How to Create Expert Content: Subject Matter Experts vs. Content Experts
You know that content needs to be engaging, well written and well promoted in order to appeal to your audience. Now it's time to add another dimension to that profile. Your content may also need the authority afforded by a subject matter expert.
What is a Subject Matter Expert?
Creating a strong business reputation online is about putting your organization’s products, services and expertise on display. Many businesses do well at showing off what they do but fall short in setting themselves up as industry experts. If you aren’t considered an expert, you’ll suffer in more than just conversions. You may also suffer in your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This is where subject matter experts come into the picture. A subject matter expert is someone who has depth of experience in a given industry. They know the ins and outs of their business area. They have either the credentials or the experience needed to be considered trustworthy. For example, medical content needs to be written or reviewed by an MD or health care professional to be trustworthy. When subject matter experts write, they include content you don’t find in posts written by non-experts. They sound like insiders because they are insiders.
Subject matter experts are essential, but they aren’t the only piece in the trustworthy content game. A content expert is a professional who knows how to turn complicated, expert-level matter into content readers enjoy. If you’re lucky, your organization might already have a subject matter expert on board who happens to be a great writer. Many businesses, though, rely on the help of experienced copywriters to turn expert knowledge into effective online content.
The Characteristics of Expert Content
Expert or authoritative content has appeal because it offers more than just a cursory glance at a product or trend. Authoritative content addresses what your customers care about and answers their most important questions. In order to create expert content, you need to ensure the piece has all five of these characteristics:
- It offers insight. Non-expert content often fails because it doesn’t provide any real insight into an issue. Imagine an HR software company that hires a writer with no expertise in that area. The writer might turn in a blog that simply states that employee turnover is expensive. Readers who are looking for HR software understand that turnover is expensive. They will skip past this content because they want in-depth information about how your business’s solutions can actually help reduce turnover, not a shallow sales pitch.
- It shows depth of knowledge. Experts are experts because they know a subject from all angles. Expert content includes thorough, detailed information that demonstrates true knowledge. For example, generalist content about a concert venue would include basic overview data that can be found everywhere. Expert content would include insider tips about things such as navigating bathroom lines and knowing how to snag deals on venue tickets.
- It demonstrates breadth of knowledge. Depth of knowledge is about knowing details. Breadth of knowledge is about being able to connect those details to practical consumer concerns. An insightful piece about investing by a financial advisor would help readers understand how big market trends affect their pocketbooks. You can use storytelling, analogies and expert information from reputable outside sources to help demonstrate breadth of knowledge.
- It’s relevant to your reader. Even the best content fails if it’s not relevant. You need to know what your audience is interested in if you want to create relevant content. Strive to create content that answers tomorrow’s questions today.
- It’s easy for your reader to understand. People don’t trust subject matter experts if they can’t understand them. Being able to write complex or technical information in an easy-to-understand way is the true hallmark of expertise when it comes to online content. Your readers want to be informed, but they don’t want to be patronized. Instead, they want to feel like they gleaned valuable information from someone who knows it so well that they could explain it to a toddler.
Why Do I Need Expert Content?
Expert content is important because it establishes a strong brand reputation with online consumers. However, you don’t need authoritative content just because your consumers want to read it. You need authoritative content because your SERP rankings are likely to fall if you don’t use it on your website. Why? It’s all about the standards Google uses when ranking webpages.
For a long time, online marketers were left to guess exactly what Google’s raters were looking for when ranking sites. Today, Google shares its Search Quality Rating Guidelines online. These guidelines shed light on the algorithms that Google uses to rank webpages. There are many different guidelines included in the 168-page document, but what stands out the most to many marketers is the need for expert content.
Google uses what is known as an E-A-T score to help determine webpage rankings. The acronym stands for
In other words, Google raters don’t just look at the content on the page. They also look at who is writing that content. After all, Google doesn’t want to risk its own reputation by linking users to inaccurate or poorly written content. When it comes to determining expertise, Google does look at the credentials of content writers. It’s important to make it easy for Google to find this information via author bios and links to author profiles on both industry sites and social media.
E-A-T scores are particularly important for businesses in the areas of happiness, health or wealth. Google refers to these types of websites as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) businesses. Google raters are reputed to be particularly strict in these areas because bad or uninformed advice on such websites has the potential to have a substantial negative impact on consumers.
The takeaway is this: If you don’t have expert content, Google won’t give your website an expert-level ranking. There’s no need to worry if you don’t have the budget to pay subject matter experts to write all your content, though. Many small- and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) can use a combination of subject matter experts and content experts to craft content that will perform well in Google searches.
The Role of Subject Matter Experts in Content Marketing
It’s true that you need subject matter experts on your content marketing team because Google demands expert content from your website. You also need industry authorities to build your brand’s identity and reputation with consumers. Think of a business blog you’ve seen that has no bylines. Did you get a strong impression of the organization’s identity? Would you trust that organization’s advice on important matters like personal finance or investing?
The answer is likely no. Subject matter experts are more than just an authoritative voice. They are thought leaders who also provide a point of brand identification for your audience. Winning brand loyalty online requires building relationships with your consumers. It’s practically impossible to do without the help of experts.
There are a variety of ways to leverage subject matter experts to benefit your online marketing strategy. You may want to recruit experts to
- write guest posts,
- be interviewed for your website or blog,
- create briefs for content writers,
- review content for accuracy and expertise, and
- talk about your products, services, or enterprise solutions on their own blogs.
Expert content is often crafted with the help of domain experts too. Domain experts are people who know an industry well enough to understand the full picture behind an organization’s marketing statistics. Imagine a company in the Northeast that sells ultra-light beach chairs. They hire a marketer who knows nothing about their local climate, and the marketer suggests increased efforts to sell chairs in the fall months when website traffic is low. The marketer doesn’t realize that this isn’t a good investment for the business because he doesn’t know enough about the business’s domain.
This is a very simple example, but it demonstrates the importance of using domain experts during the content creation process. Domain experts can point out where marketing efforts need to be ramped up. They can come up with blog and social media post ideas too. Like subject matter experts, domain experts can generally be found within your company. You should ask them for their ideas when it comes to content, but remember that domain experts aren’t necessarily writers and may not be able to produce quality content themselves.
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Do I Need Experts for All Content Types?
You know that your organization needs to work with subject matter experts to create content. You may also worry that you can’t afford to work with experts all the time. The good news is that Google raters aren’t necessarily looking for credentials on every blog post or article on your website.
Why? There are some areas where there aren’t credentials that define expertise. Imagine you run a company that sells affordable bedding and linens. Your subject matter experts don’t need to have a degree in interior design. Instead, you might work with a blogger who has a reputation for covering home design. You could also post a video interview with the head of your purchasing department to give detailed information about where you get your products.
Remember that utilizing subject matter experts is important if your business falls under the YMYL umbrella. You might not need to pay an expert to write every blog post, but you do need to have an expert who can review the content. Many small business owners choose to work with experienced freelance writers who can provide expert-level content that is written with SEO in mind.
Usually, you need to involve subject matter experts for these types of content:
- In-depth articles with complex topics
- Buying guides for complex topics
For these types of content, you can usually rely on content experts:
- Product descriptions
- Social media posts
- Meta descriptions
- Blog articles with low-complexity topics
- Landing pages
- Newsletters and email marketing content
- Press releases
- Buying guides for low complexity topics
How to Find Expert Content Writers
Knowing you need an expert content writer is one thing. Finding one may be another. If you don’t have someone on your team who can create content, try reaching out to your contacts first. Do you have a friend with an established blog in a related industry? Do you have strong relationships with well-known vendors or B2B companies? These are great resources to use as a starting point.
Tapping into your own network is just one option. You can also
- search for subject matter experts on LinkedIn or Facebook Groups,
- identify the major blogs in your industry and reach out to their writers,
- use a content-ordering platform to connect with writers or
- hire an agency to help you find an expert writer.
While all of these are great options, working with a content provider is generally the easiest and most affordable option. Identifying industry experts and contacting them yourself can be time consuming, and the costs of working with an agency are often prohibitive. You may also find that you need to establish a reputation for your organization’s blog before you can get well-known industry authorities to author blogs for you.
Using a content-sourcing platform takes much of the guesswork and frustration out of hiring a writer. On the Textbroker platform, to use the author search feature, simply
- Go to the “Authors” tab on your account
- Choose the “Search” option
- Enter a keyword related to your field or subject
- Set other author parameters
- Hit “Search”
You can review author profiles for relevant experience, training or education in your field. If you’re looking for writers who have certain credentials, try typing those into the search field. For example, you might search for “MCSE” if you’re looking for a Microsoft-certified systems engineer. Once you’ve identified a potential author, you can send a message to gauge their experience and interest in your assignment. You may want to send a potential author a short sample order to determine fit with your content needs too.
Remember that the better your author briefing, the better the end result. Make sure that you include needed resources and technical details that will help your author understand your purpose. Most of the expert writers you’ll find through content providers have both depth and breadth of experience writing in a given industry. It’s important to be as specific as possible in your order instructions. Once you’ve established a relationship with a writer, you might find that you can rely on that author to generate high-quality content for you.
Costs of Expert Writers
Great content prepared by expert writers is important, but many business owners worry about the costs associated with buying it. It’s important to understand that a number of factors influence the price of content. A writer’s experience and reputation are among the most important factors that determine price. Other factors include
- the author’s level of specialized knowledge,
- the amount of formal training or credentialing an author possesses,
- the level of specificity required by the assignment and
- demand for writers in your industry.
Working with a subject matter expert or an expert content writer might sound like an expensive investment. Remember that quality determines returns in online marketing. High-quality, expert content is appealing to your consumers. It also helps increase your website’s E-A-T score. Happy consumers and a better SERP ranking makes for excellent ROI. Don’t be tempted to hire inexperienced writers because they charge less than other authors.
Conclusion: Subject Matter Expert vs. Content Expert
Working with a subject matter expert is one of the most effective ways to increase your business’s search engine rankings. It’s also a great way to build consumer confidence and increase sales conversions on your website. Now it’s time to ensure that your content strategy utilizes subject matter experts. A typical content writer might be able to add value to your business’s content, but only an expert can add the authority and reputation you need to stand out from the competition.
Of course, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to your content strategy. You can continue to work with the experienced content writers that you love, but it’s important to bring subject matter experts into the picture too. Subject experts and experienced writers can work together to create insightful pieces that tick the important SEO boxes.
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