Content quantity vs. quality: Selling seats vs. winning championships

C.J. WilsonNot long ago I was complimented for the writing on a client’s blog. The content was relevant, the quality was good. “And I love how you manage SEO!” my reader added.

That part caught me by surprise. The truth is, I don’t focus on SEO in that blog. I know it’s important, and at times when I’m writing, I think to myself “Hey, that’s a good search phrase.” When I link, it’s to articles or other resources that will support when I’m writing, and the fact that it will help both our search rankings is a bonus.

In short, I still think like a journalist. And reading articles like this one from Social Media Today, and this one in Thought Leaders, I have to believe it’s an important focus to have — even as Google’s algorithm is newly focusing on dynamic content. It reminds me a little of my husband’s favorite baseball adage: “Good hitting sells seats. Good pitching wins championships.” Short-term attention-getting, vs. long-term relationship and brand building: indeed, much more strategy is involved with pitching, than with hitting.

Market segmentation and buyer personas…

In Social Media Today, Marc Meyer asks:

As the tablet and smart phone markets continue to expand, so will the amount of water downed re-used content. Thus, we need to get back to a time when content mattered, when good content mattered. I’m not so sure we can as long as we’re still trying to figure out who we’re supposed to be creating content for. Is it people or search engines?

Do we even have to ask? It stands to reason that search engines’ users are, after all, still people (even though Skynet was supposed to have become self-aware by now). So logically, SEO isn’t so much about the keywords… it’s about the keywords people are likely to use.

Not sure which keywords your target market is likely to use? You may need to work on getting to know your prospective customers. What kind of expertise do they have? What level of technical knowledge? What keeps them from doing their jobs effectively, and what wish lists do they have?

… and the writing mechanics matter, too.

I think a main reason that my writing succeeds in the SEO arena is that I’ve learned to cut out the fat. Stuff like turning “of the” possessives into apostrophes (the track logs of the GPS vs. the GPS’ track logs) and, of course, using active voice (I use active voice vs. passive voice is used by way too many writers).

Depressingly, somewhere along the way business writers decided they sounded more authoritative when they added in extra words. Cut them out, and SEO becomes what marketers call “organic”: naturally occurring within a text.

Readable, engaging content should be the goal. Readable: it flows, doesn’t distract the reader from learning. Engaging: it’s as close to enjoyable as you can make it. For digital forensics, learn from conversationally written blogs like Harlan Carvey’s Windows IR, or many of the posts on the SANS blog.

(Also note Evan Weisel’s note from the above article: “Yes, a blog may read in a conversational, even casual manner. But the good ones require serious intellectual “sweat equity” into the often painful process of writing. In other words, it takes effort to make it for an effortless read.”)

Perhaps the biggest reason I don’t blog daily is that I want to have something meaningful to say: quality vs. quantity. I can think of only a handful of people who can manage both simultaneously. So while I’d like to manage a daily blog (two, even), the family-client-personal situation means if I can only find something of quality to say once a week… that’s okay. Likewise for you. Yes, search brings people to your website. But only great writing will keep them there.

How often do you blog? How important to you are quality and quantity, and how much of a balance do you try to strike?

Creative Commons License photo credit: c.mcbrien

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