SEO content: How to Write Expert Content that Ranks

SEO content

When you’re writing content for your business, you want it to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs), and you want it to rank high.


Search engine optimization (SEO) can be tricky, but one of the most effective SEO tools is also the least technical: writing good content.


Providing great content not only improves your search rank, but also builds your credibility and enables you to create long-term relationships with your audience.


When writing, your main goal should be providing content that is useful, sparks action and serves your target audience.


Now it’s time to add another element to that list.


Your content should also radiate authority, and the easiest way to achieve this is by producing expert content.


In this post, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about writing expert content, even when you’re not an expert!

1. Why You Should Write Expert Content

Content

A lot of individuals, as well as companies, put all their marketing efforts into becoming an industry expert or a thought leader.


Why? 


Because expert content aids in establishing your brand as a credible source among online consumers.


This is extremely important when trying to sell products or services, as 61% of consumers buy based on the influence of custom content.

Consumers influenced by custom content

With content marketing, the goal is to help solve the user’s problem.


You want to provide them with information that’s valuable and actionable.


However, you don’t need expert content on your website just because your target audience wants to read it.


You need authoritative content to increase your SERP rankings. In other words, you need it for SEO.


Your SERP rankings are likely to decline if you don’t have expert content on your blog.


This is all because of the way that Google’s algorithm ranks websites.


Google is training the algorithm to determine whether a website can be considered as a credible source.


To achieve this, they created a set of publicly available “Search Quality Raters” to help them gauge the quality of a website’s content.


If the algorithm determines that the website can be trusted to provide the best results for users, it will be promoted and ultimately rank higher.


According to Google, one of the “most important factors” when considering the quality of a webpage and its content, is its E-A-T score.

1.1. What is Google E-A-T?

Google E-A-T

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. 


Mastering E-A-T is vital if you want your website to rank high and stand out from the crowd.

  • Expertise: expert skill or knowledge in a particular field. The content creator should be considered an expert in their specific domain. This is important for those creating content on topics relating to financial, legal, or medical advice, otherwise known as ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL).
  • Authority: the power or right to give orders and make decisions. The content creator must be a trusted source and the information must be highly accurate. This ensures that when users search on Google, they are presented with the most factually accurate content.
  • Trust: the ability to be relied on as honest or truthful. The content needs to show people that they can trust the website. This is particularly important with eCommerce sites that ask users for their credit card details.

In short, E-A-T is part of Google’s ongoing attempts to stop people from playing the system, by forcing them to create useful and valuable content.


Or as Google puts it:


“Our ranking system does not identify the intent or factual accuracy of any given piece of content. However, it is specifically designed to identify sites with high indicia of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.”


Google no longer wants to rank just “good” content with a ton of links and all the right signals.


Now, they are worried that a piece of content that ranks is inaccurate and can lead to some negative results for users.


As you can see, it’s massively important to make sure that your content has a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

1.2. How to Boost Your E-A-T score:

  • Create high-quality, shareable content
  • Showcase your credibility
  • Demonstrate your expertise

There is no space for neglecting content quality in today’s SEO oriented landscape. 


Try and follow the E-A-T principles to improve your ranking on SERPs.

2. What is Expert Content

Expert Content

Expert or authoritative content has appeal because it offers more than just a brief overview of a topic or concept.


It addresses your customers’ concerns and answers their most important questions in exhaustive detail.


To create expert content, you need to ensure your piece has all four of these characteristics:

  • It’s relevant to your reader. All the time you’ve spent creating your content will be wasted if your piece is irrelevant. Strive to create content that solves tomorrow’s problems today!
  • It’s easy for your reader to understand. How can you build up a relationship of trust if your readers can’t understand you? Being able to write about a complex topic in an easy-to-understand way is pivotal when it comes to online content.
  • It shows depth of knowledge. Experts know their subject from every possible angle. Thus, expert content consists of detailed information that indicates true knowledge.
  • It offers insight. Generalist content often fails because it doesn’t provide any real insight into a topic. Your audience won’t read this type of content because they want in-depth answers that will give results.

With that being said, it can be challenging for newcomers and content teams to produce expert content in domains that they’re not familiar with.

2.1. The Complexity/Expertise Mismatch

The Complexity/Expertise Mismatch

When a subject matter expert writes about a basic topic, it’s usually a waste of their time and knowledge (high expertise/low complexity).


On the other hand, when a generalist writes about a complex topic, the work tends to lack insight and comes off as shallow (low expertise/high complexity).


Content writers often lack the expertise required to write about certain complex topics.


This leads to a complexity/expertise mismatch, which can be easily spotted by Google and, most importantly, your audience.


For example, generalist content about content writing would include basic overview data that can be found everywhere. 


Expert content, however, would include insider tips about things such as workaround methods and in-depth guides.


Luckily, we spoke to content writing guru Fio Dossetto to find out how to go about writing expert content and avoiding the feared complexity/expertise mismatch.

3. How to Write Expert Content When You’re Not an Expert

During her time spent as the senior editor for Hotjar, Fio helped them build a content team from the ground up and helped their site grow to ±200,000 monthly visitors.


She’s also the founder of the Contentfolks newsletter that provides valuable insight to other content writers and editors


Throughout her years as a senior editor, Fio devised a workaround method that content writers can follow to avoid the complexity/expertise mismatch.


And we loved her expert writing strategy so much that we decided to share it with you!


In the next section, we’re going to cover Fio’s method in detail and walk you through it step-by-step.


It’s quite simple, but the implementation will require some finesse from your side:

  • Thoroughly research your topic
  • Create an outline
  • Interview subject matter experts

We’ve also added some helpful guides that will make the whole task even easier for you.


After this, you’ll be fully equipped to write expert content that will make you stand out from the crowd!

3.1. Step 1: Research

Research

Before you even think of writing anything, you need to do your research. You need to understand what you’re writing about.


Seems simple right? Well, you’d be surprised.


According to Fio, one of the biggest mistakes content writers make is doing poor research, or in other words, only doing top-level research:


“Good content takes time...so you can’t just be satisfied with Wikipedia results and write a convincing article about something. 


I wouldn’t advise that as a method,” she said.


You’ll have to dig deep to be able to produce authoritative content that will actually be useful to your audience.


Once you start understanding the jargon and seeing the recurring themes surrounding the topic, you’ll start recognizing how you can maximize the value of your content.


Here are a few places where you can find reliable sources for your content piece:

  • Popular articles on the same topic
  • Stats and data from reputable sources (Statista, IBISWorld)
  • Quotes from experts and authoritative sites
  • Youtube videos and podcasts

You can easily find all of this on Google. 


But unfortunately, there’s more to creating expert content than a quick search.

3.1.1. Identify and Understand Your Ideal Audience

According to Fio, there’s an all-important point that you should keep in mind:


“The research involves both understanding the topic, but also, understanding the people you’re writing for,” she explained.


Determine the audience that will be reading your content, and note the information that will be the most useful to them.


This information will help you shape your outline, precisely define your audience, and gauge how much people care about your topic.


It will also help you produce actionable content that provides your readers with something that they can take away from your post.


Another important factor that Fio highlights, is that a beginner audience expects and needs a different level of information than an advanced audience.


“So if you are into mountaineering, you know that getting to the top of a mountain is called summiting,” Fio explains.


“But if you don't know that, and you write a piece about getting to the top of a mountain, and you never mentioned the word summiting, a beginner audience will understand you and an advanced mountaineer will be like, ‘what is this? Why aren’t you talking about summiting?’”


You need to understand who you’re talking to, what level of expertise they have, and what jargon they use.


This will enable you to mirror their expertise, and they’ll be able to recognize themselves in your content and trust that you know what you’re talking about.

3.2. Step 2: Create an Outline

Create an Outline

Now that you fully understand your topic and your audience, it’s time to create your outline.


We all know the saying “start from scratch”. Well, this part of the process is the “scratch”, the very beginning of your actual writing.


Based on the in-depth research that you’ve done, you should easily be able to craft an outline that will form the foundation of your expert content.


To make it a bit easier, we dug a little deeper (as one should) and found one of Fio’s posts that provides a simple strategy for crafting a killer outline:


In your preferred text editor, write a working title at the top of your page. 


This will help you stay focused on the primary topic you’re covering in your content.

Landing page

After that, you’ll want to start adding a logical heading structure using the ‘inverted pyramid’ method.


Begin with the most fundamental and important information about your topic and keep building on it using the remaining details, from most important to least important.

The Inverted Pyramid Method

In the example below, it starts with a definition of a landing page, its benefits, and why it’s important (top of the pyramid).


It then proceeds into the aspects that make a landing page great.


It eventually proceeds down to a subheading about examples of landing pages, which is ‘nice to know’ but not super important (bottom of the pyramid).


Remember, you’ll be interviewing subject matter experts, so be sure to note all the information you’d like to find out about each subheading.

Landing page

3.3. Step 3: Interview Subject Matter Experts

After you’ve created your outline for your content piece based on your research, it’s time to get some expert information to craft your expert content.


Now, here’s where it gets interesting.


According to our content expert, the best way to get information is — Yes, you’ve guessed it — straight from the horse’s mouth!


“You can’t be an expert on everything, but you can leverage someone else’s expertise,” Fio explained.


Interviewing a subject matter expert on your topic will help your writing immensely.


You’ll be adding additional knowledge to your arsenal and discover more subtopics that you’ve never thought of.

3.3.1. How to Find the Perfect Interviewees:

Interviewees

Interviewing can be a very time consuming process.


Think about it. Try to take into account all the time you’ll spend matching schedules and setting up questions. It’s guaranteed to take a while.


With that said, you’ll have to make sure you pick the right candidates to get the most out of your time.


“I think the main point is, you want to be realistic,” Fio said.


“If I want to write a piece about management, Michelle Obama is not going to say yes to me. I need to find somebody who's likely to say yes to my request and would add some valuable insight.”


Here are three things to keep in mind when identifying potential interviewees:

  • Their work has to focus on your topic – You can’t interview someone who doesn’t have direct expertise in your blogpost’s niche.
  • They need to be well established in their industry – It doesn’t have to be Michelle Obama, but it can’t be an amateur either.
  • They need to be approachable – People who respond to comments on their posts and social media are more likely to respond to your request.

While searching for potential candidates, be sure to make a list of those who fit your criteria so you can contact them later.


Creating a list of experts to interview is the easy part, but actually contacting them can be a stressful task.


Don’t worry about it too much. We’re going to equip you with all the know-how you need to craft the perfect interview request.


Remember, you’re inviting them to talk about their life’s work on your platform, they’ll be flattered by your request!


When you’re writing your request (via email or direct message), there are four elements that you must include:

  • Who you are and your position (e.g. content writer or founder)
  • How you found out about the interview candidate
  • Why you want to interview them and not anyone else
  • The exact details of the interview
  • The next steps in the interview process (if they want to move forward)

If you’re writing requests to a few experts, we suggest setting up an interview request template like the one below:

writing requests

3.3.2. What to ask during the interview

ask during the interview

After the subject matter experts accept your interview request, you just set a date, prepare a few questions, get on a call, and proceed with the interview!


You should record your interview and use a platform like otter.ai to transcribe the audio. Remember to ask permission before you start recording!


You’re probably thinking, “But, what am I supposed to ask them?”


When you have an understanding of what your content should cover, figuring out which questions you’re going to ask won’t take much time.


Even though you’ve done your research, you might still fear that your questions come across as basic and superficial.


Luckily, Fio has identified a detailed set of questions that you can use to interview any subject matter expert and get some great answers:

  • Why is [topic] important?
  • How would you define [topic] for a beginner?
  • What’s something that non-experts believe about [topic] that they’re wrong about?
  • What’s the most common reason people fail to succeed with [topic]?
  • How do you overcome the most common [topic] roadblocks or pain points?
  • Take me through the steps you take to do [example]. How do you know where to start? How do you know when you’re done?
  • What is the one action you’d recommend somebody new to [topic] takes?
  • What does success look like in [topic] after 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?
  • What did you wish you knew about [topic] before you started?

It’s important to understand your position as a writer when you’re conducting these interviews and integrating them into your content.


According to Fio, “You can talk to an expert who has a very high level of expertise, but the content requires less, and that's fine.


...you just need to match and explain the expert’s language to your audience and sort of act as the conductor between the two.


..you may think of your job title as ‘writer’, but really, you are a ‘bridge-builder’ between your audience and a concept that they need to master.”


After the interview you’ll have loads of raw information that you can use as a basis for your expert content!


All you have to do is relay this information to your audience in the most understandable and actionable manner.


And that’s all there is to it!


With Fio’s method, you’ll be leveraging the authority of subject matter experts and easily filling in the remaining gaps with your own research.

4. Conclusion

Expert content is one of the most effective and least technical ways to increase your search engine rankings.


If you do some in-depth research, you’ll be able to add immense value to your content. 


But it’s time to ensure that your content strategy utilizes subject matter experts.


A content writer might be able to produce some generalist content, but only a subject matter expert will be able to add the expertise, authority, and trust that you need for your SEO.


It’s a method that’s worked well for Fio in the past, and if you follow the guide we’ve provided, you’ll find your content ranking high on SERPs in no time!


So, what are you waiting for? Do your research and get a few experts on call. You won’t regret it!

Other resources about SEO that might interest you:

Get your free account

systeme.io is 100% free, forever