Last time, I talked about why proper site navigation leads to a positive user experience. Today we’re going to dive deep into relationship building and becoming an authority site within your niche, and discover why these tasks are critical for your SEO campaign’s success in 2017.
Earning Your Visitors’ Trust
In the past, when Google and other search engines were still laying down the groundwork for how to effective rank websites, people who created made-for-AdSense (MFA) sites discovered that sprinkling content with relevant keywords could quickly attract visitors to the site whenever someone searches that particular keyword on Google search. This led to a boom in mini MFA sites that spanned several years, a lot of AdSense-rich webmasters, and a frustrated audience who are after real information, advice, or products.
This all ended in 2014 when Google re-wrote its Quality Ratings Guideline from top to bottom. From then on, Google considers expertise, authoritativeness or trustworthiness at a higher level of ranking instead of just the amount of relevant keywords a website contains.
Today, earning your audience’s trust takes a lot of work to achieve. And for good reason. The more people trust your website, the higher chances they’re going to recommend it to someone else. When this happens, your site traffic increases, and exposure to the products or services you sell doubles without any marketing efforts from your side.
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Defining Authority: How Google Ranks Based on People’s Trust
Building a relationship with your readers and website visitor is significant to your rank as an authority figure within your niche. Moz separates authority into two sections – entire website (domain authority) and an individual page/blog post (page authority).
Search engines like Google use several factors to establish how trustworthy or how much your visitors value your site, such as the sites that link to your website, or the number of people who share one of your blog posts to their social media accounts.
So how do search engines establish trust?
Google explains that in order for a website to be trustworthy, it should pass most tests for error pages, page load speeds, URL issues, structured data, mobile-friendliness and other performance-related issues. The search engine provides tools to help fix issues like these on the Search Console.
You can go back to the first part of this series, if you need help with site navigation, usability, and improving site performance.
Quality and quantity of inbound links to a domain or page
Whenever someone from another blog, website or social media account talks about your website and adds a link going to your domain or page, that link becomes an inbound link. Search engines can count all inbound links of your website, and weighs the quality of each inbound link.
Quality of inbound links is defined by links from trusted pages or websites. Interestingly, search engines determine if inbound links come from a trusted source by the source’s site performance and quality/quantity of inbound links it has as well. It’s a never-ending circle – a circle you should be prioritizing in your SEO campaign.
Taking Advantage of Social Media & Other Must-Use Link Building Techniques
Once you’ve ensured your site performs as user-friendly as possible and pass Google’s standards, your next task is to build the number of quality inbound links going to your site/page.
In the past, link building efforts were exceptionally complicated. If you were around trying to be up-to-date with internet marketing in 2005 to 2010, you know what I’m talking about. From graphs to charts, tiers of link building sources, and a ton of strategies just to spread the domain or specific page of your website all over the web.
Today, link building still requires a lot of effort, but it isn’t as complicated. Here are some well-known techniques to build quality links and establish your “expertise, authoritativeness or trustworthiness” in Google’s eyes:
Write Unique, Share-Worthy Content
The number one way to become an authority in your field is to share valuable information that’s worth sharing. You wouldn’t even have to promote it to high heavens. As long as you write a high-quality, information-packed, and original content, you just have to wait for people to read it, and it will “organically” (or naturally) be shared.
Find Trusted Sites and Guest-Blog
In most cases, you aren’t the only authority site within your niche. Instead of just writing valuable content on your blog, share your knowledge elsewhere. You can contribute to industry publications, blogs, journals and other sources that you think has the same target audience as your website. If you can manage to guest-blog from these sources, provide authentic and useful information, then leave a link of your website at the very end, not only have you built a quality inbound link, you’ll also be benefiting from new audience interested in what you have to offer.
Find Where Fellow Authority Site Owners Hang Out
It could be a forum, another website, or a marketplace, but there is always a place online where people with the same niche hang out. Find this hub, get to know people from this spot, and make friends. You’ll find both good and bad connections, but as long as they’re relevant to your niche, they could be valuable connections for future guest-blogging, or to share promotions with.
Keywords still matter when building quality links. However, search engines lean more to keywords that are naturally sounding. If you want to rank for a particular word or phrase, include that word/phrase on the title of your post, so that if someone decides to share your content, the keyword you want to rank for is included in the inbound link.
Take Advantage of Your Social Media Accounts
As Shaun Anderson explains in this super-comprehensive link building guide, social media posts (no matter how popular) won’t replace posts from websites just yet. However, it is important that you utilize the trending/viral potential of social media. Whenever you publish new content (either on your site or others’ site), get the link and share it to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social media networks you keep.
No one has become an authority within his/her niche overnight. No website has gained the trust of its visitors with just one visit. You earn the trust of your visitors, the people within your niche, and search engines after months of planned efforts, proper link building, and continuously sharing your knowledge and expertise through your website.
Becoming an authority won’t be easy, but if you prioritize relationship building with everything you do – from creating high-quality content and providing valuable services/products, to building links and performing other SEO techniques, people will flock your way.