Your website is all set up, you are selling a great product or service, and creating great content on your site, it looks super cool, but for some reason, your site just isn’t appearing in the search engine results. What are you going to do?
In terms of ranking, where you appear on Google for search engine page results (SERPs) can make or break the number of people who will even know that your site exists. Pretty terrifying right?
So, how can you ensure that you are ranking highly for the searches that are relevant to your industry or niche?
How Google Ranks Websites
There are hundreds of ranking factors which Google takes into account when choosing when your webpage will show for certain search queries. What you have to understand is that you are basically dealing with robots! No human being at Google goes near the algorithms that determine your page ranking in the SERPS – it’s all done by bots, which ‘crawl’ the web (yes think spiders), and use machine learning to become experts in topics.
There are many improvements that you can make to your website to help you to start appearing at the top of those SERPs when a potential buyer or client searches for keywords relevant to your industry. Ensuring that your web pages are correctly structured with the right meta titles and tags and that you are offering high-quality content on the page will help to rank your website higher.
But right now, I wanted to talk to you about what you can be doing away from your own website, (known as off page SEO), to maximise people’s trust both in you, and your site.
With trust now the number one factor that clients consider when using a product or service, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your business is leading the way in promoting itself as an authority within your industry or niche.
And trust is diminishing. With trust in editorial almost in crisis, it is more important than ever to be creating content that is valuable to your audience.
As this research from Edelman shows, consumers are turning to both who they consider experts, and people just like them to offer credible information and advice.
Having a great looking website, or a perfectly formed offer is not enough. People (and Google) have to know and understand that you are a trustworthy provider of content relating to your topic.
What are Backlinks?
Google bots crawl the web using links to determine how pages relate to one other. Using sophisticated algorithms, Google uses links to understand not only the popularity of your page, but also the popularity, and trust of any sites linking to it.
Think of links as ‘the company you keep’ If you are associated with a popular, likeable person with integrity, other people will assume that you have the same values, whereas, if you run with the bad crowd, even if you yourself are an upstanding citizen, you will still get a reputation as a baddy.
For example, if you have a backlink from Wikipedia - a site which is well used, trustworthy and popular, Google will apportion trust in your domain when seeing that link. Conversely if you have links coming from a low content, irrelevant site, Google may penalise you for this, in fact, if you have a high number of links coming from questionable websites, you can incur a penalty that will stop your website from showing up in the SERPs at all!
Links from other websites to your site (backlinks) are one of the strongest signals that Google uses to determine how to rank you in the SERPs. Your site will be judged not only by the number of backlinks you have but by the quality of those links – are they coming from sites that are relevant and trustworthy?
Going back to the real world for a moment, who would you most trust to explain how a Tesla works. Elon Musk or your next-door neighbour?
As humans, we tend to rely on authorities to guide us in certain subjects, and Google understands this, and therefore will lend more weight to an authority site or person linking to your website – so Google also trusts Elon Musk more than your neighbour too.
Want to learn more about using good PR and content marketing strategies for building good quality links back to your site? Get in touch – we can help!
Establishing Yourself as Thought Leader
And it’s not just about making yourself an authority on your own page…
My name (Charlotte Sheridan) is associated with the topic of small business marketing. If I publish an article elsewhere (on another domain) my name holds “trust” so that article is more likely to rank because of “who wrote it” even with no back link.
This means, if my name is published elsewhere on the web, Google will instinctively trust what I am ‘saying’ as considers me an expert on that subject.
How do you go getting authority authorship on your domain? While focussing on your site content such as blog posts is of major importance it is easy to overlook what you are doing ‘off page’ – that is, where you are publishing information and content on websites that are you not your own, and where you may be obtaining links to your website from these other domains too!
So, how do you go about getting someone in authority to link to your site and content? Ask yourself some questions…
Who knows most about your particular niche?
Who is able to relate wider issues back to your niche?
Who can tell the world about a topic or issue relating to your industry
Has it dawned yet?
You can become an authority author within your business industry or niche! What better way to both build your credibility as a ‘thought leader’ within your industry, and maximise the trust in the product or service that you promote than to establish yourself as a trusted author on your subject matter?
People who have confidence in you will have confidence in your brand. If you can show that you understand the needs of your industry, and give solutions to issues that your clients are facing, or information that they need, you will automatically increase trust within your product or service.
And it doesn’t end there. If you become a trusted author ‘off page’ more weight is given to the content you write both on your domain, and elsewhere.
Associating yourself to trusted domains establishes trust and authority to you – and for your customers gives them an additional reason to believe in you and your product.
And it’s not just about links to your site – if you are running an email campaign, think how credibility you receive if you show links to you talking with authority on a site such as Forbes, or Entrepreneur!
All sounds great, right? But we can’t just pop out of nowhere and establish ourselves as the new guru of our industry can we?
So let’s talk about how to grow your authority as an author. I am going to talk you through, step by step, how to build an outreach campaign that is going to establish you as a thought-leader within your industry, and ensure that Google will start to see you as a trusted author.
How To Grow Author Authority
1. Do your research.
First up, take a look at who the authority domains within your niche or industry are. For example, do Forbes or HuffPost have a section which ties nicely into what you do. You need to make a list of authority sites in your sector and then look at what content you can offer them.
Ok, realistically if you are just starting out, trying to go straight into Forbes may be a stretch, so how do you chose the sites which you want to guest post on?
The key is to source domains with good ‘ranking trust signals’ - sites that are trusted by Google (and hence people) to deliver good, honest content.
You will probably know who the great authorities within your industry are; start with them. Then try Googling phrases associated with your niche – what sites are showing on the first pages of Google (make sure to avoid the ads).
You can use tools such as Alexa.com to check whether these sites are gaining visitors, and how many. Look at comments, engagement and sharing of content on those sites. Are people really reading and liking what they read?
Now take a look at other influences within your niche. Who are the authorities, who is getting lots of comments and traction? Do they have a good social media presence? Think of them as your role model, and look to post where they are posting.
How do you find them? You can use tools such as Rightrelevance.com
Simply type in your industry on niche, and you will be taken to a page showing results within that niche.
Let’s take an example – say you are a personal trainer. Type in personal trainer, and you will be taken to this page
Click influencers at the top left and you can see we have a list of companies and people who are influencers in the world of personal training.
You want to look at individuals, so filter by ‘person’ and then you have your list!
So, you now have the names, but where are they posting? You can use the articles feature within Rightrelevance, but there are probably better tools to get a real-time understanding of what they are posting and where.
One such tool is Google alerts – go to www.googlealerts and you will see this screen. Just type in set up alert – and off you go
If you want to dig deeper, a paid-for tool such as BuzzSumo can really help you to understand not just where your influencers are posting, but also what content performs best for them and within your niche.
Remember, select your targets with care, they should have good trust from Google, you don’t want to associate yourself with the ‘bad guys’!
You can use tools such as MOZ’s DA ranking to choose who to target, but generally, if it’s on the first couple of pages in the SERPs, and the existing content looks good, you are probably onto a winner.
Once you establish where you should be posting content, you can start to outreach to them to publish your content, with a call to action back to you site win – win! If you are on page one of their site – you are ranking as a trusted author.
2. Get published
So you now have a great list of authority sites where you can look to post content. How do you go from simply wanting to be associated with them, to a published article?
Many sites will have a ‘write for us’ or ‘submit content’ section on their website – take a look for it. Or try Googling ‘your niche – write for us’.
Make sure that the content you want to submit is relevant, unique and interesting. The best ranking sites get a lot of submissions, so you want to make sure that you are standing out, and have something of true relevance to say. Remember too, that most sites will only accept submissions which are not going to be posted elsewhere.
Start with sites that are pretty open to accepting submissions (but remembering they still need to be of quality!). Once you build up a credible following of your posts, you will find that door will open to the better known platforms.
3. Get the link!
Generally speaking, you want to link back to your domain on the bio of any published article – so you are author x of x company. Make sure you are associating yourself to your business. It’s all well and good being a favourite author, but if no one knows what you are ‘selling’ in the day to day, you basically just have a hobby!
If your authorship is associated with many high profile, relevant sites to your niche, you will start to build up trust in your authorship both for Google, and within followers of the content.
You also need to ensure that you are crediting yourself as author on your own domain so that your site can reap the rewards of your new ‘superstar’ status!
Reap the rewards
Once you have started to build up a good number of articles on medium level trusted sites, you will find it easier to start getting content into the highly trusted sites (the ones which include all those trust signals which I mentioned earlier).
When you have this type of authority, it will start to open doors to truly reaching your target audience in a way that resonates with them. If you are publishing quality content on quality platforms you can leverage this within your marketing plan. For example, you publish a great blog about your industry on Forbes – use this within your next email campaign. Show your customers and potential clients that you are not only offering a great product or service, but that you understand your industry as a whole, and are considered an expert!
Being associated with quality brands and authorities increases buyer trust, and is an invaluable tool with which to establish trust from your buyer