Being an online authority essentially means you're not only a thought leader on a specific topic, but that you've also taken the time to translate that knowledge in a meaningful way online. And if you're a business owner, you've gone about it in such a way that search engines see it, your prospects and customers recognize it, and as a result, it helps you generate customers and revenue.
It makes sense: People do business with the people they trust. And putting yourself out there, giving your brand a personality, and taking the time to present research, updates, and opinions that help your prospects and customers is how trust is earned. People used to do it in person; they still do, but now their reach can be extended by thousands and even millions by doing it online, too.
As it turns out, one of the easiest methods of doing all this is through content creation. It's how people and search engines find you and determine your relevance; over time, the cream rises to the top. If you're trying to build your online authority -- like most smart marketers are -- these are the ways you can use content to get the job done.
1.) Write and Optimize for Informational Keywords
A great way to gain authority status is teaching someone how to do something. And when your advice works, you'll find you start getting repeat visitors, too. If you're optimizing for long-tail, informational keyword phrases like, "How to train a unicorn," you can also gain prominent placement in search engines to help solidify your authoritative status.
2.) Create Niche Content
Unless you have a huge content creation staff with a wide array of subject matter expertise, focus your content creation efforts on a few topics about which you're very knowledgeable. It's better to do a deep dive into a small handful of topics than speak generically about everything under the sun. Your audience may be smaller, but they'll reap far more benefits (and thus, so will you) from your content if you take this route. Once you have built a good foundation with your content, you can extend the subjects you cover as your audience grows.
3.) Write About Timely Industry Updates
An authority stays up to date on what's happening in their industry and is someone to whom people can turn to learn the newest information. Think of yourself as a journalist; listen to primary sources, research the important changes taking place in your industry, and tell your audience what news and changes mean for them. By filtering out the junk and reporting on the news that matters for your audience, you become the trusted source to which your audience flocks when they need to learn about critical information. And don't forget, search engines favor the online content creators who report on timely information first.
4.) Use Palatable Language
The smartest content creators don't care about sounding smart. It's all about clarity. Sometimes people think authority is gained by using confusing language, but often, it just comes off as business babble or, even worse, just makes no sense. Remember that authorities are resources, and your usefulness will be short-lived if readers don't understand you.
5.) Publish Case Studies
Let your customers do some of the work for you. Publish case studies that explain how your company helped solve a specific problem. Use data, stories, and show concrete results that speak to the problems your audience faces.
6.) Host Webinars
Put a real, live voice behind your content by hosting a webinar. Not everyone consumes content in the same way, so for those who prefer audio learning, it's a great way to present your expertise (and get leads!). If you're not comfortable with live presentations, consider hosting a Twitter Chat instead. They let you have real-time conversations with your audience in a new format, but behind the safety of your computer screen.
7.) Write Long-Form Content
Give your audience the opportunity to read more advanced content like whitepapers, ebooks, how-to guides, and use cases. These all lend themselves to more in-depth analyses than something like a blog post or a social media update. And more in-depth analysis gives you a greater opportunity to establish your thought leadership position. Plus, this type of downloadable content not only helps you generate more leads, but it is also a content format that is easily shareable on social networks, helping you extend your reach.
8.) Contribute as a Guest Blogger
Being a guest contributor to other blogs presents many opportunities for solidifying your status as an online authority. You expand your reach. You align yourself with other influential industry thought leaders. You expose yourself to a new audience that may not know about you. And you have the ability to generate inbound links to your site, giving your site more online authority, too. Plus, as a content creator, you know how great it is to have a little relief once in a while from other thoughtful writers out there!
9.) Generate Inbound Links
Speaking of inbound links, they're a crucial part to establishing the online authority of your site. Like, a huge part. The more inbound links you have to your website from other authoritative sites, the more search engines consider you an authority, too. It makes sense: if other great content creators think you're writing content that's so awesome they just have to link to it, search engines are going to consider your content some of the best to deliver to the SERPs.
10.) Stay Active in Social Media
People are alerted to your content in many ways; some visit your website, some subscribe to email updates and RSS feeds, some are in your lead nurturing campaigns, and some find you in social media. 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.
11.) Be a Credible Resource
You may be a marketer by trade, but never stop thinking of yourself as a journalist. When you're researching content, filter out the junk your audience doesn't need to know or doesn't care about. And don't make back alley deals with other brands to promote products and services that aren't helpful. Just remain focused on providing the best information you can for your audience, and keeping your business on the up and up.