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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Why Expertise Should Be Your Priority in Creating Online Content

Whether you are marketing a business, a brand, a website or yourself, creating and providing online content across several forms of media comes with its own slippery slopes. It doesn't take much to realize the inherent problems that are part of such public and easy publishing. In fact, all one has to do is consider the scandals of celebrity Twitter account holders to see the extent of damage that can come of providing the wrong content; and the professional consequences of posting content that is awkward, misinterpreted or otherwise harmful to one's reputation.

For this reason, particularly if you are building your personal brand, using expertise as a guide for online content publishing is essential if you want to do it the right way and be successful at it. If you are publishing online content for the sake of building a business or attracting website traffic, providing meaningful content not only gives your website legitimacy—it also helps potential clients or customers know that you do a good job at providing the services you sell. This type of reputation-building behavior is important and stands in contrast to the aforementioned celebrity Twitterers, who undermined their professional reputation with online content instead of building it.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the term used for published content that provides information to an audience, particularly an audience made up of potential clients or customers. When you create content marketing, your goal should be to provide value to your audience—either through giving them useful information relevant to your line of work or assisting them by answering questions they might have. In answering questions, you are showing yourself to be an expert, and your audience will consider that online content to be an extension or picture of the quality of the services or products you provide. In other words: it's a good thing to answer questions and provide meaningful expertise in your specific area—but only if those answers and bits of expertise are correct, so fact checking is important!

Providing expertise or answering questions builds value for your site, your company and your personal brand. Value is, in many ways, a perception, so it is essential that the perception of value online audiences glean from your content is positive. When your readers see it as useless information, or information that has just been reworded and rehashed from other sources available online (that may or may not be correct), your content will quickly lose value. The result of that is your online presence loses value, as well.

So what about readability and "watering down" content?

One of the worst things you can do in providing online content is attempting to make it readable for everyone. In doing so, you end up "watering down" the content, or making it less than what it could be for the sake of attracting what is hoped to be a mass audience. While the intention is a good one, it can end up destroying your content's perceived value, since those who are seeking detailed expertise will be unable to find it in your content. If you provide advice that is readily found anywhere on the internet, your potential audience and potential customers are likely to move their business elsewhere, since there is nothing separating your company or services from hundreds of others that are available.

Your experience speaks volumes

So how do you avoid providing content that looks like everyone else's? Simple. Use your experiences as a springboard for showing your expertise. Many businesses hire copywriters to rehash already-published content just to provide keyword-rich content, but few insist on providing the source information. Why is this? Much of it has to do with not being involved enough in the content being published. Without this involvement, the content provided on a website is only as good as the copywriter's knowledge base and source material. It does not reflect the expertise of the person or company attempting to build its image and brand through the content, and could end up backfiring when unchecked or incorrect information gets posted. The way to avoid this is absolute involvement in the content you are publishing under your name or under the name of your business. You wouldn't allow a stranger to write your personal mail and memos; don't let a stranger write your online content unless you are highly involved in the process and can provide source material for the writer.

Here's an example: An attorney who wishes to grow her clientele hires a copywriter to create informative content regarding her subject area of practice on her website's blog. Since she practices in the area of Will and Estate Law, she tells the copywriter to write content that focuses on the different terminology and what it means. She notices after a while that her website is not drawing nearly as much traffic as she'd hoped.

What should she do differently?

First, she should realize that content that simply defines terms is content that is available online in copious amounts. A search for definition or a general description is likely to pull up hundreds of websites before it pulls up hers, so its value is slight, if there is any value to it at all.

Second, she should reframe her content to provide examples of her work with each of these types of cases or legal arrangements. She could include a quick definition within her description for simple SEO keyword purposes, but the bulk of the content should be focused on unique experience and expertise in the field—hers.

Finally, she should welcome questions from her website's visitors, and post the answers to those questions as part of the content she provides. This not only solidifies her as an expert in the business—it also fills the website with useful, relevant content that makes visitors feel like their time reading her website and blog has not been wasted. A potential client looking for an attorney in Will and Estate Law will see this particular attorney as someone who knows what she is talking about and is willing to go that extra mile to help her clients and answer their questions. They will see her as such because of the content she provided.

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