What do We Mean by “Authority”?
An “authority site” is a high-quality site that is well-respected by others in the industry. Sites like these are known for having exceptional content that is useful to users. Good authority affects how a site is ranked by Google and other major search engines.
If you’re looking to improve the authority of your own website or blog, here are some effective ways to do so using links, content and social media.
Using Links to Build Authority
Link building plays a critical role in SEO (search engine optimisation). Search engines use the number of reputable inbound links to a website as an indication of its popularity. The more links coming to a website from other trusted, good quality websites (also referred to as authority websites), the better. This is a major factor in determining how Google ranks your site.
Lilo’s Top 10 Link Building Tactics:
In a recent blog post, we covered 10 sustainable, white hat link building tactics that can help to improve your site’s visibility and reputation. For a deeper dive into these tactics, be sure to read our post: 10 Link Building Tactics for 2019 and Beyond. Below is a summary of our favourite link building practices.
#1. Quality Content Creation
Writing Well: Create shareable content across your site. Make sure that it is well-written and relevant. Make regular blog posts that focus on relevant, up-to-date topics that your readers will be interested in. This is a good way to start generating links organically, and encouraging more readers to circulate your website’s content online.
Visual Appeal: Visual content is especially valuable if your aim is to encourage sharing among your users. Good infographics are easy for readers to “digest” and understand. They’re a useful way to fit a lot of information into one attractive and engaging image.
Repurposing: You can also repurpose content, using one piece to create multiple shareable items across different types of media. You can rework a popular blog post into videos podcasts, infographics, downloadable e-books and more. One piece of good writing can give you a lot of mileage, which reduces the amount of time and money you need to invest in content creation.
Reclaimed Image Links: Sometimes bloggers will use an infographic, photograph or image from your website without crediting you as a source. You can identify uncredited images on the web and contact the webmasters to request that they add a link crediting you.
#2: Resource Page Link Building
Resource pages are used to provide searchers with a list of helpful links and resources for a particular topic. Resource link building means your site listed on pages like these. Be sure to focus on resource pages with good page authority and domain authority.
This is good for generating more links to your site, and also for improving your reputation as a trustworthy source within a certain niche.
#3: Create Free Tools
Creating free tools for searchers in your niche (such as visualisations, calculators, converters and trackers) can help to engage with your visitors, improve traffic to your site, and generate more links. You can also get your tools featured on resource pages.
#4: Broken Link Building
Broken links are those directed to content that is missing or no longer available. Clicking on these links displays an error message. Broken links are not something you want on your site – or something you want linking to your site. They disrupt the user experience and have a negative impact on your website’s reputation.
On Your Site: Identify broken links on your own site, and repair or remove them, to make sure that users get a seamless experience.
On Other Sites: Browse sites in your industry, and keep an eye out for broken links – then reach out to the webmaster and let them know that the link is broken. Make sure you have a related piece of content from your own website or blog available, and suggest to the webmaster that they use this as a replacement link.
#5: Guest Blogging
Getting a guest blog post featured on a reputable blog in your industry will help to boost targeted traffic and obtain natural backlinks to your site.
Look for guest posting opportunities on sites that have good domain authority, a strong social following, and good reach. Look at their site traffic and their monthly pageviews. Check whether they send out a regular email newsletter. Most importantly, check that they are willing to accept guest blog posts and provide credit (ideally with a link).
#6: Community Building
Create an online community like a forum, where your users can ask and answer questions, discuss hot topics, and share their favourite resources. This is a good way to build steady referral traffic and user loyalty.
#7: Unlinked Mentions
Just as some bloggers or site owners might share one of your images without crediting you, sometimes others will mention you or your business without including an actual link to your site. There are tools you can use to search online for unlinked mentions like these, and you can get in touch with each site owner to thank them for the mention, and ask that they add a link.
#8: Crowdsourced Content
Crowdsourced blog posts (or “expert roundups”) are pieces of content created in collaboration between a number of people who have experience and knowledge of a particular subject.
Creating or contributing to crowdsourced content will help you to reach a wider audience and position yourself as a thought leader in your niche. This expert content is highly shareable and will go a long way towards boosting your reputation as well as building quality links.
#9: Internal Link Building
Internal links are placed on your own website, to link one page of your site to another. These links help search engines to understand and rank the content on your site more effectively. They can also be used to direct traffic to high-conversion pages you want to prioritise, and improve the user experience as visitors browse through your site.
Internal link building is easy to implement, and gives you full control over where and how the links are placed.
#10: Offsite Tactics
Competitions and Giveaways: Competitions that encourage sharing and linking can give your traffic a short-term boost. This is specifically useful for businesses offering products and certain services. You can run the competition on your own social media channel or blog, or reach out to other bloggers in your niche, asking them to feature your competition.
Community Outreach: Arrange for your business to make a donation or spend time volunteering at a local non-profit organisation you care about. Non-profits typically give credit to their supporters and will link to you in content like email newsletters, blog posts and social media updates. This is a good opportunity to improve brand exposure in your local community, while also lending a hand to those in need.
Using Content to Build Authority
We’ve touched on content above and explored how it ties into link building. There are a few best practices for content creation overall, which will help to establish (and grow) your reputation as an authoritative website.
Onsite content and offsite content can both be used to build authority.
- “Onsite content” is a term that describes all the content published directly on your website. This includes web pages and blog posts.
- “Offsite content” appears in other locations online. It includes guest blog posts and external publications which reference or raise awareness of your site.
Benefits of Onsite Content:
Onsite content is the foundation of any website. It informs and directs your users through the site, and gives search engines something to crawl and index.
Onsite content is critical material for any successful SEO strategy. It can be used to optimise your website for specific keywords and phrases.
Onsite content is also your primary means of communication with your customers (and potential customers). Quality content is used to attract your target audience to your website or blog, and keep them coming back for new content.
Benefits of Offsite Content:
Link building is a very important factor that Google takes into consideration when determining the authority and ranking of your website. Quality content on other sites that contain links leading back to your own site will improve your authority.
Traffic that comes to your website via offsite content (known as referral traffic) can outweigh the traffic you get from onsite content. This can compensate for dips in onsite content, so it’s important to look for regular guest blogging opportunities, and focus on crafting content that is popular enough to be shared across multiple platforms for weeks or months at a time.
Offsite content plays a key role in establishing and growing your reputation. The more people out there sharing your content, the wider the audience hearing about your brand for the first time will be.
Best Practices for Quality Content:
#1: Know Your Audience
Ask yourself the following questions to make sure you have a purpose behind your content:
- Who is your target audience?
- What kind of information does this audience need?
- Why does your audience need this information?
- What keywords are they using to find this information?
This will help you to determine what content you should be creating, and what keywords you should be including.
Identify your audience and then visit the places where they “hang out” online. Talk to them on forums and blogs. Ask them to participate in surveys. This will give you insights into their demographics and preferences.
Use trusted keyword tools to identify relevant, popular keywords that you can use to address your audience’s needs. Use these keywords to help you brainstorm what topics you should be writing about for your audience.
#2: Readability Equals Credibility
It’s easy to get carried away when optimising your copy to appeal to search engines. But don’t forget the most critical element that appeals to human users and search engines alike: good readability.
Readable content will encourage your visitors to spend more time on your website. This decreases your bounce rate, and this indicates to Google that they are having a positive user experience and finding relevant information that answers their search queries.
Good spelling and grammar aren’t enough. Clarity, organisation and simplicity all play a role in readability. Your content needs to communicate all kinds of information in a way that users can easily understand (and act on).
#3: Create Long-Form, In-Depth Content
With so much content available online covering every topic you can think of, it can be hard to make yourself heard above all the other voices in your niche vying for users’ attention. Analysts say the key to differentiating yourself is to go deeper and farther into the topics you’re writing about.
Deeper content means:
- Exploring topics with many different facets.
- Looking for new angles to old topics.
- Writing long-form blog posts – at least 2000 words, or up to 4000 depending on how in-depth you want to go.
- Going further with your topic research. Google Scholar, JSTOR, and academic papers are all more in-depth options than a simple Google search.
#4: Write for Featured Snippets
Snippets are the small pieces of content users will see when your website appears in their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Featured snippets are blocks of content that are featured at the top of Google’s search results. Naturally, this “top spot” is a highly desirable place for your site’s snippet content to appear.
Write content that will improve your chances of getting “snipped” and chosen by Google for a featured snippet. There are different types of featured snippets, so your content creation tactics will depend on what kind of snippet you’re aiming for.
Paragraph featured snippets: Google extracts a short paragraph of text from a page, in an attempt to answer a searcher’s question immediately.
Create content that provides definitive answers to questions, to improve your chances of being used in a paragraph featured snippet.
Answer questions like “What is X”, Why is Y”, How is XYZ done or made” and “X vs Y”. Answer the question in the first paragraph of your content, and keep it succinct – around 40 to 50 words.
List featured snippets: These kinds of snippets come up for queries for recipes, “How to” guides and DIY instructions.
Step-by-step lists of content can help you get snipped by Google. Be sure to use “Step 1”, “Step 2”, etc in your headings.
Table featured snippets: These snippets show up as a summary collection of the results from specific data sets.
This is a good opportunity for sites that rely on data publication. Format your content as a simple HTML table and make sure it is well structured, with a descriptive heading.
YouTube featured snippets: Video content has become extremely popular, so winning a YouTube featured snippet is a great way to attract more traffic.
Here are some tips for “snippet-worthy” video content:
- Organise the content in a user-friendly step-by-step format.
- Optimise your description box with relevant keywords.
- Include closed captions (you can use a transcription tool or upload your own script).
Multifaceted featured snippets: Sometimes, Google will offer users multiple solutions to answer their queries, with multifaceted snippets. This is useful for cases where these queries could have multiple meanings.
There is no definitive way to get picked up for a multifaceted featured snippet. Focus on quality content that covers a diverse variety of relevant topics across your website.
#5: Do Good Research – and Cite Your Sources
Strong research will improve your content. Include factual, fresh information and statistics that will benefit your audience. Make sure these stats come from reputable sources, and remember to credit them with a link. Better yet, you can compose your own case study or survey.
Better research helps to establish you as an authority, and creates opportunities for many other websites to link to you as a reference as well.
Including authoritative references (like white papers, case studies or well-established websites) is also a good practice with the advent of Google RankBrain. The RankBrain algorithm will easily be able to determine that these references are trustworthy and that users will find them relevant. This indicates to Google that you have done good research, and improves your credibility on the topic you’re covering.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, in-depth research is also a key component of long-form content.
Using Social Channels to Build Authority
Working out the best ways to harness the power of social media takes time and experimentation. But once you get it right, the rewards are well worth the effort. Here are some pointers on smart ways to build authority via social media.
#1: Determine Your Goals
Have a clear goal (or set of goals) in mind. These goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound). For example: “I want to increase my Facebook following by 10% by the end of the month”.
Having a purpose behind your posts will help to guide your social media strategy.
#2: Know Who You’re Talking To
Just as you need to know your audience when creating website content and writing blog posts, you need to be able to identify your audience for social media content.
Your audience on social channels may differ slightly from those coming to your site via Google search. They could include a bigger percentage of potential customers versus return customers, or they might include industry influencers.
Find out about your audience’s behaviour on social media, to guide your content:
- Which social media channels are they most active on?
- When are most of them online?
- Which other brands do they follow?
- What type of content do they most enjoy?
Your social media content needs to speak to your audience and show them that you understand what they need. Creating an audience persona can help you to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates the users you want to reach.
#3: Relationships > Followers
Having a smaller following of loyal customers who engage with your brand on a regular basis is much more valuable than having a huge following of users who simply scroll past your posts.
Social media makes it easy to interact with your audience, and industry players. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste – interact with people who respond to your content. Answer their questions and reply to comments within a relatively short time frame, so you’re having discussions with them rather than simply talking “at” them via your posts. These interactions will make your audience feel valued and heard.
Some quick tips for interacting on social media:
- Always @mention the people you’re referencing in your posts.
- Reply when people @mention you or share your posts.
- Answer questions, address complaints and thank people for their feedback.
- Look for ways to add value, and focus on “helping over selling”.
- Instead of simply Retweeting or Liking someone’s content, leave a comment or ask a question that will start a conversation.
#4: Helping > Selling
Of course, your ultimate goal is to encourage more followers to become customers. But don’t leave your audience feeling like your interactions with them are simply “a means to an end”.
You can promote products, services, competitions and special offers, but make sure that’s not all you’re doing. Look for ways to add value and give your audience content that interests or informs them as well.
#5: Let Your Brand’s “Personality” Shine
The most critical and timeless advice we could give any content creator is: write like a human! Often, brands make the mistake of coming across as a faceless corporation or a PR marketing machine. This isn’t an effective way to build your social media community or your reputation.
Users today value honesty, transparency and engagement. Talk to them as friends, not simply as potential conversions.
#6: Be Consistent
The most successful brands on social media are those that post on a consistent, regular basis. Long periods of inactivity and a feed full of outdated content look bad for your brand.
This means you need to plan ahead and decide what your social media schedule is going to look like. Tools like social media calendars can help to make the process smoother and less time-consuming.
#7: Plan Ahead with a Calendar
If you’re juggling multiple social media channels and have a daily schedule to keep up with, planning out your social calendar ahead of time will make your life easier.
Platforms like Hootsuite allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time, which is especially useful for busy periods when you can’t post in real-time every day. You can schedule your posts across multiple channels, without having to jump between sites to post. You can plan out your content weeks or even months in advance, theming your topic around popular holidays, industry events and more.
#8: Stay Flexible
Sticking to a schedule is great for building your reputation, but be wary of getting too rigid. Leave space for flexibility and ad hoc content. For example, a big breaking news story in your industry will open up sudden, unexpected opportunities for social engagement.
You can definitely rely on a social calendar for your overall strategy, but don’t underestimate the value of real-time posting. Take advantage of the automation tools available to you, but don’t run your social media presence on “autopilot” or you will lose the all-important human touch.
#9: Consider Paid Options
There are many tactics you can use to grow your social media presence organically at no cost – but paid marketing options can be valuable as well. Make a small investment in some paid ads across various channels like Instagram and Facebook, and experiment to see which of them perform well.
#10: Monitor Your Results
Use a reputable analytics tool to see how your posts are performing. This will help you to identify trends in what your audience is responding to, and what they are most interested in. This, in turn, will help you to plan your future content, by focusing on what works and discarding what doesn’t.
Content Marketing, Link Building and Social Marketing with Lilo
At Lilo, we’ve incorporated professional content creation, link building and social media marketing into our solutions for clients. Every strategy is tailored to the unique requirements of the brand we’re working with.
Social media marketing with Lilo:
- Creates market quality shareable content;
- Harnesses the most appropriate social channels for your brand;
- Audits existing channels and optimises them to offer more value;
- Helps you to build a social community of loyal and engaged followers;
- Guides targeted traffic from interested users to your website.
Content marketing with Lilo:
- Improves volumes of targeted traffic to your website;
- Boosts brand recognition;
- Positions you as a leader in your niche;
- Provides added value for visitors to your site;
- Help you to build lasting relationships with your audience.
Link building with Lilo:
- Backlinks signal to search engines that your website is popular;
- Good quality links add credibility to your site or blog;
- Link building guides more targeted traffic to your site.
Our skilled team will use a strategic combination of techniques to give you a lasting return on investment and improve the authority of your website or blog in the long run.