Ranking was never about creating perfect content. In 2008, you just spammed the primary keyword 30 times in the footer, using white text on white background, and you’re set.
Fast forward a few years and on-page modifications weren’t as important as skimming for a backlink at every corner. Just get into every directory possible, spin the original article for 50 guest posts, and you were on your way to authority glory.
Google has evolved a lot since then. With supposedly more than 200 ranking factors, and nearly 2 billion websites to crawl, the competition is fierce and ranking is harder. One of the most important factors is content quality. You’ve heard “content is king” hundreds of times, so a natural response would be to aim for creating the perfect piece of content all the time.
The problem is that no such thing exists.
Read More: How to Create Impactful Evergreen Content
The Ever Changing World Of Content Marketing
If you’ve taken some Hubspot Courses or if you’re in tune with the SEO consensus, you might say that the perfect piece of content looks like this:
- Around 2,000 words.
- Filled with SEO-friendly multimedia.
- Multiple links back to other related, high-quality pieces.
- The perfect tone, style and copy for your audience.
- The right primary keyword at the right cadence.
However, if you’re in the know about content marketing, you might notice a few things:
- There is no perfect tone for a certain audience, different people can enjoy different styles of writing and still have common interests.
- 2,000 words is a ballpark and you might need more. What’s more, you might get better results with considerably less words.
For more dispelled myths, make sure you check out Authority Hacker’s 1.1 million SERPs analysis.
That’s why you see Featured Snippets snatching the top position from other amazing articles that you’d think would rank first, according to common knowledge. For example, you might assume a Forbes article would hold more clout than one from Business2Community.
But not according to Google.
What Google Likes vs. What We See
There are a few reasons why the above example exists:
- Domain authority, backlinks and metadata also matter, not just the article itself. However, even if you have similar standings for these criteria…
- The Google algorithm constantly evolves and may favor “worse” articles based on how well they actually serve a user. This can mean getting to the point quicker, being a government agency or competing on a branded query.
- Not all long tail queries require a long-winded answer. You can find a lot of top ranking articles of 200 to 300 words that provide quick answers.
- Voice search is on the rise. Comscore estimates that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice. It goes without saying that the template “perfect” article has no power there.
Moreover, you have to put good content in perspective. There are about 1 billion blogs on the internet, each fighting for the attention of a target audience who has a lot of other things to do.
Read More: Blog SEO: A Foundational Guide
Creating the “Perfect” Piece of Content
Innovation is key to competing in the world of content. If you aim to have the “perfect” article launched every time, it will be harder to discover new things that you wouldn’t expect your audience (or Google) to like.
Why? Because that model will have you writing on a definite path. You’ll always aim for X word count, Y number of images or Z number of backlinks.
But that’s not all. Even if you can find a perfect formula for writing an article, it still wouldn’t make business sense to strive for an A+ at every corner, when a B+ could help you even more.
What I Learned About Being Perfect
The editorial process for an online publication gets really messy when you account for algorithm changes, keyword research or even content promotion.
You can’t know for sure that you’ll rank on top for a query, so it doesn’t make business sense to always strive for the perfect piece of content (even if you can pin down what that piece of content is). Some topics don’t allow for fresh new interesting takes, inspiring copy or sharable infographics.
When I was thinking of a content strategy for my freelance writing website, I found the perfect keyword to rank for, “freelance writers for hire.” It had constant high-value traffic and competition was laughable. For example, the piece below was ranking in the top position for this term.
They weren’t even trying to rank for the keyword, so all I had to do was put out my best tips on working with freelance writers and I could’ve easily made top position.
But I took too long. I wanted to cover every possible angle, so I didn’t meet the deadline. In the end, I was struggling to make sense of a 4,000-word piece filled with amazing charts, beautiful infographics, and top-notch copy that wasn’t “perfect” yet.
Even if I could’ve published that in 3 days, it still wouldn’t have been perfect for everyone. I checked back on the query two months later and competition was fierce.
The opportunity was still there, but I missed out on two months of ranking for a very good query in my niche. If I was to do it again, I’d address my workflow. Here’s the approach I recommend.
Do It Well
Write as best as you can. Don’t overlook mistakes, have a good editorial flow and aim to solve your audience’s problems.
Don’t Wait For Perfect
Don’t overdo it. It’s better to launch a B+ article and learn from your shortcomings along the way. If you’re 90 percent done with an article and you realize a different take might better showcase your conclusions, don’t start all over again.
Keep the new take in mind and use it for a similar piece in the future. If the opportunity never arises, you can always backtrack and update articles.
You should be updating content all the time. 15 percent of all Google queries have never been searched before, and that number is bound to increase with voice search on the rise.
Don’t Strive for the Perfect Content
Good content? Always aim for that. Perfect content? Not so much.
It’s hard to pinpoint what makes a piece of content “perfect,” so even if you could find the magic formula, you’re better off always optimizing processes, being consistent, and writing for your audience, rather than aiming for the bullseye—a target that also changes regularly, based on search engine algorithms.
SEO has always been a realm of constant evolution and requires marketers to adapt to new situation, which is also the perfect piece of content just doesn’t exist.