You have hun­dreds of vari­ables to con­sid­er when writ­ing con­tent. Who is your audi­ence? What is your end goal? What kind of length and top­ic are you tar­get­ing? Will you include any addi­tion­al types of media?

But one of the most impor­tant ques­tions is a high-lev­el one, and one that’s often over­looked: is it bet­ter for your cam­paign to focus on “wide” con­tent, which appeals to a larg­er tar­get audi­ence, or “deep” con­tent, which focus­es on a spe­cif­ic niche?

Defining the Difference

First, I want to clar­i­fy the dif­fer­ence between these two broad cat­e­gories of con­tent.

Wide con­tent typ­i­cal­ly cov­ers a broad top­ic, with arti­cles that remain high-lev­el. For exam­ple, you might see an arti­cle about how to become more pro­duc­tive, with lots of tips on how to man­age your time or adopt time-sav­ing habits. This con­tent could apply to almost any­one, yet still offers oppor­tu­ni­ties for research and details.

Deep con­tent typ­i­cal­ly focus­es on a much nar­row­er top­ic, dig­ging into the nit­ty-grit­ty details of a spe­cif­ic niche. For exam­ple, to con­trast with an arti­cle about gen­er­al pro­duc­tiv­i­ty habits, you might see an arti­cle list­ing time-sav­ing strate­gies specif­i­cal­ly for Gmail users. This con­tent dives into more detail than its wider coun­ter­part, but its audi­ence is far more lim­it­ed.

As you might imag­ine, there are advan­tages to each approach.

Wide Content Advantages

Let’s look at the ben­e­fits of wide con­tent:

Mass appeal. Audi­ence poten­tial is the biggest advan­tage of wide con­tent. Because you’ll be writ­ing more gener­i­cal­ly, there aren’t any lim­it­ing fac­tors to fun­nel your audi­ence. Assum­ing you’re push­ing the arti­cle to 10,000 peo­ple via social media, you’ll have a chance at cap­tur­ing the atten­tion of, say, 8,000 of them, there­by increas­ing your sphere of influence—and the poten­tial val­ue of your piece.

Lim­it­less top­ic poten­tial. Wide con­tent is also use­ful because it lends itself to prac­ti­cal­ly infi­nite top­ic gen­er­a­tion. For exam­ple, con­sid­er how many blog top­ics you could come up with for “car care” ver­sus “care for a 1968 Chevy Impala.” The deep­er you dig into a giv­en niche, the small­er your range of top­ics is going to be.
Ease of writ­ing. Most writ­ers find it eas­i­er to write wide top­ics than deep top­ics. They require less research, since they don’t ven­ture as deeply into each sub­ject, and the research they do require is read­i­ly available—deep top­ics are some­times near­ly impos­si­ble to effec­tive­ly research. On top of that, since you’re writ­ing for a gen­er­al audi­ence, you won’t have as many con­sid­er­a­tions for tone and vocab­u­lary.

Deep Content Advantages

Deep con­tent has its share of advan­tages as well:

Less com­pe­ti­tion. The biggest prob­lem with wide con­tent is that because it’s so approach­able and so wide­ly appeal­ing, it’s heav­i­ly done. There’s a ton of com­pe­ti­tion for almost every con­ceiv­able “wide” top­ic out there, which means your chances of vis­i­bil­i­ty are small­er due to increased com­pe­ti­tion. Deep con­tent imme­di­ate­ly gives you less com­pe­ti­tion to deal with.

Easy author­i­ty build­ing. Because you’re dig­ging into details peo­ple prob­a­bly haven’t heard before, you’ll like­ly find it eas­i­er to build trust and author­i­ty with deep con­tent. In the span of a hand­ful of arti­cles, you can prove that you know what you’re talk­ing about, and if you have a whole site ded­i­cat­ed to this niche, peo­ple won’t be able to argue with your exper­tise.

High rel­e­vance. Recall my exam­ple of mar­ket­ing to 10,000 social media fol­low­ers. With wide con­tent, you might be able to reach 8,000 of them, but you won’t res­onate with them on an impact­ful lev­el because your top­ic is so gen­er­al. With deep con­tent, you might only reach 1,000 of them, but those 1,000 will be eager to read what you have to say on the topic—it will be some­thing they care deeply about.

High reten­tion. For sim­i­lar rea­sons, sites with deep con­tent tend to attract more read­er loy­al­ty than those that focus exclu­sive­ly on wide con­tent. They won’t have many com­peti­tors to turn to, and they won’t stum­ble upon your con­tent by acci­dent.

Key Strategies for Success

While there’s no clear vic­tor here, there are some key strate­gies that can help you make the most of each type of con­tent:

Use deep con­tent to start. If you’re just start­ing a con­tent mar­ket­ing cam­paign, con­sid­er grav­i­tat­ing toward deep con­tent to start. Because it affords you low­er com­pe­ti­tion, and makes author­i­ty build­ing a cinch, you may find it to be an eas­i­er point of entry. You can always zoom out to wider con­tent as need­ed.

Con­sid­er your com­pe­ti­tion. Look at your com­peti­tors, and how aggres­sive they are in the realm of con­tent mar­ket­ing. If you’re cov­er­ing a rel­a­tive­ly new niche, or if you don’t have com­peti­tors in con­tent mar­ket­ing, you may do fine with wide con­tent. If com­pe­ti­tion is abun­dant, deep con­tent may be bet­ter.

Use wide con­tent for pub­lish­er appeal. If you’re inter­est­ed in becom­ing a guest author and get­ting fea­tured in var­i­ous out­side pub­li­ca­tions, you’ll prob­a­bly do bet­ter with wide con­tent. Wide con­tent is “safer,” and doesn’t require you to have in-depth knowl­edge on a top­ic, so long as you’re an effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tor. Think of it as the Bill Nye the Sci­ence Guy ver­sion of a sci­en­tif­ic research jour­nal.

Know your audi­ence. Final­ly, keep your brand’s tar­get audi­ence in mind before lean­ing one way or the oth­er. Are your read­ers sea­soned vet­er­ans in need of a chal­leng­ing read? Or are they every­day con­sumers who are hear­ing about your niche for the first time?

Most busi­ness­es do best with a mix of wide and deep con­tent, per­fect­ly cus­tomized for their unique posi­tion. As long as you’re aware of how each can be imple­ment­ed, and you play each type of con­tent to its own strengths, you’ll stand a high­er chance of suc­cess in the con­tent field.