Are you publishing quality content?

Perhaps it’s because the Winter Olympics started this week, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about high performance and quality. Naturally, this leads me to our constant obsession here at the CMS Myth: Making web content management work. It’s no secret that our perspective is that highly successful content strategy is about much, much more than content management systems. But I recently wrote a bit about fine tuning high performance teams so I thought it might be time to take a look at the criteria for publishing high-quality, digital content.

After a quick search for related articles on this subject, one thing is immediately clear: Any one person’s definition of quality content probably has much to do with what they do for a living. Copywriters are are thinking about killer headlines, optimization experts will espouse the importance of respecting Google algorithms, and content marketers will remind us to move the needle across segmented audiences. The list goes on.

In other words: Quality is in the eye of the beholder. But in honor of the recent dustup between the content strategy and content marketing communities, I thought of a not-so-funny riddle: How many roles does it take to publish quality content? All of them. (A point Colleen Jones does a nice job of making in her post.)

We’re all important, but audience is king

But I digress. If your role is to ensure your organization is publishing quality content you might be interested in understanding the bigger picture, free of narrow perspective. You might also want to understand categories of excellence beyond what is provided by typical analytics. Here are just a few things I was able to find in the text Managing Enterprise Content – A Unified Content Strategy by Ann Rockley and Charles Cooper.  We agree these are incredibly important characteristics of quality content:

  • Structurally rich - Can systems process the information?
  • Semantically categorized - Is it properly tagged so as to have meaning?
  • Automatically discoverable - Does the content play well with search?
  • Reusable - Can the content be created once and published everywhere? (COPE)
  • Reconfigurable - Is it modular enough to be easily reconfigured?
  • Adaptable -  Is it easy to publish across multiple channels?

But these six criteria (obviously) represent a content strategy centric approach. I’d also like to add:

  • Contextual - Is it the right content on the right device at the right time? – Think Google Glass.
  • Targeted - Will it reach as specific an audience as possible?
  • Portable - Is it easy for audiences to share socially?
  • Relevant - Does it provide useful information?
  • Manageable - Is it content your organization can support?

And finally, the ‘grammar school’ definition of good content: Is it intelligible? Some may argue comprehensible writing is so basic a qualification it is unworthy of mention, but I’ve seen (and written!) enough bad copy to know it’s oft overlooked.

Furthermore, content is not merely copy. Images, interactive infographics, and video are all examples of content which many organizations aspire to communicate with, but lack the necessary expertise to produce credibly.

So what’s the most meaningful measurement?

A couple of weeks back Seth Godin published one of his brief treasures of marketing wisdom entitled Measuring nothing (with great accuracy)

We keep coming up with new things to measure (like processor speed, heat output, column inches) but it’s pretty rare that those measurements are actually a proxy for the impact or quality we care about. It takes a lot of guts to stop measuring things that are measurable, and even more guts to create things that don’t measure well by conventional means. -Seth Godin

If were are to take a purely rational perspective on the problem, quality content is ultimately that which is connected to positive effect on metrics associated with the success of your organization. Thus, it is imperative to understand how success is measured at the organizational level, to have any chance of accurately defining quality content.

A media organization probably wants content to drive advertising while a university might be more interested in content pushing alumni donations and enrollment. It’s really difficult to connect something like ‘pageviews’ to these goals if there’s no connection to revenue.

Not convinced? Consider this: Pick any of the last five times a content contributor with access to a brand’s Twitter account published something offensive and it went viral. Could it be argued this was quality content? Why not? After all, it got millions of pageviews!

All this being said, we are always interested in hearing more about what you think. Please let us know how you define quality content with this hashtag #qualitycontent or by leaving us a comment below.

About the Author
Jake DiMare

Jake has spent the last 15 years helping organizations plan, design, develop, and implement effective online experiences with a strong focus on large scale web content management systems and integrated online marketing suites. Jake wrote for the CMS Myth during his time working at Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design). Google Plus Profile

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