How to Build an Authoritative Brand and Website
Think about Wikipedia. Ever wondered why it’s always among the first to come up in Google when you type in any generic informational phrase? This is because Wikipedia is considered an authority site by Google rich in content. The average number of new articles that are added to the Wikipedia collection daily is about 1,500.
Similarly, when you want some information, why do you turn to Google? It’s because Google is viewed as an information search authority. Scrabble players from all over the world will turn to the Webster’s dictionary when they want to confirm if a particular word is correctly spelled or even exists. In the same way, the New York Times was at one time seen as a news authority because of their stringent information verification procedures and perceived objectivity. If something appeared on the Times, then it had to be true.
For a site to be considered an authority, it must be known for producing unique, new and up-to-date information. It must be respected by people who are knowledgeable in that topic or industry. Authority websites publish information that can be trusted and link their readers to other equally trustworthy sites. The key, if you want to become an authorititative website, you must keep putting reliable, consistent and up-to-date information on that particular subject on your site in order to help your search engine rankings.
An authoritative website is developed over time and needs to be improved constantly. You are not going to simply set it up and hope it becomes authoritative. The key is staying current with fresh content showing readers why they should prefer you and not any other site. The most important thing for an authority site is the quality of content it holds and therefore, you will want that to take position front and center.
The fact is that search engines just love authority sites. For example, with each new update, Google give will your site more prominence in terms of its search results. So, let’s look at several ideas that will help you build an authority brand and website.
Generate Valuable and Rich Content
The key to building an authority site is to constantly offer your readers fresh content. Naturally, therefore, the very first thing to take care of is creating high-quality content – lots of it! Your site will not be considered an industry expert with just 5 or even 10 good posts. And don’t overlook the fact that not all your posts will be popular among your audience, no matter how well prepared they are. When you develop the idea that your site is trustworthy, you are building up a solid base of users who will be coming back time after time to check what new ideas or products you have posted for them.
If your goal is to have your website viewed as an authority by both search engines and customers, then you simply cannot afford to cut any corners. Leaked Google’s quality guidelines are an excellent pointer to what will be focused on in the days ahead in terms of ranking websites. Although the positive effects of implementing these suggestions and guidelines may not be immediate, in time your site stands to benefit.
Even though Google is not necessarily or directly spelling out in the new Guidelines that engagement needs to be high, experts can discern a high correlation between sites that have, for instance, more ‘Plus Ones’ on Google+ and their high ranking. So you are better off by setting up your website to get more engagement. Remember, Google+ has over 395 million active monthly users.
When you have good quality content, it will elicit engagement in the form of shares and comments which are important for the growth of your website. Encourage your visitors to get more involved by commenting on your posts, writing reviews, giving testimonials, and so on. Just look at how Amazon is performing through its product reviews to get an idea of how effective this method can be.
Use Facts and Data
Nothing gives your site more authority than the use of reliable data and facts. So, when making a valid point, identify and use factual figures to back up the point. Referred to as data-driven posts, such content is highly shareable and indicate that solid research was conducted before writing. Consider using infographics as they could help in making your content go viral.
When trying to convince readers into buying into your message, nothing could be more effective than white papers and case studies. In particular, case studies are valuable as they synthesize huge amounts of information and data in an easy-to-read and relevant storytelling format which resonates with the specific demographic being targeted.
At some point, you may need to turn your eyes beyond your own brand content. Industry authority blogs or comments from industry leaders are generally good for reputation building. Creating an authority site demands building relationships and once your website becomes recognized as an authority, lots of other authority sites will want to link with you.
Use Social Media
Social signals are playing a bigger role lately in building website ranking. You can generate great blog posts to be shared through social media with the goal of stirring followers, leading to shares, retweets, comments, discussions, and clean backlinks. Ensure you include buttons for social sharing on your web pages. Building up a good following on social media demonstrates your popularity and Google will notice.
Facebook: Facebook is the single largest social media site on the Internet with an estimated 1.32 billion active daily users. It’s where you will meet millions who spend hours interacting with families, friends, businesses, brands, and authority bloggers. Establish your presence here and share content to expose your brand to as many as possible.
Google +: Google+ profiles and pages can contribute in establish your authority and reputation. In terms of size, Google+ is only second to Facebook, but it comes with several other priceless attributes. Among them is the fast indexing coming from sharing on a Google property as well as the easy Google Authorship implementation. This gives you customized snippets and visible byline in search results. However, the real strength is when your post is shared by someone as it adds a good backlink to your website.
Twitter: Twitter makes up the 3rd arm of this useful trinity of social media networks. The key factor towards building your Twitter authority is to have active relationships with other accounts that have more authority compared to yours. Active means that those authoritative accounts regularly engage with your own tweets.
However, because Google is getting smarter by the day in terms of discovering sites trying to outsmart its algorithm, you simply cannot buy a random 10,000 Twitter followers thinking your site will get an authority boost. You need quality content even on this social media platform!
Create Videos & Webinars
Videos improve time spent on a website, attract links and they augment the rich media already available on your site. Start the process by researching the videos that are already in existence in your area of operation. You need to avoid creating a repeat video, yet you want to compete as an authority. Know what people on Google are searching for. The questions to ask may include: are they finding what they want? Does the demand justify creating a video? If already there is a how-to video, can you possibly find new ways of extending that particular topic?
If the answers are positive, then you have the way forward. When you identify something people desire to know more about and currently there is no video, go for it. Once you have created a video on your site and on YouTube, share the same across your social media platforms. With nearly 1.5 billion global users, YouTube has the potential of greatly boosting your brand and site rankings. Videos help you because the more links your site has and the more views, the stronger are the signal being sent to search engines indicating that your website is an authority.
An excellent way of establishing your niche authority is to use webinars. When it comes to using webinars, consistency is vital if you want to become an authority. Ensure that they are scheduled at regular times which could be every week, monthly or every two months. What’s most important is that your webinars happen regularly and that your readers know the schedule. Ultimately, remember that’s it the reviews your visitors make that will contribute to your site being viewed as an authority, so your content must offer value.
Guest blogging is an incredible strategy that doesn’t require any upfront investment besides your time. When you’re identifying blogs worth contributing to, make sure they have a sizable audience and have at least some overlap with your niche. Obviously, the blogs you end up choosing will depend on your niche and goals. If you are into marketing, for example, you may want to use blogging considering that 65% of marketers in 2017 indicated their intention to boost their blogging.
Don’t just guest blog for the sake of getting links, instead, only do it when you have something new and original, a new insight you want to share on something you understand well already, your brand. In other words, your site has to be authentic. Whenever possible, share results from your own work, case studies, and proven tactics that worked well for you personally. This is one sure way of bringing good results in not just reader satisfaction but in website rankings.
Get Useful Backlinks
One of the most proven building blocks in establishing trust is backlinks, especially from the search engine’s perspective. To build real authority, it is necessary that your website gains inbound links coming from other equally trusted sites. These are websites with high page ranking and domain authority if they are to give your website a worthy boost. When you have such links, it shows that you are indeed an affirmed niche leader.
Google has a unique process which they use of looking around at the other websites associated with yours.
What they look for is a natural link profile that has an assortment of links coming from several different sources. Google uses different sources when they want to find out more about your reputation. You, therefore, need to ensure that your content, as well as backlinks, are not only of the highest quality but that they are placed in different places.
If site users are convinced you are an authority, naturally they will want to link to your website and share what you have posted. The more votes your site receives from users, the more you are viewed as an authority by search engines; someone useful and trustworthy, which contributes to higher rankings. However, it’s not simply the volume of links that count when it comes to rankings in search engines. The page and domain authority of your backlinks themselves do have a considerable impact on the brand ranking.
While the exact tactics of link building will vary, most fall into either built links or earned links “buckets”. Built links are obtained through a hands-on, manual process such as blog commenting, guest posting, sponsorships, or posting in communities. Earned links come from “spreading the word” such as alerting your existing audiences (email list, email subscribers, social following,) about your new content as that is likely to get you more links.
If you are serving a specific region or market, ranking locally can be hugely beneficial. To give you a perspective of how important local backlinks can be to your site, research shows that 75% of those performing local searches end up visiting a store that is within 5 miles of where they are stationed. Therefore, your efforts at link building should also be aimed at getting authoritative local websites backlinks. Business directories are, for example, a very vital factor for local ranking as they provide local information and valuable backlinks.
When implemented well, content curation can form an important part of your SEO strategy. The reason why 85% of people use curated content is that it establishes thought leadership. With the volume of information that’s being published daily, you will definitely find powerful resources with the potential of helping in creating plenty of powerful content for your own site. The good thing about curating fresh content is that in the process, you are also learning lots more about your industry or niche.
Content curation entails locating great information published on other sites related to your industry, citing it, posting insightful comments complementing the source, and always remembering to link back to that particular source. For that, your website needs to have a good content curator. However, remember that Google only considers you as an authority if you have included lots of articles describing in detail a specific industry topic, not generic stuff.
Protecting Your Brand and Site
You need to be on top of the game in terms of monitoring your brand reputation. You may want to set up Google Alerts and closely monitor what is being said online about you. Whenever someone says an unfavorable thing, you need to be ready with an objective response. It is possible for another party to attempt hurting your brand through sending spam links, which could find you penalized by Google. This could happen, for instance, if a competitor wants to knock you out in the competition for an all-important keyword.
If your website receives such a toxic link, the first step should be to contact the other party, politely requesting them to pull down the link. It’s also a good thing that a site can use the Search Console to request Google to assist in disavowing harming spammy links. Although many will never need to actually resort to using this feature, that doesn’t diminish its importance. For example, in 2016, links disavow tools were used 43% less compared to 2013-2014 when they were launched.
Tools to Reinforce Existing Authority
Don’t be mistaken to assume that your website is performing greatly simply because you have assembled lots of backlinks. It might surprise you to discover that you are in trouble for actually giving visitors lots of spammy backlinks known for their terrible user experiences. You, therefore, need to measure, monitor and do the right things. Google is continuously making changes to its algorithm mechanisms and you need to be on top of it at all times. Fortunately, there are lots of useful tools to assist you.
Here are several:
Moz Tools: Moz offers easy access to useful SEO tools and data analysis. For example, the MozBar allows a site to quickly diagnose any problems that are SEO-related as well as in discovering new opportunities without interrupting your workflow or having to open a new page.
SEMrush: A useful tool for daily tasks monitoring as well as for offering a clear in-depth analysis that you can easily incorporate into your strategy and boost your performance.
Open Site Explorer: All over the world, marketers use Open Site Explorer for researching backlinks and finding opportunities for link-building as well as in locating potentially damaging links. The Link Explorer is however expected to replace OSE. The Explorer’s index is over 20 times larger compared to the Open Site Explorer and will cover trillions of links.
Avoid Black Hat Tactics
Just a couple of years ago, you could possibly trick Google that you were indeed an authority site by employing black hat SEO techniques. Today, even though there is a lot of automated software designed for this purpose, (and some can be effective to an extent), every day, more sites are being penalized by Google for using these methods as Google algorithms are getting more smarter.
Using black hat tactics to speed up the ranking process may see positive results for a while. Google will, however, eventually catch up with you, and this has the possibility of hurting your website forever. A better option towards building a valid authority site that is beneficial well into the long term is to continually modify your SEO tactics and make improvements on your site as the algorithm changes. For that, avoid the following black hat tactics.
Duplicate Content: Using duplicated content can be very tempting, particularly if your brand and site deal with items manufactured by others. However, such content may contribute to an erosion of the trust factor and hurt your search engine ranking. This happens when too many versions of the same content are available online and search engines are forced to choose the content version which is more relevant.
Keyword stuffing: A tactic to avoid at all costs is stuffing title tags, meta descriptions and content with too any anchor texts or keywords. As a broad guideline is stick to around 70 characters for your title tag and limit the meta description to about 155 characters. It’s also important to avoid using irrelevant keywords.
Reciprocal links: Finding complimentary and reciprocal articles on high authority, relevant sites in your niche and links exchanging (reciprocating) are easy to sell. Good as they may sound, always remember that Google will not want your site to only be about reciprocal links. Google particularly frowns upon exchanges of ‘unnatural’ links.
Low-Quality Links: In the same way you should not write or post content that is not suitable or applicable to your brand, don’t engage in building links that don’t apply to your line of business or activity.
Designing an authority website should not be viewed as being any different from any other website except that in this case, content has to be the main thing. Google is currently using semantic content analysis to understand what the content you have is about. Google is not just looking for the exact keywords matches but is also interested in what your content is about. So, regularly review your well-performing, older content and ensure that your site is using keywords that are related and their synonyms besides your main keywords. The trick lies in updating your old content.
Don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel when trying to create an authority website. It can be quite tempting to think of creating a totally new web design that is different. It’s advisable to stick with your current one and work on it. Stick to accepted conventions for your readers yet keep them wanting more by putting out great content that will have them coming back for more.