10x Content Ideation & Creation Process
There are two ways to succeed in content marketing:
Be the first one to break a story. Or be the best one to tell it.
The latter is where a 10x content happens. By providing content 10x better than what is currently out there for a certain topic.
Apart from offering a great product/service, content is considerably the one key element that allows many brands to succeed online (especially with consistent execution).
There are millions of content being published daily on the web. Our generation is already drowning in content.
Because many still fail to provide the best solution/answers to their audience’s ever-growing needs.
So in this post, I will share a few tips based on how I personally come up and create 10x content (or skyscraper content, if you prefer the term) – that can help:
- Attract and earns links
- Exemplify your expertise in your industry
- Rank for keywords/search terms that will have impact for your campaign
- Generate leads and customers to your business
I will also share actual samples of my typical workflow and thought-process for content ideation, validating the idea and creating a draft for the content.
Criteria for 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, interesting, and remarkable
- Is considerably different in scope and detail from other works 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.
How to Brainstorm Content Ideas
In content creation and linkable asset development (link bait), planning is 50% of the battle.
And content planning for developing big content assets is actually the catalyst of our link building process at Xight.
For marketing consultants (like me) who work externally to help other businesses grow, there are many sources out there that you can use to come up with content topics that will resonate well with your clients’ target audience.
To name a few:
- Industry-specific subreddits on Reddit
- Competitors’ websites
- Popular forums & communities in your space
Recommended reading: How to Generate Better Content Ideas
But of course, it will tremendously help if your clients can grant you access to internal business data (more often from their sales team, customer survey and feedback forms, etc…) to generate content topics that are aimed directly at their target customers.
How to Validate Your Content Ideas
Effective content marketing is not just about coming up with bunch of topics to write about and publish.
What’s more important is to make certain that your idea will fly and actually help your clients hit their business’ objectives.
Below are the key aspects of content planning that you should implement to tear down and eventually justify the viability of your content idea.
Note: The sample below is actually for a content I’ve been planning to build for Kaiserthesage since last year. I just didn’t find the time to create it (sucks). But feel free to build it – I’m sure a lot of SEOs will find it really useful.
1. Check topic/keyword search volume
It’s best to generate other keyword variations that you can target for your content idea to maximize your content’s reach (through search).
You can use also Google Suggest (its auto-complete function) to generate more keyword variations for your content (or to generate even more content ideas):
2. Check if there are existing linking opportunities for the topic
Review the top ranking pages for the topic you want to build content on. See if the ranking pages have substantial # of links pointing to them.
3. Influencers who are interested about the topic
Are there existing content amplifiers who will be willing to promote the content once you publish it (by sharing or linking to it) – if given that it’s 10x better than what they have shared or linked to in the past?
See who have linked and shared your competitors’ content and make a list of them (use Ahrefs > Top Referring Content).
Reach out to them once your content goes live.
Tip: Mention your target influencers from your content. It can improve your chances of having them share your content on their social networks.
4. Evergreen topic litmus test
One way to make the most out of your content ideas/assets is to ensure that they can provide value to its intended audience for a long time.
Search trends can be used to determine the longevity of the topic (use Google Trends).
Evergreen content works best in any content marketing campaigns, because they can efficiently scale a site’s marketing efforts and sustain its online visibility (through natural linking – as its organic traffic grows over time).
It’s also important to annually revisit and review your content’s timelessness (and relevance).
Update whenever it’s necessary, because it can help further boost or sustain their rankings (read this).
5. Unique Value. What’s missing from your competitors’ content?
Review your competitors’ content. Can you add something about the topic that hasn’t been written or mentioned from their content, or better – elsewhere?
In which you can incorporate the following:
- Internal data
- Case studies
- Survey data
- Consolidating publicly available data (that will have impact to your client’s target audience)
- Redistributable content formats such as visual content, slide decks, or PDFs (for link building purposes)
- Your own actionable insights.
- Provide better or more remarkable user experience (ex: interactive elements).
6. Rankability – can we rank for this content/topic’s search term(s)
At this stage, you’d probably start asking yourself the following questions:
- Is the site’s DA high enough for this new content to rank in a short period of time?
- What’s the average DA of the sites ranking within the top 10 for the target keyword(s)?
- How many links do we need to get to the top page of Google?
- How do we build links to this content?
- Will influencers really link to or share this content?
- Will this content idea be genuinely 10 times better than what’s currently ranking #1 in Google?
If you can confidently answer yes to the last 2 questions, I believe you have a strong chance of getting to the top page (and building a 10x content for your client along the process).
As for the rest of the questions – it really depends.
To answer these questions quickly, there are too many ranking factors to consider. Apparently, pages can still rank even with a lower overall link authority compared to other pages that are already ranking (you can rank even with low DA and less # of links).
But personally, I think it’s more important to focus on the last 3 questions (links are still obviously very important).
Because if you have the link building part sorted out even before actually creating the content, you’d definitely have a better chance of ranking well.
How to build links for your 10x content:
- Integrate content formats that you can easily distribute to other sites or leverage for your guest blogging content (data visualization, infographics, branded images, videos, PDFs, slide presentations, Whitepapers, etc…).
- Know who have linked to your competitors’ content in the past – then reach out to them.
- Know the sites that will find the information you’ll be providing highly useful and valuable – then reach out to them.
Lastly is to fortify your content. Make sure that your content will satisfy users, especially search-driven traffic (they should get actual solutions to their queries). Provide the best experience possible (for both desktop and mobile).
7. Will this content help generate leads/customers to the site?
Remember that you’re building content to help meet your client’s business goals.
All your content ideas should have a clear goal, whether it’s for traffic, branding, links/relationships, nurturing/generating leads or even directly driving customers.
Personally, I abide this one principle for content creation:
“To teach is the best way to sell”.
It’s easier to earn links, drive traffic and ultimately sell, when you’re established as an authority in the field.
And apparently, the best way to demonstrate expertise (and spread influence) over the web is through content that people will actually learn from.
To further see the business value of the content idea you’re working on, see how the top ranking pages’ traffic performance are (I use Ahrefs’s data to evaluate these).
Wherein you can also see how much advertisers are spending (CPC) on each of the keyword variation you aim for your content asset to rank for.
This can help you analyze, validate and decide if you’re idea will help generate more business if it ranks well.
Few examples of 10x Content:
Below are several samples of content ideas that can help nurture/generate leads. Most of these are based on the curated list by Rand (which you can view here)
Evo’s Snow Board Size Chart & Buyer’s Guide (eCommerce)
Bellroy’s Hide & Seek Wallets (eCommerce product page)
UserOnboarding’s How Netflix Onboards New Users (B2B, service-based)
How to Create a Draft of your 10x Content
Your content draft simply says “this is how the final product should look like”.
That’s why creating and completing a draft/outline of your content is a significant process, because it allows you to visualize the outcome – and basically serves as a guide for you (or your content creators) on how to:
- Structure your content
- Make sense of the data and sources you have gathered
- Place and use the key elements, ideas, hooks or statements that will make the content unique.
Below is a quick preview of how my outlines normally look like:
Get your readers and target influencers involved.
Another approach that you might want to consider is getting your readers’ inputs (while still in the planning stage).
A great sample of this is from Nick Eubanks’ most recent SEO case study, where he emailed his newsletter subscribers to ask what they’d want to see when the post goes live.
Having his readers participate in the development process of the content, not just made the content itself more robust, it also made it easier for Nick to amplify its promotion once it’s done (since people are already expecting it).
The Process in Action
So just to give a better overview of my thought-process for content ideation and creation – I’ll share a brief example.
Note: This is just a hypothetical content idea. Something that we can possibly work on in the future for one of our clients (my personal favorite actually), which is a startup that operates in New Zealand (a free comparison website for moving companies in NZ).
The topic idea: “High Paying Jobs in New Zealand”
One of the market segments of the site could be immigrants who might potentially need the service of international moving companies (that are also being listed on the site). So the idea could work and complement the site.
There are already dozens of content published from different NZ sites that cover the topic. So the challenge is how we can create the best content about it.
Check the topic and target keyword phrases’ search volume
The topic’s possible keyword variations have substantial search volume (we won’t rank for everything, but at least we know that people are interested about the topic).
Check for linking opportunities
There are many, but how do we make the content linkable?
Making the content linkable
So a few days ago, I came across this article from The Independent that features a map of International number ones (based on data) – through my Facebook feed (you can get content inspiration from anywhere).
I simply thought that this is something that we can actually do as well – but in this case, we’ll basically feature each region in New Zealand instead.
So I tried looking for public data focusing on data sets that will be relevant to the client’s target audience. In which I found this NZ regional activity report from a couple of years back.
The paper reveals a lot of data that we can definitely build content on (or a map on). In particular, data sets such as mean household income, weekly rent, and employment rate per region.
The study also shows the top industries per region (for the past 10 years).
This led to an idea of creating a map of the fastest growing industries in NZ per region.
Creating a data-driven visual content (map) – along with the extensive research on the high paying jobs in NZ – will most likely help it become more linkable (as we can also use the data visualization as leverage for guest blogging efforts).
The map can also serve as the content’s unique value proposition.
Where to promote it, and who will find the data in the map useful?
- Regional news sites/papers
- Regional blogs
- NZ business blogs
- Real estate blogs
- Living in NZ blogs
- Jobs sites in NZ
Moreover, there’s also this news that has been circulating around lately, in which the content/map idea can piggyback on:
Making the content evergreen
Some of the data that will be used in the content are from decade-long studies. They will most likely remain relevant for a long time.
Do an annual review of the content to make sure. Keep the old URL, and keep on adding new/updated information.
- Brainstorm topics you can build content on.
- Check the topic/keyword search volume.
- Check if there are existing link opportunities for the topic.
- Make a list of influencers who are interested on the topic.
- Check the topic’s search trend (is it evergreen?).
- Determine what’s lacking from the currently ranking pages for your content idea.
- Assess and analyze if you can rank for the keyword phrases you will be targeting.
- Study your competitors’ traffic performance to validate if the content idea can help achieve the business’ goals.
- Create a detailed content draft/outline for you to follow.
- Get inputs from your readers (and target influencers) before actually creating the content. Send them your draft.
- Build the content according to plan.
If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.