pages of books pinned to a wall
Why would it even be a question if content marketers should publish quality content or not? PHOTO: Patrick Tomasso

Recently, many of the experts you know and love predicted that content marketers will focus on quality not quantity in 2018. 

This bothers me. Why is this treated as a groundbreaking prediction? Shouldn’t we have been focused on quality all along?

Publishing For All the Wrong Reasons

Content marketing is a complicated discipline. Many people believe the correct approach is “publish, publish, publish” for SEO and social media and reach. But the goal of content marketing is to introduce an expert point of view into the marketplace. So why would you publish something that’s low quality and won’t add to the conversation?

The SEO experts think you need to publish to get noticed. The social media people say, “We need more content to feed the beast.” And the data people complain when they don’t have enough to measure. So it seems that everyone is invested in publishing often. But if you’re doing that without hundreds of expert content creators, you are probably publishing low-quality content.

Let’s examine each of those arguments:

  1. SEO: SEO experts proclaim that the more you have out there, the easier it is for one of your customer segments to notice you. But is that true? If it’s low-quality content that doesn’t answer people’s questions, search engines won’t index it. If no one links to it, it probably won’t be rated highly. And if it doesn’t add anything to the conversation, it’s worthless. So publishing for SEO’s sake is not the way to go.
  2. Social media: The audience won’t click on or share low-quality content, and the channels will decide that they’re not interested in your content. If it performs well but has nothing to do with your brand, you’re just using vanity metrics to prove that you’re doing something. The most firm rules we have in content strategy: Content should help users accomplish their tasks and satisfy business objectives. If you can’t check those two boxes when creating or posting content, move on.
  3. Reach and data: Again, the argument above speaks to vanity metrics. Recently, a client was telling me how enamored her boss is with the reach they have. So I asked, (quite bravely, I might add), “How do the conversions look?” And she laughed because we both know the data is skewed to show something that doesn’t prove you’re advancing the needs of the organization. It’s a smokescreen or a Wizard of Oz behind the curtain metric and it doesn’t help prove anything except that you can pay for likes and ads.

Give Your Audience What They’re Looking For

So what’s the answer? Publish low-quality content frequently or high-quality content less regularly?

You already know the answer: Find out what your audience’s questions are and delve into those topics. The search engines are moving away from keywords and toward high-quality content that surrounds a central topic (think hub and spoke).

Make a list of your customers’ 100 questions and answer those. Then make a list of their next 100 questions and publish content around that. Now go back and refresh the first 100. Trust me: This plan will provide you with more than enough to write about so you can consistently produce high-quality content.