Why You Shouldn’t Even Bother With a Half-Assed Blog Post
Data from a Content Marketing Institute report found that 44% of businesses aren’t clear on what a successful marketing program looks like. Vague understandings lead to ill-informed execution, and most businesses believe that more is better when it comes to creating content. This unfortunate assumption forms the basis for most content marketing strategies.
It certainly does not help that many content marketers and their company blogs adopt this strategy as the gold standard. The issue with this approach revolves around tons of content being put out each day without a real business purpose, clogging up newsfeeds with crap that’s barely fit to read. Herein lies the problem of content for content’s sake.
Some of the most glaring mistakes content marketing teams make when creating content for their company revolve around:
- Crafting content with topics not related to their niche
- Creating superficial content that does not add value to readers, just glossing over the very basics of a topic
- Unoriginal content they stole or repurposed from another source
Content should be so much more than this, and come from a place of truth. Even though search engines will crawl the site for keywords, there’s more that goes into ranking on SERPs than just technicalities.
Here’s why you shouldn’t even bother with a half-assed blog post.
Great Blog Content is More Than Just Keywords
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not just about keywords. SEO is a complex undertaking composed of many different pieces, all of which contribute to the SEO “score”.
This Search Engine Journal article provides a checklist that contains many important considerations for SEO in your content. A lack of these elements doesn’t necessarily indicate the existence of a half-assed blog post, but it does indicate a lack of effort in promoting it in every way that you can.
There is no one-size-fits-all standard when it comes to SEO and content. Every company is different, even those that share an industry and audience.
Though it’s impossible to give a definitive number for content word length for something to be considered more than a half-assed blog post (respective of SEO), SnapAgency crunched the numbers to present a new minimum of 1000 words. This number on it’s own is enough for Google to take notice, but again, it’s not everything. In fact, SnapAgency’s data demonstrates that evergreen content pieces should be closer to 2500 words if you want to dominate the search engine results pages (SERP) for the keywords you’re targeting.
Just remember that more words doesn’t necessarily result in higher quality content. So don’t push for a length that results in a half-ass blog post.
Before hitting “publish”, make sure that you ask yourself if your content is truly useful for your target audience, and if it’s engaging enough to inspire them to share it. If you can’t honestly predict that your content can do either of these things, you may have a rewrite on your hands. If it can’t be saved, send it to the trash where it belongs.
Great Content Takes Time
What exactly is “good” or “quality” content?
According to Google Webmaster Tools, good content is content that is created for the user/reader (and not search engines) in mind. This should make sense, as most of Google’s recent initiative’s (mobile-first, AMP, etc.) were specifically enacted with the user experience in mind.
If you’re looking for certain elements to cross off your list when it comes to content, make sure that whatever you publish is:
- Engaging. This starts with a story, and can involve elements of formatting (whitespace is your best friend), and pictures to illustrate your points throughout.
- High-quality. As in, more than a surface-level consideration of the topic. Also, this content should be original to your website, and not appearing elsewhere as duplicate content.
- Credible. Link to high-quality and high-authority sources to back up the points you make in your piece.
Considering the amount of effort that goes into creating truly great content, you’ve hopefully internalized the fact that this is not something that can be churned out in 30 minutes, or less.
The opposite of great content is “thin content”. Thin content does you no favors: besides wasting time, you may actually be penalized for it. And you certainly won’t get back the money you might have paid a freelancer for it, or the effort a member of your team put into it that could’ve been better used on decent content or something they’re better at executing.
Great quality shouldn’t be the only focus of the content you create. Another important factor is timeliness. If you only ever focus on trending topics, you’re missing the chance to rank with evergreen content that keeps people interested and engaged over time. Trending topics are eventually forgotten, and your companion content along with it.
If you’re going to go for half-assed “high quality” content, it’s better not to post at all.
The Benefits of Creating Great Content
So I’ll go ahead and assume that if you’ve made it this far, you’re done with half-assed blog posts and understand the benefits that go along with putting in the time, effort, and money required to create truly great content. Great content is a gift that keeps on giving well after publication. Besides improving your website’s SEO, here are the fabulous perks you’ll garner as a result:
Great Content Can be Repurposed.
Since high-quality content is “meaty” and tends to draw from several expert sources, it can be repurposed or spun into other related blog posts (like guest posts on other similar websites), videos, slides, podcasts, social media posts, and even online courses! You can also reverse engineer the process to make blog posts out of any other content assets you’ve already created.
Repurposing content definitely isn’t a bad thing, and you can learn from several other companies that do it successfully. In 2013, Google’s Matt Cutts has been quoted saying that 25-30% of content is actually duplicate or repetitive, and these content assets haven’t been penalized. Make sure not to take this advice too literally, as exact duplicate content is an SEO penalty waiting to happen.
Use content repurposing as a way of reinforcing your core message. The Marketing Rule of Seven states that people have to see your message 7 times before they will close the deal. You might as well use and reuse your content to help sales efforts.
Great Content Reaches More People in Your Audience.
Good long-form content that answers people’s questions or serves as a how-to guide often ranks even long after it was published.
The Pareto Principle states that you should put 20% of your effort into activities that will yield 80% of the results. By creating high quality content, you are doing just that. Remember that publishing content is just the beginning—you also need to spend at least as much effort and time on promoting it.
Great Content Establishes You as an Expert in Your Field.
When you get more attention for your content, it won’t be long before people will gravitate to you for help, as you will be considered an expert in your field. By establishing yourself as an expert, you put yourself in a position to recommend products/items/services, because people believe you are credible. Additionally, providing good quality content may be seen as a form of customer service, as your customers will feel as if they’re being served even before they purchase something from you.
How to Make Good Content
Though the scope of this article isn’t enough to make you a content marketing rockstar without some additional research and practice, here are some quick and easy tips to keep in mind to avoid creating half-assed blog posts:
Be Original, and be Helpful.
Don’t use tired concepts or topic ideas—there are enough already on the web. Make yourself a source of answers for other people seeking them, in a way that’s decidedly different than anyone else.
A good guideline for creating quality content is the acronym E-A-T: expertise, authority and trust. The content must convey each of these essential elements. Also, consider multiple forms of content. In addition to blog posts, create case studies, reports, and white papers as relevant to your audience and business goals.
Focus on Strong Headlines
According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your headlines, but only 20% of them will actually read your content. This fact is supported by a study from Columbia University and the French National Institute who found that 59% of links shared on social media have never been clicked.
The title of your article is what will first draw in the members of your audience. It would be a shame to create truly great content that no one reads, because the headline did a bad job of drawing them in. Create a headline that will intrigue the reader, and at the same time, give them an idea of what to expect once they start reading your article.
Make Content Actionable
People must be able to apply what you’ve written to make it stick. If it does stick, that person will remember you, share your content, and maybe even link to it within their own content assets. Half-assed blog posts just aren’t capable of any of these things.
Why You Shouldn’t Even Bother With a Half-Assed Blog Post
In a world where there is so much content being produced, writing a lot to keep up with an arbitrary content can burn you out, tempting you to take the easy road out and create thin content to meet deadlines. Of course, this isn’t something you should do, not just because of the SEO penalties you’ll eventually receive, but also because there are several benefits associated with writing high quality content.
So let’s make a pact – no more half-assed blog posts. If you can make this promise, tweet at @DigitalRDMS and we’ll retweet your promise to the world!