In 2012, content isn’t just king. It’s the supreme ruler of our wired universe. It should be valued, respected and treated with the dignity it deserves. Otherwise, it might kill you.
Or your website, anyway.
Ignoring the critical importance of content is a deadly mistake. But you already knew that. What you might not know is that publishing online content that’s “good enough” (or, in the parlance of my dad, “half-assing it”) is lethal, too.
Before I count the ways mediocre content turns websites into cold, lifeless cadavers, a quick story: In 2009, I encountered a local business blogging agency looking to hire writers to ghost-blog for its corporate clients. The job description assured prospects that no professional writing experience was required. Naturally, the pay was next to nothing.
I share this story because the problem it illustrates—that there are lots of “professional” content providers out there selling cut-rate content at cut-rate prices—is as pervasive now as it was three years ago.
The rationale of these crappy content hawkers is that quantity trumps quality. Businesses— especially small and medium-sized ones—buy it because they don’t want to spend the time, energy or money it takes to create or buy well-researched, expertly produced content.
Those businesses travel a path of peril, my friend. Mediocre content is a ninja-like assassin that can kill websites in multiple ways. Here are five of them.
1. Death by Panda. Last year’s Google’s Panda update made it harder than ever for crappy content to get any love from the world’s most popular search engine. As Google inevitably gets smarter, all of the SEO tricks in the world won’t save mediocre content from a Google smack-down.
2. Death by denial. “The content on my website is just fine,” you say. That may be true. But how can you know? What does Google analytics have to say about it? Are users sharing your content in social media channels? Is it generating leads or sales? Don’t fool yourself. Denial is a dangerous game.
3. Death by wet noodle. This isn’t that thing where you slap someone with a wet noodle until they die. This is that thing where you use the “see what sticks” approach to content on your website. No strategy, no planning, no measurement—just throwing wet noodles on the wall to see what sticks. Good luck with that.
4. Death by boredom. Are you serving up regular portions of perfectly adequate but otherwise unremarkable content to readers on a regular basis? You’d better be careful with that strategy. Before long, you’ll have a reputation as a boring brand with nothing interesting to say—and that will be hard to shake.
5. Death by drowning. Let’s say you do actually have some killer original content on your site. But it’s surrounded by a lot of dull, forgettable content. The content of the latter variety is going to drown out the really good stuff, both in terms of search engine results and overall user perception.
It can be tempting to give short shrift to the content on your website. Before you do, remember: Mediocre content is not harmless. It’s a threat to your online livelihood.
The good news is that excellent content—content that is useful, entertaining, and relevant to your audience—is the elixir of life that will keep your traffic numbers rising. And eventually, it will pay off in leads, conversions, and ROI.