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Most business owners investing in content marketing know that you have to distinguish yourself if you’re going to be successful. There are millions of people competing for visibility, and although the web is a big place with billions of potential readers, you’ll still have your work cut out for you if you want to stand out.
One of the best ways to rise above the fold and get more eyes on your material is to use the power of authority. But what are the best strategies for doing this?
Why authority matters
In the context of content marketing, authority refers to a person’s perceived level of expertise and credibility on a subject. The word “perceived” here is important, because as we’ll see, there are ways to make yourself seem more authoritative on a subject than you actually are.
Ultimately, authority will make people behave in ways that favor your content marketing strategy:
- You’ll get fewer bounces and more time on page. If a person feels you’re not authoritative or credible, they’re going to stop reading your work then and there.
- You’ll get an edge over the competition. Why would someone choose your work over a competitor’s? If you’re more authoritative on the subject, it’s a no-brainer.
- You’ll get more links and, eventually, more traffic. If you’re seen as an authority on the subject, you’ll earn lots of links, which have the power to send referral traffic your way (and boost your position in search engine results pages, SERPs).
- Your audience will become more loyal. Once readers understand how authoritative you are, they’ll be more likely to keep reading your work.
- Your words will become more powerful. Thanks in part to authority bias, people will eventually treat your words as being disproportionately accurate and credible.
Excellent. So how can you use authority to boost the power of your own content?
Improving your own authority
You can make yourself more of a perceived authority in several ways, including:
- Get more experience (and show it off). Most people associate experience with authority. If you have 25 years of experience in sales, you’ll be taken more seriously than a 21-year-old who’s just getting started in the field. When you get this experience, make sure you show it off — it won’t always be immediately apparent.
- Write articulately and precisely. This should go without saying, but some of your perceived authority will depend on your ability to articulate your thoughts precisely and concisely. The value of eloquence is hard to overstate here.
- Cite your work. When possible, cite your work. Link to other authoritative sources that back up what you’re saying. Or better yet, provide original research that verifies your claims. The more data you have on your side, the better.
- Include counter evidence and refute it. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but if you’re trying to persuade an audience, provide counter evidence to that point. Spell out the main arguments against your main point and refute them — rather than pretending they don’t exist.
- Take accountability for mistakes. Admitting your mistakes can be powerful. Occasionally, no matter how much experience or authority you have, you’re going to get something wrong. If you want to have people keep following you, it’s important to admit it, take accountability and move on.
Borrowing from the authority of others
Of course, it takes a lot of time and effort to boost your own authority. Sometimes, it’s just as effective to borrow from the authority of others.
These are just some of the ways you can do it:
- Curated content. Consider curating more content for your audience, whether it’s on your own blog or through your social media channels. Curated content is basically content that’s written or created by another person — in this case, an authority on a given subject. You can reach out to known authorities and welcome them to publish guest posts on your website or simply re-blog and retweet some of your favorite authoritative works.
- Collaborations. As you become more of an authority in your own right, you’ll have the opportunity to partake in more collaborations. Working together with an experienced authority on a shared piece could be more powerful than working by yourself — and both your target audiences stand to benefit.
- Quotes. You can also make an appeal to someone else’s authority with quotes scattered throughout your work. If you make an important point using logic (or even speculation), consider backing it up with a cited quote from an authority figure on the topic. It’s a subtle way of saying, “see, all the leading authorities agree here.”
A more authority-centric content marketing strategy can work in your favor if you plan and execute it well. Focus on giving people the best, most accurate information you can — and don’t be afraid to work with some already-established authorities in the field.
Originally appeared in Entrepreneur