Creating 10X Content for SEO

10X Content, SEO, Your Digital Brand, and Bacon

Adam Koontz

There’s a tactic/philosophy going around in the SEO community around building 10X content. Rand Fishkin delivered a Whiteboard Friday video about “good unique content“, it was a recurring theme during this year’s MozCon, and Brian Dean often refers to it as the “skyscraper technique”. The premise is fairly straight-forward: Search Google to see what ranks for the particular keyword that you’re targeting, and then build something better than those pages that currently rank. From there, proactively engage the sites that are linking to the current content, and ask those sites to link to yours instead (because yours is better content).

The oversimplified phrase I hear over and over again is: “just build great content”.

Your eyes might start to roll a little bit after that last line, as though building “great content” is some simple task that comes easy. It’s sorta like saying: “Basketball is easy. All you have to do is be tall, skilled, and athletic.” Easy right? Why didn’t I think of that?

Here’s the thing…I’ve seen plenty of companies gloss over this tactic because “building great content” does’t sound like a real plan (like the basketball analogy). Instead they often dump more cash into advertising, PPC, email marketing, or other lead generation activities because those tactics typically provide more instant gratification. Yet if the same resources or time were applied to building 10X content, the benefits could have lasting value and would most likely improve ALL of your digital marketing efforts. Ever hear the term “a rising tide lifts all boats”?

The truth is, “great content” or even “10X content” is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion. “Great” is a word that is subjective and it’s human nature to assume that yours isn’t good enough to be considered “great”. So lets stop calling it that. You really just need to build “better content” than what is currently available for your niche, and that could just mean providing more depth on a topic.

But I digress. This article isn’t about showing you how to build better content, it’s to explain why you should.

Let’s consider some direct and indirect effects of building the best content on the web for a given topic:

Thought leadership

Forget about rankings for a minute. If you have the best resource on the web for a given topic, what do you think actual human beings will think about your knowledge of said topic? If thought leadership is important to your business, this is an important point. Many B2B companies that I’ve worked with want to demonstrate some degree of “thought leadership”, and building better content is a very tangible way to achieve that.

Other pages will see ranking benefits too

When you have a page that ranks highly in the SERPs (search engine results pages) combined with a wealth of information on a given topic, a snowball effect occurs:

  • More people click your link (good for prolonged SEO rankings)
  • People stay on your site longer (also good for SEO)
  • More sites are likely to link to your site (really good for SEO)

When these things happen, your page builds rank and your site builds trust. This will help future efforts tremendously because search engines tend to favor sites that build trust.

Your brand builds trust

Building trust for your online brand should be your primary goal. As you build trust and credibility for your online brand, some interesting thing will happen in places you may not have considered:

  • People will look for your brand even when it doesn’t rank #1
  • People will prefer your paid ads even when they’re not in the top positions, thus lowering your costs
  • People type your branded search terms directly into search engines
  • Your social following will grow
  • Your social engagement will improve
  • Your email open rates will improve
  • Your email subscribers will grow
  • And so on and so on

As you can see, the benefits of building better content for organic search rankings provides ROI that extends well beyond the ranking itself. It might not provide the quick hit that other tactics may offer, but the investment in such content will have lasting benefits that other channels cannot match.

How to improve upon 1X content

To start the process for your business, try running some searches using keywords relevant to your business. I’ll use the phrase “high power LEDs”, for this example. Let’s start off by taking a look at what currently ranks:

SERP Results 10X Content SEO

Now let’s take a look at the #1 result:

Example of 1X content for SEO rankings

If you go look at this page, there’s not a lot to it. It’s really just a catalog of LEDs. The opportunity here would be to create a better page that is all about “High Power LEDs”. What is a high power LED? What are the different types? What sorts of applications are they ideal for? Where are they used today? And so on.

Once you’ve got your content created and published, there are tools and techniques that you can use earn links back to your content (I’ll save that topic for a future post).

One thing to note…before you try this technique, do some keyword research to ensure the words you’re trying to rank for are actually meaningful to your target audience. A top search engine ranking isn’t very meaningful if the keywords are rarely searched on.


Now that you’ve seen an example of what 1X content looks like, let’s look at some examples of sites that are doing 10X content right:

Good 10X Content For SEO

I found this site awhile back when looking for some thoughts on “brand voice”. The sheer thought and depth that Distilled put into this article is quite remarkable. It’s content is rich with visuals and video and they use an interesting layout that makes it easy for humans to scan. I didn’t see any other resources on this topic that goes as deep as Distilled and Google clearly prefers it. This article is worth a read for anyone interested in understanding and improving their brand voice.


SEO Ranking Factors

This is Brian Dean’s case study piece for his skyscraper technique. It’s not a fancy, rich layout but it doesn’t really need to be for his purposes. He just went into more depth than anyone else on the topic and it’s been working for him for quite awhile now.

The Food Network

10X content

I searched Google for “bacon recipes” (Mmmm. Bacon.) and this was the top link. I noticed something interesting in the SERPs with this query. See below:

SEO SERP results

Notice how at the top we have 50 things to make with bacon, then 30, then 20, then 11? This seems to support the notion that providing more depth does in fact contribute to where a site ranks. That’s not to say it’s the only factor (there are literally hundreds), but it’s certainly something to pay attention to as a starting point. Now it’s your turn to think about how this applies to your business.

Dedicating some time towards building better content is a project that needs to be on your plate if it isn’t already. If you have limited resources to dedicate to an ongoing content strategy (such as blogging every week), then this approach may be a better fit for you.

Adam Koontz

Adam is President of SEMbyotic, a digital marketing, web design, and SEO company based in San Jose, California.   @adamkoontz