Businesses everywhere have been loading their sites with more and more content in the hope that they will get better search engine rankings. While this SEO tactic was once something that possibly worked for getting visibility on Google in the past, establishing yourself as an authority in your industry is now the key for anyone that wants to expand their customer base.
If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll have already read a few of the informative chapters that we have shared from Authority Content by David Jenyns. Even though you’ve been creating content for some time now, you may have been slightly unsure about what authority content actually means and if it is even worth your time and effort.
In this post, we are excited to share another chapter with you from David’s book, which explains all about what authority content is and why you should be making it a part of your marketing strategy. David shares some great examples, so that you can fully understand why you should be looking at your website content in a different way in order to grow your business.
Let’s take a look.
CHAPTER 4: AUTHORITY CONTENT EXPLAINED
Authority isn’t some mystical force that people either have or don’t have. It’s based on real, tangible elements that you can build or acquire to establish yourself in that position. Authority Content is simply the act of generating these elements and promoting them in a smart, systematic and scalable fashion.
I’m hoping that by now, you’ve already intuited what Authority Content is and speculated about how it works, but let me give you the full definition…
“Authority Content is the act of consistently creating and distributing helpful information and stories to gain attention, engagement and trust, for a clearly defined audience, with the objective of identifying who will benefit from your products and services.”
That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s unpack that definition.
First of all, notice that Authority Content requires consistent action. Doing one round of videos or blog posts, for instance, isn’t enough. Your content needs to be shared, steadily and consistently. That doesn’t mean spending thousands of hours generating content. It’s not about quantity, it’s about consistency. If you only produce 12 pieces of content this year (and I’m going to show you how to easily repurpose it into way more than that), you’d be far better off releasing this content at the rate of one a month, rather than publishing it all in one go.
Notice also that the information you’re creating and distributing is helpful. This is a big change for some old-school SEO practitioners. So, if that’s you, start getting yourself into a mental attitude where you can let go of some old habits. Producing content is no longer just about satisfying Google; your content must be high quality with answers to the very specific questions that your clients and prospects are asking.
Great content marketed effectively will give you people’s attention. A consistent flow of in- formation that is genuinely useful and relevant will help you establish engagement. Authority Content takes it one step further and also seeks to gain the trust of that audience by attracting only those who are really going to benefit from your product or service.
The fact is, your products and services aren’t for everyone. Sure, you might be able to help a large group, but no solution is a perfect fit for everyone. This is really key, because as determined as you are to sell your product or service to the people who will benefit from it, you must be equally determined not to sell to those who aren’t a good fit.
The Internet is just too transparent to get away with taking people’s money and leaving them to discover that they probably would have been better taking a different route. If you sell someone on your product or service but don’t meet their needs, word travels quickly. As a result, your ability to gain the market’s trust and elevate yourself as an industry authority will be severely limited.
Turning Away Customers
A little while ago I had a phone call from a business coach who wanted me to “sell him” on the idea of SEO and why he should work with my company. Instead, after gaining a proper understanding of what his business needed, I “unsold him” and recommended he take his marketing down a completely different path.
Did he find that a little weird? Absolutely, but after talking things through, it became clear traditional SEO wasn’t the best solution for him at that time. Just like a doctor, I first sought to understand his symptoms and then I prescribed the medicine that would help him the most… even though that didn’t include our products or services! I also demonstrated to him that he could trust me and that I’m not in it for the quick buck. I only want to work with those whom I know I can help.
Now, every time this chap shares this “weird” story with his friends, colleagues and clients, my position as an authority is reinforced and he feels comfortable referring people to me, knowing I’m only going to do what’s best for his clients. Obviously, this changes the whole dynamic. It is just one small step towards becoming an authority.
Side note: Curious to hear an interview with this business owner? Visit: https://www.melbourneseoservices.com/business-accelerator/
So, what causes one person to be seen as the industry leader rather than ‘just another company’ in an overcrowded marketplace? What elements build up someone’s authority?
Clearly there are a variety of factors but let’s take a look at the three major elements you can use like a checklist to shortcut your road to authority.
Factor #1 – Core Authority
Core Authority is the most crucial of the three and requires some ongoing work. In short, it’s about understanding your target market’s problems and having the ability to articulate them better than they can. In this way, the assumption is also made that you must know the solution.
If you genuinely have knowledge, skills and expertise in your market, this should be a relatively easy task. Ask anyone who has worked in, and has a passion for a particular industry, what problems are faced by their clients, and you’ll find they’ll be able to tell you without having to refer to any notes. They just know and they can articulate this in great detail.
If you feel that your knowledge of your market is not quite up to that level, you either need to get your head down and study until you do, or you need to bring someone into your business who already has that level of expertise.
This is important because Authority Content isn’t a “fake it till you make it” exercise. You can’t establish authority for a person or a business that has nothing authoritative to offer people.
Step one of Core Authority is having a depth of understanding and to truly know your market and the issues it faces. Step two is about having a body of work to deliver that message. Having a good amount of content, whether it’s emails, blog posts, videos, podcasts or any or all of the above, shows you’re more than a “fly by night, make a quick buck” operator. It shows you’re in it for the long term.
With a large body of work your knowledge seeps into every type of communication that you engage in and on a subconscious level (or even on a conscious level), your audience will have a strong sense that you “get” them. They will see that you understand their experiences and their challenges – and the further they research you or your business the more this is reinforced.
Authorities have opinions, authorities educate, and authorities care about their community. You need a body of work that demonstrates these qualities. It will grab attention, engage people and earn people’s trust.
Factor #2 – Website Authority
Adjusting your website to reflect your authority may sound obvious but it’s too crucial a factor for it to go without saying. The fact is, these days, before someone does business with you, one of the first things they’re going to do is Google you and your business and study your website to see if there is a congruent message to match what they know about you already.
Which means – surprise, surprise – your website needs to have the content we talked about in core authority (e.g. blog posts, videos, podcasts) and it needs to be professionally displayed.
A skinny website with an “About Us” page and a list of your products or services isn’t going to get the job done. It starts with telling great stories. People in all cultures, engage with stories and it always surprises me that people don’t use this approach more. An “About Us” page that tells the owner’s personal journey and experiences through the market is always going to be more effective than a dry discourse on the year the firm was established, the awards it has won and so on.
If you’ve ever watched any of my videos or read any of my articles you’ll already know that I use story telling in all my communication. It’s one of the ways I’m able to differentiate myself from my competitors. My visitors can quickly learn about who I am, how I got to where I am and see the proof I have the business chops to help them.
Sharing relatively personal information about my career and my life presents me as an open and honest person and really helps to boost the “trust” element of my authority. This isn’t a fake or calculated effort to convince people that I’m trustworthy – people see through that – but by just being willing and able to tell my story, I can share something that people can relate to.
Telling stories is easy. We all know how to do it, instinctively. Copywriting is hard to do and takes time to learn, but we all know how to tell our stories and it’s just a matter of getting it down in writing or on video. Once again, if you know your market and you have experiences to share, simply relating them to your target audience will create a real affinity.
However, Website Authority isn’t just about telling stories and demonstrating your Core Authority – it also includes how you present your information. You don’t need to break new ground and create a website that is some kind of technological miracle but it must be smart, professional-looking and above all, consistent.
Apple is a great example of this consistency in its marketing. Whether you’re watching an Apple video, browsing the Apple website, or reading an email from Apple, everything about Apple is congruent. Style, voice and even font, are all consistent and are quickly identifiable as coming from the same source. There’s no point in building an extensive body of helpful content if people can’t connect the dots and recognise that it’s coming from the same brand, whether that’s you or your business.
You can’t position yourself as an authority if your content isn’t marketed in a way that ties it altogether. So, don’t neglect the layout and styling of your website. Invest in it, test it and polish it to a high sheen.
Factor #3 – Social Authority
Social Authority is the third component and presents proof of your authority. It’s someone else – whether a customer or another recognised authority – standing up and saying that you’re an expert and you’re someone who is deserving of people’s attention, engagement and trust.
One of my favourite ways to demonstrate Social Authority is with case studies that tell stories about a specific customer. A visitor comes along and reads a story about one of your customers who was going through exactly the same problems that they’re currently facing. They learn about the steps you took to help them overcome their obstacles and it’s only natural then to visualise what it would be like for them to experience the same assistance.
This social proof is powerful, really powerful. A case study, related clearly and honestly, demonstrates to your visitors that you have what they’re looking for.
So where do these case studies and testimonials come from? Occasionally someone will offer you one but if you want to create an overwhelming collection from a wide variety of people, you’re going to have to ask for them.
Depending on your cultural background and your personality type, this might be difficult for you to do, but you’re going to have to suck it up and get used to doing it. The truth is that, if you’re worthy of being an authority in your space because your products and services are of a high quality and deliver on the promises made by your marketing, most people are delighted to provide you with a written or video testimonial.
I believe gathering case studies needs to be woven directly into your work processes, so you don’t even have to think about it. Every time you satisfy a customer, the next step in your work-flow should be to ask them if they’ll jump on Skype with you and record a testimonial. It’s one of the best ways to quickly build trust and be viewed as an authority.
It makes sense when you think about it. You don’t have to tell people you’re an authority when you’ve got dozens of people who are willing to say it for you.
I’ve collected over 200 testimonials for my businesses and it’s reached the point where it just made sense to collate them altogether onto one website (www.daveraves.com).
I don’t expect people to read or watch every testimonial but being able to point people to a site where they can find this huge volume of Social Authority, is incredibly powerful.
Yes, it takes a while to get to this number of testimonials but like everyone else who collects testimonials, I started out with just one. So start collecting testimonials today.
As you can see, Social Authority is about showcasing the fact that other people already know, like and trust you.
Another way to do this is to link to your active social media profiles – the ones where you’ve taken the time to build a reasonable number of followers and engagement. Linking to your Facebook page that has 1,000 likes doesn’t, on its own, establish you as an authority, but it’s another piece of the puzzle. It shows that others already care enough to listen to what you have to say and it shows you’re a helpful, useful, relevant and an authoritative business.
Your “Authority Scoreboard”
I’ve grouped authority areas into three broad categories. In practice, your customers judge your level of authority on a myriad of different factors but they all primarily come under these three headings. On a subconscious level, your customers score you based on each of these factors, totalling these up on their internal “Authority Scoreboard” and adopting a view of you and your business based on the sum of these elements.
If I were to list every possible factor that impacts your “Authority Score,” not only would this book be twice as thick, it would also be deeply discouraging, representing a level of work that most of us do not have the resources to tackle.
But, here’s the secret…
Each authority factor carries a different weight. One endorsement from an existing authority, for example, could be worth ten times more points on your scoreboard than having a professionally-designed logo on your website’s homepage.
The key is to identify the factors that carry the highest number of authority points in relation to the amount of time and money required to integrate them into your business and marketing strategy. This is what Authority Content does so well because, as you’ll see in the next section, it allows you to hit the maximum number of these authority factors all at once!
We’ve completed a pretty comprehensive overview of what Authority Content is, why it works and how it works. Starting in the very next section, we’re going to begin working our way through the specific, practical steps you need to take to put this system into practice within your business.
Creating and sharing authority content involves a lot more than whacking up a few more pages on your site and hoping that you’ll rank for certain keywords. Your content needs to be helpful to your audience and consistent, so that you can gain people’s attention and drive engagement. And of course, as David indicates, there is much more involved with establishing yourself as an authority in your industry through growing the number of testimonials that you have and your social presence.
We’ll be sharing some more chapters from David’s book soon, but if you’d like to get started on your authority content strategy you can head over to the Authority Content website or buy it directly from Amazon.