Is the Future Less Content? Industry Experts Weigh In

There are more than two million blog posts published on WordPress each day. The number of pages indexed by Google has increased by 30 trillion in just 7 years.

53% of inbound marketers say blog content creation remains a top priority for 2018.

The sheer volume of content published on the web has many marketers asking just how much constitutes critical mass. And blog content is far from the only way marketers are vying for online attention. There are roughly 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, and the platform has become the second largest search engine in the world behind Google.

With all of this stuff online, it’s becoming harder and harder for marketers to “cut through the clutter” and reach the audiences that matter to them. On the surface, it can seem like the web has reached a content saturation point, which has led many within the industry to commit to producing less of it.

But is the future of the web really less content?

Ronell Smith on Moz Says: Yes

Published on the revered Moz blog, Ronell Smith argues that yes, the future is less content:

"Even for big brands, producing quality content with frequency is a seemingly near-impossible task. Therefore, when someone says ‘create more content’, I hear ‘brands will continue to waste resources that would be better spent elsewhere.”

Ronell argues that many brands fall into the trap of trying to become publishers. As a former journalist and current content strategist, he sees that this inevitably results in an unsustainable cadence of content creation, with the quest for more resulting in a lapse in quality.

Even if your content team can support a large volume of regular content creation, a “more is more” approach isn’t always well-founded, he says:

“It’s OK to adopt a strategy that includes more frequent publishing, but that strategy must fit inside your brand’s overall goals, not vice-versa.”

Steve Rayson of BuzzSumo Says: No

And in the blue corner, Director of BuzzSumo Steve Rayson!

Steve says that as a former advocate of quality over quantity, he is now switching sides:

"I know if you are in content marketing, there is a lot of advice about quality over quantity. Provide something of value, research it well, make it helpful. It is a strategy I have followed at BuzzSumo. I spend a lot of time researching posts, as I did with this one, aiming to produce authoritative, long form content that provides insights which, hopefully, are helpful to marketers. This takes time and I produce around one to two posts a month. I am now thinking I may have got this all wrong.”

Steve uses the example of the Washington Post’s 28% increase in web visitors, as a company that now publishes a staggering 1,200 posts each day. This statistic can be refuted by the people who agree with Ronell’s assertion that brands shouldn’t strive to be publishers. However, Steve goes on to say that content production hasn’t reached its peak for several reasons:

  • "Higher numbers of internet users and growing literacy
  • Falling costs of content production and distribution
  • Easier content production with simple to use tools, particularly video
  • The success of high volume strategies being adopted by sites such as the Post and others, encouraging more businesses to adopt similar strategies
  • A significant growth in automated, algorithm driven, content creation."

The “algorithm driven content creation” is an interesting argument. Steve says that a large volume of niche articles, targeting long-tail keywords, can collectively add up to more overall traffic than just a few well-performing content pieces. “More content drives more traffic,” he concludes.

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However, research conducted by SEO company SEMrush indicates that niche, or shorter, articles don’t fare well in search results. “Pages that rank higher have longer content on average,” it reads.

Gartner Say: Yes (Kind Of)

According to Gartner’s famous ‘Hype Cycle’, content marketing is falling into a trough of disillusionment:



This doesn’t necessarily mean that its effectiveness is waning, just that the methodology is recovering from a peak of inflated expectations; an unavoidable phenomenon that occurs when the industry gets excited. However, it does indicate that perceptions of content creation are changing, which could mean disillusionment means to abandonment for some brands struggling with an ill-founded content marketing strategy.

Spinfluence Say: Well… That Depends

Throwing mud and seeing what sticks is rarely a strategic approach to anything in life. In content creation, it’s also an unnecessarily costly exercise in futility. As marketers, our activities are governed by data-driven strategies designed to achieve specific, measurable business objectives. The content we create plays an important role in achieving these objectives, and thus should always be of great quality according to its role within the strategy at large.

Producing great quality content takes time and costs money. If everyone committed to this approach, the future is most certainly less content. However, that’s not to say that larger organisations who can afford to maintain a steady cadence of great quality content should peel back on their publishing frequency.

In reality, the future isn’t less content. However, it’s certainly different content. Video in particular will be a defining player in the online space in years to come, making up an estimated 80% of online content we consume by the year 2019.

For Spinfluence, the future remains the same: produce content that achieves business objectives. This means responding to user behaviour, algorithmic updates and constant data-driven optimisation. However, it always starts with the customer.

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