What is 10x content?
10x refers to content that is 10 times better than your competitors. Here's how to produce that journalism – plus examples.
Hello, and welcome back. Jessie here. In a rare and thrilling development, Shelby and I were able to work in person (!) this weekend. Expect a newsletter with above-average sports content (the Shelby influence is strong!).
This week: 10x content, a term first coined by Rand Fishkin, the co-founder and former CEO of Moz. To unseat your competitors in search results, your journalism must be superior to what they are ranking for – and that’s where the concept of 10x comes in.
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In this issue:
What is 10x content?
How to write 10x content
Examples of 10x in news
What is 10x?
A term first coined by Rand Fishkin, 10x content is 10 times better than the highest ranking result for a specific keyword. In a highly competitive, saturated search results page, having 10x content can be the difference-maker between ranking high (and reaching tons of readers) and not making an impact.
There are key pillars of 10x content, according to Rand:
The site must: Have great UX and UI on all devices (mobile and desktop). The page should load quickly and be devoid of spammy ads or links.
The content must: Be well-written, interesting and considerably different from other pieces serving the same audience. It should create some kind of emotional response. The piece could also solve a problem or answer a question with a comprehensive answer.
The experience should: Encourage social shares or engagement (i.e., be linked to from other sites). To earn links, content needs to be information, helpful and engaging.
Creating journalism that meets this criteria can be difficult and requires time and energy.
Why it matters: To nab that first position in search results, matching existing content isn’t enough. To unseat your competitors, you have to be markedly better (this is where your competitive journalist hat is so helpful!).
THE HOW TO
How to write 10x content
To create quality 10x content, you must first understand your competition then find a unique angle to approach, while identifying a powerful or exceptional way to present the content.
Look at the first page of search results for the targeted topic. What’s special about those links? What questions are being answered or angles explored?
Check social platforms, too: Facebook communities, Twitter conversations or Reddit forums can surface burning questions readers have. Look for themes or topic areas that net a lot of engagement (i.e., what's upvoted most on Reddit).
Use keyword research to identify any informational gaps in the market. Play to your site’s existing topical authority and your publication’s strengths (for example, if your newsroom excels in data analysis, take a data-driven approach to the 10x journalism. One of the examples Rand gives in his Whiteboard Friday video explores the idea of performing a meta analysis of all movie ratings).
Return to your strengths and leverage newsroom skills. Think about what sets your organization apart and apply that to story-level decisions. Collaboration is key: Bring in developers to brainstorm the interactivity of the page, or tap your data journalists to explore a new approach to the same old story.
Using keyword research, find the most-asked questions on search. Then consult your archive: Have you reported this question? What angles did the previous pieces cover? Once you have a short list of new topics, get reporting.
Think about the presentation
Refer to the top organic search results, image search results and the top hits on other platforms (this can include off-platform sites and social, as well as YouTube for ideas). How are the top results formatted? Are the top links entirely written text or a combination or interactive elements, video, images or graphics?
What would spark your curiosity or entice you to click? Apply that framework to your outline.
The key to 10x content is finding a great story and making it significantly better than the competition – in a way that hasn't been done before.
That’s the thrill of this work: It’s part search research, part story ideation and part audience development. Then, creating that journalism to dominate the competition.
Easy, peasy – right?
10x content in news SEO means…
In the context of news, 10x content provides additional value or another layer of understanding to readers. This means:
Creating a story (text article, video, interactive or another format) that is highly engaging;
Ensuring there is a clear takeaway for the piece (what is the question you will answer for the reader?);
Thinking about the experience a reader will remember from this piece of journalism.
In the run up to the Rio Olympics, The New York Times developed a visual series to explain why these athletes are so exceptional in their respective sport. Combining video and text into an interactive experience, this Simone Biles piece explained – better than any standard profile – why she is the greatest gymnast of all time.
The final product is expertly written (obviously), highly engaging (the interactive is excellent) and provides a clear takeaway (why Simone, specifically, is capable of these astonishing physical feats) – clearly an example of 10x content.
Here are other examples of 10x news content (you can tell Shelby compiled these links; it’s sports sports sports 🙃):
FiveThirtyEight publishes an annual list of NFL Predictions for the regular season and playoffs (updated after every game). More than a standard issue set of predictions, this piece is interactive, comprehensive, consistently updated and relevant throughout the entire season.
When NBC Sports published their look at the NFL’s 2022 schedule, they took a surprising, engaging – and informative – approach to what is normally a standard news file. By looking at which teams will benefit most from rest days, the piece provides a complex understanding of how an additional day off could sway the outcome of the season.
The Globe and Mail’s personal finance writer Rob Carrick developed a mortgage calculator that does more than run the numbers (any bank’s website can do that). The Real Life Ratio calculator answers a more robust question for readers: Can you afford a mortgage – and the rest of your life and financial goals?
The added value of 10x assets: These pieces are easily linkable and highly shareable. They fulfill reader needs on an evergreen topic, and can help develop a reader’s relationship to a publication. Editors can link to a calculator, calendar or interactive each time a story on mortgage rates or a league’s schedule is published.
The bottom line: Creating content that is 10 times better than your competitors is not easy, but producing engaging, authoritative journalism that blows other outlets out of the water? That’s a thrill.
THE JOBS LIST
These are roles across the globe we see that are audience positions in journalism. Want to include a position for promotion? Email us.
The Toronto Star is hiring a Senior Digital Producer, SEO.
The Independent is hiring an Audience Development Lead.
Mediavine is hiring a SEO Analyst (remote/U.S.).
For fellow Ontario audience editors: There’s an election underway here (where good things grow) in Ontario. Catch up on our election/live news newsletters: SEO for planned news events, structured data for live news and our breaking news series.
Search Engine Journal: Google's John Mueller explains how to use FAQ structured data for non-FAQ content.
Brodie Clark on Twitter: Google is testing article SERP features for some authors.
As of May 13, Google now logs impressions in the Page Experience report for additional (desktop) features, such as Top Stories.
Have something you’d like us to discuss? Send us a note on Twitter (Jessie or Shelby) or to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Don’t forget to bookmark our glossary.)
Written by Jessie Willms and Shelby Blackley