Disclaimer:

This is meant for people striving to develop long term web properties. Those churning and burning can return to their regularly scheduled programming. ;-)

I was reading an entry on visibility on SEOMoz, and it suggested making your site stand out (both visibility wise and algorithmically wise) with content.

“Develop unique content” is almost always the first suggestion given by people being asked how to make a site stand out from the others in a niche. Matt and other Googler’s are constantly preaching it as something Google wants.

So why the hell do webmasters and online marketers find this concept so difficult to understand?

I think one of the bigger reasons is not fully getting what “unique content” means. When “experts” and engine reps preach it, they mean it from a conceptual standpoint and not a literal one. So, what does that mean?

There are two possibilities for unique content. The first is the literal one. A page of content that is technically unique from those found on other sites on the web. I’d be more likely to call this unique text as that’s what it is. The topic/gist of the page is the same as a thousand other pages on the web.

An example of creating literal unique content would go something like this:

  1. The webmaster needs to add more content to their site.
  2. The webmaster goes to a top ranking site and uses the keyword research tool at Overture to come up with a list of potential topics.
  3. The webmaster either writes a dictionary style explanation of the content or reads another article on the topic and writes the same thing in their words.

While this content is full of unique text, it certainly doesn’t have any unique value. The same information is available all over the web, the above is just written using the webmaster’s words.

The second version of unique content (in my head) is conceptually unique content. This content might be something that either no other site has. This content might be something you’ve written to be better than the current information that is available. This content might be something that uses content already available, but with a twist to make your version either more interesting or adds value to the original concept or topic of the “article.”

As an example, I saw a site selling internet services that was not a “big brand.” The site had seen a ton of complaints about people trying to cancel service with one of their larger competitors. So, the non big brand site wrote a cancelation guide for canceling service with their competitor.

Not only is the content ranking in the engines because no one else had thought to do it prior to them, but they received a lot of links. Users on message boards and blogs, as well as traffic from frustrated customers of their competitor who happened to be in the market for a new internet provider.

“Content is king.” I laugh most of the time when I see this phrase. I think the people swearing by its success are those creating unique content from a conceptual standpoint. I think those who think content is a moot point are probably creating sites with unique content from a literal standpoint.

Think of content like movie plots. When a movie is predictable, or the basic plot is tired, you want to see something new. You want to see a new spin from the director, a better level of special effects or an unexpected twist to the plotline, to name a few. If a movie is a repeat of five others you’ve seen before and it doesn’t give you anything new aside from different actors, how likely are you to see it again or recommend it to others?

Content follows the same concept in my mind. If you rehash the same crap already out there, with no added value. The site can be as literally unique as it wants, but that alone isn’t going to earn it recommendations (links). It won’t earn rankings in the engines or word of mouth to people for being conceptually unique.

Of course, don’t just create truly unique content and then sit on your ass. Content is not a magic pill. You still need to do link development, advertising and promotion for your site. But, having content that is unique from a conceptual standpoint will give you a strong advantage – and with today’s competition on the web, advantages are something you can’t afford to lack.