Promoting thought leadership and establishing industry authority are principal concerns for most business.
Demonstrating your authority within your niche can be very powerful. Cultivating a reputation of authority for your company, brand, or employees develops trust with existing customers and can also attract new clients.
Building a name for yourself and gaining the respect needed to be considered an authority is extremely difficult. Building authority takes a very long time and a lot of hard work and dedication. Also, similar to building links you can never stop building authority as you must continuously work to foster a reputation of influence.
However, extremely difficult does not mean impossible, and you can actually work to build your authority in conjunction with a link building campaign.
But first, let’s look at some of the reasons you should strive to establish yourself as an expert in the first place.
Established Authority Makes Promotion Easier
If you are already working to build links it is absolutely worth your time to also work on developing your status as an industry leader. One reason to endeavor to build authority is that it will help with promotion. When you are viewed as authoritative within your niche it makes promoting content and linkable assets much easier.
For one, when you are an established authority you typically have a large following. Having a devoted audience means improved amplification. The people who follow you and view you as an expert are much more likely to share your content, giving it increased visibility.
It is much easier to promote linkable assets when you can simply share them with an existing and enthusiastic audience.
Moz is a good example, as they have grown an enormous and passionate following. Again, we cannot take for granted all the time and effort that Moz has put into developing this audience. It won’t be feasible to achieve this level of authority right away, but for the purpose of this example Moz works well.
When Moz wants to promote a new blog post all they have to do is post it on their blog, share across their social channels, and their fans will do the heavy lifting in terms of promotion. People view Moz as an authority and trust their content, and are willing, even eager, to share their work. An increased level of trust with your target audience is one of the many reasons you should attempt to build your authority wherever possible.
Also, if you can achieve expert status it will make it easier to engage with other industry leaders. Again, this can help greatly with amplification. By connecting with other authoritative figures within your niche you can also leverage their (often large) audiences for further amplification of your content.
Developing your brand, company, and employees into authoritative figures within your industry will make the promotion aspect of your link building campaign much less difficult. Again, it will take time and strong commitment to get to this level, but once you’re there you can see the benefits are great.
Recognized Authority Leads to More Links
Building your credibility within your niche can also bring more backlinks. The potential for extra links is another reason to always consider how you can increase credibility while working through your link building campaign.
As mentioned before in the Moz example, authority builds trust. When you consistently prove you are knowledgeable and helpful, you will build a following of people who trust you and the content you produce.
As you cultivate this trust, you will see it begin to lead to links. Links are essentially a symbol of trust – one site links to another that it trusts and endorses. If people trust the content you create they are much more likely to link to it.
Cementing yourself as an industry leader will also lead to more link opportunities. When you are a trusted expert it opens new doors and you can pursue new avenues to build links. Some potential opportunities that could arise include:
- New high-profile guest posting prospects
- Regular columns on industry leading sites
- Collaborative opportunities with other experts
- Speaking engagements at industry conferences
- Interview requests
Again, fostering a reputation of esteem and trust is by no means easy or straight-forward. However, if you are able to build your online reputation it will translate to more links, among other benefits.
Building Authority While You Build Links
Clearly there is a lot of power in being a recognized authority within your industry.
However, as I mentioned before and will mention again – building authority is very, very hard. It’s not magic, becoming an industry leading expert is a long-term and ongoing uphill battle.
But achieving expert status is not impossible and you can always be working towards that goal. Particularly while you build links, you can also develop your reputation. Here are some fundamental strategies you can follow to build authority while you build links.
- Solve customer problems
- Be active on social media
- Interact regularly within online communities/forums
Solve customer problems
The absolute best way to demonstrate your expertise is to consistently and reliably help your target audience.
Identify the major pain points of your audience and craft content centered on these issues. Not only can you build great links this way, but by addressing buyer persona pain points and providing solutions for them, you can start to build credibility and authority with your audience.
For more insight on how to help solve problems for customers, read Jon Ball’s article on Search Engine Watch.
Curating useful content for your followers can help build trust and authority as well. Even if you don’t actually produce the content that answers your audience’s questions, you can locate these answers and make them easily accessible. Not only is this helpful to your audience, but it also demonstrates your knowledge of the industry and of course can lead to backlinks from the authors you feature.
Providing valuable information that solves the specific problems people face will help you break through the other noise within your niche to build worthwhile links and stand out as an expert.
Be active on social media
Social media also can play a large role in building authority.
It is imperative that you be active on social media. Social gives you the opportunity to regularly engage with your audience, which can often lead to the discovery of the aforementioned pain points (and link opportunities).
Not only can you find buyer persona problems, but also social allows you to respond to these problems in real-time. Sometimes crafting content around a specific issue can take too long, and by utilizing social media you can address a particular topic more swiftly.
You can also use social media to connect with other influencers in your niche. Leveraging these infleuncers’ audiences will increase amplification, and associating yourself with these experts will increase your own credibility and help build recognition with prominent industry figures.
Interact regularly within online communities/forums
Other viable channels for demonstrating your professional know-how, while also searching for link prospects, are online communities and forums.
Similar to social media, these communities can be a great place to uncover customer pain points and respond to them accordingly. However, where social makes it easy to connect with a person one-on-one, forums traditionally make it easier to engage in large group discussions.
You could even create your own community or forum to fill a potential gap where no such community exists. A great example of how to do this successfully is Mark Traphagen’s popular Google Authorship & Author Rank community. Mark recognized there was no community covering this topic so started his own, and now it has over 28,000 members!
Not only can these forums be potential gold mines in terms of link prospects, but they also offer a platform to demonstrate authority. People openly ask for assistance within these communities, and by interacting and engaging in the thoughtful discussions that transpire you can exhibit your knowledge to a focused audience.
Developing a reputation as a thought leader and industry expert is certainly no small task. Building authority takes time and dedication. But with persistence and no shortage of ingenuity it’s definitely possible to establish yourself as an industry front-runner, and you can start working to that end while you are building links.