Everyone says you need great content to get ahead of your competitors. And it’s sound advice. Great content can lead to more backlinks, higher Google rankings, more shares and growth. But how do you create “better content” and what does “better” mean?
While there’s no way to objectively measure content quality, there are four things you can look at to assess your competitors’ content through a clearer lens. Today, we’ll talk about these four attributes that make content great and go through some examples of good and bad pages.
What does “better“ mean?
Before we get into it, let’s talk about the word “better”. “Better” implies that a comparison needs to be made. For example, apples are better than oranges. Michael Jordan is better than Lebron James. But these are just opinions that hold no weight. And it’s the same when people create content! They look at a competitors’ content and decide whether it’s “good” or “bad” based on personal opinion.
To solve this, we need some kind of framework that’ll allow us to compare content more objectively. Something that allows us to judge content without personal biases. Not only will this help us create “better” content, but also achieve a desired outcome. For example, if you’re sending emails to ask for backlinks, you need to justify why they should link to your page. Saying that your page is “better” isn’t going to cut it. You need to explain how your page objectively trumps your competitors’ and why they should care. So without further ado, let’s talk about the four attributes that make content great:
#1. Content Clarity
The first category is content clarity. Clarity is about getting your points through in a clear and succinct way. It is honestly one of the most underrated attributes that makes content great! This includes the format of your content, readability, and your ability to explain sometimes complex concepts in easy-to-digest ways.
#2: Content Depth
Next we have content depth. While you want to create content that’s clear and concise, you also want to make sure that you go deep. And by deep, we mean answering the questions a visitor might have. For example, if you were to write a post on how to get your driver’s licence, you could simply say: “Register online for a driving test, take the test and pass.” But people would likely want to know things like how to apply for it, what to expect when you get to the driving centre, documents to bring, and so on and so forth.
Now, while it’s important to create deep content, we wouldn’t recommend going so deep that it compromises clarity. After all, if people don’t understand what you’re talking about, or if you’re just talking about things that only 1% of your audience might care about, then it’s better to exclude them.
Useful content is when you meet the visitor’s reason for visiting your page. And the best way to understand what visitors want is to look at the top three to five pages in Google for your topic. For example, “best garden hose” shows that people want to see a list of garden hoses. So in order to make it useful, your aim should be to help visitors make an informed purchasing decision. However, just because you create a list doesn’t mean it’s useful. The actual content itself is what will make it truly useful or useless. This is where your expertise and creativity really need to shine!
Finally, the presentation of the content. People say not to judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to websites, we immediately make assumptions based on first impressions. Too many ads? Probably spammy. Wall of text? Probably boring. Typical affiliate table with stock photos? Probably not trustworthy. This is why it’s important to present your content in a way that is visually appealing and user-friendly.
Some basic presentation tips would be to add a table of contents, ensure your fonts are readable, use skimmable headlines, and use media that enhances your content like screenshots, illustrations and videos.
Now, one commonality between all of these categories is that they’re centred around user experience rather than benefiting one’s bottomline. And while there’s nothing wrong with mentioning your products, if you want to create content that’s better than your competitors’ then you’re going to have to keep the user’s best interests at the forefront of your content creation efforts.
Alright, so at this point, we know what we’re looking for when we look at a competitor’s page. Let’s use that criteria to take a look at competing pages and how you can use those ideas to create content to get ahead of your competitors. The more things you can do to enhance the user’s experience, the higher your chances of creating something that’s significantly better.
Let’s take a look at our example which is on protein shake recipes. This page from Bodybuilding.com has well over 300 referring domains and ranks for over 5,500 keywords.
But if you look at the actual content itself, it’s underwhelming to say the least. They have a short intro which is good, but then the recipes have boring names, stock photos, and the recipe itself isn’t even on that page. Depth, usefulness and presentation are all severely lacking.
Now, if you put yourself in the shoes of someone who wants to learn about protein shake recipes, there’s a clear desire that they want to make one. But if you think about why they want to consume protein shakes, then you’ll quickly realise that writing a great post on “best protein shakes” isn’t all that easy. For example, someone who wants to build mass might use a different type of protein than someone who wants to slim down. Some people care more about taste while others care more about accomplishing their health goals. So a few things to create content that’s better than this page would be to take great photos of the shakes, talk about the different types of protein and who each one is for, and also include a section on the types of ingredients you should use to achieve your unique goals. And because this topic is about health and fitness, it’d also be great to include a nutrition facts table that shows calories, the grams of protein, sugar, and so on for each recipe. And if the list of recipes was super long, consider creating a filterable list.
This page from FitFoodieFinds does a decent job of this. They understand that some people just want to cut to the chase and see the recipes. So they include a “Jump to Recipe” button at the top of the page — something all recipe pages should do!
Scrolling down further, the images look delicious. They also talk about the types of protein and provide groups of ingredients where they outline the grams of protein for each type. Now, the fact that there are hundreds of websites linking Bodybuilding.com’s page, this looks like an opportunity to create significantly better content and do outreach to get backlinks – more commonly known as the Skyscraper technique.
Now, creating the best content you can is one of the greatest advantage you can give yourself in competitive niches, especially if you’re a small creator. When you do, you gain confidence in promoting it because you actually have something unique to offer. So sending an outreach pitch for a link actually becomes kind of fun. Pitching it to influencers who you might even look up to is exciting because if you have truly delivered on the content side, you’ll start a conversation with someone who might have valuable feedback and can amplify your work. So don’t settle for the status quo because you can. Go and create content that’s better than your competitors and be proud to share it with others in your industry.