Five Ways to Create Authority Content (when you aren’t an authority on the subject)
Once upon a time, quantity was something you could count upon in the cyber world.
The more back links you had, the more keywords you could stuff in your copy, the more articles or blog posts you could churn out on daily basis, and the more niche websites you could build, the better.
And then, Google struck with the “penalties”, taking out the content farms, link farms, websites with thin content, scraped content, spun content, Exact Match Domains, Top Heavy Websites, Blog networks, websites with too many links, websites with too few links, websites which are not optimized for search engines, websites which are over optimized … you name it, and Google has a penalty for it.
Except for one type of website, and those are websites with authority content.
When you build an authority website, little by little, creating one authority content after another, it makes your website a lot more invincible against the catastrophes like Google penalties and the likes.
Having authority content means that you can…
- Stop relying entirely on Google or any other solitary source to get the traffic
- Be a thought leader, which means you don’t go after your target audience, they come after you
- Build natural links. Others will be linking out to your authority content because it makes their own content more credible
- Get the shares. People will share your authority content with their contacts at social networks, because it makes them sound knowledgeable
- Focus on your biggest asset i.e. your target audience
- Get more sales and leads. The more authority content you create, the more they will trust, and the more they trust, the more you will convert
- Authority content is an asset that will benefit your business over a long period of time (70% of total traffic at hubspot comes from posts which are older than one month)
As you can see, authority content has a lot to offer. But for many, authority content remains an elusive goal.
Most of them think that creating authority content requires you to be an authority on the subject. And if you are an established authority on the subject, you’ll most probably have other, much better things to do than writing content for a website?
But that cannot be farther from the truth.
It can obviously help if you are a specialist, but that doesn’t guarantee success as far as authority content is concerned. You can be an expert in the real world, and still your content will fail to make its mark. On the other hand, you might have little or no prior knowledge about the subject, but you can still create content that will be cited as an authority resource in online circles.
The thing is that search engines, or your target audience, don’t really care if you are a subject specialist in the real world or not. All they want is some content with lots of value, details, factually correct information, and useful tips.
Here’s what distinguishes authority content from all those run of the mill articles or blog posts.
Detailed Content Gets More Traffic & Engagement
There are numerous case studies proving that lengthy posts can get much better response, both from the readers as well as the search engines. But the detail is not just related to the length or word count. You need to pick a topic and create the most comprehensive yet to the point source on that subject.
Something like 100 ways to cook eggs, and even better 101 ideas for couple photography (note that the recipe post is not done by some world renowned chefs, neither is the photography post coming from veteran photographers, still the content and the details are making them look authority.
Help The Reader Solve A Problem (Give Value)
The content needs to have some value for the target audience. It shouldn’t read like an essay, or just an opinion piece, or a thesis. These posts have their own place, but the authority content needs to be a little different in a way that it gives some real value. It will try to help, even if it is in little things. For example, the photography post that we’ve seen above, which is quite helpful?
Build Trust & Credibility Where Possible
The content needs to be trustworthy and credible. Conclusions must be backed by statistics, suggestions must be supported by case studies, and advice must be imparted by examples.
Uniqueness… Beyond Passing Copyscape
Uniqueness doesn’t come from passing a copyscape test. It doesn’t even come from giving a unique twist to a topic that is beaten to death. Authority content must, partially or entirely, needs to go where nobody has gone before.
How To Dominate Your Niche
In case you are writing on a topic that is not entirely unique, your content needs to tower above the plethora of posts available on similar topics, either by going into the details, providing more up to the minute information, or being more helpful.
Having said that, you don’t really need to infuse all these characteristics in every single post, even if your content has just some of these qualities, it will stand a chance to attain recognition as authority content.
It’s easier said than done though. In fact, what makes some content piece special is the amount of time and effort you will put into it. There are no shortcuts or automated methods to create authority content. But, there are some relatively easy hacks that you can use and start creating authority content in a jiffy.
In this post we are going to discuss five easy but time tested methods for creating authority content…
1) Compilation Posts:
This is probably the easiest way to create content that can reach authority status.
In this method, you need to think of a topic, and collect some of the best, most relevant posts from the web, and combine them all together in a coherent way.
Even better you can turn it into an infographic and get some link love.
First, you need to come up with an interesting topic, something that will immediately catch the attention of your target audience. Search for some good quality relevant posts, shortlist the ones that you are willing to use, and then hire a graphic designer or use some a diagram tool to create infographic. You can also use one of those paid or free online infographic tools like infogr.am.
For example, see this infographic at quicksprout.com …
As you can see, it picks the majority of statistics from various different sources from the web, but gets more than 180 links, and ranks comfortably on top of search results for some fairly competitive keywords. Not bad at all?
The “100 ways to prepare eggs” post is another example of compilation posts. In this post, all those images are linking to their respective websites with the recipes.
2) Go one better than the best available post:
We have already talked about the importance of going into the details.
When you are looking to create authority content, you should leave no stone unturned to make it the ultimate resource for your target audience.
In other words, you don’t want to write about top ten money saving tips; you will go for the ultimate list like 100 tips for saving money. And you don’t write a 500 words article on “Facebook Ads”, you will create the ultimate guide for businesses who want to take advantage of Facebook Ads, with screen shots, examples, and practical advice.
Make it the ultimate resource. If it’s authority content, it shouldn’t leave the readers high and dry. You must go one step ahead of all those readily available posts. Stand out from the crowd, especially when writing on a topic that is being extensively covered in your niche.
Remember, you DON’T need to reinvent the wheel. Choose a topic that is Hot and you are just two steps away from creating the most badass online resource on that topic.
Step # 1: Find the best available post on that topic
Step # 2: Try to beat that post
It’s that simple really. Just go through all detailed posts that you can find on the topic, and see if you can think of something to add, remove, or improve upon. If all these posts were written some months ago, chances are that there will be a lot of things.
While writing, try to make it the most comprehensive resource. Walk through all steps in details. Link out to recent case studies or research reports to prove your point. Using screen shots or examples can be the icing on cake (and what good is a cake without the icing).
Here’s an example … an in-depth post detailing everything you need to do in order to remove a Google’s penalty. No wonder it got more than 1500+ social shares, 700+ links, and 245 comments.
Whenever you’re presented with a post from an authority blog as an example of good viral marketing or link building techniques, you should take it with a pinch of salt, because, you can’t be sure if the same content will fetch similar results at a lesser known blog. For example, I just shared an infographic from quicksprout.com with some amazing response, but I am pretty sure that an ordinary blog will be lucky to achieve even half of that with the same post.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am not saying that these blogs don’t have some of the best content pieces. But these bloggers have created one extraordinary post after another for years, before reaching to this status. When a good quality post is published on Quicksprout.com or moz.com, good response is pretty much a given, because the guys like Neil Sprout or Rand Fishkin have massive following.
For example, the last few posts at moz blog have accumulated more than 5500 shares at social media.
To be brutally honest, most blogs won’t get so many shares in their entire existence.
It will take some time before you can build a community or following like that, but before you reach that point, you can try giving your blog small authority boosts by roping in some of those established guys for an interview.
Start from making a list of the power bloggers and influencers in your target niche, and stalk them on one of those social networks (Twitter usually works best). Build some rapport, and wait for the right time to pitch an offer. It’s better if you can think of an interesting angle, instead of just contacting them with “Hi, I want to interview you for my blog”.
Once you’ve got the go ahead, spend some time on coming up with the right questions. Try to raise the bar to a level comparable to the person being interviewed and their audience. Don’t try to make it easy, because they will only share and talk about this interview with their followers if it brings out the best in them.
4) Expert Round-ups
Imagine an upcoming film with a well known actor.
The star value will surely result in more attention as compared to a film that doesn’t have any mainstream actor in the cast. The interview post is the film with a well known celebrity.
Now imagine, an upcoming film with a star-studded cast?
It’s sure to get a lot more attention than an average film. That’s what expert roundups can do for you. Not that it guarantees success, as we have found with some of those star studded movies, but the post will certainly command instant respect by having so many experts on panel.
Take this post as an example … 33 experts, 3 simple questions, with 3 simple answers coming from guys like Brian Dean, Rand Fishkin, Adam Connell, or Neil Patel, and the result is a post with loads of authority, 50+ comments, and around 750 shares.
Expert round-up post can have all the characteristics of an authority post. Even if you are asking just one or two questions from 20 experts, it will still turn out to be of considerable length. It will be of value for your target audience, it will be trustworthy, and it will be dominating.
Managing to hook up so many experts might seem like an uphill task when you are starting, and it surely is difficult, but as soon as you’ve managed to take a couple of good ones on board, it will create a Ripple Effect, as more experts and bloggers will be ready to jump in when they learn about the experts who are already on board.
Try to get the experts with good number of followers or bloggers with active communities. Just like the interviews, choose your questions carefully. It will help if you can create a little bit of controversy by asking burning questions instead of the routine “what’s your favorite tool”, “technique”, and “opinion” kind of stuff.
5) Survey Posts
If you don’t feel like running after experts, celebrities, or influencers for a post, try reaching out to the commoners.
A great way to do this is to conduct a survey or poll, and then write a post based on these results. If you can get good response, and the results are interesting, these posts and the statistics will be picked, linked, and shared by anybody looking to prove a point.
Source: Social Recruiting Survey Post
First, you need to think of an interesting topic for the survey. A topic that is relevant to your niche with the possibility that the results will have an interesting angle to attract your target audience or bloggers.
Remember that when I say “survey”, I am not talking about those lengthy ones with dozens of questions. Just keep it to one or two simple questions appearing in a popup at your website, so they can quickly respond and get over with it.
The larger your sample size, the better. It goes without saying that the results will not hold any weight if they are based on the response coming from 10 or 20 people. So, the real challenge is to get a good number of responses.
If your website or blog gets a fair number of visitors, you can easily use one of those survey plugins or tools to conduct surveys. In fact, tools like polldaddy.com will allow you to engage your followers or fans at social media platforms as well.
Once you’ve got sufficient responses (the sufficient number will depend on the kind of impact you want it to have), you will need to choose a statistic and turn that into an attention grabbing title. Of course, you still need to write a post, but that will be a commentary on the results and all the insights or angles you can make out of those statistics.
For example, here’s a survey post that received quite some traction.
As you can see, none of these hacks require you to be a subject specialist. You still need to have some knowledge of the subject, in order to come up with attention grabbing titles, and interesting questions for interviews or expert round-ups, but for the most part, you will be cashing in on external resources.
One final word … as I have mentioned a couple of times in the post, simply creating authority content is not enough. You will have to spend a fair bit of time and resources on marketing and promoting this content. But its worth all the efforts, because once your blog achieves the authority status, and you’re positioned as a respected source, the other jobs like link building, social media marketing, or conversion optimization, will become a lot easier.