Building up a successful, long-lasting business relies on more than product development and marketing. To be considered the go-to in your industry, you must first prove to the public that you are the expert in your field. And that requires online authority.
Yes, you need experience, insight, and know-how. But you also have to be aware that leadership is built, not gained.
With this in mind, you may be wondering how this is done. After all, it’s not enough to claim you’re the best. In a predominantly online world where reputations are carefully honed, businesses have to work hard to earn trust and prominence. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to speed up the process.
If you’re looking for ways to build online authority for your business, the following are the steps you should take on your journey to success.
Find Your Niche and Stick to It
If you think about it, you’ll realize that very few companies in the world specialize in more than one or two products or services. And that’s completely understandable. After all, to become an expert in a field, you need to know it inside out, which often requires years of research and learning.
With this in mind, it’s only logical that you can’t build up your brand by trying to pass yourself off as the universal solution to an entire industry’s problems.
Instead of trying to answer everyone’s needs in an average manner, why not focus on one niche of your field and do that better than any of your competitors?
Narrowing in on your niche doesn’t only help you do better work. From a marketing standpoint, it can help you come up with more effective strategies. Moreover, having a strong understanding of your field of expertise can help you better identify and target your audience, thanks to the tools on various marketing channels.
For a great example of a brand that has built its authority by focusing on what it’s good at, look no further than Halo Custom Guitars. Instead of attempting to compete with industry giants like Gibson or Fender, the founders of this company chose an alternative approach. They enable musicians to design and build highly customized instruments appropriate for unique sound creation.
image source: haloguitars.com
Produce High-Quality Content
Once you’ve covered the primary step of identifying your field and the potential customers interested in it, it’s time to start building up your online authority.
Perhaps the most convenient way to do that is to produce content.
However, the thing to keep in mind when coming up with a content marketing strategy is that quantity doesn’t beat quality. Investing in a few pieces of evergreen content that’s genuinely valuable to your audience can get you more exposure than the daily grind of pumping out something below-average.
Another thing you should keep in mind when creating your content is that your audience won’t all be simultaneously in the same part of the sales funnel. While some people may be in the final stages of evaluating your offer, others will just be learning about your industry, and a small percentage already will have experience with similar products. For the most successful type of content, you need to serve all these different buyer personas.
As there are multiple formats you can (and should) explore, it’s also not a bad idea to study the pros, cons, reach, and effectiveness of each type.
As the go-to for most companies, blog posts have a lot to offer. They’re easy to do research for and don’t require advanced production skills like video or audio. Nonetheless, text also makes for the most competitive field of web content, which means that yours has to be exceptional if you want to stand out.
When writing articles, you need to not only think about the best ways to share your expertise but also to reach your audience. What are they searching for? What are their interests? What type of information can you offer that they won’t easily find elsewhere?
A brand that does an excellent job of producing articles for their blog is Bay Alarm Medical. By covering topics that are rarely discussed elsewhere, they’ve cemented their place as the authority on elderly care. Moreover, as they figured out early on that their audience was disproportionately affected by the Covid pandemic, they’ve published several articles that focus on providing valuable information on the subject from the standpoint of their clients.
Thanks to the agile approach, this brand has taken all the necessary steps to become one of the most prominent websites in the senior safety business.
The second most popular type of content brands should consider producing is video.
Although much more time and resource-consuming than text, it’s a format that does particularly well on various distribution channels. Moreover, it offers creative freedom through numerous genres and allows businesses to share valuable know-how that can place them as the authority in their field.
Universal Laser Systems, for example, offers an entire video section on their resources page. Here, they use the digestible format to explain how some of their technological trademarks work and to show hands-on comparisons to their competition.
Seeing that they’re a large company with an international following, this is a particularly suitable course of action, as it avoids language barriers but still does a great job of offering educational content.
When it comes to building online authority for your business, very few methods are as effective as creating an online course.
Although educational content is often seen as a form of marketing that aims to maximize reach and discovery, the very act of putting together a course can also establish you as a thought leader. Whether you already have a following or are just getting started, an educational resource can be one of the best ways to invest in your business.
Nowadays, creating online courses has become increasingly accessible thanks to online educational platforms. However, if brand building is your goal, you may find that developing your own platform works better than “renting” space on channels like Skillshare, Udemy, etc.
It’s also not a bad idea to consider the participation cost for your content.
Gated resources do play a large role in lead generation. However, they may not be the best way forward if you’re still in the construction phase of your online reputation. A middle ground may be to do something along the lines of ZenMaid, whose online courses section includes an assortment of free and paid classes for maid service owners on a wide variety of topics.
image source: zenmaid.com
Topic Research and Optimization
The one thing that tends to confuse small business owners is that they aren’t sure where to begin when approaching content creation. Sure, there’s the good old “spy on you competitors” approach, but that doesn’t go too far in building authority.
So, instead of tapping around in the dark, try to up your preparation. It is 100% sure to result in better outcomes and a higher ROI than guesswork.
First things first, when determining what type of content to make, you will want to use search term data. Identify your seed keyword (your primary and most relevant term to be used for generating related keywords by entering it into search engines and keyword research tools), use research tools, and try to recall the common inquiries your clients have throughout their buying journey.
Look at the data behind every search term. Check volume, potential traffic, cost per click, and how difficult it is to rank for your selected phrase. One way to go about this process is to use the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer resource.
It’s also a good idea to look at your existing content and see how it performs. What topics get you the most traffic? Which of your articles result in the highest number of conversions? Alternatively, which pages have the highest bounce rates? All of this is information that can be valuable when building authority, as it will tell you what your customers want and what you’re doing right or wrong.
The second aspect of content preparation is going to be the process of identifying your most valuable distribution channels.
Naturally, you will want to optimize your articles for search engines, but it’s not a bad idea to go a step further.
If you consider that the beauty of online content is its adaptability, then you can use the full potential of every text you write or video you film. Besides asking yourself where you can place these resources, it’s essential to think about how you can set them up to be found by potential customers.
For example, if you run a business that centers around cooking, you can take a cue from Spend With Pennies, a website that is fully optimized for voice search. Knowing that their readers are likely to have their hands full while working in the kitchen, they made sure that a voice assistant inquiry for “lasagna recipe” would place them in the top results for this type of dish.
Of course, channels like YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest will all have their unique ranking algorithms. With this in mind, make sure you’re careful about the titles of your content. Furthermore, don’t forget to use keywords and hashtags, and categorize everything you put so much effort into.
All right, you’ve done your research, produced your content, and have distributed it through the appropriate channels. Now what?
Well, don’t fall into the trap of believing that organic traffic will magically appear. Sure, you can build up a business with minimal investment. But that’s only true if you’ve got an endless supply of time and enough money to tide you over until people start realizing that you’re the real deal.
If, however, you need to start making a profit, then you’ll want to employ the right promotional techniques that will get the word out about what you’re doing.
In addition to paid campaigns on Google and social media, you will want to create a strategy that enables you to get lots of eyeballs on your posts. One way to do that would be to write guest posts for other authority websites, which will allow you to reach and impress their already-established audiences.
Doing podcast interviews is another excellent way to share your vision with the world. Sure, you may not be able to get on the Joe Rogan Experience from the get-go, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore other relevant shows that your potential customers may appreciate.
Moreover, you can choose the right influencers in your industry to collaborate with. The tech industry has got a solid idea of how to do cross-promotion. If you look at announcement events, you’ll often see them peppered with the most relevant YouTube tech reviewers. Some brands go a step further in working together with these tech influences on product development, as we can see from the latest collaboration between dbrand and MKBHD.
image source: twitter.com
Engaging with Potential Clients
If this is where your authority building activities stop, you’re good to go. You’ll have identified the people you need to target, created content to establish yourself as an expert, and will have taken steps to reach an even wider audience through cross-promotion.
But what if you do one last thing that will cement your reputation?
While all of the actions mentioned above work marvelously, they’re still kind of passive. To break barriers, however, you need to roll up your sleeves. And the way to do that? Engaging with your audience.
Being active in discussions on Reddit and Quora won’t just give you an advantage over the competition that isn’t doing so. It will simultaneously serve as research, giving you a way of keeping up to date on consumer needs, issues, and potential growth ideas.
The same can be said for various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube. These are great for engaging with current customers, having conversations with partners, and raising awareness of your business for new people. Try to engage people on your own pages/channels, as well as participating in discussions on the pages/channels of others in your broader niche/ecosystem.
You can even create your own community groups, like Aura did. Their approach was not to put together another promotional channel but, instead, to cover a highly focused niche subject and get direct access to clients who were looking for precisely their kind of solution.
image source: goaura.com
The Way Forward
As you can see, there’s a lot to cover if you’re interested in becoming the go-to in your industry.
Yes, it’s a long process. Yes, it takes investment, perseverance, and lots of community management.
However, rest assured that it’s worth the work. After all, what’s a better sign of business success than having your brand become an indispensable part of your customers’ everyday routines?