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Authority can be described as “A preconvienced notion of a persons experience or expertease in an area that leads to business directly or indirectly”.
Online, its super important, mainly because of the part it plays in attracting new links to your site. Authorities tend to attract more links than their counterparts, as people are happier to endorse, refer friends and link through to them. In much the same way as a trustworthy car mechanic gets more business through word of mouth referrals, the same is true online, with trust attracting and exponentially growing incoming links.
For this reason its important to raise your authority, and your perceived trust online in as many ways as you can. If you can do so successfully, you’ll start to see growth in readership, traffic and business opportunity.
So how do you grow authority?
Speaking and attending conferences.
There’s a saying that “no man is an island”. The same rings true in the online community, and in order to become authoritive you should attend, and participate in as many conferences relating to your niche as possible. Better still to get yourself a speaking gig, and tell the world what you know. Conferences are a great way to get in front of a completely new audience, and with the material you using during that conference you may find additional readership and audience for your site.
If you aren’t comfortable speaking; there’s always the potential to network with likeminded individuals after the speakers have finished. I’ve always said that online and offline marketing should go hand in hand, and conferences are a perfect link between the two.
If you’ve done something noteworthy, and are starting to get noticed online, never refuse the opportunity to get participate in an online interview. You know you are doing something right from a marketing point of view when people start asking you for blog interviews. Sometimes putting together posts which bait this sort of thing can help prompt your audience to ask you to interview – e.g. Five things you didn’t know about x… If you are comfortable with appearing in front of the camera, video interviews can be extremely engaging for a target audience, and give that extra bit of trust to what you are saying.
Love your audience
Give back to your audience. Only they can help your site grow, and you should reward them in as many ways as you possibly can. Remember that they are the worker ants making your anthill.
Give to receive
There are loads of ways to get your name out there online. You could give away a useful e-book with links back to your site. You can guest post on other larger sites. Ultimately the more you give online from a content point of view, the more you’ll grow. There’s been alot of debate online recently on the “free” issue. Free isn’t going away online. Period. That’s the way it is, so you can either play the game, and figure out ways to benefit indirectly, or watch while your competitors do so, and do it better than you.
There are many things that you can do to give back. Get out of the mindset of “must write” and get into the “must teach“.
Links are as much a reflection of the online perception of the recipient as they are about the content itself sometimes. I’ve spoken before about the psychology of the backlink, and exponential growth online – authority ties very closely in with this. Bottom line, don’t be an ass, or put up with itonline. There’s plenty of haters out there who are more than happy to sit behind the comfort of a screen and flame you. Don’t entertain it, as the chances are you’ll be able to confront them head on at one of the aforementioned conferences in the future.
The same applies for how you choose to conduct yourself online. Bottom line don’t pick unnecessary fights, and treat others online how you’d like to be treated. Your website and brand will thank you for behaving, and don’t forget to learn how to comment appropriately.
Online, you are what you share. If you are going to link to something, it better be shit hot reading, or you suffer in turn. I’ve blogged before on the importance of outgoing links.
I couldn’t possibly write a blog post about authority without asking some of the well known authorities online of their own opinions on the matter. Here’s what they had to say.
I asked via email – “What is the single most important thing you’ve done to build authority?”
Chris Brogan – ChrisBrogan.com
“I consistently showed up with helpful information that others could implement for their own betterment. ”
Richard MacManus – ReadWriteWeb.com
“Being passionate about my niche and doing it because I love it.”
David Airey –Davidairey.com
“Being honest — about what I know, what I don’t know, what I want to know and who else knows it.”
Chris Garrett – ChrisG.com
“Authority comes from doing as well as telling, so by creating my own products, such as my Authority Blogger Course, and the Problogger Book, and services such as my blog critiques and consulting, I back up my words with actions so people see that I do what I teach. These products have third party endorsement too, which also builds links and authority, for example the testimonials on the Authority Blogger Course and the Problogger book being published by Wiley, an internationally recognized publisher. If you want to have real authority you can not claim it, you have to demonstrate it. Show proof and let your audience make their own conclusion.”
Take home tips
Ultimately Authority is something that every blogger and online marketer needs to work at improving, but take home tips from this would be to give back to the community you are in, prove your worth, and be passionate about what you do. Plug at it, and over time your authority will be further established.