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If you’ve ever taken a journalism class, your instructor probably stressed the importance of the ‘five W’s and an H’: Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? These six simple questions are the backbone of all journalism, and they help reporters construct a compelling narrative for their readers. But they’re not just for Woodward and Bernstein wannabes. A smaller subset of questions can be useful for anyone hoping to produce trustworthy, authoritative content:

  • Who?
  • Why?
  • How?

The stakes are high. There’s a good chance there are other publications writing about your subject matter, and it’s imperative that you make a good first impression as soon as possible. The beauty of these questions lies in their versatility. Not only can they help you write better content, but they’ll also go a long way to showing your readers and Google that you’re trustworthy. 

Everyone needs to EEAT

Regular readers of this blog know that Google places a lot more emphasis on content quality. While liberal use of keywords may have sufficed in the past, now they put a premium on content which demonstrates knowledge of the subject matter. The acronym EEAT comes from the fact that they judge content on the basis of:

  • The first-hand experience of the creator
  • The expertise of the creator
  • The authoritativeness of the creator, the content itself, and their site
  • The trustworthiness of the creator

Putting yourself in your readers’ shoes and asking yourself Who? Why? and How? When creating content can help you demonstrate authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Who created the content?

In many ways, this is the most fundamental question. Readers need to know that the content has been created by someone knowledgeable. This is where your publication’s About page really comes in handy. Although an About page won’t directly benefit your ranking in search results, it’s nevertheless a good way to help build trust with your audience. This is where you can highlight any relevant degrees/qualifications that you might have. Even if you don’t have formal qualifications, your About page can still help establish your authority. If you’ve published books or articles in your field, it would be a good idea to mention them as well. For more information on how to make a great About page, check out this article by Julia McCoy of Search Engine Journal.

Bylines are another way to establish authority. For example, if you have a PhD, your byline could be ‘John Doe, PhD.’ That way, readers will have some idea of your credentials even if they haven’t clicked through to your About page (for more information about the importance of bylines, check out this article by Jenn Greenleaf of nDash). You can also place a brief author bio at the foot of each article to provide readers with a TL;DR account of your expertise.

It’s also a good idea to offer your readers a way to get in touch with you, whether it’s by social media or something more direct. If you don’t want to give out your email address, you can always have a contact form on your site. Though if you go that route, make sure it’s configured correctly, lest your readers’ messages go astray!

Why was the content created?

If you want to create high-quality content, it’s important to be intentional about it. Ideally, you want to be helping your readers in some way, and one of the best ways to do that is to put yourself in their shoes. Think about the questions they might ask and endeavor to answer them. 

Obviously, you won’t be able to cover every single facet of a topic, but you should aim to provide as thorough a discussion as you reasonably can. Don’t be afraid to provide pertinent background information. After all, your readers will likely have varying degrees of knowledge about the subject. 

You also want to make it clear that you’re creating content for actual human readers and not just the Algorithm Gods. Remember, if people don’t find your content useful, they’re unlikely to stick around, making them less impactful in the long run.

How was the content created?

Who? and Why? are only part of the equation, however. It’s also important to tell your readers How? your content was created. Basically, you want people to understand your content-creation process, as this can help bolster your authority.

For example, if you produce product reviews or buying guides, you could explain your testing methodology or show them the raw data you’ve come up with. This article from Google’s Keyword blog has more tips for writing better-quality product reviews

Even if you don’t produce this kind of commercial content, telling your readers how you produce your material can still come in handy. You could highlight how you use research to make your content stand out. Google also recommends that you disclose your use of AI-generated material if that’s something you include in your content, whether that’s in the form of an explicit disclosure or a more generalized statement of policy.    

Putting it all together

ScienceX does a really good job of doing the things we’ve been talking about in this post:

  • Their About page succinctly explains their approach to science journalism and emphasizes what sets them apart from their competitors.
  • Their Editorial Process page showcases the many little details that make a publication trustworthy.
  • Their Editorial Standards page talks about things like their approach to third-party content. 

In 2023, it’s absolutely vital that you produce content that’s not just highly visible to search engines but also meets the needs of a human audience. Google’s EEAT criteria provides some good guidance, but asking yourself Who? Why? and How? can help you put those abstract ideas into practice and capture your readers’ attention right off the bat. 

For more helpful tips, check out this article on “How to outrank your competitors with authoritative content”.