This is part of the Digital Marketing Insights series - featuring tips, analysis and recommendations from marketing experts on how to become successful online. Co-authored by John McDougall, President of full-service Internet marketing company - McDougall Interactive and author of Web Marketing On All Cylinders.
In the highly competitive world of digital marketing, it is critical that you stand out from the crowd.
Authority marketing is a systematic process of building your thought leadership and integrating it with your online and offline marketing, in a way that not only helps you get noticed but will streamline your efforts in the long run.
To view the high resolution version, go to the: authority marketing infographic
The benefits are that you will more easily close deals because of the improved trust and credibility. Results from your search engine and social media marketing efforts will become substantially better as well.
"EAT" at Google
When Google trains its website quality raters to give a score to webpages, they use the acronym "EAT" - which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. If authority is important to Google and you want to get in on their 6 billion searches a day, then you can't leave your thought leadership building to chance.
Google was founded initially under the name Backrub. This was because their first algorithm and patents had mostly to do with judging the quality of websites based on backlinks.
Essentially, if powerful and authoritative websites link to you, then your ranking would go up, according to this system. This completely revolutionized search engines and eventually led to Google becoming one of the largest companies in the world.
Google has similarly experimented deeply with patents around authorship and judging who the top experts and authors are in the world. There is no question that if you want to impress Google, you and the people writing the content on your website, need to be known entities that Google can track.
Additionally, if you want to be powerful in social media, then you need to have a content marketing strategy that is based on your expertise. Without a legitimate strategy based on real content and connecting to the other influential experts in your community, then your search engine and social media marketing 'expertise' is really just a sham.
Authority marketing allows you to combine your offline expertise and years of experience with a deep digital strategy.
The following is a roadmap of the top nine elements to consider when trying to establish your credibility online:
1. Define your niche
It's better to be a big fish in a small pond. You will be more influential, if you focus on a specific topic, rather than trying to be all things to all people. In the language of Google, this is about being a "topical authority".
Razvan Gavrilas from cognitiveSEO illustrates how topical authority helps you:
"Content based topical authority sites are given more SERP visibility compared to sites that only cover the topic briefly - even if the site covering the topic briefly has a lot of generic authority. More articles written on the same topic increase the chances for the site to be treated as a "Topical Authority Content Site" on that specific topic."
Sean Si of SEO Hacker adds:
"Always remember that how Google deals with your website is much like how a librarian will deal with a book. If your website has more content about a specific topic, it will naturally rank higher. However, if your website also has a lot of other topics aside, it will dilute your website's authority."
Think of that one topic that you want to be known for, something that you can definitely talk about on a regular basis and try to build your authority in that area. You can expand what you are known for later.
2. Think strategically
Before jumping into individual digital marketing tactics, make sure to write down your strategy. The act of writing down your goals and strategy help solidify your expertise and give you higher chances of becoming successful in your efforts, as it will allow you to track back, measure and improve.
3. Get found
Combine various tactics and strategies for a much more powerful campaign. At the very least, the following tactics should be considered:
- Blogging based on your very specific niche
- Search engine optimization to dominate your niche keywords
- Social media marketing that connects with influencers and is not just content sharing
- Buy Google ads on your niche keywords and brand name, partially to have access to their keyword lift data
4. Write a book based on your blog
Write a short book using your blog content. If you are having trouble keeping up with blogging, use podcasting and video interviews, along with the text transcripts to speed up the process. Being an author is one of the most powerful weapons in the battle of gaining visibility, and tying it to your blog strategy will make your efforts much easier.
5. Maximize publicity
Use PRleads.com and HARO to get more media coverage and back links. As public relations expert Steve Harrison says,"Position yourself to be famous and you can have anything you want".
6. Speak and sell
Speak at conferences and promote your own seminars, books and other resources. Not only will this position you as a thought leader in your industry, but it will help you create new relationships to continue online, even after the events.
One of the most overlooked aspects of blogging is the incredible way that it can be tied to new business development. You can email your blog posts and educational content as door openers in the sales process.
7. Get more leads and sales
Use conversion rate optimization techniques, such as deeply integrating your thought leadership into your website and marketing, to build trust and authority. Then use A/B testing software to ensure you are using the right value propositions and brand messaging.
8. Email marketing and marketing automation
Building your email list deepens the value of your company. You will be much less dependent on Google, Facebook and other tactics, as well as gain the ability to grow your own community and leads, once you have a large list.
It doesn't just stop there. Make it a habit to follow up frequently with email newsletters and automated campaigns that help people along the buyer's journey.
9. Track ROI using analytics
Measure your campaigns and improve their success rate, by tracking your goals and key performance indicators.
Google Analytics is one of the best free tools for this purpose. You have to take note though that the most common mistake you can make is to simply install the tracking code and not use the data on a regular basis to improve your marketing.
Maximizing the six principles of influence online
Dr. Robert Cialdini, the best selling author of Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, has documented six critical principles of influence.
The following principles tie in deeply to authority marketing:
- Authority: People tend to follow those that are in positions of authority.
- Social Proof: People tend to follow the herd and find it easier to go along with what others are doing, such as hiring a company like IBM, versus a company with less of a proven following.
- Liking: People prefer to work with people they like. Experts that are helpful and share content are more likable than people that are just selling something.
- Reciprocity: People have a natural tendency to want to return favors. Giving away free e-books and content helps initiate a relationship of reciprocity.
- Scarcity: People want what they can't have. Experts that have a high hourly rate and appear to be very busy get more business. The rich get richer and so it is when you build your mystique.
- Commitment and Consistency: People that make a small gesture of commitment, such as raising their hand to say that they would be interested in doing something, are more likely to follow through. Getting people to show interest in your content and to come to your seminars goes a long way towards an eventual sale.
Positioning yourself as an expert in your area is no small task but is well worth the effort. Not only will you have better success with digital marketing, but you will get the respect you deserve for your in-depth expertise.