Authority is perhaps one of the most misunderstood terms in the world of Web business and it's used with such regularity by every 'Net guru that for many it's a signal that any content from a source claiming authority likely lacks exactly what it is they are promising. If building authority in your industry is important to you and your brand's digital success (and it should be), consider the following elements as your next content item is published - be it video, images or the good ol' fashion website article:
Unique, Informed Perspectives
There's nothing worse than reading something on the Web that is nothing more than a rehash of either what everybody already knows and which doesn't shed any new details or perspectives on the subject at hand. Providing a unique viewpoint on a subject matter isn't something that you can always just whip up, it requires some genuine reflection at times, but sometimes that's exactly what it takes to be an authority. To gain a fresh and unique perspective (the informed component comes from continuing researching what it you're going to write about), frame your mental gymnastics in one of the following ways: Tell a story, make a future projection or share secrets.
In today's click first, ask questions later Web, the most intriguing headlines are those that stand out and draw the attention of potential visitors. And how exactly do you do that? Headline writing is an art form that can take years to gain even some semblance of expertise or mastery in. While headlines should be descriptive of the content and informative, it pays (in the form of clicks) to be creative and entertaining, authentic and of course a little bit rowdy or raucous as well. Ask yourself - is this provocative? Would I click this link? The aim of a headline is get potential readers intrigued; writers must know their intended audience and know them well. That being said however, there are numerous lessons you can learn just by scouring the top posts in other verticals to see what's working.
Write, Rewrite, Repeat
The best writers in the world (and on the Web) obsess about their writing. No authority writes one draft of a weblog post or article and calls it a day, publishing it without any further care. Authorities spend countless hours working and reworking each and every sentence so they are absolutely perfect - at least in their own mind - and even then aren't usually satisfied. The point here is that in order to develop authority, it's necessary to put in the work, crafting a content item that doesn't only offer a unique and informed perspective (or a clever headline) but one that reads like attention has been paid to it.
Image is Everything
Something happens in the mind of a user when they arrive at a website.; their discriminating nature emerges. As someone responsible for keeping users on site, you'll need to put your best digital design foot forward. While the overall design of a website is certainly important, the actual content design is equally crucial to successful consumption. The use of header tags (e.g. h1, h2 or h3), bold/italics, offsetting/indenting quotes and whole sections, appropriate line spacing, font choice, and using obviously visible links are all ways to present an authoritative image - or at least give users a sense that you've done more than just write it out. Don't forget the use of mages either, which can send strong and supportive messages about the focus of your content.
After publishing your finished work, content creators will start to the see the fruits of their labor - shares and comments - start appearing. While writers (authorities) can be sensitive to the critiques of others, it's important to receive this feedback and analysis as it helps to further expound and expand upon the unique perspective you're giving and can even help you improve as a write, making the content item you've spent countless hours writing, rewriting and writing again even better.
Building authority, on the Web or off, requires a commitment to forming genuinely meaningful relationships, providing value to that audience (value that expresses your master of a subject) and a dedication to listening to and learning from others.