Written by Michael MacMillan, Principal Consultant at Parse.ly partner MacMillan Search
In today’s ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing, businesses are perpetually seeking innovative ways to create compelling, authentic, and valuable content that resonates with their audiences.
One of the biggest recent trends is the integration of subject matter experts (SMEs) into the content creation process to craft more thoughtful, in-depth, and insightful content that’s driven by industry insiders who genuinely understand their customers’ queries.
The other biggest trend? Artificial intelligence (AI) tools. They’re becoming instrumental in transforming the expertise of SMEs into engaging, high-performing content that connects better with readers and establishes a more authentic brand voice.
You’ll find that streamlining the entire process—while keeping the “human factor” in compelling storytelling—isn’t as challenging as it may seem.
Let’s explore the shift in content and how you can use AI to streamline your SME content process.
The shift to subject matter expert content
Traditionally, content teams have focused on producing high volumes of content, often prioritizing quantity over quality to drive business growth. However, as we learned in WordPress VIP’s Content Matters 2023 Report, this landscape is changing and there is a growing need for businesses to adapt their content strategies to remain competitive.
One of these shifts is the move towards subject matter expert (SME) content. The queries that would surface this type of content in search results are less likely to show up in tools like Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs. Yet these lower-volume, higher-intent queries will resonate more with target audiences.
Why subject matter expert content?
Creating content informed by subject matter experts offers several benefits.
- It ensures the information being shared is accurate and valuable to the audience.
- It’s more likely to perform well in search engine rankings, as it provides unique, in-depth insights that other, more generic content may lack.
- It can save time for busy support and sales teams by addressing common questions and concerns that are answered repeatedly.
It also leads to a more efficient sales process and better overall customer experience.
The challenge: Engaging busy experts
Creating engaging SME content typically requires collaboration between content creators and members of sales or product teams. Unfortunately, those individuals are typically too preoccupied to write original content, even if given a content brief. This is where a more innovative approach to content creation comes in—the interview process.
The interview process: A new content creation strategy
The interview process involves content creators acting as editors, interviewing subject matter experts, and combining this information with SEO aspects like keyword research. The goal is to create content that is informed by both the expert’s knowledge and the necessary SEO components.
Using tools like otter.ai to transcribe interviews streamlines this process. This provides content creators a solid foundation for crafting a compelling blog post or piece of content through other generative AI tools.
Note: Final content should still be edited and refined by a human to ensure accuracy and readability.
AI-assisted content: The future of content marketing
As AI tools like ChatGPT, Jasper, and others become increasingly prevalent, they will inevitably become an integral part of the content creation process. However, this doesn’t mean replacing human content creators, far from it. Instead, AI tools can be used to support and streamline the content creation process, generating content that still requires human input and review.
We expect this AI + SME approach to be a significant trend as businesses strive to create content that truly resonates with their audiences.
Embracing the shift: Practical steps for businesses
To make the most of this shift in content strategy, businesses can consider the following steps:
- Identify SMEs within the organization and tap their expertise for content creation.
- Develop an interview process that captures SME insights while incorporating SEO elements.
- Use AI tools to edit and optimize the content, ensuring a balance between human expertise and technological efficiency.
- Continuously monitor the performance of SME content and AI-assisted blogs, refining the strategy as needed to stay ahead of the competition.
As the SEO landscape continues to evolve, businesses must be ready to adapt their content strategies to stay competitive and deliver value in cutting-edge ways. By leveraging the knowledge of industry insiders and combining it with AI editing tools, you’ll create content that is not only engaging and informative, but that also resonates with your target audience.
Your AI questions: Answered
When we talked with Michael MacMillan, Principal Consultant at MacMillan Search, about using AI tools for subject matter expert (SME) content, our audience had a lot of questions.
AI is still a big unknown, especially when used for business, so it’s no surprise people are uncertain and wary about using it in their workflows.
We want to answer those big questions and concerns so you can start using AI confidently (and not fall behind the generative curve).
1. Should I be concerned about copyright and intellectual property when using AI to generate content?
Yes and no. You should, of course, always be cognizant of copying others’ work. But this is really only a concern if you just want to spit out the same information already available on the internet from competitors.
AI tools like ChatGPT generate responses based on large training datasets that often include copyrighted material, which means it’s highly possible you’ll be copying and pasting something that already exists elsewhere.
AI is also a gray area in intellectual property law. In fact, when asked, ChatGPT provided this response:
“In some jurisdictions, works generated by AI aren’t eligible for copyright protection because they weren’t created by a human. In other jurisdictions, the person who used the AI to generate the work might be considered the author. But it’s also possible that the organization that trained and owns the AI could claim ownership of the generated content.
The landscape of AI and intellectual property law is complex and rapidly evolving. If you are using AI to generate content for commercial purposes, it would be wise to seek legal counsel to ensure you’re not infringing on copyrights or other intellectual property rights.”
Focus on new ideas instead
AI is most helpful for gathering your thoughts and putting them into a digestible format. It’s why both Parse.ly and MacMillan Search focused on using it for SME content. In this case, we provide it with most of the information it needs and ask it to repeat it back to us in a different format.
If you’re providing thought leadership and niche content from subject matter experts, then there is no concern about publishing what you generate. However, if you’re just asking the tool to tell you what it already knows, there is much more risk for potential infringement.
2. How does AI help streamline your content creation workflows?
AI is an invaluable tool for streamlining workflows, one we’ve witnessed firsthand. But remember it’s most effective when used as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, human creativity and expertise.
You can use AI tools like ChatGPT to assist with:
- Automating tedious tasks: AI can take over repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as drafting content, transcribing interviews, summarizing long paragraphs, or generating ideas for new blog posts. This enables you to spend less time on manual work and more time on strategic thinking and decision making.
- Enhancing creativity: Even though AI is essentially a machine, it can still help spark human creativity. For example, you could ask ChatGPT to generate several ideas for blog topics. Not all will be useful, but there will likely be gems that inspire you or lead you down a new, creative path.
- Providing fresh perspectives: AI doesn’t have bias or preconceptions. It might generate ideas or angles you hadn’t considered, offering fresh perspectives on familiar topics.
- Boosting productivity: With time saved from automating tasks or generating new ideas, you can produce more high-quality content faster, boosting your overall productivity and innovation.
- Reducing writer’s block: Stuck waiting for inspiration to strike? Try feeding AI your topic and ask it to generate a few opening sentences. You might just get the nudge you need to get words flowing.
3. Do you have tips for creating prompts?
Prompting is definitely an art, one that varies per person and brand. To start, use the following:
- Keep track of your prompts in a separate document to evaluate what works and facilitate editing.
- Instead of requesting an entire piece at once, chunk your prompts for better outcomes.
- Begin with clear, concise instructions, such as specifying the length and style of the piece.
- Provide context including details about the topic and tone. If the content isn’t quite right, iterate and experiment with your instructions.
Finally, along your AI prompting journey, remember it’s okay to fail. In fact, it’s expected! Don’t be afraid to try, try, try again. AI won’t mind.
About the author
An SEO expert, MacMillan focuses his energy and skill on the tough technical challenges B2B software and service organizations face. With two decades in digital marketing, the last one exclusively working in SEO strategy, he brings a problem-solving mindset and creative approach to every project. His impact extends globally, having transformed SEO strategy for some of the world’s largest SaaS companies, and mentoring dynamic teams of marketers and rising SEO professionals.