The concept of an authority site or blog is often misunderstood in Internet Marketing and it is common for Internet marketers to confuse a large site with multiple pages of content for a real authority site.
It is easy enough for anyone to put up a site with 100 pages of content and think they have just created an authority site, which in fact couldn’t be further from the truth. Content alone is not an automatic pre-qualification for authority. In this post I will explain some key decisive factors search engines look for when determining authority of any site.
Technorati, rates various websites and blogs around the world based on popularity and also offers a list of some of the most popular blogs on the internet based on content and traffic. It is good starting point for exploring some examples of blogs and websites that are currently hot on the internet and can be used to describe as real authority .
When you look at the top 5 blogs in the list, you can instantly establish a common trend. Each one of these blogs offer comprehensive and specialized content related to a specific niche or a topic.
Now, take a moment to answer the following questions:
Q. What do you think of when you think online encyclopedia?
Q. What do you think of for political news?
A. Huffington Post
Q. What do you think of when you think Technology News?
A. Tech Crunch
Q. What do you think of when you think of Social Media News?
Some of these answers should give you an idea of what it means to have real authority as a website. A trusted “goto” destination for internet users looking for expert information on a given topic or a niche.
I have to add that there may also be other websites in similar niches that can qualify for our definition of authority but the sites mentioned above are what we describe as the the leaders.
For eg Social Media Examiner alongside Mashable is another blog which can be considered to be an authority on social media news, trends and best practices although relatively lesser know as compared to Mashable.
Now that we have looked at some real world examples, let’s summarize some of the key points that fit into our description of authority:
– Expert Content
– Social Proof
– Natural Inbound Links
I must also add here that when we talk about inbound links we are only referring to genuine links other authority sites are using to link to your site purely because your content is considered to be expert in nature, relevant and is likely to provide value to their own readers.
This is exactly the kind of linking search engines like Google love to see and use to award authority to a blog or a website.
Let’s now look at these key factors in detail on how to create a successful authority site that will last this year, in 2013 and beyond.
1. Expert content
It all starts with your content. Not quantity but quality. Are you offering content that is genuinely solving a problem for your visitor? Is your content relevant and easy to find when visitors land on your website? Are you writing for the users or the search engines?
Most internet users are now smart enough to differentiate between content that is considered expert and content that is considered to be fluff. So, if you think you can build trust and authority by simply adding multiple pages of recycled content. Think again.
Remember, the real meaning of authority is to offer every bit of information there is to learn on your chosen niche or topic. This may mean 100 pages of content, 20 pages of content or 10 pages of content.
For larger sites content organization is also important. This can be achieved through categories, tags and navigation. Search engines are now smart enough to even examine your site layout to detect signs of authority by means of content organization.
2. Social proof
Social proof adds validity to the information you are offering. There are many ways to add social proof. This can come from likes and followers from the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Links to other sites where your content or articles have featured and also testimonials from your readers or subscribers if the information you are offering has helped people achieve results.
Serial entrepreneur Neil Patel’s blog Quicksprout is an excellent example of successful use of social proof and testimonials to validate information he is offering. This includes information about his twitter followers, Facebook likes, several client testimonials and readers he has helped with his products and services. Would you be inclined to trust information shared by this guy? I would think the answer would be an overwhelming yes.
Visitors alos perceive social proof as a sign of trust and are more likely to signup to your newsletter or email offer. Social Media Examiner uses this strategy to encourage visitors to sign up to their list and receive free article through email.
3. Natural Inbound links
This is what most marketers will think of as “SEO” or creating hundreds of artificial links through any means possible. However, does this add real authority? The answer in most cases would be a No. Yes, these type of links may be beneficial in temporarily boosting your search engine rankings but not necessarily authority.
So, how do we get natural inbound links to build authority? Here are some great starting points:
– through guest posting on other authority blogs and sites
– by actively sharing your content through social media platforms
– linking to other authority blogs and requesting them to link to you if their content warrants it
– adding engaging comments on other blogs to draw referral traffic
Has your content or advice genuinely helped with solving a compelling problem for your visitors? or made them more money? or simply helped them live better lives? Then, its time to show it off using testimonials. Remember, people often look for proof to validate the information you are offering. Adding testimonials also help boost your conversions if you are offering a digital product or a service.
Engagement mostly comes as a result of visitor interaction through blog comments, Facebook comments or retweets. This applies to niche sites, blogs or authority sites. If visitors are genuinely interested in the information you are offering then they are more likely to comment on, tweet or share that information.
Building user engagement in most cases takes time but is often seen as a sign of real authority. Popular blogs like problogger, copyblogger, social media examiner and quicksprout are excellent examples of this engagement with tweets in the order of thousands and often 100’s of likes or comments on posts.
What makes your content engaging? The answer is simple: Trust. Most people like to learn from experts who have done it all before them so it is important that you offer evidence of your expertise within your niche.
Lastly, the 5 practical tips offered here can be applied to any blog or a website in any type of niche. If you are looking to build an authority niche site for AdSense then you can focus on content, content organization, inbound links and engagement.
For content based blogs all five of the tips can be applied in various forms. For eg expert content, social proof and engagement is important if you have a “how to” type of blog which may be offering tips on starting an online business, social media strategies or SEO.
Now it’s your turn. What is your definition of an authority site? Do you own or have built an authority blog? Which one of these practical tips have you implemented or think you can implement. Please share your feedback below.