You may hear a lot of talk about a website’s “authority,” but that authority isn’t always clearly defined. It actually means something very specific for SEO: It’s about trust – trust in your brand, your website, and above all, your expert content.
Google has radically transformed how it looks at authority in recent years: While the algorithm remains secretive, we know that Google looks at many different signals to help decide authority on a per-page basis. High-authority pages are much more likely to come up on searches, and make much better fuel for initiating online discussions and improving your search engine optimization.
You can make an approximation of your authority by using tools like Moz Link Explorer that can assign domain or page authority ratings themselves, but these will only be a shadow of what Google sees. The best way to become known as an expert in your field is to focus on the right content over the long term.
The journey toward becoming an authoritative website has many benefits. Sure, you may never become as popular as the leading online magazine for your industry, but you can make it a lot more likely for that magazine to link to one of your posts!
1. Use Long-Form Articles With a Variety of Content
This single point will carry you a great way toward becoming an authority in your industry! Authoritative websites are defined by their high-quality content that thoroughly explores important topics – content that others in your industry will happily read and share (a particular bonus in the B2B world).
This content is characterized by many indicators that we’ll get into below, but let’s start with two important aspects. First, it should be long-form when possible. That means at least 700 to 800 words, and probably longer: Think about whitepapers, in-depth case studies, analysis pieces, and similar content. This is the stuff that authority is made of. However, you can’t just pad out normal or generic posts to reach the right word length, so make sure your long-form articles are worth.
Second, try to include a variety of content types. Use images, video, and infographics to communicate information. This will make your data more easily digestible, easier to share, and easier to package for emails and other platforms.
2. Understand How Your Industry Talks About Things
Show your experience wherever possible. One of the ways you can do this is to simply use the right lingo. Know the terms, acronyms, and organizations that are important to your industry, and include them in your content. This will help readers identify you as, “Someone that knows what they are talking about,” and Google’s advanced AI will recognize the same. If necessary, study your industry terms for a refresher course to make sure you are comfortable with technical language.
3. Focus on Information, Especially Unique Data
Authoritative content has high value for readers, which means including Grade-A information in all your posts. Avoid all fluff and padding. Instead, focus on original data that displays your brand’s competence. Talk about a recent news story, and give your take on what you think it means for businesses like yours. Hold a survey for local customers and report the results. Put a new spin on industry-wide data that was just released. Make a bold prediction about the future and back it up with statistics. All these tactics will ensure your content shows off your expertise.
4. Build Links from High-Authority Sources
Like recognizes like – and the more high-authority sources that link to your content, the more Google will recognize you as an authority as well. Try to avoid linking to meaningless or low-effort websites, and instead focus on better practices:
- Link out to great sources: This will help your SEO, and will also increase the likelihood that authoritative sites will take a look at your site, and perhaps link back to it in turn if they are impressed.
- Build your audience: A strong, professional audience will share and talk about great content. If your work proves itself to your audience, it will get authoritative links in return. Build up your audience to increase the odds.
- Get some guest posts: Try to find guest bloggers who have high authority rankings themselves, and form a partnership that leads to guest posts. This is more difficult than some options, but it’s a great way to get quick recognition.
- Pitch your pieces: Don’t just stay on your website! Pitch the pieces you are proud of to online magazines, LinkedIn publications, and other important sites. Include strong internal links in these pieces to help your brand.
5. Share Your Content Across Social Media
Social media is a great way to get more eyeballs on your content. Focus on professional forums, Groups, and LinkedIn posts where leaders across your industry have a better chance of seeing your content. Posting content on social media also makes it a lot easier to share, getting the word out faster for impressive pieces.
6. Improve Session Length
Google knows that people stick around for good content, so focus on your session length and try to improve this metric. Use strong internal links that will keep people exploring content on your site, and structure your content so that it doesn’t peter out or get too bogged down – images and graphics are useful for this!
7. Update Frequently (With Quality Information)
Authoritative websites also tend to update frequently as more news and analysis comes out. You don’t need to make a post a day, but make sure your site/blog is active. Again, this isn’t an excuse to use fluff: Keep the quality high, and give people a reason to follow what you’re doing, so they can catch the latest content.
8. Encourage Intelligent Discussion
Whether on a blog or on social media, encourage thoughtful comments and questions! This is an important indicator that will also attract more attention to your high-quality work. The more interesting and informative a piece is, the more peers in your industry should be willing to talk about it. Capitalize on this, and make sure your pieces are easy to share.
9. Answer Lots of Questions
If you are struggling to come up with the expert content we’ve been discussing, don’t worry – you’re not alone. One of the best ways to start is focusing (in both tone and substance) on answering questions. What common questions from others in your industry, up and down your supply chain, and directly from your clients do you here a lot? What sort of informative answers or predictions can you provide? Google also loves this answer-formatted content and will be more likely to note you as an expert.
10. Optimize for Mobile
It’s hard to look at digital marketing advice without tripping over a warning to optimize for mobile. Unfortunately, there are still a bewildering number of businesses that fail even the basic recommendations for mobile performance. Remember, professionals are busy, on the go, and multitasking all the time. When they reach out to research products or look for high-quality information, they are frequently doing it on a mobile device. That means that your authoritative website needs to be ready for them!
Optimizing for mobile includes a ton of benefits that are likely to affect both your direct page ranking (Google is mobile first now) and your authority as a site. There are many guides available to help you navigate this type of optimization, and Blue Atlas is happy to help you put together a plan. However, we are going to call out two particularly important things: Performance and design.
Improving performance will help your site load faster, a key factor for maintaining interest on mobile – remember, you only have seconds at the most to impress someone with your mobile content. Loading speeds are also likely one of the indicators Google uses when assigning authority, so this helps on two fronts. Mobile design efforts ensure that your content (including images) will be easily readable on mobile devices, which is absolutely required if you want anyone paying attention.