What is 10x Content?
The content that stands head-and-shoulders above the noise on social and SERP listings must be 10 times better than the current top result. Originally coined by Rand Fishkin of Moz, “10x Content” has less to do with the quantity of content created and more to do with its quality.
It’s a term — a philosophy — that has evolved dynamically over the last decade as content creation has seen both accelerated growth and remarkable oversaturation. More than 60% of marketers produce at least one piece of content every single week, and more than 90% of marketers currently employ content marketing tactics in their arsenal — tactics which were barely a collective blip on the marketing radar a decade ago.
The boom in content production and sharing is ubiquitous. A swipe of a social media feed proves as much. Littered across our screens, begging for our attention are pieces of content that run the gamut from curiosity gap pieces that promise much and deliver little, to evergreen pieces about every term or celebrity under the sun.
More than ever, brands have started to realize the power of building their communication channels much like traditional high-powered media agencies have. A sort of if you build it, they will come approach.
Marketers pay attention to this content explosion for reasons that go beyond the hijacking of our social media feeds and collective consciences. The white noise of a decade’s worth of content overproduction also litters much of SERPs, occupying the valuable search engine real estate our clients want to — or ought to — be residing in themselves.
The solution to this battle for distinction is dichotomous: You can either create new content, or you can create even better content. 10x content falls into the latter.
10x Content Basics
But what defines even better? This can be difficult to objectively quantify, but there are some key characteristics of 10x content that are universal.
In general, 10x content:
- Offers exceptional value to the audience
- Is distinct from other content being created in the same space
- Provides an excellent user experience across all platforms
- Solves a problem for the reader by providing authoritative, comprehensive resources
- Is displayed in a compelling and attractive format
- Elicits an emotional response from the viewer
Put another way, if regular content is a dime-a-dozen Betty Crocker boxed cake mix cake, then a five-tiered gateau with gourmet flavors and fillings, hand-whipped buttercream icing and intricate sugar artistry is 10x content. It’s 10 times bigger, badder and more over-the-top than what most people are willing to do.
10x content can be more than longform pieces — tweets, videos, LinkedIn profiles, image assets and even cake can all adopt the 10x philosophy. But in the context of the original form of 10x content — an evergreen piece or blog post — 10x content is writing something 10 times better than the top Google search result for your keyword or topic. It is exceptionally well-written content, doused in intrigue, slathered with the exact answers users need, and reinforced by top-notch research.
Why Does Exceptional Content Matter?
Every digital marketer knows the bottom line — to rank as high on Google as possible. (And it’s not just Google rankings we care about, although — who are we kidding? — we know you use Google, even if you work at Bing.) Page one, position one is the holy grail:
- Only 5% of users advance to page two of search engine results.
- Only about 1% of users advance to page three.
But even on page one, where nearly 95% of Google users find what they need, position makes a huge difference:
- Of all the clicks on page one of search engine results, the first organic listing gets 32.5% of the clicks.
- Only 17.6% of users click on the second result.
- Only 6.1% are click on the fifth result.
- Only 2.4% click on the 10th result.
There’s no way around it. If you want to be seen, you need to rank on page one. And to accomplish that, you need more than unique content; you need more than high-quality content. You need exceptional content.
Content Marketing Has Gotten Sophisticated
Back in the mid-2000s, companies could skate by on cheap, outsourced writing and still finagle their way onto page one. Though we still see relics of that era, fortunately for users, search engines have since become exponentially more sophisticated.
For example, every Google update in the past six years has cracked down on poor content. May Day 2010 penalized duplicate content. Panda 2011 penalized content farms. Penguin 2012 penalized weak backlink profiles. Hummingbird 2013 deemphasized exact match keywords. Quality Update 2015 penalized thin content and excessive ad placement. The next updates are bound to raise the bar higher still, making 10x content even more crucial.
All of these algorithm changes point to the same conclusion — Google values content that users value: pieces that are relevant to each query, reliable and gratifying.
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing, Google bombing, spamdexing, intentionally misspelling keywords and other old school SEO tactics. In the slightly paraphrased words of Bob Marley, you can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool Google.
Expectations Have Increased
Users expect Google to rapidly give them exactly what they want. Since a gazillion other marketers are also trying to rank for your keywords, the Internet explodes with new content every day. Thus, Google has a lot of suitors to choose from. Pages that don’t deliver 10x content are quickly crowded out of enviable SERP slots.
For example, users expect to be delighted not only by your words but also your visual content. In fact, articles with images get 94% more page views, according to research by marketing entrepreneur Jeff Bullas.
Create something worthy of users’ rapt attention. They won’t settle for anything less.
What do we want? Perfection! When do we want it? Three seconds ago!
Today’s internet users don’t waste their time on sites with poor UX. Not only do you need exceptional written content, your page needs to load instantaneously, and work and look stellar across all platforms. If you make users wait or show them an unresponsive page, they’ll bounce. And when Google sees those bounces, you will be whisked off to mingle with the other sad, dejected sites ranking on SERP page 250,978. (Which, incidentally, is not that different from ranking on page three.)
Google views UX as such an important factor, its Mobilegeddon update from 2015 penalized sites that didn’t jump on the UX bandwagon. Design, font size, button placement, usable navigation and useable forms all became a mandate, and sites were penalized if they didn’t get on board by future-proofing for the mobile-first trend.
5 Steps to Creating 10x Content
Creating 10x content is no simple feat — that is the point, after all. If it was easy, everyone would do it. The number one way you can create 10x content is to hunker down and put some elbow grease into it. There are some tricks of the trade, however, that can help you along the way. We’ve found each of these five steps paramount to crafting successful 10x content:
- Be purposeful
- Do a competitive analysis
- Answer user questions
- Make the page easy to use
- Hire great writers
If your content is crap, it is probably going to rank like crap. That’s why you need to believe in what you’re making, be authentic in your authority and confident in your expertise. Above all, be fully dedicated to serving the user.
Ultimately, you should be creating content for users, not search engines. However, great content marketers accomplish this through the lens of a search engines’ goals. Search engines strive to give users exactly what they seek — so you should too. Your writing should be organized, relevant, interesting, well-researched and include keywords that sound natural.
Do a Competitive Analysis
Unlike the second grade, it is now perfectly acceptable to peek over at your neighbor’s homework, just as long as you don’t copy it. In fact, this is an absolute must. The most effective way to discover why your competitors are landing at the top of SERPs is to evaluate what they’re publishing.
To get you started, consider these questions:
- What are the top results doing?
- What are their top keywords?
- What are they not doing?
- What would blow these top results out of the water?
Answer User Questions
Don’t assume you know what your readers want. (You know what happens when you assume.) Instead, take the time to find out what really
matters to your audience; only then can you offer them value they won’t find elsewhere.
Don’t set out to create something viral — that rarely works, and you’ll just end up frustrated. Make something meaningful, even if you think it will attract a smaller audience.
Make the Page Easy to Use
The best way to deter users from converting — or ever coming back — is by giving them a shoddy user experience. Regardless of your industry, keyword space is too competitive for slow, non-intuitive apps and pages that aren’t responsive. If you want conversions, you need expert web developers who know how to be creative within your content marketing strategy.
Your content should make the developer’s job easy, though. Do you have lists, images, charts, tables and clear H2s? All of these elements help a reader easily digest your content, giving it a serious boost.
Hire Great Writers
You wouldn’t hire an accountant to do your plumbing — why hire a salesperson to do your writing? If you want 10x content, you need to invest in professional talent. It’s obvious when you read a page that was churned out by a content farm (an entity that is slowly going the way of the dinosaur, anyway). Don’t be that company. Your reputation and your brand are worth professional-quality work.
Not every brand or agency can create 10x content. And that’s the point. If you’re serious about creating the kind of content that users and search engines love, understand the level of effort and investment this will require.
Most importantly, don’t create content if you’re not solving a problem. Adding to the noise never helped anyone.