10 September 2019 - Gavin Duff

Where Has All The Good Content Gone?

Have you ever worn the same thing as someone else to a party?

What if you went to a party and when you got there, over 100,000 people had the same idea?

That’s what would happen if you write a blog post called “how to optimise my blog post for SEO”.

What’s happening everywhere is that original thought and compelling content is being threatened (or at least drowned out) by those who:

  1. write just to rank
  2. are too conservative
  3. have no strategy
  4. have little to say about their product, service or industry
  5. have little to say about their company
  6. are just plain lazy
  7. fall under all of the above…

Personally, I have a real problem with the overabundance of what’s called “topic cluster content”. This is pushed by the likes of HubSpot, the Content Marketing Institute, and many more. To explain this concept: you simply find your core topic (that people are searching for) and then you write more blog posts about related sub-topics (that people are searching for).

“The internet is being flooded by content that has absolutely no value. Content for the sake of content. And it must stop.”

Kind of Boring

So for example, if I was to write about how to optimise a blog post for SEO, then I might proceed to write a piece a week later about how to build relevant link to said blog post. Logical, right? Yes, but isn’t it kind of boring?

Writing for SEO is okay to a point, but far too many brands are picking up on this technique and creating content that has little to no value. And it’s sort of all the same. At best, it might be slightly useful – but it’s probably been written over 100,000 times before. And much of it ends up in TL;DR territory.

Let’s get to the point of what is considered to be poor quality content, and then stay where you are so that we can discuss what to do about it…

According to Google’s own guidelines, your content is of poor quality if:

  • It’s lacking in purpose
  • It is harmful or offensive
  • Presents unsubstantiated conspiracy theories
  • Promotes hate or violence
  • The page is just a copy of an idea already present on the internet
  • There are numerous grammatical errors or misspellings
  • and many more…

And hidden somewhere within their documentation if you look closely enough, there is also this key piece:

  • Little to no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users

Now that’s the real problem right there. They do not like lazy content.

Google has felt the need to create guidelines like E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) because most people simply cannot follow their advice by writing with honesty… and for the user.

Getting away with it

The internet is being flooded and, over time, ruined by those creating content time and again that has absolutely no value. Content for the sake of content. And it must stop.

The mere suggestion that you should have an opinion can be met with, “Yeah maybe if we were Ryanair or Paddy Power then we could get away with that.” A knowing guffaw will usually follow. Well, guess what – those brands are getting away with it and it’s getting them a lot of exposure. Their content is often original, has a supporting strategy, dares to create debate… and come on, they’re having fun.

Brands who create content with honesty don’t give much of a sh*t about what people are searching for, or what they will write about next week based on, well, what people are searching for again. They will write with authority, they will have an opinion, an original piece of thought, a tone of voice, a strategy… all of the core elements that are missing from most content.

Not just Storytelling

The next time you sit down and strategise content, think about all of this. And very importantly, if you have a topic then Google it before you write so that you can ascertain if it’s already been done a million times or not. And if it has then you’d better make it bloody good or else don’t bother. Good content is not just storytelling, it’s telling your story well.

And don’t be afraid to have an opinion. If it doesn’t work then life will go on (assuming you haven’t said something completely ignorant or offensive). But you MUST have an opinion or a voice, or your content will not stand out. It just won’t.

Furthermore, there are so many blogs that are chock full of articles about products or services and you’ve got to wonder why these are not just given a logical/permanent home on their website. Your blog is your place to have an opinion or a voice, not to shove a product benefit down someone’s neck… again. Let your product pages be great at doing that.

Don’t focus on what everyone else is saying and then try to say it better. Instead, focus on trying to say what nobody has said yet. Now that’s something of value. That’s something I’ll read. And so will many others…

Where to Start

We know that this is not easy… you do need to research your audiences, engage with them and better understand their needs, you need a direct line to those with the authority to greenlight and/or produce this content and have the opinion, you need the resources to produce something compelling.

So if you’re wondering where to start with often limited resources, then:

  • Look at your own industry – there are surely developments that you (or someone in your organisation) can have an opinion on. Everyone between four office walls has an opinion so be bold, back that up and talk about it.
  • Read a lot – If you are not keeping pace with your industry then you may have an opinion that is out-dated – or that someone has already had.
  • Do NOT immediately look for what users are searching on Google for. Most searches do NOT end in a purchase, remember? Instead, use informed research and ask them what they’d like to see from you.
  • Is there any industry experts who would be willing to write for you? They will be less afraid of judgment and might even have some credibility to lend.
  • Weigh up the risks and rewards and maybe just do something cheap but fun. Like that time Friday created TDer, which is still worth a look.

With the right amount of effort and willingness, you’ll not just be creating content that delights your audiences.. but also your audience’s audiences.

Now go and take risks with your content, because the answer is always no if you’re never even asked. Don’t just be like the rest.

Fancy taking a risk with your content? Get in touch.