How to Rethink Quality Content

What is quality content these days?

I raise this issue in response to Michelle McPhearsons’ article, “What Makes Content “Quality”?”

It’s a question we ask on the forums of Linkbait Coaching constantly.

But then I realised, it’s the wrong question.

The question should be, “What kind of stuff will attract people to my website which will give them the experience they crave”?

Doesn’t scan well though does it?

Doesn’t fit well in a tweet does it?

The way we use the term “quality” in our industry is odd. The definition seems to have become “anything Google loves”. Most website owners are building content to be read by machines, in the vain hope it will be ranked by the machine.

As this thinking is seared into the brains of most seo people, it should simply be abandoned as it is bad thinking.

Which leads me to the delightful word, “content” and it’s bastard offspring, “content marketing“.

I find I have to use these terms when communicating within the industry as it’s the established shorthand. But I think forcing the “stuff that is on websites” into these strait jacketed terms, stunts thinking and corrals creative types into sweaty herds of cattle, whipped into the slaughterhouse that only offers more lessons on “content marketing”.

Rather than the sunlit uplands, where the grass is green and the water pure.

Calling it content, takes something that is the artistic product of a human being and serves it up as a tin of baked beans. Not even Heinz baked beans, but the budget, low cost, reduced salt, reduced sugar, reduced fat version, that the supermarket makes more profit on.

Practitioners of content marketing tend to serve up tasteless, high profit, straight off the conveyor belt products. Bereft of intense experience and emotion.

So what’s the bite sized term that we should use? That people can fit on an ebook and shovel down the throats of the masses until they gag?

There isn’t one.

As soon as you simplify the way you describe complex creations, you lose the nuance and you train the brain to think in the box, along with all the other cattle.

The stuff you put on your websites, sell in your ebooks, send in your email, download onto your iPad….

It should reach into your brain and change your state of mind.

Anything else is just filler, or what you would call content.

The solution.

Be exceptional.

I’m afraid there isn’t an ebook on being exceptional and this post is not an attempt to sell you one.

A good start is to stop thinking of it of content, or content marketing and start thinking of it as serving, state of mind changing, exceptional experiences to your readers.

It’s not content.

It’s not quality.

It’s not content marketing

It’s simply exceptional.


  1. says

    This is exactly the kind of thinking we’re trying to ‘migrate’ to at my company. Don’t get me wrong, we are creating the stuff search engine crawl (while trying to be as less ‘seo-ed’ as possible) – we have to, to stay competitive. That said, I’m currently leading a move to shift the focus to predominantly reliable, up-to-date stuff – we’ve focused on a few niches that have proved to be really good for us (travel Visa’s being one as South Africans are super paranoid about this when they travel), as well as commissioned studies that we often release with a, dare I say it, infographic. They sum the results up quite nicely ok. Then again, if all else fails you could always revert back to plain old “Narrative structured useability” 😉

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