Rand Fishkin coined the term “10x content” in a Whiteboard Friday video episode for Moz that was titled “Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die.”
His definition of 10x content is “Content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic.”
It’s become a staple term used to define stand-out content within a certain industry or vertical.
While “10 times better” may seem like a subjective point when it comes to written content (how do you clearly define something as ‘better’?), there are qualitative factors you can use to identify the attributes of 10x content.
Identifying 10x Content
Think about the way you use search engines when you have a problem or a question and you need a solution. You have a general idea of what you might be looking for, but more than likely your curiosity is driving you to look deeper into the subject matter. So you start searching online for content that will bring you closer to an answer or satisfy your curiosity.
You’ll find pieces of content that look similar, contain the same information, and are laid out plainly in 500 words or less. You’ll likely uncover a fair amount of clickbait in the mix. And sometimes, among the rough, you’ll find the diamond — that piece of content that works in so many ways to capture your attention and answer questions you may not have known you had.
So you bookmark it. And then you share it.
It’s content that is better than just “good, unique content.” It’s 10 times better. It’s Bad-Ass Content.
Criteria for 10x Content
Fishkin provides basic criteria for 10x content. You don’t need to necessarily meet all of these criteria to have 10x content, but some selection of these should be present for content to fall under this type of label. 10x content:
- Provides a uniquely positive user experience through the user interface, visuals, layout, fonts, patterns, etc.
- Delivers content that is some substantive combination of high-quality, trustworthy, useful, and interesting
- Is considerably different in scope and detail from other work on similar topics
- Loads quickly and is usable on any device or browser
- Creates an emotional response of awe, surprise, joy, anticipation, and/or admiration
- Has achieved an impressive quantity of amplification (through shares on social networks and/or links)
- Solves a problem or answers a question by providing comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources
“Good, unique content” hasn’t suddenly become awful; but the fact is, more businesses are producing it, and they’re doing it moderately well. In fact, 88% of B2B marketers are currently using content marketing as part of their marketing strategy. You have to step up your game if you want to provide more value and win the attention of your audience.
With the above criteria in mind, let’s look at six ways you can step up your game to start producing 10x content.
1. Understand the competitive landscape
You’re not just dealing with direct market competitors when crafting 10x content. You also need to combat things that compete for the attention of your audience. A competitive analysis of the search and social landscapes will give you a good idea of who else is grabbing the eyes of your customers and how their experience compares.
Start by looking through the top SERPs (search engine result pages) specific to the topic you want to focus on. As you view the results, make an assessment for each.
- For the content you’re reading or the solution being highlighted, what is the question?
- How thoughtful and engaging is the writing? Does it speak to you or at you?
- Does the content provide value with useful information and actionable takeaways?
- Does the content leave a lot to be desired or is it packed with information?
- Is the content presented in a usable way across various platforms, from desktop PC to mobile device?
- What are influencers in your industry typically sharing on social channels (remember, highly-shared content is often positioned higher in search results)?
2. Build 10x content
10x content does everything better, especially in terms of the value it provides. One of the big parts of building 10x content is finding a new, unique way to present information. This is the time to start reinventing the wheel. With so many businesses taking on the role of publisher, you need to expand into something more akin to an artist.
That means incorporating more visuals with your data, more interaction, and more engagement. Once you’ve identified the unique value that you’re going to provide to your audience, your next step is to use the right content marketing tools and find a better way to present it than your competitors.
3. Create a stellar mobile and social experience
Mobile digital media usage in the U.S. is now significantly higher than desktop usage (51% vs. 42%, respectively), according to a Smart Insights 2015 study.
Buzzfeed provided additional evidence of increased mobile usage in their 2014 Industry Insights study, which showed that 70% of their audience viewed content on mobile devices. The implications are clear: you need to position your content to provide a mobile experience that is 10 times better than your competitors,’ or you’re going to miss out.
Every piece of content you create should be optimized for easy viewing on mobile devices. You also want to build content that easily integrates with social, making it easy for your customers to go from browser or app-based content over to social apps when it comes time to discuss a piece and share it. That seamless connection makes a reader feel like they’re part of a discussion.
4. Stop worrying about viral content
Trying to make content go viral will almost guarantee that it will not go viral. Too many business owners and marketers begin planning conversations with “We need to make this content go viral.”
In the meantime, there is a complete disregard for the context, the audience, and the brand. The resulting content winds up pandering and has an air of inauthenticity.
Stay true to your company personality and the voice you have created for your brand. This helps you create genuine content that is 10 times better than that of everyone else currently vying for the attention of your audience.
That’s the type of content that influencers and amplifiers want to share.
5. Put quality above all else
Outsourcing content to low-cost contractors may have been the key to getting ranked in search in 2008, but the quality of the content was always in question. Articles weren’t engaging, conversions were dismal, and that content didn’t get shared.
As a result of this type of content, millwork search giants like Google changed their algorithms. Content like this now does more harm than good.
6. Brevity can hurt you
Content that is 10 times better has a lot to say, and you may or may not being able to pack that into a short post. Don’t let the fear of small attention spans keep you from creating 10x content.
Just like with long-form sales copy, if you establish a connection with your audience and there’s real value in the content, they won’t mind spending the time to digest it. Go beyond 500 words. 10x content uses as much content as it needs to, to convey the message and provide the reader with superior actionable takeaways.
Everyone in the content marketing game has been preaching “good content” for years.
Unfortunately, we’re at a point where “good content” isn’t good enough anymore. If you want to stand out, then you need to deliver 10 times more value than anything your audience has seen before.
I am Sujan Patel.
Co-founder of Web Profits. In my 13 years in marketing I’ve helped grow companies like Mint, Salesforce, Linkedin, Yahoo!, plus many more. I’m giving away my multi-billion dollar marketing advice on my eBook.
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This article was first published: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sujanpatel/2016/02/10/the-beginners-guide-to-10x-content/#5d962a0653d9
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