Timothy Carter is the CFO of DEV.co and SEO.co. Tim & his teams specialize in custom software development, web design and digital marketing.
There are many viable ways to build a content marketing strategy. You can focus on written content or more on videos and podcasts. You can target a narrow audience or something broader. You can also flood the market with your content in the hopes of building recognition quickly or play for a more long-term approach.
But one of the most important decisions you’re going to need to make is whether your content is comprehensive or narrow. Comprehensive content, which includes pieces marketed as “ultimate guides,” tends to cover a topic in extreme depth, offering several thousand words at a minimum to educate readers on that particular topic. Narrow content it’s typically much shorter and more focused on a specific, niche topic.
As an example, a comprehensive piece might be something like “SEO: The Ultimate Guide,” While a narrow piece might be something like “How to Troubleshoot Broken 301 Redirects in SEO.”
Should you be focusing more on comprehensive content or narrow content in your marketing strategies?
The Argument For Comprehensive Content
There’s a good argument to be made for comprehensive content.
Building the dominant resource. Writing a singular comprehensive piece on a given topic gives you the possibility of becoming the dominant resource on that topic. For starters, that increases your likelihood of reaching rank one for a given keyword with this piece of content. It also has the potential to boost your reputation; your brand could, through the power of this peace, become recognized as the leading authority on this topic.
Earning more links. Better content tends to earn more links and better links. Narrow pieces are much less likely to earn links than large, comprehensive ones. Because links are so valuable for increasing your search rankings, this is a non-negligible advantage.
Providing permanent value. Comprehensive pieces are also written to be evergreen, serving as massive and permanent pillars of your content strategy. While narrow pieces of content come and go, your comprehensive pieces will potentially add value to your strategy indefinitely.
The Argument For Narrow Content
However, there’s also a good argument for narrow content to be your primary type of marketing material.
Thinning the competition. Focusing on a very narrow topic means you’re going to have fewer competitors to deal with. Thousands of writers may be clamoring to earn more search visibility for common and broad topics, but there may be no competitors for certain niche topics.
Seizing the low-hanging fruit. Yes, the “low-hanging fruit” analogy is a bit tired, but it applies perfectly here for two reasons. First, narrow content allows you to capitalize on long-tail keywords, giving you a shortcut to earn more number-one rankings in search engines. Second, narrow content is much faster and easier to write, so you’ll typically expend fewer resources creating it.
Minimizing risk with low stakes. If one of your comprehensive pieces becomes obsolete or is no longer relevant, it could be a devastating blow to your content strategy. But narrow pieces are typically designed so that they’re affordable to lose. If one of your narrow pieces becomes irrelevant or obsolete, you can let it go with minimal losses.
Utilizing adaptability. Narrow content also affords your strategy more flexibility and more adaptability. Because these pieces can be written quickly and efficiently, you can cover news topics faster than your competitors. If you have new ideas for keywords or if you want to take your SEO strategy in a new direction, a flood of new narrow posts can help you get there.
Tips For Using Both Comprehensive And Narrow Content
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both comprehensive and narrow content, so most brands will benefit from using a mix of both.
Here are some tips on how to do it.
Identify potentially evergreen topics. Not all topics are well-suited to be comprehensive, nor are they necessarily appropriate for a narrow piece. That’s why one of your most important skills will be identifying potentially evergreen topics that would make for good comprehensive pieces. Don’t try to fit a topic into a mold that isn’t appropriate for it.
Start with one strong anchor piece. Even if you’re going to spend more time on narrow pieces than comprehensive ones, it’s a good idea to have at least one comprehensive piece in place. This can serve as an anchor for the rest of your content strategy and help you attract links while you optimize for keywords with your narrow pieces.
Build quality and quantity independently. A common piece of advice in the SEO world is the focus on quality more than quantity; in other words, it’s better to have a small number of great pieces of content than it is to have thousands of low-quality pieces. This mostly holds true, but some quantities can be valuable. Try to focus on these values independently.
Reevaluate and regroup. Always take the time to measure your efforts, analyze them and use your new insights to reshape your strategy. Eventually, it’s going to be obvious whether comprehensive or narrow pieces are more beneficial for your brand; lean into whatever works.
If you want to beat the competition and get more visitors and conversions from your content marketing strategy, you’re going to need a mix of both comprehensive and narrow content. That balance will look different depending on a number of variables, But you can always tweak that balance over time.