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How To Uncover Your Expertise To Become A Journalist’s Source

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How To Uncover Your Expertise To Become A Journalist's Source

A company can generate influential media exposure by turning internal expertise into media sources.

I challenge you to use brand scoring, like count, content shares, or other vanity metrics when pitching a journalist or editor to become an expert source.

The best-case scenario is that you don’t get a response. But if the media contact feels snarky that day, they would respond with a laughing emoji.

More than 50% of journalists need PR pros to provide expert sources. However, news happens fast around an event, and you must be a proven expert for journalists or editors to reach out or respond.

To become an expert source, be ready to prove your expertise fast.

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Creditable experts are becoming a valuable resource, but this raises some questions:

  • How do you know you or a source is an expert in their field or topic?
  • How do I demonstrate my expertise and creditability?
  • Is there a way to improve my creditability?
  • How do I know what I’m an expert in?

When identifying an expert’s core expertise, start by identifying the experience in a specific field. In that field, examine:

  • Proven expert knowledge: Depth of knowledge, real-world experience, and demonstration of skill.
  • Developing influential assets: Reputation and recognition, published research, and influence in the field.
  • Evolving with change: Innovative contributions, adaptability to feedback, and continuous learning.
  • Improve communications by teaching: Teaching and mentorship, real-world problem solving, and communication skills.

I created this expert evaluation and planning tool to help guide this process.

This tool helps to identify, improve, and prove a subject matter expert’s (SME) or company’s experience and expertise in a given field. It’s not an attempt to reverse engineer or deconstruct why pages rank in search engines but rather a human tool to judge if someone has expertise in a given field.

Image created by author, December 2023PureLinq's expert evaluation workbook

Start by selecting an expert and identifying their field of expertise. For each field of expertise, identify proof in each of these areas. Then, rate each one on a scale of one to five.

These scores don’t add up to an overall score, as you would have to weigh each criterion against the others.

The purpose of scoring is to provide a human rating scale in which a person can evaluate the levels of expertise for a given criteria.

Each criterion is explained in-depth below, with examples.

Specifying Field Of Expertise

The specific field is a niche or area within a broader field where the expert has specialized knowledge. An expert in a field has deep knowledge that gives them a clearer perspective and insights into a complex topic.

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An expert can have general field knowledge or be a hyper-specialized subject matter expert (SME). The scale looks something like this:

  • General knowledge.
  • Some specialization.
  • Notable expertise in a niche.
  • Renowned in a specific niche.
  • Leading authority in a specialized area.

When a field is identified and ranked, map the expert’s proven knowledge.

Proven Expert Knowledge

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Outliners: The Story of Success” and frequently mentioned the 10,000-hour rule to achieve true expertise. This means that by focusing on something for a long time, one can become a “true expert” in that skill, or any skill, by practicing.

The book “Mastery” by Robert Greene postulated that to master something truly, one needs to integrate diverse experiences and use those to drive a unique practice (I’m butchering this idea a little).

This reminds me of a training session with a blackbelt in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.

Expert knowledge doesn’t just pop up; it’s developed through sweat and tears. This can lead to depth of knowledge.

Depth Of Knowledge

What depth and breadth does the subject matter expert have in their field of expertise? An expert should have deep knowledge in specific areas and a broad understanding of the entire field.

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Use the following scale to evaluate an expert’s depth of knowledge.

  • Basic understanding in a few areas.
  • Fair understanding in multiple areas.
  • Solid grasp of most areas.
  • Deep knowledge in several areas.
  • Expertise across the entire field.

An expert who applies what they have learned gains a practical understanding that others can use.

Experience & Practice

The length of time in the field, the hands-on application, and the wide range of experience are reliable ways to understand any individual or company’s expertise.

However, I remember telling someone I had put over 10,000 hours into something, and they looked at me like I was crazy. Hours are difficult to measure, so use years instead.

The more diverse and long-term the experience in a specific field, the higher the score.

  • < 1 year.
  • 1-3 years.
  • 4-6 years.
  • 7-10 years.
  • >10 years.

With years of practice from thorough learning, the next step is demonstrating those honed skills.

Demonstration Of Skills

A reputation combined with the demonstration of skills provides another filter to judge a level of expertise. These proofs are real-world examples of projects, implementations, or deep case studies.

  • Few examples.
  • Some basic examples.
  • Several good examples.
  • Wide range of examples.
  • Numerous standout examples of expertise.

Developing Expert-Led Influential Assets

Developing influential assets that other experts recognize and adopt can drive influence in a field and create significant proof of expertise alone.

Michael E. Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School, specializes in strategy and competitiveness, which has led to his ideas influencing government and large corporations.

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Michael Porter expert influence profileScreenshot from LinkedIn, December 2023Michael Porter expert influence profile

In 1996, Porter published an article called What is Strategy, where he explained that strategy is not just operational efficiency but also the creation of a unique position from a set of activities that work well together for a common purpose.

This means that being able to produce a product at a lower cost or faster than others doesn’t generate a competitive advantage alone.

I use this when examining a product’s competitive positioning or planning content strategy. This one article guides a lot of my thought process.

Not to mention the number of scholarly citations he has amassed.

This article, and much of what Porter produces, is an influential asset. These are not just articles but are well-researched and considered works.

Proter’s work embodies three aspects of what comprises an influential asset:

  • Performing research and getting published.
  • Gaining a reputation with recognition from other experts’ citations.
  • Show influence in the field from the publisher research that other experts recognize, write about, and apply.

Publications And Research

Performing research and being quoted in reputable publications, journals, or books can indicate an in-depth understanding and contribution to the field.

As an expert in the field generates recognition for published papers that stand up to scrutiny, their reputation strengthens.

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However, publishing peer-reviewed papers is time-consuming and not always a realistic investment of time – industry awards where peers review a case study or contributions to publications.

Being published in a reputable publication and having reputable experts cite your work can validate a reputation. The scale may range from:

  • No research or publications.
  • Few research or publications.
  • Some research or publications.
  • A lot of research or publications.
  • Renowned author or researcher in the field.

Improve an expert’s reputation by getting more published research recognized by other experts. Then, the expert can gain influence in a field.

Pro tip: I asked my friend Adam Peruta, Associate Professor in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and the director of the M.S. program in Advanced Media Management, about the importance of scholarly publications. He suggested that performing primary research and writing a book doesn’t require as much scrutiny as scholarly papers and can provide great insights to an audience.

Reputation And Recognitions

A reputation is built over time with ongoing recognition from reputable sources.

Gaining acknowledgment from peers, reputable media mentions, or experts in the field can greatly influence reputation. Testimonials from clients or internal case studies are valuable tools but don’t carry enough weight for editors and journalists.

I was on a Zoom call to interview a senior editor, and as we began talking, he looked at the bookshelf behind me and said, “Is that the ‘4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris’…I’m in that book.”

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After a few seconds of confusion, I asked what he meant, and he clarified that he was cited as an expert by Tim Ferris, who is known for his ability to vet experts. The interviewee’s reputation for producing high-quality work was immediately clear due to Tim Ferris’s recognition.

The more recognitions by reputable sources, the higher the score. My scale is as follows:

  • Rarely recognized.
  • Occasionally acknowledged.
  • Known by some peers.
  • Frequently cited/thought leader.
  • Widely recognized in and outside of the field.

With publications and recognition comes long-term influence, and not before.

Influence In The Field

When it comes to experts, influence is based on the impact and change in their field. It can be measured by other professionals’ adoption of their methods or concepts but less so by followers, citations, or mentions, which are vanity metrics.

This is in contrast to an influencer who has followers and engagement but may not have a true influence on long-term behavior.

Influence is determined by how people talk about that individual and how the expert’s knowledge impacted their process or methods to help create breakthroughs.

My simple scale is as follows:

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  • Minimal influence.
  • Some followers or citations.
  • Influences a group within the field.
  • Major influence in the field.
  • Transformative influence, setting trends or standards.

Evolving With Change

In the book “Mastery,” Greene explains that a master will reach a creative-active phase and find their unique methods. These methods can be breakthroughs, new methodologies, or tools they’ve introduced to the field.

John Danaher is Gordon Ryan’s Jiujitsu coach. Danaher is considered one of the greatest BJJ coaches ever, while Ryan is the most dominant BJJ athlete with a 95-5-3 (Win-Decision-Loss).

In the first 45 seconds of this video, Danaher explains that he has taught Ryan everything he knew, and Ryan has begun to create his own breakthroughs. This is the creative-active phase.

Ryan states in the video that as he learned new moves, the industry, and competition evolved to identify and counter the moves; thus, his system would be ineffective in the evolving world of BJJ.

If Ryan stuck to the known system Danaher created, he would quickly become ineffective. Instead, Ryan evolved his system and is still the most dominant athlete in BJJ.

If you want to study how to master something, study the relationship between these two men. From the book “Mastery” and this example, I find three aspects to examine in an expert:

  • Continuous learning based on innovations.
  • Feedback & adaptability against those innovations.
  • Innovative contributions of your own based on your learnings and applications of the knowledge.

Continuous Learning

The first step in an expert’s evolution is a feedback loop from continually updating their knowledge. This shows commitment to the field, but they can’t change with the industry in a closed-loop system. The scale is very simple.

Ryan learns by testing against other top players and experimenting. This is a great feedback loop, but attending workshops and industry events to learn is another indicator.

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  • Rarely updates skills.
  • Attends occasional courses.
  • Regular self-learning.
  • Frequently attends courses/workshops.
  • Lifelong learner often seeks new knowledge.

Feedback & Adaptability

As you can see by Ryan’s continued dominance as the sport changes, responsiveness to feedback and the ability to adapt will keep an expert’s knowledge relevant and practical. An expert should be open to feedback and continuously refine their approach, especially in a fast-paced industry or niche.

This is uniquely relevant in the SEO industry, where search engine algorithms and practices frequently evolve.

When someone applies knowledge in real-world situations with a constant feedback loop and proves adaptability, they will produce continued results. That’s why the fifth level is active feedback:

  • Rarely accepts feedback.
  • Sometimes considers feedback.
  • Often adapts based on feedback.
  • Seeks out feedback.
  • Actively integrates feedback into their approach.

Innovative Contributions

Ryan and Danaher’s continuous learning and evolution through feedback & adaptability have created breakthroughs, new methodologies, and new tools introduced to the sport. Novel contributions demonstrate high expertise.

Not all experts need to be such pioneers; making notable contributions can significantly influence how others perceive their expertise.

Again, this scale is straightforward and is based on the level of and how significant the contributions are:

  • No contributions.
  • Minor contributions.
  • Some notable contributions.
  • Several major contributions.
  • Pioneering contributions in the field.

Solidify Knowledge By Teaching

Many of you reading this will know Eric Enge, founder of the SEO and digital marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting, which was later sold and merged into a global digital consultancy, Proficient.

Enge is President of Pilot Holdings, advising startups, founders, or companies as a board member or consultant on anything that can help build businesses.

Eric Enge LinkedIn profileScreenshot from LinkedIn, December 2023Eric Enge LinkedIn profile

Eric is extremely generous with his time. The first time I met him was at a search engine event in San Diego, I believe, about five or six years ago. I had just started my latest company, PureLinq, and was trying to talk to anyone about how they founded and built their company.

So, in my usually unusual fashion and probably with a wild look in my eyes, I asked Eric if I could talk to him about how he built Stone Temple. Like so many times before, I expected a quick answer or to be shrugged off.

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However, Eric sat down with me for about thirty minutes to one hour and answered every question I threw at him. I think he was late for a meeting as a result.

I learned a lot from that interaction. First, to be very generous with my time. But also the importance of teaching and mentoring others.

No wonder when I looked at the link profile for his LinkedIn page in Ahrefs, it had almost 190 referring domains linked to it. Teaching others is a way to solidify your knowledge and build a strong network of peers.

Eric Enge LinkedIn profile backlinksScreenshot from Ahrefs, December 2023Eric Enge LinkedIn profile backlinks

Eric has also shown me the importance of the following three factors in proving expertise:

  • Teaching and mentoring.
  • Problem-solving and consultation.
  • Communications skills.

Teaching And Mentoring

Experts who teach or mentor are often deeply knowledgeable in their subject. If an expert offers their knowledge to others and they are not well received, then it can demonstrate that the expert’s knowledge isn’t valued.

Additionally, teaching others can help an expert examine their expertise in relation to other experts. This is a great feedback loop.

A teacher doesn’t necessarily have to design the course material, but a renowned teacher will have a great understanding of the material and be able to make it clear and easy to apply to the real world.

Eric is known for teaching classes on technical SEO based on his real-world applications and case studies. Here’s an example of Eric’s analytical style of presentation using real-world data.

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Eric regularly teaches and mentors people so influencers and experts are comfortable sharing his work. However, I might not categorize him as a renowned teacher as he doesn’t teach at Stamford or other elite universities. Sorry, Eric!

Michael Porter is considered a renowned expert, as nations consult with him and are influenced by his research. The teaching and mentoring scale is as follows:

  • Rarely/never teaches.
  • Occasionally mentors.
  • Teaches a few courses.
  • Regularly teaches or mentors.
  • Renowned teacher or mentor in the field.

Teaching others and allowing the students to answer questions can demonstrate or improve problem-solving.

Problem-solving And Consultation

Experts should offer actionable solutions to real-world issues.

When faced with a real problem in the field, an expert can troubleshoot. On the low end of the scale, an expert might be unable to solve problems and tend to write a lot about them.

You may see this in certain influencers who write a lot but don’t have any long-term clients or products that people buy.

An expert who is regularly consulted and professionals who continue returning to them for advice tend to have proven their usefulness to others.

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The level of complexity is open to interpretation based on the field’s niche. Here is the scale I follow here:

  • Struggles with real-world problems.
  • Can solve basic problems.
  • Regularly consulted for advice.
  • Known for innovative solutions.
  • Go-to expert for complex problems.

Communications Skills

Experts should be able to convey complex information understandably to communicate their knowledge effectively to different audiences. Journalists will, of course, want this attribute. This also indicates that they know the subject matter well.

I recently bought the book “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. It highlighted that a practical book, or any how-to content, should be evaluated by how actionable the content is in the real world to accomplish a specific goal in a very specific scenario.

This can only be evaluated by applying the information to solve a problem.

I think about communication in the business world as how the content creates a particular outcome with clear steps and actions. So, this scale is based on communicating helpful information in a way that applies to a specific situation:

  • Struggles to explain concepts.
  • Can convey basic ideas.
  • Communicates clearly to peers.
  • Can break down complex ideas.
  • Excellent communicator at all levels.

Start Uncovering And Developing Your Expertise

To become an expert source for journalists and editors, it is crucial to understand and communicate one’s expertise in their field. The expert evaluation tool helps in identifying and enhancing these attributes.

Becoming a recognized expert involves more than just knowledge, as we see in some influencers who teach but don’t execute; it requires proven expert knowledge, developing influential assets, evolving with change, and improving and proven communications by teaching.

With the evolving media landscape, there’s a growing need for credible experts. Proper assessment and development of expertise can position individuals and organizations as expert media resources.

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Achieving media recognition as an expert involves genuine contributions to one’s field with continuous improvement, not just chasing superficial metrics like reach or likes.

More resources:


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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

Every week, we share hot SEO news, interesting reads, and new posts in our newsletter, Ahrefs’ Digest.

If you’re not one of our 280,000 subscribers, you’ve missed out on some great reads!

Here’s a quick summary of my personal favorites from the last month:

Best of March 2024

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

tl;dr

Glen’s research reveals that just 16 companies representing 588 brands get 3.5 billion (yes, billion!) monthly clicks from Google.

My takeaway

Glen pointed out some really actionable ideas in this report, such as the fact that many of the brands dominating search are adding mini-author bios.

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Example of mini-author bios on The VergeExample of mini-author bios on The Verge

This idea makes so much sense in terms of both UX and E-E-A-T. I’ve already pitched it to the team and we’re going to implement it on our blog.

How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours

Authors: Gisele Navarro, Danny Ashton

tl;dr

Big publications have gotten into the affiliate game, publishing “best of” lists about everything under the sun. And despite often not testing products thoroughly, they’re dominating Google rankings. The result, Gisele and Danny argue, is that genuine review sites suffer and Google is fast losing content diversity.

My takeaway

I have a lot of sympathy for independent sites. Some of them are trying their best, but unfortunately, they’re lumped in with thousands of others who are more than happy to spam.

Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updatesEstimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updates
Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele’s site fell off a cliff after Google’s March updates 🙁 

I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth is Google benefits more from having big sites in the SERPs than from having diversity. That’s because results from big brands are likely what users actually want. By and large, people would rather shop at Walmart or ALDI than at a local store or farmer’s market.

That said, I agree with most people that Forbes (with its dubious contributor model contributing to scams and poor journalism) should not be rewarded so handsomely.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

Tl;dr

Glen analyzed 10,000 “product review” keywords and found that:

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My takeaway

After Google’s heavy promotion of Reddit from last year’s Core Update, to no one’s surprise, unscrupulous SEOs and marketers have already started spamming Reddit. And as you may know, Reddit’s moderation is done by volunteers, and obviously, they can’t keep up.

I’m not sure how this second-order effect completely escaped the smart minds at Google, but from the outside, it feels like Google has capitulated to some extent.

John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...

I’m not one to make predictions and I have no idea what will happen next, but I agree with Glen: Google’s results are the worst I’ve seen them. We can only hope Google sorts itself out.

Who Sends Traffic on the Web and How Much? New Research from Datos & SparkToro

Author: Rand Fishkin

tl;dr

63.41% of all U.S. web traffic referrals from the top 170 sites are initiated on Google.com.

Data from SparktoroData from Sparktoro

My takeaway

Despite all of our complaints, Google is still the main platform to acquire traffic from. That’s why we all want Google to sort itself out and do well.

But it would also be a mistake to look at this post and think Google is the only channel you should drive traffic from. As Rand’s later blog post clarifies, “be careful not to ascribe attribution or credit to Google when other investments drove the real value.”

I think many affiliate marketers learned this lesson well from the past few Core Updates: Relying on one single channel to drive all of your traffic is not a good idea. You should be using other platforms to build brand awareness, interest, and demand.

Want more?

Each week, our team handpicks the best SEO and marketing content from around the web for our newsletter. Sign up to get them directly in your inbox.

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Google Unplugs “Notes on Search” Experiment

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Google unplugs Notes On Search Experiment

Google is shutting down it’s Google Notes Search Labs experiment that allowed users to see and leave notes on Google’s search results and many in the search community aren’t too surprised.

Google Search Notes

Availability of the feature was limited to Android and Apple devices and there was never a clearly defined practical purpose or usefulness of the Notes experiment. Search marketers reaction throughout has consistently been that would become a spam-magnet.

The Search Labs page for the experiment touts it as mode of self-expression, to help other users and as a way for users to collect their own notes within their Google profiles.

The official Notes page in Search Labs has a simple notice:

Notes on Search Ends May 2024

That’s it.

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Screenshot Of Notice

Reaction From Search Community

Kevin Indig tweeted his thoughts that anything Google makes with a user generated content aspect was doomed to attract spam.

He tweeted:

“I’m gonna assume Google retires notes because of spam.

It’s crazy how spammy the web has become. Google can’t launch anything UGC without being bombarded.”

Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks) tweeted that it was author Purna Virji (LinkedIn profile) who predicted that it would be shut down once Google received enough data.

She shared:

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“It was actually @purnavirji who predicted it when we were at @BarbadosSeo – while I was talking. Everyone agreed that it would be spammed, but she said it would just be a test to collect a certain type of information until they got what they needed, and then it would be retired.”

Purna herself responded with a tweet:

“My personal (non-employer) opinion is that everyone wants all the UGC to train the AI models. Eg Reddit deal also could potentially help with that.”

Google’s Notes for Search seemed destined to never take off, it was met with skepticism and a shrug when it came out and nobody’s really mourning that it’s on the way out, either.

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15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO

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15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO

The need for quality SEO keeps increasing.

Brands that execute an organic strategy the right way are standing out early and often – and it’s more important now than ever, thanks to the emergence of AI and other technological innovations.

Blend those emerging technologies with the tumultuous few years that made up the COVID pandemic – where millions of consumers were pushed online to do their business, make purchases, and stay entertained – and you can begin to scratch the surface of SEO’s importance in marketing’s modern-day ecosystem.

SEO is the most viable, sustainable, and cost-effective way to both understand and reach your customers in key moments that matter.

Doing so not only helps build trust while educating the masses – it also establishes an organic footprint that transcends multiple marketing channels with measurable impact.

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But while it will certainly improve a website’s overall searchability and visibility, what other real value does SEO offer for brands willing to commit to legitimate recurring or project-based SEO engagements?

And why does SEO continue to grow into a necessity rather than a luxury?

Here are 15 reasons why businesses need SEO to take their brand to the next level – regardless of the industry or business size.

1. Organic Search Is Most Often The Primary Source Of Website Traffic

Organic search is a massive part of most businesses’ website performance and a critical component of the buyer funnel, ultimately getting users to complete a conversion or engagement.

Google owns a significantly larger portion of the search market than competitors like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and many others.

Screenshot from gs.statcounter.com, February 2024

That’s not to say that all search engines don’t contribute to a brand’s visibility – they do. It’s just that Google owns a considerable portion of the overall search market. Thus, its guidelines are important to follow.

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But the remaining part of the market owned by other engines is valuable to brands, too. This is especially true for brands in niche verticals where voice, visual, and vertical search engines play an essential role.

Google, being the most visited website in the world (and specifically in the United States), also happens to be one of the most popular email providers in the world.

YouTube is the second most-used search engine, with at least 2.5 billion people accessing it at least once a month, or 122 million people daily.

We know that a clear majority of the world with access to the internet is visiting Google at least once a day to get information.

Being highly visible as a trusted resource by Google and other search engines will always work in a brand’s favor. Quality SEO and a high-quality website take brands there.

2. SEO Builds Trust & Credibility

The problem for many brands is that building trust and credibility overnight is impossible – just like in real life. Authority is earned and built over time.

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And, with the AI revolution we’ve experienced over the last year showing no signs of slowing down, building real credibility has become even harder to achieve – and even more critical.

Following Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines is vital to ensure successful results when creating content for your audience.

The goal of any experienced SEO professional is to establish a strong foundation of trust and credibility for a client. It helps to have a beautiful website with a clean, effective user experience that represents a quality brand with a loyal customer base – or at least the potential for one.

A brand of this nature would be easily discoverable in search with the right SEO strategy. The more channels you’re comfortable publishing on and partnering with, the more discoverable you will be.

This can also be attributed to being a respected brand offering quality goods or services to customers, being honest and forthcoming with the public, and earning the trust and credibility among peers, competitors, and other stakeholders.

This becomes a lot easier to succeed with when the brand already has trust signals tied to it and its digital properties.

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So many varying elements contribute to establishing that authority with search engines like Google. It starts with building that credibility with humans.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, authority is accrued over time as a result of aspects like:

But now, in the age of AI, establishing that authority continues to become even more complicated and difficult to do.

Yet still, doing so the right way will do more for a brand than most other digital campaigns or optimizations.

Establishing a brand as an authority takes patience, effort, and commitment that relies on offering a valuable, quality product or service that allows customers to trust a brand.

3. It’s An AI Battlefield Out There & It’s Getting Even Harder

Since what seemed like the overnight emergence of AI going mainstream and becoming available at every person’s fingertips, search engine results pages (SERPs) are now more competitive than ever.

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Organic real estate keeps shrinking.

Bots, scrapers, and other AI-led technologies are stealing content and regurgitating things they learn along the way, which are often inaccurate or confusing, all while clouding the competitive market with duplicated or plain awful content.

Real SEO – including thorough keyword research, industry analysis, and competitive benchmarking to create high-value content for your customers and loyalists – allows brands to stand apart from the lowly regurgitated spam that floods our SERPs daily.

The challenge of optimizing websites and content for search engines that are relying more on their own AI technologies to enhance the user experience within their platforms than they ever have before is just another layer of complication exemplified by the emergence of AI.

It’s no secret Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) hasn’t exactly been the magic touch to take search to the next level. And, in some instances – up to this point – SGE has even taken Google backward in terms of user experience and information retrieval on a boatload of varying topics and queries.

SEO will undoubtedly help brands navigate and distill – and stand out among – the search engine noise that is littered with D-list content and AI-generated mediocrity.

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4. Good SEO Also Means A Better User Experience

User experience has become every marketer’s number one priority.

Everyone wants better organic rankings and maximum visibility. However, few realize that optimal user experience is a big part of getting there.

Google has learned how to interpret a good or unfavorable user experience, and a positive user experience has become a pivotal element to a website’s success.

Google’s Page Experience Update is something that marketers in all industries will need to adhere to and is part of their longstanding focus on the customer experience.

Customers know what they want. If they can’t find it, there will be a problem with that website holding up against the competition, which will inevitably surpass it by offering the same, or better, content with a better user experience.

We know how much Google values user experience. We see the search engine getting closer to delivering answers to search queries directly on the SERP every day, and it’s been doing it – and expanding its integration – for years.

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The intention is to quickly and easily offer users the information they are looking for in fewer clicks.

Quality SEO incorporates a positive user experience, leveraging it to work in a brand’s favor.

It also understands the importance of leveraging Google’s updated on-the-SERP-delivery tactics for high-value content that has garnered significant traffic and engagement for sites in the past, but is now losing significant portions of it to the SERPs themselves.

5. Local SEO Means Increased Engagement, Traffic & Conversions

The mobile-first mindset of humans and search engines has shaped local search into a critical fundamental for most small- and medium-sized businesses.

Local SEO aims to optimize digital properties for a specific vicinity so people can find a business quickly and easily, putting them one step closer to a transaction.

Local optimizations focus on specific neighborhoods, towns, cities, regions, and even states to establish a meaningful medium for a brand’s messaging on a local level.

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SEO pros do this by optimizing the brand’s website and its content, including local citations and backlinks, in addition to regional listings relevant to the location and business sector to which a brand belongs.

To promote engagement locally, SEO pros should optimize a brand’s Knowledge Graph panel, its Google Business Profile, and its social media profiles as a start.

There should also be a strong emphasis on user reviews on Google and other third-party sites like Yelp, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List (among others), depending on the industry.

I recommend following the local SEO tips on SEJ here.

6. SEO Impacts The Buying Cycle

Research is becoming a critical element of SEO, and the importance of real-time research is growing.

Using SEO tactics to relay your messaging for good deals, ground-breaking products and services, and the importance and dependability of what you offer customers will be a game-changer.

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It will also undoubtedly positively impact the buying cycle when done right.

Brands must be visible where people need them for a worthy connection to be made. Local SEO enhances that visibility and lets potential customers find the answers and the businesses providing those answers.

7. SEO Is Constantly Improving & Best Practices Are Always Being Updated

It’s great to have SEO tactics implemented on a brand’s website and across its digital properties.

Still, if it’s a short-term engagement (budget constraints, etc.) and the site isn’t re-evaluated consistently over time, it will reach a threshold where it can no longer improve because of other hindrances.

Or, it will require such lift that brands will end up spending far more than expected to reach a place they could have otherwise obtained naturally over time through marketing efforts that included SEO.

How the search world evolves (basically at the discretion of Google) requires constant monitoring for changes to stay ahead of the competition and, hopefully, on Page 1.

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Being proactive and monitoring for significant algorithm changes will always benefit the brands doing so.

We know Google makes thousands of algorithm changes a year. Fall too far behind, and it will be tough to come back. SEO pros help to ensure this is avoided.

8. Understanding SEO Helps You Understand The Environment Of The Web

With the always-changing environment that is the World Wide Web, it can be challenging to stay on top of the changes as they occur.

But staying on top of SEO includes being in the loop for the major changes taking place for search.

The AI renaissance has been a clear indication of that.

Knowing the environment of the web, including tactics being used by other local, comparable businesses and competitors, will always be beneficial for those brands.

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Observing and measuring what works and what doesn’t only strengthens your brand further as well.

Knowing the search ecosystem will be beneficial 10 out of 10 times.

9. SEO Is Relatively Cheap & Extremely Cost-Effective

Sure, it costs money. But all the best things do, right?

SEO is relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, and the payoff will most likely be considerable in terms of a brand’s benefit to the bottom line.

This isn’t a marketing cost; this is an actual business investment.

Exemplary SEO implementation will hold its own for years to come. And, like most things in life, it will only be better with the more attention (and investment) it gets.

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Not only is it cost-effective, but it’s scaleable, measurable, and rarely loses value over time.

10. It’s A Long-Term Strategy

SEO can (and hopefully does) have a noticeable impact within the first year of taking action – and many of those actions will have a lasting effet.

As the market evolves, it’s best to follow the trends and changes closely.

But even a site that hasn’t had a boatload of intense SEO recommendations implemented will improve from basic SEO best practices being employed on an honest website with a decent user experience.

And the more SEO time, effort, and budget committed to it, the better and longer a website stands to be a worthy contender in its market.

The grass is green where you water it.

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11. It’s Quantifiable

While SEO doesn’t offer the same easy-to-calculate return on investment (ROI) as paid search, you can measure almost anything with proper tracking and analytics.

The big problem is connecting the dots on the back end since there is no definitive way to understand the correlation between all actions.

Tracking and attribution technology will continue to improve, which will only help SEO pros and their efforts.

Still, it is worth understanding how specific actions are supposed to affect performance and growth – and hopefully, they do.

Any good SEO pro will aim at those improvements, so connecting the dots should not be a challenge.

Brands also want to know and understand where they were, where they are, and where they’re going in terms of digital performance – especially for SEO when they have a person/company being paid to execute on its behalf.

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There’s no better way to show the success of SEO, either.

And we all know the data never lies.

12. SEO Is PR

SEO helps build long-term equity for your brand. A good ranking and a favorable placement help elevate your brand’s profile.

People search for news and related items, and having a good SEO and PR strategy means your brand will be seen and likely remembered for something positive.

Providing a good user experience on your website means your messages will be heard, and your products or services will sell.

SEO is no longer a siloed channel, so integrating with content and PR helps with brand reach and awareness alongside other worthwhile results.

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13. SEO Brings New Opportunities To Light

High-quality SEO will always find a means of discovering and leveraging new opportunities for brands not just to be discovered but to shine.

And that becomes a lot easier when experienced SEO pros can help distill the millions and millions of websites competing – and flooding – the SERPs daily.

This goes beyond keyword research and website audits.

SEO is also extremely helpful for understanding the voice of your consumers.

From understanding macro market shifts to understanding consumer intent in granular detail, SEO tells us what customers want and need through the data it generates.

SEO data and formats – spoken or word – give us clear signals of intent and user behavior.

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It does this in many ways:

Hiring an SEO professional is not always an easy task either. It requires money, time, vision, communication, more time, and some other things that will undoubtedly need to be fixed over the course of time.

Executive SEO on behalf of brands means immersing an SEO team in everything that makes that brand what it is. It’s the only way to truly market something with the passion and understanding that its stakeholders have for it: becoming a stakeholder.

The better a brand is understood, the more opportunities will arise to help it thrive. The same can be said about SEO.

New opportunities with SEO today can come in many ways – from content, digital, and social opportunities to helping with sales, product, and customer service strategies.

14. If You’re Not On Page One, You’re Not Winning The Click – Especially With Zero-Click Results

SEO is becoming a zero-sum game as zero-click SERPs show the answer directly at the top of a Google search result.

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This has only intensified with AI, SGE, Gemini, and more sure-to-come technologies that continue to shape our industry.

Early data showed about 56% of queries in a testing sample triggered SGE automatically directly on the SERP as part of an answer to a specific query in 2023, largely based on the semantics and intent of the query.

SGE results are also still incredibly volatile; sometimes they show up automatically, other times not at all, and other times there’s even an option to use SGE for results or not.

Regardless of that or any speculation on the future, there’s one thing for sure: Zero-click results in searches are winning.

If you’re not on Page 1, you need to be.

There are still too many instances when a user types a search query and can’t find exactly what it’s looking for. And sadly, SGE hasn’t been great at changing that until now.

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15. SEO Is Always Going To Be Here

Consumers will always want products and services online, and brands will always look for the most cost-effective way to connect them with each other.

While the role of SEO may shift and strategies will surely change, new avenues are constantly opening up through different entry points such as voice, apps, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT) AI is another prime example, and we can already see its impact greatly.

Outdated SEO tactics aren’t going to work much longer. New organic search opportunities will always arise. SEO helps find the best ways to capitalize on them.

Conclusion

The role of SEO has expanded significantly over the last few years, and it’s only becoming more challenging and expansive in the face of AI.

New technologies are constantly creating new processes and even shortcuts and workarounds that are changing the game, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

One thing is certain, though: Without giving SEO efforts some significant attention through a brand’s fiscal year, you are doing your business a disservice. Try it and see. Analyze the results. Test some more. Try new things.

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Stay up to date with changes and guidelines, and make sure you’re offering unique content that is valuable. And if it’s not originally yours, include proper citation and linking.

SEO will continue to help consumers when in need.

Implementing robust, quality SEO updates on a brand’s website and digital properties will benefit them and their marketing efforts in measurable ways, and the impact will be felt.

There will be challenges, but when done right, there can also be success.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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