Can marketers target as many of the right people as possible with the right message? Can we be more efficient with content creation and content marketing. Yes! And a lot of specialization would be needed.
Different strokes for different folks
The irony is this: If you’re a big brand with top rankings on Google for some short tail keywords, you actually have to work harder to maintain your spot. One argument for quantity is Amazon’s Washigton Post, producing a large ton of content everyday – about 1000+ new content pieces everyday via robots and brains.
Here’s why the case is different: the Washington Post has no specific buyer persona in mind. They are a news agency. News and PR agencies are focused on getting more traffic. No traffic is “generic”. Traffic means more eyeballs. This would appeal to advertisers. Hence their top spot is guaranteed. Who can beat 1,000+ content pieces per day?
As a top player in your niche, if you’re not creating more content, you would lose that top spot in a flash. And fortunately, Google believes you have the resources to produce 6 pieces of long form valuable content in a week.
But if you’re a small brand, you’ll be better off targeting easy longer tail keywords and producing much more valuable long form content on these. Figuratively, if 100 high quality posts are competing with you for the first page, you’ll lose. If about 5 quality posts are competing with you, that shouldn’t hamper your rankings too much. Yet, you would do well to produce 4-5 pieces of high value content per month. This keeps you top of mind both on Google and in the minds of prospects. In short, “the higher you go, the tougher it gets”.
After all the song and dance, remember the 80-20 rule, only 20% of the content you produce will actually help reach the 80% who matter to your business. The 20% that truly explores the needs of your defined persona.
“Attention is too scarce to risk it on low-impact content.” Janessa Lantz