Friday, June 12, 2015

Two Simple Questions to Inspire New Content

A few weeks ago, Rand Fishkin wrote an intriguing post on the Moz Blog: "Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die." The initial theme of the article, that "good, unique content" is simply not enough to achieve a high ranking, that it is "not the bar for entry into SEO" might seem discouraging:

"You're not going to have an opportunity to rank," he writes. "It's much, much harder to get into those top 10 positions...than it was in the past because there are so many ranking signals that so many of these websites have already built up over the last 5, 10, 15 years..."

Yet Fishkin's astute presentation of his "content quality scale" offers a new hope: the creation of what Fishkin calls "10x content":
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"Really, where I want folks to go..is 10x, 10 times better than anything I can find in the search results today. If I don't think I can do that, then I'm not going to try and rank for those keywords. I'm just not going to pursue it. I'm going to pursue content in areas where I believe I can create something 10 times better than the best result out there."

The key to creating this sort of content, Fishkin believes, is studious research of the existing search landscape. Google a specific keyword for the content you plan to write about and ask yourself, "What makes this great?" Fishkin suggests looking at many factors: not only the quality of the writing, but the user experience, the details, the content's sources, and the visuals. He also asks an important question, "What's missing?"

We state this question a bit differently. We believe a productive way to think about a potential piece of content is to simply ask, "What question am I answering?"

We know that people search to find answers. Can you answer a specific question in a unique way? Researching the current results, per Fishkin's recommendation, will give you a good view of how the question has been answered before. Can you answer the question with new information?

This is, by the way, a great way to think about your business offering. As we've noted before:

"Most online businesses fail at differentiation. Some businesses sell truly unique products, but fail at marketing the product's uniqueness. Many businesses, of course, sell similar products, but fail at differentiating other important factors, like cost or service. A failure of differentiation is a communication failure. If the Internet is a conversation, the businesses that fail are like boring people who avoid conversation, or worse, people who drone incessantly about "the seven things you're not supposed to talk about," like how you've slept, or your day-to-day health. Ho hum!"

So the challenge is to add something to the evolving conversation. Do not simply re-hash what has come before. If you own an online business, and you want to create a market for your product, ask yourself: what am I adding to the conversation?

Two simple questions, then, to inspire new content:

1. "What question am I answering?"

2. "What am I adding to the conversation?"

But there's something else, of course. There's a bit more to creating "10x content."

Pablo Neruda, poet: Believe it or not: the talent of the writer matters, too

Fishkin believes the ability to perform research and to write content that exceeds the top results, is a "super power." His formula for success is, well, a bit formulaic. It is helpful--to a point especially in his assertion that many competitors do not have the resources to "scale content quality." If you can figure out a way to produce 10x content, you will beat your competitors.

Really, though, Fishkin's article only briefly mentions the true super power: "quality writing." The article itself, presumably transcribed from the video, is not an example of "quality writing," per say. Although the information is useful, the writing itself abounds with strange grammatical constructions and run-on sentences.

When you talk about "quality writing," remember, it is not simply what is being conveyed, but how. Despite the abundance of bad writing, essentially practiced by everyone, most of today's readers can discern the true mark of quality writing. This is why the true "super power" will always be the writer's talent.

An astute business owner understands his/her talents and limitations. If the creation of 10x content is crucial to your business success, and you do not currently have a great writer on staff, then we suggest hiring one. Great information poorly conveyed, or even competently conveyed, is not enough. You're seeking greatness.

We'll discuss how to find great writers in a future post. For now, you might try reading any of our articles on "content" or: "Three Keys to Writing SEO Content That Inspires People to Share."

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