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Content Marketing

Quantity versus Quality, Must I Choose Sides in My Content Marketing Strategy?

One of the biggest objections I encounter to the content marketing strategy of updating a site multiple times daily is the thinking (sometimes out loud!) that content must suffer if you are posting often. 

“Nobody has that much to say that can be considered quality content.”

Baloney. Malarkey. Hooey. 

Or, “I prefer to do quality instead of quantity.”

What I hear is that the content marketer doesn’t want to work hard, isn’t creative enough, or is getting paid more for a lengthy article than they can for smaller articles.

My strategy, rather, is to create an army of high quality articles.

Quantity versus Quality

Those folk with the mentality that quality suffers when you post a lot need to sit down with a professional content marketer who can show them how to expand their thinking to develop a long list of quality ideas to write about.

Not Enough Good Ideas

You might want to check out Bernadette’s article here on SEJ – The Complete List of Engaging Content Ideas.

I could tell you my strategy, including how I could expand on her list, but then I’d have to shoot you. But really, here is an example: If I do an interview and it runs long, I will break it up into a series of posts, linking them altogether. One interview of 10 Q&As can become 10 quality posts each addressing a point. No doubt I will tell you more of my strategies anyway in future articles.

When Short is Better Than Long

There is also the mindset that if short is good then long must be better. Says who? That’s simply not true. Don’t get me wrong, it can be true. But it’s not ALWAYS true. And if you’re a content marketer, it’s not even usually true.

If someone wants a short answer to a specific question (which is some 90% of queries that take place in search engines), the long windy answer is NOT a good quality reply by any measurement. It’s just long.

Just answer the question.

2 Key Questions

Question: When was the last time you found the answer to your search query in the 300-400th, or 400-500th, or 500th+ word section of an article?

Answer: It doesn’t happen. And a long article does not make the front end any easier to find. 

Question: When you make a search, get your results, click on the result you think you want to read, what is the next thing you do?

Answer: If you are like most people, after clicking and opening up your result the next you do will be to scroll down to see how long it’s going to take you to get your answer, the information you want. And if you perceive the article as too long to get your answer, you back out = a bounce, the worst thing that can happen after someone searches and finds you. Too long is too long. If you are writing long windy articles you are NOT doing so as part of a content marketing strategy.

Long is Not Sustainable

This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for long, well-written articles. Those kinds of articles are precisely the kind of articles I am writing here at SEJ. Even so, writing long articles is NOT a good content marketing strategy. It is not sustainable. The results take too long to get, if they can be gotten at all. Remember the fellow I mentioned in a previous article here at SEJ.

2 Rules of Thumb

A simple fact – search engines are stupid. A search bot cannot read an article and make a subjective determination that says, “Wow, this is good writing, good style, deep, well-researched, substantive content.”

A search engine can, however, count. The content at this site is balanced (uses a reasonable percentage of the same character combinations); this website is consistently on topic; this site has more related articles internally as well as links to more external sources that are related as well, and this site has more on-topic content than another site.

Another fact – if you want more eyeballs on your site from search, give searchers more good stuff to find. Stop fiddling with the few pages and offer up more good stuff.

Conclusion

Quality does not need to suffer at the expense of quantity. They are not enemies. The real winner in content marketing will be the site which offers the greatest amount of quantity without sacrificing quality.

Next article – Social Media versus Social Networking in Content Marketing, a Clear Winner

Image: Property of  BillBelew.com.

billbelewlogo Quantity versus Quality, Must I Choose Sides in My Content Marketing Strategy?
Professor, Speaker, Author, blogger, all-around old man. Having taught a full 48-hour MBA course in Marketing with Social Media at a graduate school in Silicon Valley, Bill delivers insights from recent, real and relevant case studies. Bill has been working in social media for more than 8 years and has more than 90 million unique visitors from organic search to his network of sites and in a variety of niches. He knows what works, what doesn't, what can kill a site, and what can cause it to grow. Bill has a network of 5000+ Meetup followers in the heart of Silicon Valley. He is a paid, professional, international, in-demand speaker.
billbelewlogo Quantity versus Quality, Must I Choose Sides in My Content Marketing Strategy?

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27 thoughts on “Quantity versus Quality, Must I Choose Sides in My Content Marketing Strategy?

  1. One of the few exceptions to that rule. It doesn’t fit in with the speed of change in this business. On the other hand, the best companies shouldn’t lessen their quality, even if they have a lot more customers than before.

    1. Scott, I disagree. It is a lot easier to adjust when you have versatility – large and small, deep and wide than with just one strategy.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

  2. I most definitely agree the quality is better than quantity. Well of course the more quality content, the better.

    I also like the way you say that longer doesn’t mean it’s better. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of reading too long articles.

  3. I fully agree with you. You should try to post as much content as possible, but without compromising on Quality. The more content on a blog, the more questions it will be answering, and thus more people will be visiting the blog everyday. The only thing is to manage high quality. And its an excellent idea to keep things short and simple.

    Just one question, do you really think that breaking an interview into 2-3 parts is a good idea as it can create a discontinuity and sense of frustration in readers especially when they know that I have the complete content ready with me.

    1. Michael, If I had an established readership such as there is here at SEJ, I would leave the interview all in one piece. If I wanted to get more readers, appeal to the search engines AND please readers in part, I’d break it up. After all, most people who are searching are looking for an answer, not a long read.

      Does this make sense?

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

      1. HI Bill

        Thanks. Yup it clears a lot of things. I too agree that for search traffic it would be better to keep short information as these guys are looking for specifics.

  4. I feel long articles will suit well for articles such as tutorials and case studies! I feel most of the online users tend to get boring if the solution they are searching for is explained too in detail rather than getting direct to the point!

    1. Conor,

      You are right. The nature of the content will determine the length of the response.

      In the case of a tutorial that involves, for example 10-steps, if appropriate I could break down the steps in 10 different posts, then write one post that links to all the steps. Make sense?

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

  5. For me,in order to succeed on both a quality and a quantity level, it is important to create large chunks of content in combination with micro-content. Especially micro-content is on the rise. Companies and private individuals use small bits of content in a smart way to boost interaction and the number of views.

    1. Barbara,

      I find that the ‘large chunks of content’ become more visible when my site is complemented with a lot of the ‘micro-content’ articles. They both serve each other well.

      Thanks for reading,

      Bill

  6. I agree that quality is better than quantity. As Mr. Conor said very long article exceeding more than 500 words would me more suitable for case studies.Also in the case of press release long article would do good.

    I would prefer, article about 400 words with a good amount of information along with a quality content is the best.

    1. Christi,

      Thomas Jefferson said, “Never use two words when one is enough.” The right length is however many words it takes to get your point across and no more.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

  7. nice Bill. I dont believe in log tail stories in articles because the viewers are visiting the articles and blogs to find their issues/questions/queries. they don’t like read load stories which ends with no results. The short, sweet and upto the point and that’s done.

    1. Thanks, Paresh.

      The best article is the one that satisfies the query. Long and/or short is not part of the equation.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

  8. I don’t think there’s any question now that 500 word articles are dead. What I mean by this is; 1. They don’t rank for keywords. 2. They’re less shared. 3. Provide little value for the reader and publisher… I think really, the best articles in terms of performance across the board are 1,500-2000 words long. Is it a case of longer = quality? No, but people who are publishing these lengthy posts are usually focused on quality in the first place. I avoid going over 3,500 words unless it’s a case-study or guide type post, but always go over 1,000 words now.

    1. Daniel,

      I disagree, I have the data and have shared it in previous articles here at SEJ that dispute your claim.

      Do you have data to the contrary. Longer does NOT equal better quality. How can you substantiate that claim?

      Please share.

      And thanks for reading.

      Bill

  9. Bill,

    Love it!

    i post 5 or more times daily. Some posts are 1 minute long videos with a bit of text, for context. I am doing fine with it. Wisdom is saying much with few words. Imagine Seth Godin. He’s doing fine for himself writing shorter posts because he understands the message, and not word length, matters most.

    So I am for quantity and quality, because the more you write the better you write ;)

    1. Ryan,

      I would be interested to see if you have a before and after on results at your site…writing less vs writing more … long vs short. I have a lot of samples from my own clients and students but am always interested to learn more if you can share.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Bill

  10. I love the article, Bill. We try to mix it up. One day a short blog post with a picture of something we are working on VS Strategy blogs of 500 words or less. Honestly more people engage with the pictures and less text.

    Thank you for the share. I will have to keep checking back for good articles.

  11. Bill, I could not agree more. With very competitive keywords, I can see the “longer is better crowds'” point. But they forget that most of the best-ranking content is not long-form, and they are leaving aside a very important point: Asking the blogging novice to write 1,500 well is a lot harder than having her or him write 450 words well.

    RS

    1. Ronell,

      I haven’t seen any data that suggests long out performs short. However, I do have data that short will outperform long.

      The key point is to satisfy the query of the search. No more, no less.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

  12. I agree with centermassmedia, I do believe that alternating between a shorter post and a much longer post on different days can be advantageous. I also like the idea of an image and a small caption, like those on twitter and instagram.

    Great read by the way!

    1. Peter,

      It is okay to agree with CMM, but do they have data to support that statement?

      My students also wrote long anchor/pillar posts, but not by alternating. The number of short posts far outnumbered the longer posts so that when longer posts did get written, they would get better visibility.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill Belew

  13. In my opinion quality content is best compared to quantity. This is mainly applicable to the social network sites as the smaller quality contents have more number of likes than the ones with larger ones. This is a clear indication what quality content can do.

  14. Benny,

    Do you have data to support your statements.

    Content on social networks is best for social…not for marketing.

    Thanks for reading.

    Bill Belew