Big tech algorithms, social media platforms, and most places for discussion on the web want to increase the visibility of meaningful, helpful pieces of content and decrease the visibility of misleading information or fluff. Naturally, this incentivizes developers to create mechanisms that favor pieces of content that are produced by experts.
For example, Google’s quality rater guidelines emphasize the importance of “EEAT” criteria – an acronym that stands for “Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.” Pieces of content that demonstrate virtue in each of these somewhat overlapping categories are much more likely to rank highly in search engines than comparable pieces of content that fail in one or more categories.
As you might expect, being an expert and writing with expertise is a huge boon for your content strategy.
But there’s a problem. There are, apparently, more experts than ever. And not all of them are legitimate.
So how can you become a genuinely recognized expert in an era of fake and overstated experts?
The Era of Fake Experts
According to the premier digital marketing agency, Marketer, “It’s clear that Google heavily prioritizes content written by experts. The problem is that we live in an era that encourages everyone to call themselves experts. A lot of them are with or without valid credentials. Have you ever noticed that almost everyone on LinkedIn calls themselves a ‘seasoned expert’ of one kind or another? Big tech companies understand this. If you want to stand out as a real expert, you can’t just add a line about being an expert.”
The problem of fake expertise is a multifaceted one. One of your biggest challenges is sheer competition. If you’re working in an industry with 100,000 other people who all claim to be experts, it’s going to be hard for your work to stand out, even if it’s genuinely rooted in expertise.
Additionally, you may have a PhD and decades of experience teaching people, but if Google doesn’t know it, you may not be adequately rewarded in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Expertise Is Still Important
Understanding this, you may speculate that the importance of expertise is declining. If everyone claims to be an expert, it kind of evens the playing field, making the term subjectively less valuable.
But we’re talking about expertise as an abstract concept – not just a formal term. Regardless of whether your main goals are persuading an audience or getting rewarded by search engine algorithms, it’s important to be able to demonstrate expertise in your content.
How to Be a True Expert
These are the most important steps to establish yourself as a true expert in today’s era:
Choose one niche (to start).
Before you start establishing yourself as an expert, you need to choose a niche. The more specific you are, the better; it’s easy to fake expertise as a generic “marketing expert,” but it’s much harder to fake expertise as an expert in PPC advertising for manufacturing companies, for example. Depending on your goals, this may limit your potential reach, but remember, you can always broaden your range of expertise in the future, once you’re more established.
Earn meaningful credentials.
Next, see if you can earn some meaningful credentials. If you have a graduate degree in a particular subject, formal certifications in the field, or awards and recognitions that show what an expert you are, include these in all your author bylines and make sure they’re adequately promoted in your social media.
Write about your chosen niche.
Producing excellent content is still the best way to demonstrate your expertise to algorithms that pride themselves on prioritizing valuable content. Accordingly, you need to write about your chosen niche a lot. You can start on your own blog or a company website, but eventually, you’ll want to expand.
Get your work featured in relevant publications.
If you want to be recognized as an expert in a given field, your work should be published in online publications that are relevant to that field. Online journals, trade publications, and even regular blogs and forums can be excellent choices here. Just make sure your name and your credentials are attached to all your work.
After that, you can work on earning more publicity. Try to get affiliated with major organizations, governing bodies, and influential individuals in the industry, even if it’s just brief exchanges on social media. If you can land yourself some guest-speaking opportunities, that’s even better.
Demonstrate true thought leadership.
In the course of your work, it’s important to gradually introduce more thought leadership, in the true sense. Don’t be afraid to express your controversial opinions and go against the grain; this is going to help you stand out as an expert far more than just regurgitating opinions you’ve heard elsewhere.
Gradually expand as warranted.
Keep growing your influence as an expert in the industry. Content development, networking, and general career development can all help you do this. The more online pieces that are attached to your name and industry, the more your visibility and reputation will flourish.
Whether you’re optimizing for SEO or trying to win over a relatively stubborn audience, building yourself up as an expert is a vital strategy. With these tactics, you can firmly root yourself as an expert in any field relevant to your experience – regardless of how many charlatans you have to contend with.