Authority Marketing for Content & SEO - Why It Matters & How To Do It
Six and a half hours.
That’s how much time the world’s 4.4 billion internet users (and growing) spend on the web EACH DAY, according to a 2019 study by We Are Social and Hootsuite.
But with more than a billion websites on the internet, there’s plenty of competition for a piece of that 6+ hour pie.
Having authority — both in the eyes of search engines AND your audience can make a difference to your bottom line.
Keep reading to learn how you can add authority to your content marketing, using it to leverage brand awareness.
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What is ‘Authority’ When It Comes To Content Marketing
Content marketing produces three times as many leads as paid search advertising, according to marketing statistics compiled by Hubspot.
This tells us just how important creating content is to a brand, as it’s a great way to educate and engage your target audience.
But where does authority come in?
Merriam-Webster defines authority as:
“the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior.”
That’s exactly what most brands, businesses, and services are trying to do — influence your opinion and behavior — getting you to choose them over a competitor.
That 6+ hour pie we mentioned above…
Let’s say you’re searching for a recipe for cherry pie.
A quick Google search produces more than 96 MILLION results.
Which one do you choose?
You’ll probably be more likely to bake that pie using a recipe from Food Network or Pillsbury’s website than from a home baking blog you’ve never heard of.
Both the Food Network and Pillsbury have authority in the baking field. Not only with name recognition, but in the eyes of Google as they were within the top five search results.
In addition to potential customers, authority content marketing is aiming to influence search engines.
A website’s authority affects how well it will rank in search engine results. Search engines like Google want to provide high quality and helpful search results.
SEO Standards are Changing
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means increasing the traffic to your website through organic search engine results. This is done by creating highly targeted content around certain keywords.
SEO standards are constantly changing, thanks in part to ever-evolving algorithms from search engine providers like Google.
E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trust)
E-A-T. It’s an easy way to remember what Google uses in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. These are what Google’s human (not computer) raters use to evaluate websites.
So, to rank well in Google you need a high level of:
- Expertise – knowledge on the subject, service, or product and the valuable information you can provide in that arena.
- Authority – a brand should be well known and recognized within its industry.
Trust – a high level of trust in your product, service, and brand as well as the content you create around it.
Google’s Algorithm (And People) Care About Authority
Authority. It’s one-third of Google’s ever-important E-A-T factor.
We know search engines use dozens and dozens of factors when it comes to evaluating web page authority. But to make it simple, it comes down to:
- Relevant content
If a page has a low level of authority, it’s less likely to rank well in searches.
But, don’t ONLY design your website for Google’s algorithm to view you as an authority.
It’s equally important that real people, and ideally your target audience, acknowledge your brand’s authority.
Quick Recap On How SEO Works In Content Marketing
We’re throwing around a lot of technical words and acronyms here, so a quick refresher:
SEO isn’t just a ‘buzzword,’ it’s an important tool in increasing your organic ranking in search engines, sending more traffic to your website. This can be done by creating content specifically for SEO using well-researched keywords.
Make Your Content for People, Not Search Engines
Your target audience should WANT to consume your content. Keep in mind, you are writing for PEOPLE.
How can you ensure your content is designed for PEOPLE first?
- While using keywords in content can help with SEO, it’s important to write for your audience FIRST.
- Use the keywords, but use them naturally. Don’t stuff keywords into your content when it doesn’t make sense. Your audience can see through that.
- The tone of the content should align with your brand, but for the most part, consumers are looking for professional but conversational.
There should also be a PURPOSE for the content. Your audience needs a REASON for spending their time on your website. That time spent needs to provide them VALUE.
People Care About Authority:
We’re overwhelmed with content online. Between blogs, podcasts, videos, people creating memes, and apps like Instagram and TikTok, there’s no shortage of content to read, watch, and listen to.
Some of it is purely for entertainment. But when it comes to searching for real information, or researching a service or product, authority is important.
For example: John’s car needs an oil change, but he doesn’t want to take it into the shop. So he decides it’s time to learn how to do it himself.
First step: He Googles it.
His search garners more than 2.6 billion results.
He decides to watch tutorials from Pennzoil and Advance Auto Parts, both brands he recognizes and considers experts in the auto repair/maintenance subject area.
When users are looking for valuable information or products they intend to spend their hard-earned money on, authority matters.
Especially People That Are Manual Reviewers
Remember how we talked about Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines?
In addition to computer algorithms, Google has REAL PEOPLE who evaluate its search results.
There’s a 150+ page training manual for these Google search quality raters, which gives us a glimpse into what they’re looking for as they assess each webpage and give it an Overall Page Quality (PQ) Rating.
From this document, we know Google’s contractors are looking for and evaluating the authority of a web page based on:
- Page type and purpose – Is the purpose of your web page clear?
- Website information – Clear information on who (or what entity) is responsible for your website should be easy to find. Examples of things raters are looking for include:
- ‘About’ page
- Contact Information
- Author biography pages
- E-A-T – Raters evaluate each page on its level of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
- Content quality and amount – Content needs to be high quality, and there needs to be enough content to keep users on the site.
- Website reputation – Raters are instructed to look for information contributing to a site’s reputation including:
- Customer reviews
- News articles
- Wikipedia articles
- Blog posts
- Awards and ratings from independent associations (Better Business Bureau, industry awards, etc.)
- Needs met – The ‘Needs Met’ rating evaluates how well a page result helps or satisfies the searcher. Are they getting what they’re looking for?
Google’s Algorithm Cares About The Authority of Your Content
In addition to Google’s contracted ‘real people’ evaluators, its algorithm is also looking for authoritative content. To rate well, your content should be:
- Supported by experts, when possible
- Designed to promote user engagement
How Does Google Measure Authority?
Though the exact algorithm is a mystery, when measuring authority we know Google values:
- Domain authority
- Social Signals
1. Domain Authority:
According to Wikipedia, “the domain authority of a website describes its relevance for a specific subject area or industry. This relevance has a direct impact on its ranking by search engines, trying to assess domain authority through automated analytic algorithms.”
Backlinks (or external links) are HTML hyperlinks on an external website that point back to your site. These links are telling search engines that other sources have confidence in your content.
We know links are one of the things Google values most when it comes to its ranking algorithm. The social engine confirmed backlinks are amongst the top three factors for SEO.
3. Social Signals:
In addition to websites, brands and businesses MUST have a presence on social media.
Authority can be affected by:
- The number of likes/followers on Facebook and Twitter
As well as:
- The number of shares on Facebook/mentions on Twitter. (Bonus points if these include a link to your content!)
When your content is viewed and shared, it helps your brand’s authority.
4. Much More:
- Domain age – We often think people who are older, more established, with more experience, have greater authority. This is no different on the world wide web. Oftentimes, the older the website, the higher its authority.
- User experience – How long users spend on your website.
- Site security – If Google doesn’t view a website as safe for its users, it will not rank it highly and authority will suffer.
- Speed – A website that is slow and takes several seconds to load will negatively impact its ranking and authority.
- Mobile-friendliness – Google views a mobile version of the website as the primary version of the website.
How To Make Your Content Marketing Campaign More Authoritative
Authoritative content marketing creates a domino effect.
When you provide: Valuable, trustworthy content to your target audience.
Then: Google will view you as more authoritative.
In which case: You’ll rank higher in Google.
Resulting in: More organic website traffic.
This can be done when you:
- Increase brand awareness
- Are, or have hired, an expert in your field
- Increase social signals
- Have high-quality backlinks
- Create a lot of REALLY high-quality content
1. Increase Brand Awareness
Let’s play a little game. Word association.
When someone asks you to think of hotels, what brands come to mind?
Hilton? Marriott? Both have excellent brand awareness.
How about laundry detergent?
There’s a very good chance your first thought was: Tide.
One way to increase your authority is to increase your brand awareness.
But as Forbes put it, “brand authority is not a status you can confer on yourself; rather it’s a reputation and element of trust others must assign to you.”
It may take years to achieve the level of brand awareness that Hilton and Tide have, but there are ways you can increase your brand awareness through content marketing:
- Know your audience – Content marketing is more impactful when you can tailor your messaging for your target audience.
- Build a content strategy – Share your brand’s story by creating a specific strategy for content marketing.
- Promote your content – Use social media to promote your content. Content shared via social networks provides a great opportunity to expand your audience.
Deliver on your promise – Tide has great brand awareness because it does what it says it will — it cleans our clothing effectively. Make sure your brand satisfies consumers by delivering on your promise.
Increased Branded Searches = Higher Authority
Let’s return to our search for cherry pie. What if we instead searched for:
“Martha Stewart cherry pie”
This is a branded search.
A branded search is any query via search engine that includes the name of a specific product, brand or business. In this case, ‘Martha Stewart’ is the brand.
Branded searches show consumer intent. They demonstrate a consumer is already familiar with a brand and likely has some level of trust in that brand.
Brand searches mean more authority.
And more authority results in better search visibility.
2. You Are, Or Have Hired, An Authority in Your Field
Experts are essential when it comes to reinforcing authority in your brand. Creating expert content should be a part of your content strategy.
If you are an expert, or have one (or more!) within your company, ask them to contribute to your content with:
Experts contributing to content should also have biography pages on the site, touting their credentials and accolades within the field.
How Being An Authority/Expert Will Increase Google’s Trust Score in Your Site
Google rewards websites it trusts. It’s own Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines even spell out what raters are looking for when it comes to authority and expertise. For example:
- High-quality medical advice should come from people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation.
- High quality medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
- High-quality advice pages on topics such as home remodeling or advice on parenting issues should also come from “expert” or experienced sources which users can trust.
You can bet Google raters are looking at credentials when it comes to your expert content.
3. Increase Social Signals
If you create informative, valuable content, it’s more likely to be shared via social media.
There are several ways to increase a site’s social signals. These include:
- Consistent posting
- Relevant, valuable content
- Images and videos
- Diverse platforms
How Driving Traffic & Social Signals Will Increase Authority
Social signals are a website’s shares and likes. When content (or links) are shared frequently, it’s an indication of audience trust and may help your site increase its SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position).
4. High-Quality Backlinks (Think Wikipedia-esque)
Backlinks, or sites your content links to, are hugely important.
But not all links are created equal.
If your website has links to other credible sites (think Wikipedia, mainstream media, WebMd, etc.) search engines will view it as more authoritative.
5. Create a Lot of REALLY High-Quality Content
Anyone can create content, but the key to becoming an ‘authority’ in your field is providing content with VALUE.
Knowing your target audience is important when it comes to creating valuable, relevant content.
When developing a strategy and creating content, think about:
- Producing content based on what people are searching for within your industry
- Using content to answer questions your audience might have
- Case studies
- Creating checklists as a value-add for consumers
High-quality content on your website enhances the user experience. The goal is to KEEP users on your site for as long as possible.
How can you do this?
If you have a robust catalog of content available, suggest additional relevant content for your reader to view next..
This can be accomplished with internal links. When it makes sense, simply include a link to other content you’ve produced. If readers follow those links, they’re spending even more time on your site.
The more value you provide, the more time users (and potential customers) will spend engaging with it.
The More High-Quality, Authoritative Content You Create, The Higher Your Site’s Domain Authority Will Become
Don’t be content with just a few pieces of content.
While creating high quality content is hugely important, you also need to be producing content regularly.
Consistency is key.
Delivering fresh, relevant, authoritative content helps to build relationships and engagement with your audience…
…and gives you a better shot at a piece of that six-and-a-half-hour pie!
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