By Simon Slade
These days, everyone has a website. It’s not enough to just have an online presence — that presence has to be recognized as an authority in your field. This means having a following of regular and engaged readers and top search engine rankings. When your website is known for its expertise, people will seek it out for industry insights and your following will grow. There is no quick scheme for establishing your site as an authority. It is a long journey, but it can be very rewarding for both you and your business if you’re willing to commit the necessary time. Here are some tips that will help you along.
Post often and well.
Your content is at the heart of your site. Authority sites provide their readers with thorough, clear, relevant, and unique information.
But content must be more than just error-free. There has to be an engaging, even entertaining element to any post that will increase the likelihood of return visits. This can be added with visuals such as infographics, photos and videos, or even secondary sources like e-books and podcasts. In addition to accurate and reliable, content must also be intriguing enough to bring readers back.
You should diversify the nature of your posts, too. Do some personal research on an industry trend and share it, interview other experts in a Q&A, or provide a step-by-step how-to guide for a technique or strategy your readers might find interesting. If it applies to your industry, do product reviews. Of course, always provide relevant updates on your company when they happen.
In addition to having someone edit your posts before publish, use the resources available to you. Applications like Grammarly and Hemingway can improve your writing tenfold. Even more important than perfect grammar is irrefutable facts. Check and recheck your information against reliable sources.
Publish guest contributors.
Authority sites have hundreds of articles, a burden no one person can carry all alone. You aren’t expected to author everything on your site, nor is it good for business. Guest contributors offer new perspectives, provide variety and increase your site’s well-roundedness.
You certainly want visitor interaction through commentary, but you should vet all official contributors thoroughly and ensure they are reputable, accurate and reliable.
Guest posting is a mutually beneficial relationship: Guest authors have their biographies published on your site with their submission. As your website gains authority status, more industry leaders will see the value of a guest authorship with you. Contributors will begin coming to you and expanding your site’s content becomes even easier.
Readers like to feel heard. Give this recognition to your readers by enabling commentary on all of your articles, and perhaps by creating a forum for members. This forum will require website visitors to provide their email addresses, thereby giving you access to an email list for marketing campaigns. You can encourage participation through commenting, social media sharing, or asking and answering questions on the site (all things you should be doing, also!). It’s particularly important for you to monitor all activity on your site and engage accordingly — visitors will be encouraged to participate if they see you interacting with commentary on a post.
Why all the concern about engaging your audience? An interactive site will give you higher search engine rankings.
Social media is a must.
Choose the social media platform that is most popular for your readership and create a dominant presence on it. Don’t limit yourself to the mainstream platforms. For instance, if you work in videography, it is integral that you have a YouTube or Vimeo channel. For photographers, perhaps a Flickr or Instagram account is most important. Many B2B companies gravitate toward LinkedIn. Social media is all about meeting your audience in their territory.
Active social media accounts can be beneficial for your website and SEO, but a static, inactive account can hurt your reputation. At the very least, post to each platform once a week, or don’t create an account there at all.
Finally, make sure your website has share buttons for all platforms on every post.
The average website visitor will not wait very long for a site to load and most modern-day web surfers have a keen eye for an unprofessional site. Your website’s design, appearance, and usability are major factors in establishing authority.
A good design includes a variety of high-resolution visuals complemented by whitespace, a good color scheme and a practical layout. Avoid clutter, aggressive colors and low-resolution, pixelated graphics.
Navigation should be easy for your site visitors, with reliable and clearly identified links. Simplicity is important; don’t try to be overly unique when designing your site.
In addition, if you want your site to reach authority status, it must be mobile-optimized. Mobile use is an undeniable reality of today’s world and it’s vital that you cater to that audience.
The best way to keep your website user-friendly is to continually test it. Browse through as if you were just another visitor, test the links and assess the layout. Small, regular tweaks will move your site towards perfection — and authority status.
Remember SEO is never perfect.
Where your site falls in search engines will determine a lot of your traffic and online income. You can improve your SEO by practicing SEO strategies or outsourcing a freelancer to do your SEO for you. A wonderful site might never reach authority status if it can’t be found.
There are a number of factors that play into search engine ranking, including age. This is another reason authority status isn’t achieved quickly. And once you have gotten to the top of a search engine page, SEO requires maintenance to maintain that spot.
This growth to an authority site is long and continuous – even once you have achieved authority status, maintaining it is a demanding job. While it is no easy task, a commitment to these strategies will dramatically increase your likelihood of reaching authority status and all the benefits that come with it.
About the author: Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of SaleHoo, an online wholesale directory of over 8,000 prescreened suppliers; Affilorama , an affiliate marketing training portal with 300,000 members and over 100 free video lessons; and their parent company Doubledot Media Limited, which provides seven different training and software applications to over 500,000 customers worldwide.