Online authority can mean a variety of things to different people. It is sometimes described as trust. Others say it has to do with the saturation of a brand in its niche market.
Still others make a strong case for online authority being nothing more than a high ranking on search engines that is gained through many high-quality backlinks.
When Darren Rowse of ProBlogger writes about online authority, especially authority through a blog, he means “build blogs that have profile, influence, authority, credibility, respect and a brand that opens up opportunities beyond quick profit.”
Any viable strategy for building authority means putting your best ideas in front of the right people and building long term credibility.
1. Create Content for a Specific Audience
The starting point for building influence through online content is the creation phase where the needs of a particular audience are addressed through a blog post, podcast, video, or other form of online content. While it’s important to create content about the things you care about, you also need to find the place where your passions intersect with the needs of your customers and readers.
Dermot McCormack writes at Mashable that businesses and brands need to ask these core questions in setting their course for developing online authority:
- “Who is my audience?
- What do they care about and believe in?
- Is my voice authentic?
- What distinguishes my brand from my competitors?
- What do my competitors do better than I do, and how do I fix that?”
These questions help creators focus on the specific needs of a particular niche.
2. Online Content Connects with the Right People
The general rule for building influence is to start with cultivating a strong following among a focused group of users—going deeper with a few rather than broad with many. Influence doesn’t really accumulate if a million people visit your website one day and forget about it. However, 1,000 visitors who care about your ideas and products will prove far more valuable in creating links, spreading your ideas, and drawing the right people to your website.
Brian Tracy helps to put online content authority in its proper perspective while posting at CopyBlogger. “Professionals and other business people have long been writing for trade publications and newspaper columns to build authority, coupled with networking in the community and at trade shows and conferences, all in an attempt to build word-of-mouth referral business. With blogging, you’re building authority and networking all at once, and on a global scale if your business model benefits from that kind of reach. The goal is not to be on the A-List as determined by the Technorati Top 100 Blogs. Your goal is to be on the A-List for your niche, geographic region or industry.” Online content builds authority best when the right people are targeted.
3. Interact with Your Readers to Build Authority
When you begin to create online content, you need to not only reply to comments. You need to visit the sites of your readers, guest post for them, and invite them to guest post for your site. The more genuine, meaningful backlinks you create, the greater chances you’ll have to both connect with more customers and to raise your site’s profile in search rankings.
Chris Garrett explains the approach required for building online authority in the following way: “It’s not enough just to do linkbait or SEO tricks, you have to attract the right people and delight them with your content so they subscribe and come back. Here you actually need to get to know your audience and what they like. You have to treat them as individuals rather than a herd of potential ad-clickers.”
In other words, online content that builds authority isn’t just about attracting the right people. You need to develop online connections with these readers in their social networks and on their websites.
4. Create Multiple Content Formats
Every idea you have should be shared in multiple formats and at a variety of sites in order to generate the optimal amount of traffic. A blog post can become a future E-book or the ideas in that post can be reused in a podcast, video seminary, or YouTube clip.
Erica Swallow shares at Mashable, “Publish your company’s content, such as slideshows and white papers, on hubs like SlideShare and Scribd, so that interested parties can access it and ‘go deeper’ when they want to. Facebook, for example, is using Scribd to publish guides and case studies for developers, journalists and Facebook Page administrators.” Every piece of content is an opportunity to create more connections with customers.
5. Make Your Content Easy to Share on Social Media
If high quality content is the starting point for your online authority cultivation, social media engagement is a key part of helping your authority grow by leaps in bounds. In fact, Corey Eriden at HubSpot writes,“It’s crucial you stay active in social media, engage in discussions around important topics in your industry, and share the content you create on the social media networks your audience frequents.”
As you visit the places where your customers are spending their time, you’ll be able to share your ideas, to gather their feedback, and to reply on a regular basis. All of this time invested in social media will create a stronger connection with customers and set your brand apart from the pack.
Building online authority through content is all about making your brand stand out as a source of influence and insight. This authority may be as simple as a high search ranking, but other factors such as trust and knowledge certainly come into play as you build stronger relationships with your customers.