It doesn’t matter if you are selling ball bearings, euro fighters or cup cakes. The Internet allows people to quickly find any number of businesses catering to a specific need, and the one they choose is often the one that is the widely accepted authority on the subject.
Because Internet browsers are notoriously fickle and short in attention span, it can be difficult to convince them in the short time you have, that you are the best option for them. Loud banners, visually appealing landing pages, customer testimonials and so on, can all help but since everyone else can do this, you’re more or less back to square one.
Set yourself apart with great content
Something has to set you apart from the rest of the pack. Now, if you have been reading my blog regularly, you’ll know that I advocate the use of high quality, SEO enhanced, engaging and relevant content as the best way to grow traffic, reach and revenue in the long term.
Regularly creating informative content also lends you a measure of authority because potential customers can see you have a lot to say about your particular niche. However, having a lot to say doesn’t necessarily give you credibility, and credibility and authority are the proverbial hand in glove combo.
Credibility and authority
What gives you credibility and by extension, authority, is the endorsement (either explicit or implicit) of other credible authorities in your niche. In other words, by yourself, building credibility and authority is more or less a word-of-mouth thing. A client you work with might recommend you on as a business that is worthwhile, but depending on your business model, this may not be ideal.
In order to increase your sphere of influence from a localised one to a more global one (which is what internet marketing, blogging and being online is all about), you need to piggy-back on the authority of others.
Network and build relationships
This is where networking and getting involved in your niche can really help. By finding prominent and well regarded sites, and contributing to them in a meaningful way, you gain authority by association.
Only high quality content will do
Of course, that authority doesn’t come for free. The higher the quality of the site you are contributing to, the more work you have to put in to meet their standards. In other words, you have to actually be of sufficient quality in your contributions to warrant being published on that site in the first place.
That’s precisely why you gain authority from being associated with a quality site… it only publishes quality content, you’re the one providing it, so you must be of sufficient quality.
For example, I regularly contribute content to respected sites like technorati and businessinsider, which are among the largest and most widely known. One article I posted to technorati, entitled “Turn sales into Internet marketing into more sales” gained over 300 tweets. This stat in itself gives that article credibility, and by association, the author who wrote it.
Finally; authority… and more
The point being that over time, people who read articles on these big sites start to view you as the authority on a given niche, because the evidence is right in front of them. When it comes time for them to make a purchase, who are they going to think of first? Most likely the person they have trusted to provide them with great information all this time. Someone they know is credible and has authority in that niche.
In addition to building credibility and authority, you also expose potential customers to your own blog, feeds, twitter, social accounts etc, and this can help to build a following and increase your reach. Perfect for driving traffic and sales.