How to boost your traffic, subscribers, credibility, and yes, SEO, with interviews – Part 1

why you should conduct interviews when writing content

By Susan Johnston Taylor, Freelance Writer


Quotes Bring Color

Journalists who write profiles, features, breaking news, or other topics frequently conduct interviews, since expert and “real people” quotes bring color and credibility to their stories. But business writers building e-books, blog posts, and other materials tend to rely on little more than online research.

A recent Content Marketing Institute study found that only 42 percent of marketers say they talk to customers when conducting – get this – customer research. Sound familiar? You could be missing out on juicy primary source material.

Whether you’re writing LinkedIn posts or white papers, you can spice up your content and improve its shareability with interviews. Here at Find a Way Media, our site traffic has grown by 40 percent since we started publishing interviews.

Here’s why content writers should conduct more interviews.

Can’t you just Google that?

Googling for statistics and other information is an important first step, but it’s no substitute for actually talking to customers and subject matter experts. In the High-Income Business Writing podcast with Ed Gandia, Casey Hibbard shares how she uses interviews to get specific details and write stronger case studies. For her, interviewing is all about getting specifics and anecdotes that differentiate each person’s story. So she might ask customers open-ended questions like “tell me about a time when you knew things had to change” or “tell me about a time when it was clear things had changed for the better.”

Sure, conducting interviews means more work, but it gives you a deeper understanding of the topics you’re covering. Conversations with experts lend more authority to your content because a lot of information published online is outdated, misinformed, or just plain wrong.

Originality is one of the factors Google News considers in ranking online content

Going straight to the source improves the likelihood of getting the most current, accurate information. There are lots of misleading statistics online that seem credible but aren’t and even big news outlets sometimes misinterpret studies or take statistics out of context. For instance, CNN recently faced a libel suit over its reporting on mortality rates at a pediatric cardiac surgery program without putting those numbers into a broader context.

By talking directly to a study’s researchers to get the full picture, you can fill in any holes and incorporate additional information not found anywhere else online. This unique content provides greater value for readers and can also help improve your site’s SEO. Originality is one of the factors Google News considers in ranking online content, and conducting interviews (rather than regurgitating facts and figures available elsewhere) is one way to boost your content’s originality.

Another key benefit of interviews is that when you include the voices of customers or experts, they’re likely to share that content once it’s published. If you tag them on social media with a link to the published piece, they’ll often retweet that content or share it in their own words. Social shout-outs can help boost your brand’s authority and social media following, especially if it’s a well-known person.

Here at Find a Way Media, we’ve experienced the power of interviews firsthand. Since August 2018, when we kicked off our interview series with content marketing powerhouse Jennifer Goforth Gregory, our blog traffic has grown by 40 percent and newsletter subscribership increased by 71 percent. Since then, we’ve featured interviews with best-selling author Seth Godin, editor Suzanne Barnecut, and Grammar Girl founder Mignon Fogarty, and many of these experts have graciously shared our content with their followers, helping us extend our reach.

traffic spikes

Many content creators don’t take the extra step to conduct original reporting, so a few minutes on the phone with an expert or customer can really make your writing stand out.

This is part one of our series on interviews for business writers. In part two, we’ll cover the nuts and bolts of conducting interviews and in part three, we’ll look at how to get the most mileage out of the material you’ve gathered.  

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Susan Johnston Taylor, Freelance Writer

Austin, Texas-based freelance writer Susan Johnston Taylor has written for The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and many other publications. Learn more.