When I Googled “creating original content,” most of the advice is something along these lines:
- “Evoke emotion!”
- “Insert your personality!”
- “Start a YouTube channel!” (We can’t make blog posts original anymore??)
For the most part, the information out there doesn’t actually give you actionable advice on how to bring original ideas to the table.
We often think of good content as detailed content. And that’s partly true – you need to provide examples and case studies to prove your point.
However, detailed content isn’t necessarily original content. You can have someone write a 5,000 word guide on link building that contains sound, actionable advice. However, that doesn’t make the content original.
Original content brings new ideas to the industry that can transform the reader’s processes or impact their decisions.
Unfortunately, creating original content is often more difficult than it seems. That’s why I decided to write out all of my go-to formulas for creating original content.
My Formulas For Creating Original Content
While these top few ideas discuss rather involved methods to make your post more original and effective, some blog posts simply don’t call for groundbreaking new ideas.
For example, if you’re writing a blog post on “Best Calendar Scheduling Tools,” do you really need original research or data to serve the audience the results they are looking for? No! They just want a list of tools.
However, if you want to rank first and make it a standout post, it still needs some original qualities.
Therefore, I’ll discuss simple ways you can do so at the bottom of this list (the list is ordered from most involved to least involved formulas)
Discuss an Experiment You Ran
One of the best ways to create original content is simply discussing an experiment you ran. Talk about what you learned, what parts of it failed, what parts worked, and a few actionable steps the audience can take to improve their performance based on the results.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to rank first for “link building strategies” (a very competitive term). Neil Patel currently ranks first, and the content is very thorough, actionable, and well written.
However, the advice given (while certainly solid) is pretty generic. It involves strategies like:
- Get active on social media
- Broken link building
- Analyze competitor’s link profiles
The only problem is that most people are already doing these things and it’s not really providing a significant uptick in links. In fact, virtually every other guide to SEO already offers all of those ideas.
In addition, they don’t really share a new spin on how to execute these tactics. Just look at the subsection for “Get active on social media.” There isn’t anything groundbreaking that most people aren’t already doing.
So if I was trying to unseat a post as authoritative as Neil Patel’s, I would attack it from the angle of providing better advice by injecting it with recent experiments.
For example, rather than telling the reader to get active on social (duh), I would tell them about an easy link building tactic I recently discovered that produced fabulous results and actionable advice to execute it.
For example, I recently started doing outreach to companies and offering to update their posts in exchange for a link (rather than guest posting). It produced a much higher response rate and higher quality links.
So by talking about content updating as a link building tip rather than just providing generic advice, the actual content becomes much more useful to the reader (as the tip is more effective), and therefore, you have a better blog post.
While that doesn’t mean you’ll immediately outrank the competition (links and authority still matter), including your own experiments will certainly give you a great shot because people like talking about new trends.
Do Research and Draw Original Insights
You’ve probably already heard that performing original research is a great way to produce a better blog post. Though most people do research the wrong way. Here’s the typical research format:
- Send out a survey
- Generate basic industry stats
- Create graphs that reflect those stats
- Publish the blog post
The problem is that most of the statistics people create don’t really provide any actionable insights. For example, asking how much content marketers typically pay agencies doesn’t really help agencies or marketers solve any of their pain points.
However, what is more interesting is looking at the common issues your customers face and then doing research on the cause of those issues.
I’ll give you an example.
I was doing content updating for a client and overall, it was quite successful – I helped them increase their traffic from 9k to 18k.
However, I noticed that a lot of the posts still failed after updating the content. So I decided to do some research on this and uncovered statistics on what made a post fail. As a result, I found a bunch of super interesting insights that changed how I do content updating.
For example, posts that previously performed well (had over 20 monthly visits) were responsible for 85% of the total traffic increase to my client’s site.
I also found that how much text was changed did not correlate with higher or lower rankings:
You can see the full post here and it currently ranks first for “content updating.”
You’ll notice that the difference between this original research/experiment and the hypothetical research scenario I mentioned at the top is that this research/experiment:
- Provided actionable insights: It uncovered patterns that changed how I update content
- It was truly original: Nobody else had heard of these tactics before (such as only updating top performing posts, disregarding how much text is altered, etc.).
In total, the research I did for this took only about two days and I did it all just using Ahrefs. So don’t think that you have to hire a big research agency to produce content like this. Just look at your own data or recent experiments you’ve done. It’s more about the insights you draw rather than the data itself.
Interview an Expert
Another super simple way to create original content is to interview an expert on the subject.
For example, let’s say that you sell webinar software. If the keyword you wish to target is “increasing webinar signups,” just interview someone that has consistently produced successful webinar signups and ask for their advice on how to increase webinar signups.
The end result won’t be in a question and answer format – it will still be structured as a post with actionable advice. However, the information itself will probably be much more useful than anything that a generic freelancer could come up with.
Here’s a post I wrote for Close.com that is an excellent example of this format. To write this post, I interviewed a sales coach to uncover the 80/20 of what drives the most success for sales teams and then wrote the post based on his advice.
Before the interview, I recommend that you do some initial research to learn what the commonly accepted processes look like. This way, you can go deeper in the interview and ask how effective those processes are, if the person has alternative methods, if they can provide original examples of those methods, etc.
For example, suppose I was interviewing a link building expert and this person thought I knew nothing about link building. In that case, he/she will probably give me generic advice like, “try guest posting,” “build valuable resources,” etc.
However, you’ll get much juicer information if you come in by saying, “here are the things I’ve found are typically best link building practices (like broken link building, guest posting, etc.). What’s your opinion on each one? Are they really effective? Do you have any actionable tips to make them more effective? Can you provide real examples (mini case studies) of each of these tactics? What was your most effective link building campaign to date?”
To find these experts, you can ask your network, ask in Slack channels, or do cold outreach on Linkedin/Twitter. I find that most people are quite willing to be interviewed for a topic they have expertise in, so don’t be afraid to do some cold outreach as well.
Use a Case Study
This one is similar to interviewing an expert, though I’d argue that it’s even more effective because you can tie the results directly to your product.
So instead of interviewing an expert, you’re interviewing a client.
The biggest issue I see with case studies is that the writer doesn’t position the case study around a customer pain point or keyword.
So the title might be something like “How Zoom’s Marketing Team Uses (Your Product).”
Instead, I challenge you to look at the issue the client faces before using your product and think of keywords that someone struggling with that issue might Google. For example, if Zoom signed up for your service because they were struggling with user retention (obviously, I’m making this up), perhaps the entire post is about improving user retention. So the title might look like this:
How Zoom Improved User Retention by 50% in 6 Months
However, it’s not just the title I’m talking about. The entire post should help the reader solve their problem, and your product is only part of that solution.
If it’s just a monolog about how great your product is, nobody will read it.
So in the Zoom example, I’d ask the interviewer to discuss how they used our product and the exact process they used to improve their user retention.
Draw From Personal Experience (Adding Your Own Stories)
This is similar to the “discuss an experiment you ran” topic, but rather than making the entire post about an experiment, you can drop your own ideas and support them with anecdotes of your personal experience.
In fact, I’d argue that this post you’re reading mostly falls under this category. It doesn’t contain any research, and it’s also not really a case study.
However, it’s a collection of formulas that I’ve found I use over the years to create more original content both for myself and my clients. If you look in the SERPs, there isn’t any other post like it.
The key is that I also add original examples of my own writing for each post. So adding your own stories or anecdotes whenever relevant (even if it is just a hypothetical scenario) is a great way to add originality.
Organize The Information More Effectively
I mentioned at the beginning that not every blog post calls for groundbreaking new ideas or data.
For example, let’s say that you are writing a blog post on “Best SMB Accounting Tools.” In this case, the reader doesn’t want to consume data or original research on what makes a great accounting tool or how many people use accounting software.
Instead, the reader knows that they need SMB accounting software and just wants a quick list of ideas to choose from.
So how can you make this content original?
One easy way is to simply organize the post more efficiently. For example, when I Google the keyword “best keto delivery services,” this post from Spruce Eats popped up, and it is by far one of the most effective posts at presenting the information.
While almost all of the other posts on this topic include the exact same meal delivery suggestions, this particular post organizes the information in a way that is super easy to skim through and make a decision.
Specifically, they do these things really well:
- Sticky table of contents to quickly navigate to any relevant topic
- Provide a “Best for” title (If you’re on a budget, you can easily see the “Most Affordable” is Freshly)
- A few key specifications, such as price, recipes, and diets served make it easy to compare at a glance
- A quick bullet list of pros and cons
To see for yourself, here’s a quick screen recording.
If you need some ideas on how to organize information more effectively, here are a few ideas:
- Make the design easier to navigate (use a sticky TOC, subheadings, etc.)
- Divide the tools/options into categories (or if there are under 10, give each a title)
- Make key information visible at a glance (price and other key differentiators)
- Provide a quick pros/cons list
Ask Your Audience What is Missing
Whenever I read tool list posts, I feel like each tool sounds exactly the same as the last tool. On the whole, most tools are very bad at differentiating themselves from the competition, so writing something unique can be difficult.
However, this is also an opportunity to make your content original.
Therefore, I have 3 go-to solutions for uncovering differentiators of each tool:
- Comb G2 reviews for unique praise/complaints
- Ask past customers what they liked and didn’t like about the tool
- Ask the company directly, “how do you differentiate from company A, B, and C?”
By doing this, you’ll be able to provide the audience with much more useful information on each tool.
Going back to the “best keto meal prep services” keyword, Spruce Eats really took things up a notch by actually trying out each meal prep service themselves. This is ideal as they can talk about each company from personal experience (though I also realize this isn’t always possible – especially in tech).
Therefore, try to go beyond just what the website offers and ask people that have either used the product for juicy information on it or the company itself.
Start Creating Your Own Original Content
Creating original content gives you an unfair advantage because not only is originality more memorable, but it also gives your brand a voice, making it easier to earn loyal followers.
By making each piece of content original, you’ll also have to publish less content as each one will be more impactful.
Hopefully, this post gave you some ideas to quickly start injecting originality into your content, though if not, just take a look at the posts you enjoy reading on other blogs. Ask yourself why you like that content.
I’m willing to bet it’s probably due to some element of originality.
If you’re still stuck or just want someone else to do this for your company, feel free to reach out to me and I’d be happy to help.