One of the best ways to make your brand stand out in a crowd of online competition is to offer your website visitors “10x content.” Essentially, that’s premium content widely considered to be unique and/or authoritative. It’s the “signal” in the signal-to-noise ratio we call the Internet.
In this article, we’ll describe 10x content, look at the importance of developing 10x content, and then offer a few pointers about how you can brainstorm your way into producing some high-quality posts.
What Does 10x Content Look Like?
There really is no magic answer to the question: “What is 10x content?”
The term “10x content” was originally coined by Rand Fishkin. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Moz, so he’s familiar with what it takes to make a good impression online.
As the name implies, 10x content should be 10 times better than what other people are offering. It’s not enough to simply produce average or good content any more. It’s now a requirement to offer the very best in content so that you’ll attract an audience.
Many digital marketers are under the impression that 10x content is long-form content. In some cases, and maybe even in most cases, that’s certainly true. While it’s typically a great idea to lean on long-form content in your marketing efforts, that doesn’t mean that all 10x content is long-form content.
The criteria of 10x content vary from website to website. What would be considered 10x content on BuzzFeed (e.g., a blog post about dress colors) might not work so well on an e-commerce site that sells automotive supplies.
However, there are common traits that many 10x content posts share. Here are some of them.
Responsiveness – Don’t even think about coming up with ideas for 10x content if your website doesn’t offer a professional appearance on all types of devices. The Digital Age has now become the Mobile Age. If you’re in doubt about that, check your analytics to see how many people are accessing your site on a mobile device. If you haven’t done that in a while, you might very well be shocked at what you discover. Before you begin brainstorming about 10x content, give your site a thorough test on all device types (including smart phones, tablets, phablets, laptops, and desktops) to make sure that the user interface is supported on each platform. If not, contact a developer and make the necessary changes.
High Quality – People aren’t going to be happy if they’re teased with a clickbait headline only to find a surface-level discussion of the subject. Make sure that the content you’re producing is worth people’s time.
Trustworthy – If “Bob’s Blog” says that eggs really are bad for you, how do you know it’s true? Who is Bob, anyway? What are his bona fides when it comes to nutrition? If you don’t have an aura of authority surrounding your brand, you can’t expect people to take you seriously. Make sure that you demonstrate knowledge of your subject matter by repeatedly blogging about it and also offer external links that support your claims.
Useful or Interesting – Your 10x content might not be useful and interesting, but it should be one or the other. A great analysis of a celebrity figure might not contain many life hacks, but people will find it interesting. On the other hand, a blog post about how to save hundreds of dollars in car repairs by applying a few simple tips might not be very interesting, but it’s totally practical. Be certain that your content is either useful or interesting. If possible, though, make it both.
Unique in Scope and Detail – It’s often the case that 10x content is long-form content that dives deep into a particular subject matter. Why? Because nobody else is doing it. When you cover a subject briefly in a 300-500 word article, you’re just another member of the proverbial “herd” doing what everybody else is doing: looking for ways to add something to your blog. On the other hand, if you go into detail about that subject, exhaustively analyzing every nook and cranny of it from various angles, then you’re offering something that’s unique. Your content will likely be viewed as the “go to” place for that subject and you can expect people to bookmark it. Don’t be surprised if it also ranks well with the search engines.
Creates an Emotional Response – It’s not enough to write like an old-school newspaper reporter or provide dry, lifeless step-by-step instructions. Instead, you need to create content that, to some extent, makes readers “feel.” Keep in mind that they don’t necessarily have to weep tears of joy, but at a minimum they should be impressed with your effort. They should admire your knowledge and commitment to the subject. If you’re writing about a more light-hearted topic, they should get at least a few laughs out of your article. If you’re writing about a life hack, they should be happy that you’re offering something to make their lives easier.
Not Always a Winner – Content marketing, like life, is a game of hits and misses. You can do everything right, follow all of the advice in this article, and produce content that’s unique and totally spectacular. That doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to go viral or rank on page 1 of the Google search results. The science of virality, quite frankly, isn’t definite. You could write a piece that takes you a whole day to prepare only to see it get shared just four times on social media. Later, you might stumble across a nugget of info from an obscure website, share it on your blog, and watch it go viral overnight. The bottom line: don’t expect all of your 10x content posts to big hits. That’s just not how it works.
It’s You – Good 10x content is unique because it’s a reflection of your own unique personality. Instead of just focusing on facts and figures when you present your content, make sure to let some of your personality show as well. As we’ve seen, it’s important for your readers to “feel” when they read your content. For that to happen, you have to “feel” when you produce your content. Otherwise, it will come across as too dry and seem very similar to other pieces that are on the web.
Why 10x Content?
Why is 10x content so important? Because you’re trying to get noticed in a choir of competing voices.
It costs literally nothing to set up a website these days. Anyone with an idea and an Internet connection can get online and offer a point of view that competes with your own content.
You have to find a way to stand out.
The best way to stand out is by providing the type of content that other people aren’t even thinking about. While you may approach the same subjects as other blogs and websites, you should do so in a way that’s original. Quite frankly, you need to write articles that are worth the click.
As is often the case, it’s a great idea to apply basic principles of marketing to your content marketing. One such principle is the concept of a unique selling proposition (USP).
What’s your USP when it comes to your content marketing efforts? What are you offering that other blogs and websites are ignoring? How is your information more valuable to readers than similar information that’s offered elsewhere?
When you focus on 10x content, you’re generating a USP in your online marketing efforts. You’re making sure that your content stands head and shoulders above other articles that appear online.
Getting Into Google’s Good Graces
10x content won’t just help you gain favor with members of the human species, you’ll also likely find that the Google ranking algorithm throws a little favor your way when you produce content that’s superior to the average articles posted by your competitors.
Why? Because Google now takes the user experience into consideration when it ranks pages and sites. As a result, you can expect a better rank for your content when you’re offering a better user experience. By definition, 10x content does just that.
Further, when you produce high-quality content that people find to be a valuable source of information, you’ll see that it’s not only shared on social media, but other folks who run blogs will offer a link to it. Those backlinks are going to help boost your rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Also, if you’ve been doing digital marketing for any length of time then you know that Google keeps raising the bar when it comes to SEO. If you want your site to be established as an authority website in your niche, begin producing 10x content now. The Google bot will almost certainly recognize your site as a veritable library of helpful information when it comes to your domain. You’ll likely rank well for years to come.
Finally, keep in mind that there’s a cause and effect phenomenon going on here. Content marketers are producing higher quality content so they can rank better with the search engines. That leads website visitors and casual Internauts to expect higher quality content when they use Google to search for information about a specific subject. That expectation will, to some extent, determine page rank for sites that offer content.
So there’s two big reasons to produce 10x content. You’ll win more readers by offering high-quality articles and you’ll likely boost your search engine rank.
Now that we have the “what” and the “why” of 10x content covered, let’s talk about the “how.”
Pick a Subject
It’s been said that the longest journey begins with the first step. Unfortunately, in this case, that first step can be the hardest.
You’ll begin your 10x content production process by picking a subject. That’s often easier said than done.
In your case, you’ll obviously want a subject relevant to your niche. While you can certainly post something about great hairstyles of the rich and famous on your blog that covers Java software development, you shouldn’t expect it to draw much attention.
For our purposes, we’d like to produce a blog post about a movie that’s been in the news lately: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. That’s an interesting subject because the movie opened to awful reviews but performed very well at the box office.
Unfortunately, though, a blog post entitled “Batman vs. Superman Strikes Box Office Gold Despite Poor Reviews” isn’t going to work well as an example of 10x content because there’s nothing unique about it. Every newspaper in the country is reporting that.
That’s why it’s important to brainstorm.
You might be able to come up with a great angle about Batman vs. Superman entirely on your own. If not, though, it’s a great idea to grab a few of your teammates and do some old-fashioned brainstorming.
You might find that other people approach the subject from an entirely different perspective than you. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s important to encourage people on your team to speak freely, especially during designated brainstorming sessions.
Remember, the first rule of brainstorming is that you never cast judgment on a person’s suggestion. You just make note of it and then decide on it after the brainstorming session has ended.
The reality is that one of the best ways to come up with ideas for 10x content is to quit trying to do it all by yourself and instead gain the help of some your most trusted partners.
A great way to think about a unique angle for the subject you’ve chosen is to ask questions about it.
For our subject, we don’t want to give away spoilers about the movie, so we’ll avoid asking questions directly related to the plot. However, there are general questions we can ask.
For example: who is more loyal than the comic book fandom? In this case, people showed up to watch the movie even though it received terrible reviews.
From there, you could take another angle on the story. For example: will Hollywood producers get lazy now that they know people will pay to see a movie even though it gets bad reviews?
You could also ask an entirely different question related to the subject. For example: what other movies received lousy reviews and still did well at the box office?
So we have a few angles that we could use in our 10x content post. If we put some more brainstorming into the subject, we could probably come up with a lot more.
Research, Research, Research
Now that we’ve got a few ideas, it’s important to research our subject thoroughly. There are two good reasons for in-depth research.
First, you’ll likely uncover a few more angles that you can use in your 10x post. Sometimes, research uncovers subjects that were left untouched during even the most exhaustive brainstorming sessions.
Second, you want to research the subject thoroughly because you need to come across as an authority figure when people read your content. If your article leaves a lot of questions unanswered and stones unturned, people will walk away from it thinking: “Meh.” Instead, make sure that you cover your subject thoroughly. That will require research.
In this case, we want to know everything there is to know about Batman vs. Superman. That means (sigh) we’ll have to go see it. Then, we’ll have to read about it. We’ll need to know the names of the cast members, the director, the producers, how much it cost to make, and everything else we can know about the movie.
Without a thorough knowledge of the subject, it’s almost impossible to produce a post that’s considered 10x content.
Now that we’ve got a few ideas for a 10x content post and we’ve done the required research, it’s time to pick a subject that’s unique.
Do some Googling around to see if any of your subjects have been touched before. If you think you’ve got a great idea for a blog post but other bloggers have already plowed that field, think again. You want to put your USP into your content marketing.
Use Google to eliminate subjects that aren’t unique. Then, you’ll pick your post content from one (or more) of the topics that remain.
For starters, it looks like there are already a few posts on the most dedicated fandoms. So, we’ll cast that one aside even though the comic book fandom saved Batman vs. Superman from itself.
The other subject that we considered is about how dedicated fans will incentivize Hollywood producers to be lazy because they know they’ll an attract an audience with the right heroes even if the screenplay is atrocious. There doesn’t appear to be a lot about that subject online, so it’s definitely a finalist.
The last subject is a blog post about other movies that received horrible reviews but when on to win at the box office. That’s still in the running, and it brings us to our next point.
Article vs. Listicle
While we’re considering Batman vs. Superman, it’s important to consider another battle: articles vs. listicles.
If you’re unclear about the difference, an article is a traditional type of content that may or may not contain subheadings. What you’re reading right now is an article.
A listicle, on the other hand, usually includes a number in the title (e.g., “The 11 Best Sitcoms From the 1990s”) and is in list format, as the name implies. Sites like BuzzFeed and Cracked are famous for pioneering the listicle concept.
So what’s the best option for your 10x content? Once again, it depends.
As a rule of thumb, millennials love listicles. If young people comprise a significant part of your target market, it might be a good idea to make use of listicles as much as possible.
However, it’s also true that listicles tend to be associated with “fun” subjects that are approached from a lighthearted standpoint. Again, you can thank BuzzFeed and Cracked for that.
There’s no hard and fast rule here, but if you’re approaching a very serious subject with in-depth research, it might be a good idea to go with a standard article format. If you’re offering something that’s a little more on the entertaining side with the potential to go viral, consider using a listicle.
Even if you’re using an article, though, it’s a great idea to break your content down with sub-headers so that people can scan it.
Picking From What’s Left
Okay, now we’re at the point where we have just a couple of subjects left. Which one do we pick?
For starters, go with the one that’s most likely to generate an emotional response. Remember, you want people to feel your article, not just read it. If you’ve got something that you think is going to make people mad, sad, or glad, then that’s probably your best bet.
Another good rule of thumb: pick the topic that’s the most “fun.” If you’re left with a couple of options, ask yourself: which one would people most enjoy reading about? The answer to that question is the article that you should select for your 10x content.
Once you’ve moved beyond the emotional angle, ask yourself which topic is going to provide content that is most valuable to your readers. That’s probably the winner.
Keep in mind, though, that emotion usually trumps information. If you have to choose between giving people all the feels and providing them with encyclopedic knowledge about a particular subject, you should go with the emotional angle almost every time. You’re practically guaranteed to get more shares and comments with that type of content.
If you can create an emotional response while offering in-depth information at the same time, you’ve probably got a home run on your hands and you should run with that option.
Remember: there’s no rule that says you only have to pick one topic out of all the items you’ve selected. You’re more than welcome to produce a potpourri of blog posts from subjects that came out of your brainstorming session.
Down to One
In our case, we’re just going to pick one subject. We’ll go with a post about other movies that received poor reviews but performed well at the box office.
Why? Because, simply put, it’s more “fun” than the other subject about Hollywood producers becoming lazy because Batman vs. Superman did well even though it received poor reviews. That subject, quite frankly, seems depressing and is little more than a forward-looking prophecy.
The post about movies that struck gold even though they were poorly reviewed is a topic that lends itself to a bit of fun and some movie trivia. It also works well as a listicle.
Finalizing Your Research
In this case, we’re going to need to do a little bit more research. How do we find out what other movies performed well even though they received bad reviews?
Fortunately, Rotten Tomatoes has done most of the heavy lifting for us. We can use that site to find the collective ratings of movies as well as the box office take. We’ll use that information to assemble our listicle.
That’s what the folks at People magazine did when they produced a post on the subject. It’s exactly the kind of 10x content post that you should put on your blog.
Think about it: the post is relevant to the current news cycle, it’s in listicle format, it’s got broad appeal because it’s about the entertainment industry, and it’s just plain fun.
Miscellaneous Ideas for Generating 10x Content
In addition to the formula that you’ve just read, there are other great ways to come up with ideas for 10x content. Here are a few of them.
Copy Your Competitors – See what kind of content your competitors are producing that ranks well and copy it. Of course, you shouldn’t copy it word-for-word. That will definitely not help you when it comes to ranking your site. What you can do, though, is write about the same subject in your own words and make sure that your content is 10x better than what your competitor is offering. Create some graphs that are relevant to the subject and embed them in your article. Use images and add captions that are catchy. Use animated GIFs and memes to introduce a little humor. Write the article with more personality and use long-form content, if possible.
Variation on a theme – You should also derive inspiration from the ideas of others. You might stumble across an article on BuzzFeed that has 30,000 social shares but it’s on a subject completely unrelated to your own niche. Think about how you could write a similar article that your audience would appreciate. For example, there’s an article on BuzzFeed entitled “24 Things That Will Make You Say ‘Me Working Out.’” It’s listed under the “Hot” items now so it’s getting a lot of traffic. If you’re involved in any kind of health-related niche, whether it’s fitness equipment or nutrition, ask yourself: “How can I apply something like this to my own blog?” Maybe you could offer a similar article entitled “The 17 Most Original Excuses for Not Working Out.”
Always Be Reading – It’s this simple: when it comes to content marketing, if you want to be a producer, then you have to first be a consumer. You can’t teach anything unless you’re first taught yourself. Make it a point every day to read from people who are great writers. Even if the subjects they cover aren’t related to your niche, you’ll get “food for thought” and derive inspiration from the works of others.
Keep a Library of Images – One great way to make your content stand out from the rest is to include relevant images. However, it’s not always easy to find just the right image at just the right time, even with a Google image search. That’s why it’s a good idea to curate any great image you come across, even if you don’t need it at that moment. Fortunately, if you’re using WordPress, you can just upload the image to your media library and tag it so that you can retrieve it at some later date. Keep in mind that a Skyword study shows that content with images receives 94% more page views on average.
Wrapping It Up
Now it’s your turn. Revitalize your online marketing efforts by making a commitment to produce 10x content.
You’ve got a number of key takeaways from this article. It’s time to pick some subjects related to your niche, brainstorm with your teammates, and come up with a few great ideas for 10x content on your own site.
Also, make 10x content the de facto standard. Every article should be an attempt to reach the first page on Google with information that’s useful, relevant, and presented in a unique way.
Then, reap the rewards from your efforts.