“Authority” is a buzzword in SEO and content marketing. Everybody wants it, but not everyone knows how to get it and keep it.
In particular, Google prizes authority and is more likely to rank content that oozes with it.
Brand authority is that holy grail you achieve after months of hard work and consistency in building your online reputation.
There is no overnight “nobody to authority” story.
Instead, you need to have patience and keep up a well-formed strategy to earn your title as a cemented expert in your industry.
Ready to learn how?
1. Create a Content Strategy
Content marketing is a solid way to build your online authority, but only if you have a plan under your belt at the outset.
If you go about content willy-nilly, expect willy-nilly, inconsistent results.
Meanwhile, a strategy does a few things to keep that from happening:
- It keeps you accountable and consistent.
- It lays out what you need to create the best, most authority-building content possible (including helping hands, tools, keywords, topics, and budget).
- It looks ahead to your content future, helping you schedule posts and promote content around strategic dates, seasons, and events.
- It helps you create the kind of content that will appeal most to your audience, and ensures you promote it where that audience will see it.
See how much a strategy matters?
Without a plan to build your authority, you’ll be lost.
Before you decide to lean on content marketing to make a name for yourself, spend the time and effort on strategizing, first.
Map out your road to authority, and follow it intently.
2. Share What You Know (Help Others with No Hidden Agenda)
Sharing your expert knowledge is essential to building an authoritative reputation.
However, the way you share your expertise makes all the difference.
Specifically, aim to share what you know without an agenda or ulterior motive. (Yes, the overarching goal is to build brand authority, but your immediate intent should be to help people!)
How do you do that?
Give your readers value.
Offer information that will improve their lives in some fashion.
Help them solve problems they actually deal with.
For example, Brightly is a division of Penguin Random House whose mission is “helping parents grow lifelong readers.” One of their blogs details useful, practical tips to help kids stay interested in reading, like listening to storytelling podcasts in the car, creating a reading ritual, and letting them choose their own books.
There is no ploy to sell anything in this blog, no CTAs, no nothing. It’s purely informational with an aim to help parents with kids who struggle to stay interested in reading.
As a result, it’s a trust-builder.
3. Participate in Your Industry Community
This tip is straightforward: Find and follow your industry peers.
Post regularly on social networks where your audience lives, and make a point to interact and connect with others.
When you participate in the community surrounding your industry, you not only get your name associated with a friendly presence – but also help others stay abreast of your latest content pieces overflowing with helpful (read: authority-building) advice and knowledge.
Sharing your content, engaging in discussions, and actively participating in your online community are key parts of your overall content strategy. You can’t build online authority without them.
Example: On Twitter, Ann Handley regularly posts relevant updates in the industry along with content, personal opinions, and funny links. Her tweets tend to spark comments and discussions aplenty.
LinkedIn introduces a new feature for small biz: The ability to share what services you provide right on your profile, as a way to quickly indicate to others that you are “open for business.” https://t.co/E5Vb1V3bqu
— Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) July 23, 2019
4. Target Informational Keywords in Long-Form Content
Long-form, in-depth content gives you a greater opportunity to display your expertise than a short, pithy blog post or a Twitter update.
Long-form content is where your authority can spread its wings and show the world what it can do.
While you’re at it, target informational, long-tail keywords in your longer content pieces.
Take care to make that content as great as humanly possible.
Your knowledge and hard work will more than likely earn a top spot in Google rankings, which is an immediate signifier of authority to searchers.
For example, this blog post from Cookie + Kate on how to make cold brew coffee is nearly 1,500 words, chock-full of useful information, and ranks #1 organically for that “how-to” keyword.
5. Deeply Focus on a Few Specific Topics
You may think you need to showcase a wide range of knowledge on multiple topics for your authority-building strategy, but, in fact, that’s not the case.
Instead, it’s easier to narrowly and deeply focus on one or two main topic areas.
Publish content within this scope to build “pillar pages,” or a type of blog archive covering all aspects of one single topic through multiple blog posts on topic facets – all of which link to each other and to the pillar page. (Elise Dopson via Content Marketing Institute calls this the topic cluster model, a term which originated from HubSpot.)
This technique is great for building authority in a specific niche as well as improving your Google ranking potential.
According to HubSpot’s guide on the topic by Mimi An:
“This linking action signals to search engines that the pillar page is an authority on the topic, and over time, the page may rank higher and higher for the topic it covers.”
And when your pillar content ranks under your brand name, your authority grows, too.
Remember: Authority-Building is a Long-Term Game
Nobody builds a great reputation overnight.
Instead, your consistent actions – what you do and say – proves to people you’re an authority over time.
Online, that means:
- Building your brand through consistent, strategic content and SEO.
- Maintaining a social presence.
- Being friendly and open, and making genuine connections with your peers and audience.
- Working hard to prove your knowledge and provide value to your audience everywhere.
When you’re ready to show up consistently, you’re ready to start building authority.
All screenshots taken by author, August 2019
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She’s earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.