What types of blogs do you visit regularly?
I’m not referring to those you hit once because you clicked on a link and then bounce right out of. I’m talking about the blogs you save to favorites, come to, again and again, subscribe to, and perhaps even post comments on. Which ones come to mind?
Have you thought of at least one? Okay, now ask yourself why. What makes you a repeat visitor? For most people, it is about useful, meaningful information they can trust. One of the best ways you can do this is through establishing online authority.
Here is as good a definition of online authority I have seen:
“[Being an online authority is ] Becoming a thought leader on a specific topic and translating that knowledge in a meaningful way on the web.” — Vinny La Barbera
Unless you are a respected and recognizable brand with built-in credibility–such as Martha Stewart, Consumer Reports, Mayo Clinic–you will need to make some effort to establish yourself as an authority or thought the leader in your niche. I would even go so far as to say that It is a strategic imperative if you want to gain repeat visitors.
Connecting with your readers is an important first step to gaining their respect and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche. Building connections on a blog is a series of steps that mirror the real-life process of building relationships. It takes some effort but yields huge rewards.
How do you go about making a new friend? First, you are introduced. Then, you develop a casual, friendly relationship. In time, the casual relationship deepens and becomes a true friendship. Connecting with readers follows the same process. Let’s walk through it so you can see what I mean.
It all starts with the About Me page. Do not underestimate the importance of the About Me page in establishing a connection with your readers. It should have a photo and a bio that resonates with your readers and shows them that you know what you’re talking about. By letting your readers know about your background and what you have accomplished or experienced, you will build their confidence in you and increase your status as an authority.
Let’s use an example. I suffer from chronic migraines. I have been to just about every migraine site there is trying to find information about alternative and natural therapies. Of all of them, there is one site that I favorited and go to again and again. Why? I was first hooked by the About Me page. It was the first place I went after landing on the site from a google search. I wanted to know who was writing this and why. If this was just another site created to sell herbal remedies and supplements, I was not interested. What I found instead was the name of an actual person, with a nice, relaxed-looking photo, and an engaging bio explaining her personal journey with migraines. I immediately felt a connection (She knows what I’ve been through!) and accepted her as an authority.
The point is, don’t hide your identity with a generic (or non-existent) photo, and a generic bio. Your readers want to meet you. If your readers don’t know who as a real, flesh and blood human being, they will probably not connect with you, and you will have a very difficult time getting them to trust you.
Once you readers know who you are, you need to be accessible to them to develop the relationship. This is the friendly acquaintance stage and it requires being accessible. In terms of our analogy, this means returning telephone calls and text messages.
And by accessible I mean replying to comments and emails immediately. The readers who take the time to comment on your posts are the ones who are most likely to return. Show them that you care their input. If they left a link to their site, take a moment to visit their blog and post a comment or two on some of their recent posts.
To extend the friendship analogy further, this is where the friendly acquaintance becomes a person who is part of your daily life. You go out together, meet each other’s friends, you visit at one another’s homes, rely on them for advice, and so forth.
In the blogging world, this takes place on social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so forth. Target the sites that your readers will go to and that make sense for your niche and establish a presence there.
This is a natural offshoot of establishing a personal connection and goes a long way to establishing your authority. Once your readers have become followers—meaning engaged, repeat visitors—you need them to tell others about you. Back to the analogy (are you sick of it yet?), this is where your new friend says to their other friends, “Hey, I have this new friend you will really like. Let me introduce you!”
What does this have to do with authority? It’s about perception. Let me explain.
The people perceived as experts are not necessarily those who are the most educated and experienced in their field. Think of Dr. Oz, for example. He may have a million and one credentials related to medicine, but I don’t know what they are. What I do know is that he was recommended by Oprah and on that basis, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, I perceive him as an authority. In other words, you are more likely to be perceived as an expert on the basis of what others say about you, as opposed to any bona fides as you may have. The point is you need your content to be shared, linked to from other blogs, emailed, talked about, and so forth.
By consistency, I’m referring to the frequency of posting. A general rule of thumb is that you should post at least once per week, depending on the type of blog. If you are not putting out content on a consistent basis you will have a very difficult time getting anyone to view you as an authority. You don’t need to post constantly, but you do want to post frequently enough that you stay on the minds of your readers. Also, the more content that you publish the more chances you will have to reach new readers and to be found through search engines.
The number of posts you have on a particular topic is viewed by Google as an indicator of your authority on the subject. Work on getting to 100 unique, well-written and meaningful posts of 1,000 words or more.–1,500 is even better. The more content you have, the quicker you will build your authority.
Well-written, meaningful, and insightful articles are read again and again. They are shared, they are linked to, they are talked about in forums. Make your posts an invaluable resource for your audience, even if you have to spend some money to hire a professional to create or edit it for you. It is worth it.
If you want to be viewed as an authority you must stay on top of things that are happening in your niche. No one expects you to be a uncover news stories that haven’t been reported. What we’re talking about here is a nifty practice known as newsjacking. Newsjacking is the art of injecting your own ideas, perspective or spin into a breaking news story. You aren’t going to break news, but you will be telling your readers about it and how it may affect the niche.
For example, if your niche is SEO and Google come out with another update to their ranking algorithm, you should post an article speculating on the impact this change may have on SEO. Don’t wait until every other SEO blogger has given their point of view and then report on that. If your niche is migraines and the FDA comes out with some information on a new therapy or new research, alert your readers to it in a post that includes your unique take on what it could mean to fellow migraine sufferers. We’ll talk more about newsjacking and how to structure that kind of post in an upcoming article.
Authority is vital to getting repeat visitors to your blog. If you want to make money on your blog, it is not something you can ignore. These tips should help take you from being just another niche blogger to being a niche authority.
Professional writer and blogger.