Content Quality vs. Quantity: What You Need to Know

Thunderfoot Team

The mantra for most content marketers is “quality over quantity’” — but could this view be on the way out?

It seems like more and more these days, the common trend, especially for content being distributed across multiple channels, is to favor quantity over quality. Even legacy publishers like the Washington Post now distribute about 1,200 pieces of content every day, and they’re even beginning to outproduce digital-only sites like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post.

The Post’s web visits have grown astronomically too, by 28% over the last year, outpacing the New York Times for several months at the end of last year.

Based on the success of the Washington Post and other businesses following in the same tracks, is there wisdom in the principle that quantity rules the day? And if so, how do we content marketers keep pace?

Content, Content Everywhere

There’s a lot of content available for consumption on the web. I believe the technical term is “a helluva lot of content.”

According to Steve Rayson, “the number of pages Google [indexed] from 2008 to 2014 increased from 1 trillion to 30 trillion.” In just seven years, that’s an increase of 29 trillion pages, which is way more than any person could access and read in their lifetime, even if they wanted to.

So where where did this surge come from?

Here’s one take: when the web first took hold as an epicenter of content creation and dissemination, companies realized that they could attract customers at relatively low cost by publishing high quality content. Then, every marketer bought into the idea of content marketing — though as with anything, not everyone has the talent, staff, or resources to create good content consistently.

This race for increased content output has led to a rise in practices like content automation, which relies on software to create first drafts of articles by drawing data from the web. The Washington Post even developed their own in-house software called Bandito, which uses an algorithm to decide which types of story treatments a reader will find the most interesting. Editors can then publish up to five different headlines and photos to meet those segmented interests.

With an ever increasing demand for content, automation and “news-writing bots” appear to be a smart business move. After all, these services lower cost of production and distribution, thereby bringing overall market spend down.

What’s more, AI has progressed so far that it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between stories written by humans and those spit out by robots. And, thought these pieces aren’t perfect, robots can churn out a lot of content more quickly than humans can.

This all sounds great, except for one thing: how does quality play into the equation?

The Case For Quality

Merits of high quantity content publication aside, It’s likely that your company doesn’t have the resources to be another Huffington Post or Washington Post, churning out thousands of pieces of content a day. It’s just not realistic in most cases to compare what these news organizations do with brand publishing. These are unique brands that essentially have only one goal: pageviews.

Indeed, marketers who churn a ton of content out onto the web may initially attract substantial pageviews; but as consumers get to know companies, they develop a sense of whether the voice of the brand and the content they produce is trustworthy. If you’re publishing too much subpar, unhelpful content, people will question whether your brand is worth their time and money — and the answer will more likely than not be “no.”

As Michael Gerard explains, buyers are hungry for great content — but they’re also overwhelmed by the volume of irrelevant and shoddy pieces flooding the internet today. To avoid falling prey to the trap of high-volume, low-quality content, marketers would be wise to refocus their efforts on producing high caliber pieces that people want to read.

Our Takeaway

While regularly publishing new posts for your audience to enjoy is a worthy aim, it’s extremely important to publish posts that your audience will find relevant and useful. That’s true whether you’re publishing 5 articles a week or more than 5,000.

But you also have to be realistic, based on your team resources. Does your company have the staff, budget, and resources to produce ten posts per day amazingly well? Or do you only have the horsepower to produce five per week? Assess your abilities, and set your editorial calendar accordingly. And if you simply don’t have the internal resources, consider hiring a qualified content marketing agency that will help you achieve your goals.

As Steve Rayson asserts, “quality will still matter, even in a world of high volume content. …Brands should produce content that is always worth consuming, [even if] it might be consumed by smaller niche audiences.”

In other words, a balance between high quality and a regular publishing schedule is ideal, but churning out massive amounts of low quality content will quickly degrade your journalistic integrity. You can’t reach everyone on the internet, so focus on reaching the people most interested in hearing what you have to say.