We live in the age of content.
Known by some as the “content deluge,” today’s web searches are quite literally saturated with results and readers everywhere are bombarded by legions of content at every turn, much of which is sub-par, unhelpful, and badly written.
Because of this, it is more important now than ever to ensure that your content stands out in the sea of content marketing.
“But how?” you ask.
The answer is simple: by creating 10x content.
Where did the Term 10X Content Originate?
Coined by Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Inbound.org, “10x content” is a term that marketers use to describe content that is 10x better than anything else produced by a search result.
With that kind of description, it’s easy to see why we would all want to be shooting for it.
What is 10x Content?
If 10x content is literally 10 times better than anything else in a search result, what makes it that way? The answer boils down to a specific list of qualities, compiled by Fishkin and presented at MozCon 2015. While not all of these points are required, an ample number of them should be present in order for the piece to fully qualify as 10x content.
The 7 Pillars of 10x Content
1. A Uniquely Positive User Experience
Keep in mind that it’s not enough for 10x content to provide a “positive user experience.” A great deal of content on the web creates a positive user experience and that, in itself, is not enough of a marker to earn the title. Instead, 10x Content needs to provide a uniquely positive user experience. This entails everything from the site’s design to its fonts and patterns. Content may be king, but interface is definitely important.
2. High Quality, Trustworthy, Useful, Interesting Writing
In order to be deemed 10x content, a piece needs to be high quality, trustworthy, useful and interesting. These things must be substantiated by great research, high-quality links, an easily readable voice and a touch of humor.
3. Unique in Approach
In addition to the values required by point #2, 10x content also needs to be unique in the way it approaches being high quality, trustworthy, useful, and interesting. It’s not enough to simply possess those things: content must go above and beyond in order to present them in a way that is, literally, 10 times better than anything else surrounding it in the search engine’s results. This may mean presenting it in a new way, answering unanswered questions or simply writing from a place of empathy that allows you to put yourself into your readers’ shoes. There are many different ways to create unique content and the mode will vary according to the author or brand.
4. Loads Quickly
What good is great content that takes forever to load? In order to qualify for the 10x content title, a piece needs to load quickly, regardless of browser or device. This serves the purpose of enhancing user experience and providing for a more seamless interaction with the site.
5. Evokes Emotional Response
In order to be 10x content, a piece needs to evoke an emotional response from the reader. This response can vary from joy to surprise but must be real, authentic, and immediate. Again, readers are overloaded with content on a daily basis and there is almost no chance that they will remember the pieces they didn’t relate to emotionally.
6. Garners Shares
In order to be considered 10x Content, a piece needs to draw considerable shares on social media platforms or through links and mentions by other sites. In order to earn links and shares, a piece needs to be informative, useful and engaging.
7. Solves a Problem for the Reader
All great content solves a problem or answers a question for the reader and 10x content is no different. In order to fulfill any of the above goals, the content needs to provide value to a reader by answering questions and presenting information in an easily digestible manner.
Why “Great” Content Isn’t Enough
Again, we are living during a content flood—of Biblical proportions.
Because of that, great content isn’t enough. While this concept may be scary for well-meaning content marketers and SEOs, there is hope.
In his recent article, “Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die,” Fishkin goes as far to say that good, unique content is now the wrong bar at which to aim. Thankfully, he also gives SEOs a little bit of direction when it comes to where to go next.
According to Fishkin, 10x content is the new successful content for 2015 and beyond. When content marketers begin to create content that truly stands out, they’ll begin to ride the waves of the content sea rather than sinking beneath it.
The Changing Climate of Search: Why We Need 10x Content
While we feel badly for great content, it’s clear that its time has come. Thanks in large part to changes in content marking, search tactics and linking practices, great content is being forced to clear out in favor of content that caters to the unique needs of today’s market.
Here are the major factors that changed to create this climate:
- The Rise of User Experience: Once upon a time, web pages existed solely to answer questions and “user experience” was a fluffy little phrase that nobody paid much attention to. Today, however, user experience plays a large part in Google’s ranking algorithms. Because of this, sites that load quickly, are optimized for mobile devices, are segmented, sub-headed, and easy to read are ranking better than difficult interfaces featuring large blocks of brilliant but dense content.
- The Death of Link Building: In the early days of SEO, black hat SEOs built pages and then built links back to them, falsifying ranking and muddying the waters for everyone involved. Nowadays, low-quality link building is dead and Google’s Panda updates have proclaimed to wage war on bad link building in the future. Because of this, websites have been forced to begin earning links rather than building them. This means in order to be linked to, content needs to be worthy of links, which means it needs to be interesting, useful, valuable, and intelligent. The catch, however, is that people got their fill of useful, valuable, and intelligent content long ago. As a result, there are literally millions of high-quality pages that fit reader’s needs. As a result, these pages don’t earn links any longer and Google users are on the lookout for the best possible content.
- Content Marketing Got Hot: Over the last half-decade, people have begun to flock to content marketing in droves. This has produced more competition for top-ranking spots in search engine indexes and altered how content is ranked altogether.
- User Expectations are at an All-Time High: Google users want the best content on the web and, with such a supply available, it’s safe to say that they’re not going to compromise. They want content that looks great, answers questions, appeals to their sense of humor, and delivers value. That said, they’re not going to have much of an interest in anything that falls short of the mark.
5 Fundamental Guidelines to Help You Create 10x Content
With all of this information under the belt, it’s easy to adopt a dismal outlook on the state of content today. Creative writers, marketers, and SEOs, however, will realize that there is a better way: by creating content that meets the need of today’s consumers while also maintaining a high level of quality and intelligence, we can create better content for users everywhere. Fortunately, doing so isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds.
1. Do Your Own Research
How are you supposed to create 10x content if you don’t know what 10x content is? In order to get a better feel for what’s being shared and what readers find valuable, type some of your ideal search queries into Google and take a look at the top ten search results, as well as anything that might be trending on Twitter or social media. This will give you a better idea of what readers want to know and what types of content they appreciate, which will give you a place to aim your content creation efforts.
Doing your own research also allows you to spot gaps in the market, which is the first commandment of marketing. In order to create content that is 10x better than anything else on the market, you need to first know what’s on the market in the first place. This can only be deduced through conducting personal research. In addition to helping you realize what’s out there, research will also help you learn what’s being done right, what’s being done wrong and what’s not being done at all. Once you’ve gathered that information, your content can reach next-level success.
An example of an excellent tool that gives content marketers a fundamental key, I think, to their underlying research of what content might be hot to their audience, trending in their industry, or gaps they could fill with content, is Buzzsumo.
For instance, check out the dashboard and the search options:
Content marketers can look up any kind of content, filtered by date, to see what’s trending, compare domains, find top authors, or even set a content alert for new published material that is of interest to them and may inspire further creations. This is a way to navigate the best content on the web, and be inspired.
I like the Trending Now tab, just to see what’s hot on the web in the last 60 minutes of Internet time:
And lastly, finding your industry influencers (easily done in BuzzSumo), connecting, following, and reading what they share will not only help you build a relationship with an important person you should connect to, but will inspire you on what to create.
I am in no way endorsed to say this, but seriously: BuzzSumo is a major tool to have in the 10x content creator’s toolkit.
2. Consider Which Questions Your Readers Need Answering
Great content must answer readers’ questions. Without this, there is no hope for shares or links. When you research the most shared content in your chosen search queries, take a moment to ask yourself which questions that content is answering.
Chances are, you’ll get a good feel for what is being asked by readers and answered by writers. With this in mind, you can better prepare yourself to write content that answers user questions in a unique and engaging way.
3. Boost Your User Experience
Is your site easy to navigate? Does it load like lightning? Is it laid out well? Is it optimized for mobile devices? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to get back to the salt mines.
Users want content that is easy to interact with, and if they’re having trouble clicking, navigating, or finding their way around your site, you can bet they’re going to leave in a hurry. To get them to stay, ensure you’re employing user-friendly site design and paying close attention to user feedback.
4. Use Visuals
Visuals have the power to take your content to the next level and, if you’re not using them, you should be. 10x content relies heavily upon visuals done right and creating it means you should be employing great infographics, videos, photos, and screenshots in order to provide a better depth of understanding and an enhanced user experience.
5. Source High-Quality Information
Using links in your writing isn’t enough if the sites you’re linking to are low quality or boast low DA scores. In order to create 10x content, you need to ensure you are sourcing data from the highest quality sites available and that the data and linking practices themselves are both top-tier. BuzzSumo comes in handy here as well for researching where to get your high-quality citational information.
The Future of 10x Content
All evidence points to the fact that 10x content is here to stay and marketers who want to be successful will benefit from paying attention. Although it may seem like a snazzy catch phrase designed for shock value, 10x content actually makes a good deal of sense. The entire climate of content is changing, as are user-preference and search habits.
That said, it’s wise to for content marketers to bend before they break. 10x content creation proposes a solution to the “content deluge” and a way to maintain quality while also catering to user experience: by writing content that is intelligent and optimized, thoughtful and unique, helpful and easily navigable, writers can do their part to create content that is better for users, writers, and the web at large.
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