If you’re trying to build a corporate blog, don’t simply focus on the content you create and share. Focus, too, on having subject matter experts help you create accurate, high-quality content, and you’ll be ahead of the competition and further ensure your web copy gets read.
It’s not enough that you think anyone who can type and halfway distill an idea is worthy of a byline on your blog. You must put in the work to find staff members and/or collaborators who can write clearly and succinctly on the topics your prospects and customers care about.[Eds. note: I’ll only be referring to written content in this blog post.]
Subject matter experts help your brand’s content get read, shared and linked to more easily
Prospects and customers who encounter your brand’s content will typically do so via the SERPs or a link shared on social media.
If they encounter the post via the SERPs, your brand’s reputation, along with the title and the meta description, will earn or lose you the click. But if the post is found via social media, would-be readers might not have much to go on, aside from maybe a hyper-descriptive URL.
Either way, when the page opens there are two make-or-break elements at play:
- The title of the post: Often—especially on Twitter—people tweet an article with a short description but without the actual title of the post.
- The author’s name: People want to trust what they’re reading or about to read; one of the best ways to put their minds at ease is for the author to be a recognizable name. That is, someone they have at least some level of familiarity with.
If you don’t win here, you’re out of the game,
(For the purpose of this short post, I’m going to focus only on the second point, familiarity with the author/author’s name.)
The importance of having subject matter experts involved in creating content for your blog cannot be overstated.
The author element is typically an afterthought when it comes to creating and sharing content, especially for blog managers. It’s as though brands think their name and reputation alone carry enough cache to help them get to where they hope to go.
If your brand is Apple or Salesforce or HubSpot or Moz or Slack, yes, the name of the writer of a post is far less important.
But if your brand is trying to establish a blog worthy of being talked about, read, and whose content is shared, you have to do things differently, especially when you consider that nearly 90 million blogs were published in WordPress, the predominant CMS across the world, in May.
Number of blogs posted via WordPress in May 2018
That’s where subject matter experts come into play.
You need subject matter experts (SME) to grow the reach of your content; it helps to set your blog (and brand) apart as having a deep, rich expertise that can solve real problems for an audience.
Having experts on tap also makes it easier to sell your products and services, for people are more likely to judge your brand more favorably after consuming your content, whether written, video or audio.
But having respected, recognized authors isn’t only beneficial for web searchers; Google prefers authoritative authors as well.
Jennifer Slegg, author of the TheSEMPost and an expert in distilling Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, was quoted by Chris Sherman in a Search Engine Land article:
“The most noticeable for content creators is that Google wants their raters to not only look at the reputation of the website itself, but also the content creators themselves. This is one area that many sites fall down on. They might have an ‘About Us’ page, but the bios of their authors are sorely lacking. …[Editors and blog managers] accepting contributions from those not working for the site in question need to keep an eye on the reputation of their contributors as well.”
Slegg says content created by individuals having a stellar reputation can lead to the [written, video, audio, etc.] content being ranked higher since it is generally indicative of a better user experience for web searchers.
She’s further quoted in the article:
“Google’s focus with this addition is on wanting to ensure content that is created by creators with great reputations is ranking well, especially in a world of fake news and conspiracy theories. Great for those creators with great reputations, but does mean some work for those without a great reputation or a limited one.”
In a recent tweet, Mark Traphagen, who is recognized as an authority on Google’s now-defunct Authorship effort, which saw the search giant working to attach a digital signature to authors as a way to track their content across the web, shared this:
…a complete author bio, with links to other writings on the topic by the author.
— Mark Traphagen (@marktraphagen) July 26, 2018
What’s more, to win in the uber-competitive content marketing space, you need something, and preferably someone, to set you apart.
“[It’s] incredibly important that you have something, somebody where people can attach to them in a material way,” says Eric Enge, founder of digital marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting. “And at the end of the day, …you have to have an expert or go home. You’re just not going to be able to succeed in a big way going forward if you don’t have some sort of established expertise for your business.”
There are four ways to go about this process. The one you choose depends on the size and resources of your staff and the overall assets you have at your disposal:
- SME as writer: If your brand has SMEs who are willing to dive in and do some writing, by all means, allow them. These folks have knowledge the audience would benefit from; it’s up to you to help them share it. You should have folks on staff to help with editing, proofing and getting the copy ready for the CMS. You can also go external for SMEs, hiring writers versed in the vertical of your product or service. These writers don’t have to be household names, but they should have built up a repertoire of content such that it would be easy for the audience to associate them as someone who knows their stuff on the topics they’ll be charged with covering.
- SME + writer (internal or external): At most brands, the experts don’t want to write or think they aren’t good writers, so they stay as far away from the blog as possible. Pair them with a writer—freelance or internal—to lessen the burden of getting their ideas out. You’ll be amazed at how great many product managers are at conveying ideas in a succinct, thorough manner. They simply need help in organization and tying the thoughts together in an easily digestible manner.
- Work with influencers: This option is typically only available once your blog has some level of authority. But when your brand is ready to take this leap, make certain to select folks based not simply on the audience they could expose your brand to, but also for the quality of their ideas, ability to communicate them effectively in writing and their willingness to share what they create for you online. (Many influencers who guest post for blogs are happy to collect a link but won’t do much in the way of promotion.)
- Some combination of all three: N/A
Your blog deserves more than disregard
I wrote this post out of disgust after seeing dozens of brands attempting to grow the presence and the traffic of their blog in a hopelessly negligent way: hiring writers with little or no thought about what the latter should cover or what role the author plays in establishing the significance of the former’s brand.
If you care about building a blog that gets read, shared and linked to, the decision about who’ll communicate on your platform is too important to disregard. What’s your opinion on having subject matter experts involved in creating your blog’s content?