There’s no doubt you’re experts in your industry, but do you have professional writers within your business to convey that expertise? Google says: if not, why not?
The search engine giant, who we all quite rightly pander to, has recently suggested that businesses need to hire expert writers in order to add a true level of authority to their content.
The guidance was made in Google’s 160-page Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, released at the back end of last year. As you can imagine, the release came as a welcome and exciting surprise for us inbound marketers.
Although the document doesn’t suggest there’s a single chief factor in ranking number one on Google – like we were hoping for – it does offer plenty of clues on what it views as quality when evaluating a website.
Naturally, our eyes navigated towards what it says about content. We’ve always known that Google loves original, useful, and well-written content – as reflected in its algorithm updates – but it’s now given a bit more of itself away.
Here are some stand-out extracts from the document:
“High-quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic.”
E-A-T (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) is Google’s acronym for what exactly makes up a high-quality page. It notes that there are expert websites of all types – “even gossip websites” – before expanding on what it classifies as “expertise”, as summed up by the Search Engine Journal website:
- Complex medical advice should only be given by people or organisations that possess appropriate accreditation. It should, likewise, be written in a professional style and will need to be reviewed, updated, and edited regularly in order to ensure that it remains current and authoritative.
- Complex financial advice, tax advice, or legal advice should be written by expert writers and will need to be updated regularly.
- Important advice pages that may affect a person’s finances or well-being (this includes investment pages, home remodelling pages, and parenting pages) needs to be written by an “expert” source.
- Hobby pages on topics like hockey, horseback riding, or photography, require expert writers.
It’s perhaps the last bullet point that is the most telling – that suggests that any topic, in any industry is worthy of expert writers, i.e. it’s not enough have an intern writing the content for your business.
“If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an “expert” on the topic, we will value this “everyday expertise” and not penalize the person/page/website for not having “formal” education or training in the field.”
This piece of guidance seeks to clarify what Google regards as an “expert”. Essentially, it’s saying that anyone who has lived and breathed the subject they are writing about can be considered an expert.
For businesses, this is curious in the sense that Google wants to see some evidence that the writer is in a position to give advice on a topic. At the same time, however, firms need to ensure they have filtered these thoughts through a professionally trained writer. If not and the piece of writing is poorly put together, readers will likely be unimpressed and fail to make it beyond the first paragraph, regardless of how helpful the advice is.
Obviously, an article’s readability is not covered in the Google document, with it solely concerned with who it is that’s writing the content. It’s something businesses should keep in mind, though.
“Some topics demand expertise for the content to be considered trustworthy. Your Money or Your Life topics such as medical advice, legal advice, financial advice, etc. should come from authoritative sources in those fields.”
Google takes “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages very seriously, because they could “potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users”. Here are a few more examples of YMYL pages:
- E-commerce pages that provide a platform for purchases, money transfers, bill pay, etc.
- Pages that offer information about investing in stocks and bonds, planning for retirement, purchasing a home, financing college, buying insurance, or filing taxes.
- Pages that offer specific information or advice about health conditions, drugs, mental health, and nutrition.
- Pages that offer legal information on topics like child support and custody, divorce, becoming a legal citizen, and writing a will.
It’s quite reassuring to hear that Google has very high Page Quality ratings for YMYL pages on the basis that low-quality content can negatively affect a Google user’s health. That suggests that even if the writer has all good intentions to produce a high-quality page, if the article only serves to confuse the reader, due to it being poorly written, Google could punish you. It’s surely not worth taking the chance – hire an expert writer to ensure you get your advice across in a way that the reader can understand.
When you consider the difference that quality copy could make to the volume and quality of website traffic, along with conversion rates from your website, can you afford not to hire an expert writer?
Here at M2 Bespoke, we believe that Google’s latest advice makes a strong case for having a qualified writer interview your experts and then produce the article. This approach ticks three key boxes:
- The information is coming from your own expert so it’s high quality, and accurately reflects your company’s expertise and stance on a subject.
- The article is attributed to the expert so it’s taken seriously by the reader.
- The actual writing is done by qualified writer so it’s engaging and well written, and you don’t risk undermining its credibility with poor writing.
For some complex subjects, the hired writer might need to be an industry specialist to ensure the information captured is fully understood and communicated in the article. However, for the majority of topics, an experienced writer will be able to extract the key information form your expert, and present it accurately. Either way, M2 Bespoke will have the writer to match your requirements.Ben Hollom
February 9, 2016