Anyone will tell you that to promote your business, you need original, unique content. But is original and unique the same? Yes and no. In the ideal world — of course, they are supposed to be synonyms. In the real one, though… The term ‘original’ often refers to the results of an online plagiarism-check. So, no — today, ‘original’ is not always ‘unique.'
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s make a simple experiment. Pick any topic you like and look through the first three-five articles in Google search. I chose ‘successful writers qualities’ and took a quick look at the first four results. The first two posts were, in fact, unique, and both discussed entirely different aspects of success. The third one already had some unoriginal ideas; the fourth one did not have a single new thought.
But those are all great articles, professionally written and displayed in top Google pages! Still, you can repeat the process with any other search query and get more or less the same result. The first couple of articles (one or two, hardly ever three) will have some fresh ideas. Everything that follows is simply a bunch of rewrites of the first two. Professionally done. Solid in style and grammar. But still — not unique.
Now, think about it — the topic I chose is open to interpretation. After all, it’s not hard science — it would only be logical if different authors had different thoughts on the subject. Yes, some of them could have come to similar conclusions. But so similar? What’s up with this?
And so we get to the biggest stumbling block of promotional content. Originality. Yes, all of those articles are original when it comes to phrasing. They pass all plagiarism checks. And still — so few of them are unique in meaning. Do you think the world is running out of ideas? No freaking way! The problem is with the writers — very few of them put their heart and soul into their posts.
Sometimes, the real problem is the client who wants ‘this’ and ‘this way’ because ‘it works’. Sometimes, writers are plain tired of promotional content and do not care about the originality, as long as the end result is of decent quality. Sometimes, they are simply trying to make a living and write about everything that comes in their way — often, not being experienced enough in the subject.
And that’s all a huge, fat problem for entrepreneurs who want to promote their business. Especially so, for startups who need to target a very specific audience. Remember technology adoption cycle that applies to every product and service out there? As a new business owner, you always start with innovators and early adopters — people who are looking for fresh, unique things or can visualize the future and the potential of your product. The innovators, in particular, love everything new simply because it has little or no analogs. Obviously, target audience like this will not respond well to trite, unoriginal content. No matter how professionally it was rephrased.
[If you're not quite following me with the whole innovators and early adopters thing, Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm is a must-read. Seriously, it is. The book will give you an enormous marketing insight].
So, where do you find writers who can create meaningful, unique content? Well, here are a few ideas that could help you get started:
- look for bloggers who write in your niche: some of them might be willing to dig into the product/service you’re offering and review it on their blogs;
- check for specialized agencies: certain writing agencies, just like individual bloggers, can also target very specific niches, and you might find yours. Steer clear of the services that cover a vast range of subjects! Remember, ‘know-it-all’ experts often know nothing at all;
- consider hiring an in-house writer: if you know you’re gonna need a lot of content, you might want to invest some time into training your own writer(s), teaching them everything they need to know about your industry. The biggest bummer is, on pre-seed stages, this solution can become a huge liability — both when it comes to time and money.
Should you really care about unique content?
After all, it works, right? The content is in top Google search. People can find out about your service. You get enough exposure. Visitors click on your posts. Should you really care if it’s unique in meaning? Yes, you still should. And here’s why:
Audience: as mentioned before, you are targeting a very specific audience. Even if you are not dealing with a revolutionary tech product, your first target customers are still innovators. This is a mindset. And to attract them, you need fresh ideas. Nothing that has already been covered. Then the early adopters will follow. Then, the early majority. You know the rest.
Distribution platforms: sometimes leads will look for you in Google; but most of the time, they will find out about your services via social media. And people are already so over spammed with information! So, the safest bet to stand out on FB and Twitter is to provide truly fresh, truly eye-catching content.
Google algorithm changes: that happens all the time — Google releases an algorithm update, and half of the sites lose their ranking. And that was before Google started using AI. Now, it does, and it is self-learning. So, it's only a matter of time till it self-learns to see little cheats for what they really are — no update required. So, if you don't want your posts to go down the drain one day, truly unique content is the safest bet.
Plain ethics: and there’s that, of course. Rewritten content (differing in quality from a blunt, mindless rewrite to a post masked as unique) is like… 90% of a typical content writing agency turnover. But that’s no different from stealing! Think about it this way — if your product (an app, for instance) succeeds, would you like people cloning it all the time? Log in to any freelancing platform, like Upwork, and take a look at the number of “I need an Uber-like app” projects there. You’ll be surprised how big it is.
Sure, for an app developer, such attempts are hardly ever a danger (but they might be if someone is clever enough to improve your functionality and beat you in marketing). With creative bloggers, it’s even worse than that.
Just imagine it — a blogger is putting his heart, soul, and time into quality, original post (and posts like these do take time — 2-3 days minimum, excluding previous experience that actually led to the post idea). He shares his knowledge and observations; he rearranges the structure, searches for the best way to convey his thoughts; he bleeds on paper! And then, after the writer gets the recognition he rightfully deserves, a bunch of worthless parasites starts piggy-backing on his unique ideas.
Would you want something like this happen to you? And do you still think paying for non-original content is so innocent?