Why (Quality) Content Is King

Content marketing can have a positive effect on your bottom line, but if it's not done well, you're wasting your time.
Principal, The Dilenschneider Group
August 02, 2013

There’s a whole lot of debate going on these days on the subject of “quantity versus quality” in content marketing. There shouldn’t be.

When it comes to content marketing, if you’re not going to make the effort to create quality content, then don’t bother at all.

To make sure we’re all on the same page: What exactly is content marketing?

The best definition I’ve seen, not surprisingly, comes from the Content Marketing Institute:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Under the umbrella of content marketing you’ll find a wide variety of platforms including blogging, guest articles, infographics, videos, social media, Web copy and even email campaigns.

For example, the law firm of Harris & Moure has been writing the China Law Blog since 2006. In it, they give away their expertise for free. This provides real value to readers and potential clients and also showcases their expertise. The Dollar Shave Club used a hilarious, if somewhat bold, video to attract 12,000 new customers in just two days. On a larger scale, Red Bull has created an entire media empire, with print publications, movies, videos, and even music publishing. All of this is designed to serve the interests and tastes of their young, active target audiences. Their magazine, The Red Bulletin, has a monthly circulation of 2.5 million.

A executed content marketing strategy:

  • Puts a human face on your business
  • Bolsters search engine optimization efforts
  • Establishes you as a thought leader
  • Creates greater customer loyalty
  • Supports public relations efforts
  • Provides fodder for social media

Most importantly, a well-executed content marketing campaign can have a significant positive effect on your bottom line.

When done well, content marketing can do amazing things for a business. When done badly, it can be a waste of time, money, and energy. At the very worst, poor content can do irreparable damage to a brand.

While the concept of “quality content,” is highly subjective, the team over at Google has offered up a nice litmus test for judging quality. In response to dubious search engine optimization practices, Google has implemented what they call “Panda” updates to their algorithm. These updates are all geared to rewarding quality content.

The Google Webmaster Central blog has spelled out, in real detail, exactly what Google is looking for in terms of quality content. The blog lays out over 20 questions to ask about the quality of content, but I’ve narrowed it down to seven to give you a feel for what Google is looking for:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?

Obviously, you shouldn't be creating quality content just to make Google happy. All content needs to be created with your specific audiences in mind.

Are you capable of producing this level of content? Ask yourself:

  • Do I have knowledge, insights, perspective on subjects of interest and real use to my target audiences (current and potential customers/clients)?
  • Do I have someone internally (or can I hire someone externally) capable of producing high quality, valuable content?
  • Do I have the resources—financial and time—to create this kind of quality content with enough frequency to keep my targeted audiences engaged and even entertained?

If the answer to any of these is no, think long and hard about even going down the content marketing road.

If, on the other hand, you can confidently (and honestly) answer yes to all three, you will find yourself uniquely positioned to enjoy the fruits of creating great content.

So how much content does your business need to produce?

There is no hard and fast formula here. Companies like Red Bull, Ralph Lauren, IBM, and Procter & Gamble are producing massive amounts of quality content on a daily basis. Smaller companies must produce in accordance with their size and resources.

As you embark on your content marketing campaign, I’d suggest aiming for at least one piece of quality content per week. If you find you can produce more, go for it. There’s really no such thing as too much quality content.

If, on the other hand, you find that once a week is just too difficult, then think seriously about refocusing your efforts into other areas of marketing or advertising.

Remember, content marketing is challenging, time-consuming and requires a long-term commitment. But, when done well, it can be the single biggest factor in taking your business to new heights.

Jon Gelberg is the chief content strategist at Ceros where he is involved in all aspects of communications and public relations. Gelberg has written extensively on issues relating to content marketing and public relations. His articles have appeared on Inc.com, Time.com, and in other digital and traditional media outlets.

Photo: Thinkstock