If you write content regularly for an online marketing strategy, you’ve probably hit a wall at one point or another. You’ve completed a piece, checked it over, and realized it’s not your best work. But it’s error-free, it’s easy to read, and the topic is relatively interesting, so you go ahead and push it through because you consider it to be “good enough.”
That type of thinking will no longer cut it in this industry. The “good enough” mentality that allows you to post solid, but not spectacular content, will actively put you behind your competition if you do it regularly.
There are two main influences making it more difficult for “good enough” content to be effective.
The first influence comes directly from Google, whose search algorithm is constantly becoming more sophisticated. The Panda update is the big change most people hone in on, but remember that Panda is still seeing gradual, iterative updates. Also take into consideration the Hummingbird update of 2013, and the new quality standards released earlier this year, along with all the other unofficial, unannounced, and background refreshes.
The bottom line here is that Google is serious about ensuring content quality on as many sites as possible, and each update it releases increases its quality standards and decreases the power of quantity-based improvements. I imagine this trend will only continue, eventually favoring only the highest-quality content producers to rank, and eliminating the need for rapid-fire content updates altogether.
The second major influence is a result of the content marketing landscape. By now, most business owners have heard about the power of content marketing and are either directly participating in it or making plans to do so. Some have high budgets and unflinching commitments while others are staying frugal and might drop the strategy at any time. All types are contributing to the oversaturation problem in content marketing.
Consumers are flooded with content on every available platform to them, to a point where only the best of the best will stand out. Imagine your own experiences—do you click on every article whose headline you stumble across? Of course not. You probably only click on 10 percent, if that. If 90 percent of content marketers are flooding the market with content they consider to be “good enough,” than “good enough” content will never make it to that 10 percent threshold. In short, because users have so many choices when it comes to content to read, they’ll never read yours unless it truly stands out from the crowd. In this way, one exceptional piece is worth more than 10 “good enough” articles.
If this is the case, then why are so many marketers still resorting to the “good enough” mentality?
The root of the problem lies in perceptions about SEO. Evolutionarily, we’re wired to see things in terms of cause and effect with quantifiable outcomes. For example, if we spend more money, we expect more products. If we send out more invitations, we expect more guests. For a long time, SEO followed these expectations—if you wrote more articles and built more links, you would climb in search ranks accordingly. This correlation disappeared sometime around 2011, but the mentality that believed in it somehow persisted. People still struggle to understand that more effort isn’t always better for SEO—better effort is.
Compounding the problem is the fact that too many business owners believe that content marketing is an “a la carte” type of strategy, which can be leisurely or cheaply followed. This leads to weaker investments, both in terms of time and money, and ultimately creates a weaker pool of content.
Now that you know that “good enough” content is not good enough, let’s look at the ways your content can blend into the masses of underperforming pieces currently in circulation:
The occasional decent article isn’t going to ruin your strategy. You’ll continue to have moments when a decent article is better than no article, and pushing that content out instead of destroying it won’t actively decrease your domain authority. The real damage here is pushing decent, “good enough” articles as the foundation of your strategy, which at this stage in content marketing, is unacceptable. Instead, focus only on new, insightful, highly detailed and engaging content that’s really going to make an impression.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.