This post isn't so much a guide as it is a bit of a rant (albeit an informative one) about the role content has to play in digital marketing.
The Internet is awash with content.
Seriously, there is absolutely no shortage of content - and we keep adding more and more of it every second of the day.
But there's an issue (at least in my humble opinion).
So much of that content says so little, with so many words.
It's "content for the sake of content"
Think about it; how many times have you read a blog post or article, only to get to the end of it and feel like you've learned nothing, gained no new insights, received little entertainment, and have no "story to tell"?
The Internet is overflowing with prettily-arranged words that exist only to meet an arbitrary word count, or to be (technically) more comprehensive than something that is already ranking, or to provide an opportunity to target a keyword that needs targeting.
But what value is much of this content really providing?
If I look back to content I've created in the past, I can think of dozens of articles, blog posts etc that I've written that said so much, but somehow said nothing at all. This was especially so in my affiliate marketing salad days.
Now, when I write, I try to make sure I provide something useful.
That 'something useful' could be an insight or tip that hasn't been shared before, it could be a complex concept boiled down to a simple, actionable explanation, it could be something that simply entertains and makes people laugh. Utility, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.
But by focusing on providing value first (rather than simply arranging sentences on a page that have at least X words and at least Y percentage of keywords) I have found the content creation process so much more enjoyable.
Furthermore, I've found that links, social shares etc come easier. On one of my sites, I get emails on a daily basis from readers who thank me for answering their questions - rather than just arranging a bunch of words that Google thinks is an answer to a question.
Long form or short form, there's nothing wrong with creating content. In fact, it's a great thing. But that content NEEDS to have a purpose ... it needs to say something useful. It needs to add value.
Just writing more than the person who wrote before you doesn't achieve this aim. It just clogs up the Internet with more words.
If you find yourself struggling to write content because you can't think of any ideas - but you want to do it anyway because you need to target a new keyword or "it's the right thing to do" - then I encourage you to think again.
Have something to say first, THEN find a way to say it ... not the other way around.
This will result in better content for your business, and happier, more engaged readers.