Content creation takes a lot of time. A single blog post can take several hours when you account for research, drafting, editing, layout, and promotion.
So it’s understandable that you want to get as much out of every post as you can. Yet our goals as marketers are often contradicted by the volume edict. How do we get enough content into the wild to drive traffic and keep the site at the top of the listings for our targets?
It’s a fine line and how to walk it will depend on a number of factors – your industry, your budget, and how competitive existing content might be. Despite that, there’s been a trend towards greater volume at the expense of things like layout and promotion and the results are often mixed.
Where do you draw the line on quality so that you can get as much out of a post as possible without spending excess time on it?
The Minimum Viable Problem
First, let’s address the digital elephant in the room – the MVP problem. The lean startup mindset has driven marketers and entrepreneurs alike to focus on publication above all else – get something, anything out there in its most basic state. Action of any kind is better than inaction.
And for the most part this is true. Writing a moderately insightful blog post once a week is a lot better than writing no blog post. What doesn’t exist won’t succeed after all.
But there’s a problem with this thinking. Rand Fishkin summed it up nicely in a recent Whiteboard Friday when he said “good unique content isn’t good enough anymore.”
This idea that simply creating content will drive traffic and help your site succeed doesn’t hold water, if only because so many other people are doing the exact same thing. You need to go above and beyond. You can’t just write an article about Twitter tools, you need to write the BEST article about Twitter tools, or you’ll never crack the first page of the search results.
Social media mitigates this a little bit. Even mediocre content can succeed in the short term if your audience is large enough and it gets shared broadly enough, but for long term success and organic rankings, your content needs to go to another level – something the MVP mindset doesn’t encourage.
The Other Kind of MVP
To get beyond the minimum viable piece of “good unique” content, you need to think in new terms. This is where the other kind of MVP comes in – the Maximum Value Provider.
Bear with me because this approach is scarier. It costs more and takes longer, and there’s still no guarantee of results. But when done properly, the potential from a true cornerstone piece of content is immense – well beyond what you’ll get out of even 10 “good unique” posts.
MVP content does three things:
- It addresses a topic comprehensively
- It allows for multiple modes of consumption
- It begs to be shared and linked to
Here’s a great example of a piece of MVP content. http://backlinko.com/seo-strategy
Brian Dean and backlinko.com have completely disproven the volume myth – this is a site that gets hundreds of thousands of hits organically with only a handful of posts on the entire site.
But each post written is a masterpiece. The post above is 45 pages long and nearly 3,000 words, with dozens of screenshots. It probably took someone a couple of weeks to write and layout this post.
And it has hundreds of comments and thousands of shares. Why? Because Brian didn’t write the minimum viable post on SEO strategy. He wrote as detailed a process as you’ll see online and it’s all free. It’s comprehensive, it’s available in multiple formats and very visual, and it begs to be shared.
This is true MVP content.
How to Maximize the Benefits of Content
Content that provides maximum value does so altruistically, but also with an eye on the potential benefits to the content creator. In Brian’s case above, that content is an ideal place to link for dozens of bloggers (like myself) when making points on topics like content clarity, density, and back linking strategy.
It’s a cornerstone piece when making a point and he’s benefited immensely from it.
At the same time, when you create content that reaches this level of specificity, new opportunities open up, including:
- Outreach – This is a simple trick but a brilliant one. The Internet is filled with links to posts like this, detailed breakdowns of complex topics, and a lot of those links are out of date. Do a quick search for your topic and email those site owners and bloggers with a link to your post. If it’s truly longer and more detailed, they will likely want to link to you instead – it only boosts their own credibility.
- Guest Posting – When you write posts like Brian, you gain instant credibility in the eyes of thousands of bloggers and site owners. This makes it easy to go out and acquire guest blogging spots on sites that will benefit your rankings and name recognition.
- Conversion to Long Form – A post like this can be turned into a downloadable PDF, a video, a SlideShare, or even a podcast with ease. There’s so much detail here it’s a quick transition.
- Social Share Volume – Content this long will resonate in social because there are so many things you can pull from it and share.
Exceptional content that reaches this level of detail allows you to go places that ho-hum 600 word blog posts never could. It’s a stepping stone to the big leagues online and it’s how you can prove you are the expert you’ve been claiming to be.
How’s that for maximizing value?
How to Avoid Overload
When it comes to MVP content, it’s all about the Pareto Principle. If you’re blogging 3-5 times a week right now, I guarantee that 80% of your results are coming from 20% of the effort.
By digging into the data, evaluating what works and what doesn’t, and stripping away the filler you write about just to have a post on any given day, you can determine what the 20% looks like and focus your effort on it more intensely. Imagine getting the same or better results of all 5 of those weekly posts from a single long form post you put up once every 1-2 weeks.
In the end, this is a fine line to walk. Weekly or even bi-weekly posts can work extremely well in almost any niche if they are this detailed. Some sites only post monthly and do even better because they then spend the rest of the month driving links and building authority to that post.
Volume is certainly important, but far more so is the quality and general feedback from your readers.
If you can find the line between detail, clarity and frequency, you’ll have the perfect blog format.
Just remember to ask yourself – am I providing the maximum amount of value with this post? If the answer is no, how can you improve and build out a stronger, more detailed piece of content. In the long run, that extra bit of work will help you get far more out of your efforts.
Are you ready to start creating cornerstone content for your blog? Download my checklist for blog creation and learn how to streamline the process so you can build content that resonates with your audience across the board.
And if you have any questions about blogging, content creation, or the research and development process, contact me here. I love reading your feedback!