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Is there too much content on the web??

This post is pretty much a meandering thought rather than a firm conclusion.

With the shift of late in our industry to look at content marketing, the idea of creating something cool, that will be shared or linked to, or a guest blog post to gain a backlink, it’s started me wondering whether we have too much content on the web and whether the best way to market for our clients is to create yet more of it.

I would say that 1 in 100 sites is actually good, and in that 1 site, probably 1 in 10 articles is actually worth reading. Probably 1 in 10,000 sites is truly exceptional and has truly exceptional content (and no, I don’t consider my search marketing related rants to be one of them)

We have multiple sites giving us the same content, writing essentially the same article over and over and over. We dress it up in new ways, but it comes down to the same familiar themes and the same familiar conclusions.

Good examples of this are the:

  • SEO Is Dead
  • Social is the new search
  • shares and the new links

etc etc etc, blah blah blah yawn yawn yawn.

So, when there is so much similar content on the web, similar infographics, similar articles, similar conclusions, similar websites and if only 1% of articles are actually worth reading, you have to start wondering whether it is truly the quality of your content that drives it’s popularity, or essentially the public relations job done by the site to set themselves up as the authority, the site that is worth reading to the exclusion of all the others writing the same articles.

Is your SEO is dead article better than the 176,000 articles that came before it and asked the same question and gave the same answer? (based upon a Google exact match search for the term “SEO is dead”

So what gives a site this edge, makes it the one to read, even if they’re later breaking news than other sites etc…

I’ll say this, off the top of my head, it’s unlikely to be the quality of the written content.

For our industry, I would put the following as reasons:

  1. The site’s personality
    A site that becomes a personality in itself is likely to be read as a matter of course.
  2. The author’s personality and social equity
    Are any of the “SEO rockstars” (hideous term) associated with the site, if so, this is going to help the content spread.
  3. The community behind the site
    Does the site have an active community that  slavishly shares and links to everything written on the site?

The “best” sites in our industry of course, have all 3.

Is the quality of the written content going to help a shopping site?

Of course I have sites that I like, we all do, and we see something and think “Hey, that looks cool” such as Hipmunk or Modcloth and we talk about it in our industry as good examples, but when it comes down to it, unless you’re looking for a particularly bespoke or rare item, the main driver of most online shoppers is price and convenience, not a well tended blog!

With so many price search sites out there my main drivers to visit a website would be:

  1. Is it the cheapest?
  2. Are there any vouchers available that will make it cheaper?
  3. Can I go through quidco and get a percentage of my cash back making it even cheaper?
  4. Does the site look legit? Or does it look like a crappy affiliate site.
  5. How quickly can it be delivered without huge delivery prices?
  6. How easily can I return it if it’s shit?

I might go and look at items on other “prettier” sites when deciding what I want to purchase and read your carefully curated reviews, or view your product videos, but when it comes to the actual purchase process, my thinking is particularly linear and is purely price driven and I don’t particularly care if a site has nice videos showing the item. If they’re not the cheapest with the best customer service record, they’re not getting my custom!

We’re told over and over in our industry (and I’ve said it before as well) that “Content is King”, but that’s only partly true, you can have the best content in the world, but if nobody’s reading it, or even reading it viewing your videos etc, but then not buying from your site then I hate to say it, but your content is failing.

Look perhaps less at writing yet another blog entry of how satchels are in this year, or creating yet more video and look at converting the traffic you’re bringing in. Look to optimise your conversion process, unless you’re selling bespoke luxury items, work to keep your prices as low as possible.

Quality content is important, but in a world where everyone is spewing out “quality” content,  perhaps it’s time to concentrate your efforts elsewhere. Good brand, good customer service, low prices, good community loving your site, and you pretty much can’t go wrong.

One Response to Is there too much content on the web??

  • Mike Essex says:

    Hi Jim. I do agree with the core point, that there are a lot of topics that just get done to death, especially posts with numbers (e.g. 7 Free WordPress themes, 10 free WordPress themes, 12 free… etc).

    There’s still a lot of new things to talk about though. Such as “How to’s” on brand new topics or tools. Although this quickly becomes saturated (There were too many “How to survive the Panda update” posts after about a week) so being first is vital.

    Opinions also always go down well, and that’s why most of my posts are “thought pieces” or experiments that I’ve yet to see run. Having an opinion is a great way to create new content that is truly unique.

    Although ironically there are 982,000,000 results on Google for “too much content on the web”.

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