“Hire Expert Writers,” Says Google
That is the title of a post from M2Bespoke about Google’s emphasis on returning reputable content. What is an “expert writer” in this context?
Many of those who have commented on it and passed it around take it to mean expertise in writing. That seems to be the interpretation that the author of the article is making as well:
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 way “professional writers” in the first paragraph elides into “expert writers” in the second suggests that the expertise that is sought is expertise in writing.
Yet as we read on, it becomes abundantly clear that what Google means is writers who are experts in their subject matter.
- 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.
Even for material that does not come from a defined profession, it is expertise in the subject matter that is sought:
“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.”
There is not a word in any of this about how well the writer slings nouns and verbs or their deft touch with prepositions.
Well, this may not be going were you expect. My point is about the curse of knowledge and the role of stories in communication. When people (like me) who consider themselves professional writers hear “hire expert writers”, we automatically tend hear “hire people who are experts in writing”.
When the rest of the world hears “hire expert writers”, it hears “hire people who are experts on their subject matter”. (This includes the publishing industry by the way. Try to pitch a nonfiction book and you will find that the first question you have to answer is why you are the right person to write this book, meaning what is your expertise in this area.)
As professional writers we ought to understand this. We ought to understand that what images and ideas pop into your head when you hear a phrase like “expert writer” depends on your everyday experiences and the stories you live with every day.
We should recognize that absorption in any field does not simply give you additional knowledge or additional vocabulary, it creates a gravity well of stories that warps how you think and talk and understand. This is the curse of knowledge that makes it very difficult for experts in a field to communicate effectively with those outside it.
Which, ironically, is the best, and perhaps only, justification for hiring an expert writer, in the sense of expert in writing. Because what should set an expert writer apart is their appreciation of the curse of knowledge, their ability to achieve escape velocity from the gravity well of stories around the subject matter they are describing.
But in order to make this claim, we must first make sure we are not sucked into the gravity well of our own set of stories about what professional writing is. We need to break our own curse of knowledge before we propose to free anyone else from theirs.