21 Reasons You Must Become an Expert

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For years the search economy built by Google (and others) allowed many people to make decent money by simply executing on certain SEO tactics more efficiently than their competition — even if they didn’t necessarily know the business they were writing about.

This led to poor quality web sites that ranked highly for valuable search terms, with the need to deliver quality products or services coming in a distant second.

Now that Google is making great progress in their effort to marginalize questionable SEO tactics, this approach to producing online content is finally going extinct.

The next 2 years will see an even more dramatic shakeout, and all forms of marketing on the Internet will be affected. What’s the best way to survive this continuing transformation?

Become an expert.

Here are twenty-one reasons why this is a critical pursuit:

  1. Search engines are making a clear shift in favor of quality — The changes are (and will continue to be) big, but they’re going in a consistent direction — that of better quality content. Search engines will continue to improve the quality game, and only high quality content will win.
  2. No one cares what you think if you aren’t an expert — I know that sounds harsh, but I’m not talking about your friends or social conversations here.
  3. You will understand your business better — Knowing the subject matter of your business cold is the first step in creating a business that runs efficiently. Of course, other skills are needed, but it starts here.
  4. Creating great content is much easier (you will actually know something!) — The key to great content is sharing information or perspectives that are new to the reader. If you know far more than the reader, this becomes relatively easy.

Experts generate more ideas

  1. Building a lean content marketing team is easier — An expert perspective on the subject matter will help you understand what help you need.
  2. Determining the scope of your content marketing opportunity is easier too, because you know the market so well.
  3. You can predict upcoming changes to your market better — With expertise comes more knowledge of the major players in your industry, and the things they’re likely to do. No, you can’t predict everything, but expertise can help you get ready for change.
  4. Communities will form around you — This one’s simple. Genuine experts attract attention.

People want to meet experts

  1. People trust experts — People are more likely to believe your opinion when you know more.
  2. People will want to work for you — Being known as an expert tends to attract the smart, motivated employees who can make a tremendous difference in your business.
  3. People will want to buy from you — A deep understanding of your topic makes you more trustworthy, and that makes you the more inviting choice when it comes time to purchase a product or service. This is particularly true if you combine being an expert with a strong sense of ethics.
  4. The media will want to interview you — Both traditional and new media depend on experts to flesh out stories. Being a visible expert on your topic makes you an attractive person for the media to interview.
  5. Other media will want you to write for them — Looking for guest posting opportunities on major sites? This is so much easier when you’re recognized for being exceptionally well-informed in your topic.
  6. Other experts will want to meet you — Experts are drawn to other experts. And that can open out to an introduction to their audience.
  7. Other experts will want to collaborate with you — No expert is looking for a collaboration with a publisher of thin, weakly researched content.
  8. Growing a social media following is easier — This eventually happens, even if you don’t work at it. People will figure out where your social profiles are and want to connect with you. Of course, this goes much faster if you do work at it.
  9. Your posts will get more comments — People will want to share their thoughts with you and develop a connection with you.

Influence drives your sharing rate

  1. Your articles will draw more links — No matter what anyone may tell you, incoming links are still the key driver in SEO rankings. Attracting high-quality natural links more easily is pure gold.
  2. The distribution of your content on social networks will grow exponentially. More tweets, plus ones, and likes will spread your message further every day.
  3. Your conference presentations will draw more people — Doing presentations is one of the most underestimated parts of a content marketing strategy.
  4. Experts make more money — For a business owner, this is the bottom line. People will pay more for your products or services if you are a recognized authority in your topic.

Go expert or go home …

Know your subject cold. Learn how to teach it better than anyone else. Learn how to help others better than anyone else. You can also be the “behind the scenes” business partner to a powerful authority in your topic.

Stop wasting time trying to pretend you know what you’re talking about. Develop the real expertise that creates trust, that benefits your audience, and that builds a profitable business.

What’s your favorite benefit of gaining real expertise in your topic? Let us know in the comments below …

About the Author: Eric Enge is President of Stone Temple Consulting , a digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) firm. He is also a speaker at industry conferences about SEO and Social Media. Get more from Eric on his blog, Twitter, or Google+.

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  1. Eric,

    When you do genuinely become an expert, one thing is for sure – you have so much more you can say, so much more insightful and powerful to say and so much more you can write about on your blog.

    And, above all, you also stand out from the crowd.

  2. SEO is still something a lot of businesses are looking for, hoping it can just be a one-time project of some website changes, maybe some directory listings, and they’re done (although it was never this).

    I keep telling people SEO, as such, doesn’t exist anymore. It’s become content marketing, with a side of keyword strategy.

    As more businesses continue to catch on to this, the amount of content out there is staggering, and the importance of keeping your content fresh and useful enough to attract attention and interest is increasingly a challenge.

    The path from embracing content marketing to establishing yourself as an expert isn’t easy (I’m just in the early stages myself), but the sooner you get started the better situated you are to stand out.

  3. “Genuine experts attract attention.”

    And that is something that you will have for the rest of your career. Your reputation and your expertise are two things that you take with you from company to company, project to project, job to job. Becoming an authority isn’t easy and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight but it’s something that you can build to last.

  4. I don’t think there’s anything in your article that I can disagree with.

    However, i do feel that apart from the experts, a lot of newbies are looking for bloggers and writers with whom they can relate better. A prime example of this is Tom Ewer (he’s an expert now).

    People are looking for people who are honest and open.

    • Honest and open experts are priceless. Being accessible, too, is huge. This is one of the reasons I like Seth Godin … you can email him and more than likely get a response.

    • Jawad – I agree that there is a definite place for non-experts who share their experiences honestly and openly. But, if you are trying to distinguish yourself as an expert (or having an expert closely associated with your business) is the right goal!

  5. You’ve really convinced me that becoming an expert is important! So aside from getting a degree in my subject, how do I become an expert?

    • Learn everything you can about a topic, and then share what you know by creating online content about that topic.

      • You don’t have to know ‘everything’ before you start sharing. You can share as you go along.

        That’s how the likes of Pat Flynn got started after all.

        There’s always someone who can find value in what you share irrespective of your expertise level.

        There’s also plently of ‘experts’ who’s success is more down to who they know rather than what they know :)

        • Learn everything you *can*, which is a never ending process, no matter the topic. Yes, start teaching what you’ve learned right away, because you should always be just a step ahead of even your initial audience.

        • Agree that you need to know enough to help someone, to be an expert relative to the person you help. It’s an ongoing process.

    • I have some more thoughts on that here as well: http://www.copyblogger.com/become-an-expert/

      Short version: teaching is the best way to learn anything at a much deeper level.

      • I couldn’t agree more to what you just said. I have experienced it myself. It gives you a higher level of understanding while you try to teach some thing to someone.

        I experienced it while I was trying to learn the nuances of Lean Management. I tried to related it to things other than what it actually stands for and what it origin is. It helped me learn the subject fast and in more depth.

  6. A tremendous benefit of becoming an expert is this:
    The journey and decision to become an expert will undoubtedly serve the individual well and guide them towards a life of self-reliance.

    It sucks having to live life on their terms…become an expert.

  7. I would add that not only do you need to become an expert but the internet provides more opportunity for being an expert than ever before. In the past, becoming an expert in a narrow field was dangerous, since it could be difficult to find enough clients who needed precisely the expertise you offered. So people were generalists, offering many services to a limited market and frequently depending on representatives and distributors to reach that market. But the internet is now cutting out the middleman, and allowing those who need your expertise to reach you directly. The world is your market, not just your local town. If you can become the world’s foremost authority in one narrow field, there will be more work and customers than you can handle, but they will come from anywhere.

  8. Your content can lead to speaking engagements, writing books, collaborations, media coverage, group or one-on-one coaching, and other opportunities.

    Experts have to keep in mind that people have opinions, and they may not agree with you or hang on every word you write or speak. Treat everyone with respect. Take the high road and respond with a classy response. Who knows… you may win people over who could become collaborators or business partners in the future.

    *My favorite benefit of gaining real expertise is helping people get the results they want and seeing them transform before my very eyes.

  9. Very true and all are valid reason. Moreover Experts are paid more. :)

  10. There is a saying “Those who can, do” and “Those who can’t, teach”. The way I see what you(and Google) are asking is not only become an expert, but to actually writing and teach about your expertise.
    I know several people who are experts at there craft. ie. construction, graphic design, printing, cooking, etc.. However, they are terrible at writing or teaching about their craft. Writing and teaching are totally different skill sets.
    It seems like Google is really working towards rewarding those who can write and teach about about expertise, not necessary those who are experts.

  11. Go Expert or Go Home haha… :D a really great post. It’s true that things become easy when you’re an expert. If you know more than the average Joe it’s easy to become an expert but keep getting more info and always stay ahead in your industry.

  12. If you know what you’re talking about and can present it in a way people can’t get enough of, it doesn’t matter how popular you were with Google 4 years ago. As you said, with the changes happening with Google search, knowledgeable teachers are getting more and more of the attention they deserve.

  13. Well, I agree and I disagree.

    I certainly do agree that you have to know what you are talking about and even have expert level knowledge on the topic. It will get you everything you laid out above.

    What I don’t agree with is that being an expert is enough. Knowledge transfer on the Internet is a dead area. You can Google everything you need to know if you are halfway intelligent. The new huge online classes that our most prestigious universities are offering for free provide information that people used to pay over six figures to obtain the right to have access to. Information is next worthless.

    What people are looking for is the experience. So besides an expert, I think you have to be an entertainer. You see this on social media. I heard social media called modern day theater. Everyone is a performer. People only stop at those performances that spark their interest.

    Look at blogs, posts, tweets, etc that go viral – some inform, but they all entertain.

    • Mike – I do think it can be useful to be an entertainer, but in my view it is not a requirement. Information may seem free on the Internet, but it is really not the case. Doing the research and finding out what you want may nearly always be possible, but it is often not easy.

      In addition, there is plenty of stuff that goes viral that does not end actually helping serve the needs of the business behind it!

      Being an authoritative source for real answers is what people really want, and being entertaining *might* help you market that authority.

      • “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” — André Gide

        Eric,
        I am not disparaging your article. I just think there is more to the equation for success. There are tons of experts out there that are frankly boring. You said yourself that marketing is a component. I know it is a huge component.

        Being an authoritative source is important. I am a member of Copy blogger’s Authority group. The thing is there are a lot of people calling themselves Authorities. People aren’t going to get very far if you don’t polish their message and create a visitor/customer experience that the customer can relate to. Perhaps if we don’t call it entertainment and call it instead experience it might be taken better.

  14. Great points! I also find that even if you aren’t using the minutiae of what you know, it provides a better foundation to write with confidence.

  15. This is a great list of reasons why anyone would want to become an expert. I do believe this should always be a goal. I guess some people struggle when they first come online because they haven’t figured out their niche properly.
    But there is so much to learn and it is a lot of fun, keeping on top of the trends.

    Beth :)

  16. I sympathize with #2 – No one cares what you think if you aren’t an expert.

    In my niche (SEO), we’re often told by guys like Rand that he has a way to “instantly build 400 links” and “it’s called the publish button!” Get new content out, instantly get likes, comments, shares …

    Yeah, see #2. Nobody cares if nobody cares.

  17. I agree completely. Authority in an industry will be a requirement to rank in the near future. And this is a good thing. Instead of spreading your SEO efforts thin across multiple sites, you can instead focus your energy on one topic and grow the authority in that one area. It will be easier to manage, too. Great article.

  18. Brian, First off, I’ve loved your blog since I started my career out of college. Thank you for everything.

    Great article. People want connections who bring reliability and knowledge to the discussion. The more you learn the more value you can provide.

    Naomi

  19. I agree with this post. It is true that a lot of people who want to reach out to individuals in the virtual world are making moves that even them don’t understand. It would be great to know what you are doing to eliminate the hassle and be decent enough to be an expert in your own field..

  20. What will the world look like when we have nothing but “experts,” or people who claim to be “experts?” How does this effect creative people, people who have a wide scope of topics? Will the internet be narrowed down to nothing but niche experts? I think there is a weakness to this kind of thinking. I think it creates potential for the internet to become a cookie-cutter, consumer-based world without voices of true reflection and creativity.

    • I know it seems like it’s heading in that direction, but while in our circles it may seem that everyone’s an expert, a writer, a marketer, that’s not really the case. Most people are consumers who will never write much more than a grocery list. I think there will always be an audience who is not interested in performing, so to speak.

      I’ve recently run across people who call themselves ‘multidisciplinary entrepreneurs’ who actually teach about simultaneously marketing multiple streams. So, one can actually specialize in not specializing. Heh.

  21. Yeah.. being an expert is definitely the trend now.. with lots of experts popping up teaching you how to be an expert! LOL

    Couldn’t agree with you more about Google.

    I will always SEO.. left over from my ninja SEO days.. but I will NEVER depend on Google (or any other singular form of) traffic again. I learned the hard way when entire incomes were wiped out in a day.

    ~ darlene

  22. So I know better now. Thank you for the ideas you’ve shared. I will surely apply them and use them as my guide in becoming an expert.

  23. So is Google now the one that decides who is an expert?

    • No, people do. That’s what drives the evolved Google algorithm. Actually, it’s always strived to quantify what people considered “authoritative” content, it’s just it was easier to game before the last couple of years.

  24. after rwading your post, the word ‘uncompromising’ came to mind. The broad reach of the Internet encourages experts in very specific niches to share their expertise. This creates quality content, because the author needn’t compromise simply to please a large audience of readers. Thanks for posing the challenge of becoming expert in our field.

  25. I completely agree! I would rather be an expert at one thing than be amateur at many things. And even when you are expert you can still learn new things.

  26. Thanks for this article!

    Gaining expertise is definitely important for writers. What’s also important: finding ways to share your knowledge in a way that’s interesting, clear and perhaps even fun to read. As a bonus, it’s great to be able to find ways to share expertise in a way that is clear to newbies of a topic — and still has value to people who are further along the knowledge spectrum on that particular subject.

  27. I started out creating random video editing tutorials to help some friends and posting them to YouTube. After many videos and comments I realized I could benefit from having a web site where all my tutorials are housed. I fell into this expert realm and the first thing I had to get over was self-doubt, because there were “so many” other people doing the same tutorials. Once I got over that anxiety, I accepted my role as an expert in my field and haven’t looked back.

  28. Fantastic post – so enticing, I took the time to read every word & comment (“speed reader”)!
    My sincere thanks to you.

  29. Hi, great post. I like the way google is weeding out all the rubbish and starting to focus on real authority sites when it comes to SEO. Quality is most definitely the name of the game.

  30. Too much of the conversation is about achieving your expert status via what the internet offers.

    Doing a google search will only get you so far: it is equally important to read books.

    It is also important to have a multidisciplinary approach and to pursue self-education instead of relying too much on formal education.

    Read voraciously from a variety of sources and try to synthesize and integrate: connect the dots and present what you have learnt in a manner that both informs and entertains: write with a sense of humour, because your audience loves to laugh.

    Don’t be the dry academic that compels people to stifle yawns and reach for the mobile. Today, your target audience is looking for an experience rather than just buying your product or service. Increasingly, that experience will have to be customized and tailor-made to fit their needs.

    What is your USP? is the key question.

  31. When I first began with Internet Marketing I would go into niches where I had no genuine interest at all. Needless to say, it didn’t go well at all. At first, sure it would be fine. After 20 articles or so though, I always just stopped. Lost all interest. So had spent maybe a hundred hours on each site for nothing.

    All changed now. I only work on one website at a time and only on topics that I am actually interested in. Obviously it is so much better. When you’re interested you enjoy what you do and you enjoy learning more about it, creating an endless cycle of getting better at what you’re doing and becoming a more useful resource all at the same time.

    Never ignore those people who tell you to find out what you’re interested in first. Then worry about making money.

  32. a real killer and not to have any excuses to become the best of what we do in life. The 21 reasons are compelling and gives the momentum to go expert and learn everything possible in Web Designing and SEO.

    This is very true when you look at this blog and how it drive us here every week to read something written by an expert. Another example from Seth Godin, who always says this message in his latest books reminds the same with his blog. the expertise gets attention easily and hold the eye contact longer till they bond for a life long connection :)

  33. It takes a long time to become an “expert” at things. Typically 10,000 hours is sited as the time required.

  34. Great article. I chose in college to do what I do because I knew I’d become an expert in an endless variety of industries. It’s not just work! It’s becoming a person well-versed in a ton of interesting subjects that enrich our lives in some way.

  35. Wonderful article, thank you. I remember reading that if you can converse for 2 hours on a particular subject without reading any notes, then you can continue yourself expert in that subject. This is a good test, I find, for those considering the consulting career.

    Michael Emerald

  36. #2 should be a general rule of the internet: “No one cares what you think if you aren’t an expert “

  37. Fantastic post!

    I had not considered the lean content team benefit, that notion has some gears turning in my mind. Thank you.

    I love the “Go expert or go home.” line.