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Don’t Fall Victim to the Content Overproduction Trap

Don’t Fall Victim to the Content Overproduction Trap

too much content

 Every company asks this question at least once in regards to content marketing: How much content should we be producing to make a measurable impact? With hundreds of “gurus” in varying digital disciplines sharing 50 shades of gray area every day, it’s difficult to determine the right number for any company. You’ve likely heard some variation of these statements that can further confuse the issue:

  • Google likes fresh content

  • New content pages represent a new entry point opportunity for your website and new possibilities for links from other sites

  • Stick to a content schedule and create content consistently

The problem with the statements above is that they cause us to focus on the wrong parts of the issue.

Don’t get confused by ‘freshness’

SEO experts will tell you that Google rewards fresh content, but freshness alone doesn’t mean much. “Fresh” isn’t a synonym for “good” or “relevant.” It’s not even necessarily a synonym for “new.”

Fresh content may simply be an update to existing information on your website. It may be new pages or posts on your site. Fresh content — at least good fresh content — isn’t content written for the sake of having new content. That’s part of the content overproduction trap.

content overproduction

In a June post on Moz, Cyrus Shepard points out:

“While some queries need fresh content, other search queries may be better served by older content. Fresh is often better, but not always… your goal should be to update your site in a timely manner that benefits users, with an aim of increasing clicks, user engagement and fresh links. These are the clearest signals you can pass to Google to show that your site is fresh and deserving of high rankings.”

Useful content created for the right audience and available at the right time will help drive the right traffic and the right leads.

Focus on consumption, not production

Drive by your local McDonald’s restaurant, and you’ll notice its sign says, “BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SERVED.” The key word here is served. It doesn’t say billions and billions of burgers made. That “burgers served” tally is ultimately a measure of customer satisfaction. Sure, it also speaks to the organization’s ability to scale, but who needs to scale if nobody wants your product?

Instead of setting high quantity content creation goals, set quality goals that will help you reach a larger number of readers and customers served. Maybe you don’t consider your brand the McDonald’s of your industry — that’s perfectly OK. Look at any well-run, popular restaurant from local diners to fine dining. The successful restaurateur understands that quality food, exceptional service, a great location and adequate promotion lures in new customers and brings old customers back.

Focus on high-value content assets

Your audience barely sees 20 percent of what you publish at any given time, according to If you are constantly churning out new and different content, how many of those ideas get communicated and absorbed by your target audience? Not many. Also consider:

  • Anywhere from 2 million (MarketingProfs) to 2.73 million (Quora) new blog posts are published every day

  • At least 571 websites launch every minute (Qmee)

  • People send around 350,000 tweets a minute (Internet Live Stats)

  • People watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube every day (YouTube)

Increasing competition for audience attention means you face an important decision: Do you generate a lot of content that may not be seen, or do you create fewer but more in-depth, higher-value content assets?

content overproduction

Smart content marketers will choose the in-depth, high-value content route. Why? Because this path enables you to refocus your time and resources around supporting and promoting content that converts instead of wasting time on creating a lot of low-quality content that just sits there. Don’t create for the sake of creation. Create with meaning. Again, don’t fall prey to content overproduction.

Let’s talk turkey

LinkedIn’s Jason Miller shares a great analogy to help marketers understand how to do more with a single “big rock” piece of content each quarter: Think about it like a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s the huge, glorious star of the show on Thanksgiving Day, but it’s great to use in other dishes in the following week, too. Your whitepaper, ebook, original research or case study can be the main course that feeds your content efforts for an entire quarter or longer. Repurpose your in-depth content into:

With the Thanksgiving turkey approach, you might reduce the amount of in-depth content you create, but you are not necessarily reducing the time and resources necessary to create and promote it. With this methodology, the focus is on quality and creativity. You must be ready to:

  • Build relationships with influencers. Find and engage influencers whose expertise aligns with your content. Ask them to contribute to your blog or launch an influencer marketing campaign. See if you can contribute to their blogs.

  • Staff appropriately. If you don’t have writers or designers on staff with the chops to pull off a professional, high-caliber whitepaper or ebook, rely on experienced freelancers. Your staff can partner with these professionals to help them deliver the most relevant end product.

  • Invest in evergreen content. The return on investment on professionally written evergreen content will exceed any savings you realize when you just generate a lot of quick and easy content in-house.

  • Promote, promote, promote. You are up against a lot of noise. If you want your content to break through the chaos, you have to spend more time distributing and promoting it.

Have you found the quantity v. quality balance?

Your content strategy needs to strike the right balance between quantity and quality. Don’t allow perfection to become an obstacle to publishing and promoting, but also be wary of letting arbitrary production goals muddy your focus.

It is OK to start with a gradual approach. In fact, it’s recommended — that way, you don’t end up with a stockpile of (let’s be blunt) “worthless” assets.

Understand your reader and create content they want to read. Then, watch how they engage with your content, and as you start to spot patterns in consumption, increase your efforts to deliver more quality content. Test first, then scale.

You might also want to read “How to Revive Expired Content“.

Author bio:

As Chief Operating Officer at ClearVoice, Anita Malik leads the product’s editorial vision while running the solutions and customer success teams. When the line outside her office slows, she’s also mom to her two sons, a part-time songwriter, a reiki healer and a serial entrepreneur. Follow her on Twitter.

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