Is Content Still King?

author image Written by: Alex Greening           Categories - SEO Tips>Content Marketing

When it Comes to Content Marketing, Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

A few years back, a certain phrase started popping up more and more frequently: “Content is king!” Back in 2016, many businesses shifted towards content marketing as a way to reach their audiences. Where blogs were once just a way to get much-needed keyword recognition, content has now become all-encompassing. It got big—but quantity is never a substitute for quality.

So, is content still king?

It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, there’s still a lot of superficial content out there, and content that’s not working for your brand—a missed opportunity. But at the same time, high-quality content attempts to attract, inform, engage, and delight audiences, borrowing from the inbound strategy. It can feel like the content landscape has stagnated as marketers constantly jockey for coveted positions on search engines. Frequently, this means focusing first and foremost on what Google wants, even when Google explicitly says they want sites and content that focus on user experience.

In short, yes, content is still king—but the kingdom might need a little TLC.

This disconnect all too often causes marketers to push the quantity, mistaking volume for quality. How do you avoid this all too common pitfall?

animation of a small castle transforming into a large castle
GIF by Casper Aarup Rasmussen
Rethinking your approach to content means shifting away from the tactics you’ve used in the past and getting outside the box.

The State of Content

Content these days seeks to attract, inform, engage, and delight audiences. It’s no longer just a way to pack in high-volume keywords, and now offers lasting value to users. Where content was once superficial, a flag in the ground to stake a claim on rankings, it’s now frequently highly detailed and heavily researched. That doesn’t mean that some of these tactics and approaches have stayed, fresh, though. A quick google search for “content marketing” reveals a wealth of organic topics that really cover a lot of the same ground: content marketing Google search results We see a lot of similar stuff because we’ve got a pretty broad search term (“what is content marketing”) and, of course, Wikipedia is a top result. That’s not to say these results lack value, but because of how we’re tailoring our search, it’s broad and very generic stuff. Diving into these results, we see plenty of query-based headlines and subheadings. These are designed to target common user searches. If you were to try to rank for these terms, you’d need to create content that’s at least ten times better. This is basically an uphill battle! You would need to move far beyond superficial guides and checklists and dive into something users could really sink their teeth into. If you were looking for a quick-and-easy way to beef up your content strategy, we’ve got some bad news for you: you’re going to have to spend time on crafting long-form, high-quality content.

Building Better Long-Form Content

Let’s get back to the main argument here: content is king, but the kingdom might’ve seen better days. Part of the reason for this is that many organizations rely on content tactics as opposed to a long-term strategy. This is completely understandable; strategy is, after all, the big picture, and tactics remain the on-the-ground approach. But the problem is that these tactical approaches don’t always serve a broader strategy. They’re designed to get results and move the needle, but by definition, they are short-term solutions.

animation of a chest being transformed into a royal chest
GIF by Supremus
A long-term content strategy should focus on long-form content, creating valuable resources you can build off of, repurpose, and redeploy as needed. Instead of focusing on churning out regular, short-term updates, investing in the time to create longer pieces can help you create a valuable library of content assets with a longer shelf life. Basically, don’t skim the surface of your topic. Invest time in the research process to develop real-world examples, cite (or run) studies, and take the time to cover your topic in greater detail. Remember the SERPs up above? The Wikipedia article clocks in at around 2,500 words. The Neil Patel article, meanwhile, is closer to 5,000. While both take a different approach to the topic, they’re both heavily researched (and aren’t afraid to show their resources) and go beyond scratching the surface. If you’re truly looking to outrank top-performing pages, you’ve got to put in the effort and back it up with reliable information.

Revising and Refining Your Content

Chances are, if you’re looking at ways to improve your content game further, you’ve already got a wealth of content to draw upon. You might even have considered the evergreen approach, updating content with fresh additions and republishing content to improve your offerings. There are definitely big benefits to reworking your existing assets and getting them in line with your existing strategy, but what if you took it a step further? What if you took an evergreen approach to every aspect of your content, providing a greater focus on structured data as you do so?

animation of a laptop and iPhone on Google's search engine
Is your content Google-approved?
This approach is half technical SEO, half content marketing, but it can work wonders for your brand.   This approach looks at the overlap between what Google is looking for and what users are looking for, adding schema.org, microdata, JSON, and rich snippet targeting to your site’s backend as you prep and update your site content. Start with a complete content audit. What do you have, and how is it performing? You may be forced to confront the idea that your site has plenty of filler, and that it doesn’t necessarily serve a direct purpose with your current strategy. Identify your struggling pages, your strong pages, and dive deep on the data you’ve gathered to gather insights. From there, it’s time to research and prioritize updates. Watch for:

  • Reduced metric performance—what’s the bounce rate like? Average time on-page? Do you have any heatmapping in place to show you where users are looking?
  • A gradual decline in performance—steady downward trends are a clear indicator something’s got to change.
  • Less value over time—how long are users sticking around and clicking through to other pages or taking an action?

Remember, this isn’t all about blogs. On-page content, such as that for services or products, are great opportunities to expand on and revise your content offerings. FAQs in particular—especially those that include opportunities for users to answer questions—are a huge opportunity to create valuable content on pages that otherwise not have a lot going on.

Use Content to Build Your Brand

As much as you might be searching for those perfect evergreen opportunities, remember: quality over quantity. If you want to truly stand out from the crowd with content that truly earns its crown, then you’ve got to get out of the mindset that more=more. Yes, regular content updates are vital, but low-level, low-effort content has minimal impact on your brand. Let’s face it, no one really wants to link to a listicle, they want to link to something that gets them thinking. There are any number of agencies, organizations, and businesses that will gladly dominate searches for tips, tricks, and advice. Keeping up and competing is time- and money-consuming, and you’re better off investing your time in high-quality, brand-building content that captures attention with a story. Remember the inbound approach: attract, engage, delight, and repeat! This content takes more time, more effort, and more thought, but trust us – it pays off in the long run! Content is king, so give it the royal treatment, and take the time to take care of your kingdom.

Alex Greening

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