In today’s world of ever-present blogs, viral videos, articles and Twitter headlines—content is king. Audiences demand it. Companies depend on it. And it’s as prevalent as the air we breathe. Unfortunately, not all content is pristine and filtered. Some of it is cloudy, mucky, and reeks a rotten stench. And the truth is that many people don’t care. Because they’re getting their clicks and links out there. They’re getting their web-traffic.

Shouldn’t we be aiming to serve our clients in the best way possible? Shouldn’t we be creating the highest-quality content for our clients, the kind that attracts attention because it’s expert material and not spammy backlinks, irrelevant ads, questionable blogging and guest posting? As agencies, we should all strive to make relevant content. By raising the bar, we create a new trend. Creating quality content is like cooking up a world-class meal – No microwaves allowed.

Quality content. Relevant material. We will settle for nothing less.

Creating content for our clients is similar to preparing a lavish meal. And, because they are our clients, they deserve the best of the best. They’ve earned the best of the best. Do you serve them a pre-packaged frozen food dinner you thaw out in the microwave? Or do offer them only the finest, freshest ingredients prepared by a world-class chef?

Go ahead, serve your sodium-soaked reheated hors d’oeuvres. If they’re hungry enough, they’ll probably take a bite or two. But think of what they’re missing—healthy, savory, humane ingredients. Grilled salmon on a bed of flavorful lentils. Prime Rib with a roasted garlic thyme sauce. Blueberry Cobbler with ginger and vanilla cream biscuits.

Sure, you can stir up their content with spam, ads, and irrelevant material. You may get all the bites you need. Or you can serve them up well-written articles, relevant and informative blog posts, high-quality videos, and professionally shot images. They’ll gobble these up and dish out rave reviews at the meal’s completion. It’s this “meal” that will have everyone talking. It’s this “meal” that will raise the bar until we’re all eating better, tossing away anything that’s “Ready-to-eat in 30 seconds.” Anything fake. Anything artificial. Anything sub-par.

The content we make should be the best we can make.

Recently, Google published their massive 160-page document outlining the company’s “Quality Guidelines.” The document provides quality rating guidelines for content on the web. Specifically, they addressed content littered with low-quality spam, incessant ads, and completely irrelevant material that would show up as relevant in search queries.

Page by page, line by line, Google painstakingly announced these guidelines that, honestly, were pretty obvious and should go without saying. Do we really need a document to tell us the difference between good and bad content? Shouldn’t we be aiming to create exceptional content regardless of being told the obvious “guidelines”?

All content, be it blogs, articles, videos, animation, graphics, images, etc. need to be done better. We need be constantly raising the bar. That is how we get our clicks, that is how we get web traffic and page views, that is how we get our client’s brand out there—by creating content that people actually want to see and not content that they’ve been tricked into clicking on due to bad search queries. It’s not right! It’s not quality! And you can’t sit back, feeling good about the job you’ve served your client if all you’re doing is tricking unsuspecting web-surfers into hitting your links.

There are thousands of ways to measure web-success and analytics. Page views, number of site visits, how long viewers stay on a page, how engaged they are, what the sales are like, the list goes on and on…but, in the end, these numbers are a direct result of the content on the page. And quality content will always result in better metrics. Better than any shortcut other agencies come up with will. Content is not King. Exceptional content is KING.

Creating content is a bit like the evolution of baseball or tennis. In the beginning, less home runs were hit by the best guys. Pitchers’ fast balls clocked in at far lower MPH’s. Tennis balls were not driven into the court like they are now. There was less top spin, less power, less untouchable groundstroke winners. But over time, one player stepped up his game. And then other players mimicked his strategy. And those players learned how to hit harder and pitch faster and serve better. And then someone even better came along and taught the next generation what to strive for. Now we have the Miguel Cabrera’s and the David Ortiz’s and the Rafael Nadal’s of the world—raising the bar for everyone that comes up behind them.

It should be no different with content. We should all be raising the bar and striving for exceptional content. We should always be improving. With every post and graphic.

What makes content exceptional?

Content, like any art form, is up for interpretation. What one person finds to be riveting information, someone else may be bored by. Still, the attempt to engage must be there. Oftentimes, exceptional content comes at the sacrifice of excessive monetary gain. Think of film, for example. Studio heads must decide whether or not to spend millions of dollars on a guaranteed box office success like Green Lantern, or they can put their money-hungry eyes aside and create an exceptional, critically acclaimed piece of art cinema like Terrance Malick’s Tree of Life.

Yes, it won’t kill at the box office like the latest super-hero flick, but it will inspire—thought, conversation, action, cinematic dreams for the next generation, and culturally it’ll be a piece of work that will better explain our place in history than any history book will be able to. Exceptional content has the ability to linger with an audience long after the credits roll, or the commercial ends, or the blogger signs off. It resonates with the audience and taps into their fears, concerns and beliefs. It promotes action.

And that’s something we can feel good about.

As agencies, when we produce exceptional content we also cement our client’s beliefs and their goals into a tangible impact on society itself. This is what resonates with viewers. This is something readers respect—the integrity of the company producing this quality content. At this level, we are not confined by the elements of sales or revenue, but rather by our generational impact. This approach shapes the future, securing our clients’ longevity beyond the life of our relationship.

This can’t be achieved with bad content. This can’t be achieved with tacky ads, bad links, and irrelevant search results.

As a messenger, the link between client and audience, the impact on industry, culture, and the global community is our measure of success. Can we get there overnight? No. But we must strive forward with each client, project, and the world at large.