authoritative content

The Secret Sauce of Content That Gets Noticed & Read Online: A Guide to Authoritative Content

Angela E is an expert authoritative writer at Express Writers. 

Do you remember the Internet’s early days, when Yahoo! was king?

For those too young to remember, there was a time when the world’s most popular search engine didn’t even exist, and no one ever thought of using “Google” as a verb.

The “information superhighway” evolved quickly. It didn’t take long for businesses to realize that the Internet represented an untapped gold mine of potential customers. At the same time, tech folks were busily creating the apps so many rely on today, including Google.

Google’s advanced search algorithms changed the Internet forever.

Of course, that was back in 1999. So what does it take to rank on Google today?

As always, Google’s algorithm is deeply confusing to most people (that’s why we broke it down once before).

The main takeaway, though, is quality content — from authoritative voices.

Note the keyword there: authoritative. If you want your content to be read, noticed, and shared – and why else would you create it? – you must position yourself as an authority. Authoritative content is the secret sauce to earning a strong ROI on your content.

Luckily, we’re here: sharing that saucy recipe. Keep reading!

authority content

Become an Authority in Your Industry: Create Authoritative Content

You have to earn recognition as an authority, and that takes time and effort.

Of course, it also takes creating powerful, engaging, valuable content, and doing so consistently.

Building yourself up as an authority requires a blog. Of course, your entire site needs great, well-written content. But, if the only content you share through social media, email campaigns, newsletters, etc. is sales copy, your audience quickly tunes out.

Compare it to your response to TV commercials and banner ads. Constant advertising eventually becomes white noise, ensuring you lose your audience. What’s more, it does nothing to build your voice as an authority in your industry.

Your blog is the place to demonstrate your authority, your platform to prove yourself a thought leader. In other words, it lets you guide the conversation and add your voice to it.

What’s more, your blog offers a natural way for you to regularly add fresh, engaging content to your site. This is a big deal when feeding the Google beast, which loves to gobble up fresh content.

A realistic estimate on the time it takes to build your presence as an online authority is six months to one year. You can land on the narrow side of that estimate, though, if you follow some basic guidelines.

Do You Know Who Your Audience Is?

One of the most common mistakes people make in creating online content is attempting to write something for a general audience.

You don’t see this in any other type of writing. Contemporary romance authors don’t throw in the occasional dragon to appeal to the fantasy crowd. Thriller writers don’t include a subplot about an angsty teen getting her first job and her first boyfriend over one eventful summer.

Do you know why? These authors know whom they’re writing for, and so should you.

Before you begin writing your piece, ask yourself, “Who am I writing this for? Who typed this search string into Google? What was he looking for? What problem does he hope to solve?”

top_demographics

The answers to those questions guide everything that comes next.

It Starts With a Killer Headline

Shakespeare had young Juliet proclaim, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.”

Shakespeare never wrote for the Internet.

You can write the best content in the world, but if nobody reads it, you will never become an authority. Your headline is the key to convincing your reader to click that link.

How important is crafting the perfect headline? Just about everybody who blogs about blogging has written about it:

There are at least 20 more similar pieces out there, and each one is about the importance of nailing your title.

To be clear: a compelling title that inspires readers to click is not necessarily a clickbait title.

clickbait

We’ve all seen clickbait titles, and probably clicked on a few. They’re anathema to good content creation, because they don’t deliver on their promises (hence the name).

Readers have a lot of content available to them. Like, seriously, a lot of content. If your title doesn’t engage them, they won’t click on it. However, if your title is amazing but your content doesn’t deliver, you probably just lost them for good.

This shouldn’t be hard to understand. You’re a customer; think about the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, treat other people the way you wish to be treated.

Think about any business that ever insulted you with bad service – cold food, rude staff, not delivering on their promises. How often did you go back? For most, the answer is never.

It starts with the headline and ends with the actual content. Grab their attention right off the bat, or lose them forever, and then deliver on the promise of your headline. This isn’t clickbait.

Remember; clickbait titles don’t follow through on their promises. Your content delivers. Right?

Fulfill the Promise of Your Title: Deliver Engaging Content

Authoritative content draws in the reader and answers her questions in an easy-to-understand way.

A simple way to make your writing relatable is to do exactly that: relate it to something else. Analogy and story telling are excellent tools. You may have noticed that we employed them numerous times in this post already.

This device makes your content relatable because it takes an abstract concept and explains it through a recognizable story that nearly everyone has experienced at one point or another. Your reader takes these familiar ideas and applies them to new ones.

Now that you’ve engaged your reader, inform her. Remember back to when you formed your idea of what this person was looking for when she clicked on your article. Give her what she’s looking for, and don’t leave any questions unanswered or steps uncovered, even those that feel obvious to you.

In other words, if you’re writing an instructional piece on how to make the world’s greatest peanut butter and jelly sandwich, don’t leave out the part about the bread.

Offer Your Readers an Interesting Mix of Content

Again, you can’t become an authoritative voice if no one is listening. Keep your audience engaged, coming back for more, and sharing your great content by providing them an interesting mix of authoritative articles.

Use your blog to share a lot more than industry news and company happenings. Yes, you want to stay abreast of what’s happening in your world, but a great blog offers readers a well-rounded library.

This means how-to and instructional pieces, listicles, tips articles, and informational posts. Some of these will be highly topical, only relevant for a short period, such as product launches or pieces designed around holiday. The bulk, though, should be evergreen.

What is evergreen content? It is content that remains fresh long after its original publish date. You can repost it, reuse it, repurpose an article into a slideshow, do pretty much anything you want to with it because it never goes out of style.

evergreen content types

Evergreen content includes your buying guides (as long as you don’t mention pricing), your how-to pieces, encyclopedic articles, tips, and listicles. They’re highly shareable and highly focused.

That tight focus is a hallmark of the evergreen piece, and it adds tremendous value. What’s more, it’s a great method of positioning yourself as an authority.

A piece that’s overly broad cannot be covered in any meaningful way, unless you’re looking to publish it as a short e-book. Your goal is narrowing your focus to a very specific title that allows you to go into the type of depth your readers are hungry for.

This is another method of understanding your audience and writing for a particular person.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Remember, an article meant for everyone is written for no one. – @ExpWriters” quote=”Remember, an article meant for everyone is written for no one.”]

Consider these two article titles:

which article title

The first title is okay, but it sounds like a dry book title, not an article you can read in 15 minutes during your coffee break.

But that second title! Narrowed down to a niche, a number of plants, and a specific environment they thrive in.

Even though it excludes a significant portion of the population, it’s much more likely to garner a large audience, because you’ve got the interest of the right people.

Position Yourself as a Trusted Authority

respect

If you want your readers to trust you as an authority, you have to earn that trust. They’re giving you their time; don’t make them regret it. Respect the fact that someone chose your blog to find an answer to her question. That means taking the time to proof your work, as well as doing the necessary research to provide the correct answer.

Research doesn’t mean simply rehashing or rewording somebody else’s content. If you’re discussing a topic already covered elsewhere online – and what topic isn’t? – decide what new angle you can bring to the conversation.

As for proofing your work, this should be a matter of pride if nothing else. How much credence do you attribute to work that’s shoddy, riddled with typos or misspelled words, poorly formatted, missing punctuation, or any other errors so often seen online?

I don’t know about you, but the second I see an error on a page, I immediately downgrade the site in my mind. If there are numerous errors, or a single glaring error, I often close out of the page entirely. My thinking? “If this guy can’t be bothered to proofread it, how important can it be?”

Everything you post needs to be perfect.

Perfect?

Yes, perfect.

Of course, everyone makes mistakes; they’re a natural part of life. That’s why you need to proof, proof, proof, and then proof again, and then one more time.

Pay Your Respects to Other Authoritative Voices

One of the easiest ways to position yourself as an authority is to recognize the authority of others within your industry.

Reference statistics and facts, and link to the source of those statistics (the original source, if possible, not just the blog you first read them on).

Making sure you link to other recognized thought leaders does two things:

  1. You add weight to your rankings by using authoritative links within your articles.
  2. You take advantage of social proof.

Wait, what’s social proof?

Social proof is a seriously powerful marketing tool. Essentially, it makes people feel like they’re part of the “in” group. Think of it as the “How could a million people be wrong?” tool, and you want it in your toolbox.

Of course, not every site with lots of followers makes a reliable resource.

Avoid linking to Wikipedia at all costs. The site makes a decent resource when gathering your research, but it is not an authoritative voice.

If you must use information you found on Wikipedia, dig a little deeper to find the original citation. The site itself typically has links to its sources, so start there.

Finally, use the most recent data possible when linking to sources, preferably younger than five years. Use logic, though, when determining the relevancy of a resource. If you’re writing about technology, five years is far too old.

How Do You Know When a Reader Is Engaged?

How will you know when your work engages the reader?

It’s simple. Engaged readers take action. They sign up for your newsletter, buy your product, request more information, follow you and share your content on social media, comment on your posts; whatever it is, engaged readers take some sort of action.

Once that happens, you’ve got them.

What If Authoritative Content Writing Just Isn’t Your Thing?

If you don’t have the time to devote to writing an authoritative blog, or the writing background to do it well, you aren’t alone. Our Authority Content service went live this October, 2016.

This service provides long-form content from an amazing team of specially trained writers, content strategists, and graphic designers. You give us a topic and we do the rest. No muss, no fuss.

You = sit back and reap the rewards.

authority content cta

7 replies
  1. markarmstrong
    markarmstrong says:

    Good advice, but you’ve left out the biggest not-so-secret ingredient of all: the need to use visuals that capture reader attention, and intrigue them enough to read your post. Readers scroll past text-only posts and boring generic stock images that they’ve seen a million times before. Another vital consideration: readers are a lot more apt to like and share posts with engaging visuals. And that’s what content marketing is all about: making an emotional connection with your brand.

    Reply
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Mark, Refresh and check out the page for a ton of visuals just added inside this post. (I bothered my designer and we came up with some cool additions to Angela’s fantastic writing. Great suggestion!) You’re right. One of the key implementations of highly readable content is great visuals!

      Reply
    • Angela Escobar
      Angela Escobar says:

      Good point, Mark. As a writer, I tend to focus on written content, but you’re right – powerful visuals have really grown in importance, especially with the millennial crowd. I read a piece recently that said they get over 90% of their content through visual medium.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *