The Guide to Establishing Online Authority

The rules of online strategy are constantly changing, and the latest changes in Google search have pushed SEO tactics in the direction of “content marketing”.  This means that companies who focus on establishing authority in a particular niche will increase the quality of their content and their users.

Stanley Milgram, former professor at Yale University, responsible for the legendary experiment in 1963 involving obedience under authority, found that the average person is very likely to follow orders from an authority figure, even if that order goes against their moral and ethical beliefs.  He says that obedience to authority is ingrained in our minds early on.  This is achieved through the culture of human society.  Obeying parents, teachers, police officers, or anyone in a lab coat.  We hold them to know more than we do, therefore, going against what they say may threaten our level of intelligence.

In the Milgram experiment, two participants were involved.  One was assigned to be the “learner”, and the other was assigned to be the “teacher”.  The learner was brought into a separate room, sat down and fitted with electrodes that could deliver electroshocks when giving an incorrect answer to the question.   The teacher was sat in another room in front of the device used to deliver shocks and control the level of voltage.  The learner was asked questions, and for every wrong answer, the teacher was instructed to shock the learner.

That was what the “teacher” experienced.  The truth is, there was no shock, and the learner was always an actor who was in on the experiment.  The learner purposefully gave wrong answers, and a man in a white lab coat regularly instructed the teacher to increase the shock level for every wrong answer.  The learner soon began make noises, and eventually start screaming for mercy.  The scientist encouraged the teacher to continue every time the teacher hesitated or asked to quit, using phrases like “the experiment requires you to continue”, and “you have no other choice but to continue”.

What were the results?  two-thirds of the teachers continued all the way to the highest level of 450 volts, where the actors were flailing in pain and becoming completely non-responsive.  All of the participants continued to 300 volts.

We are trained to respect authority; to search for authority and to verify that what we are hearing, seeing or doing is derived from the best and highest quality.  All of these factors determine how authoritative the source is.  How much power and influence has, and how much value we will get from obeying it’s power.  The best way to get power is by displaying it.  This means through creating quality content and sharing it with the world.

So how do you gain authority in the online world?  CopyBlogger offers an e-book titled “The 10 Rock Solid Elements of Effective Online Marketing”, giving you ten rules that must be followed in order to establish online authority.  Below is a summary of the ten rules along with informative links that will help you gain further insight in each area.

The Winning Difference:  This concept has been around long before the Internet existed.  It’s the X factor.  The thing that sets your content apart fro the rest.  There are endless ways to do it, but it all comes down to how unique your content is, and what makes you number one.’s video shows you what it means to create unique content.

Establish Trust:  Many think that the key to online marketing is creating traffic.  The bottom line is people like to buy things, but they hate feeling “sold”.  If you concentrate on delivering value through educational, tutorial-style content, it will attract traffic and build trust simultaneously.  It will also cause you to rank for relevant keyword-phrases in search engines.

  • Geoffrey James of gives 9 rules on how to build customer trust.
  • Nadia Goodman of gives 3 ways to build consumer trust.
  • George Taylor of Customer Think gives five keys to building trust with customers.

Creating Cornerstone Content:  This type of content shows people what they need to know in order to make use of your website and do business with you.  The content should be centered around the theme of your website.  It should not only be strategic, but also provide “off-the-hook” value to users.  It should provide a solution to your customers problems.

  • CopyBlogger offers another e-book titled “How to Create Compelling Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines”.
  • The Content Marketing Institute also offers a very informative page answering FAQs about creating content.

Headlines and Hooks:  Authority is derived from the constant battle for digital attention.  The headline of your content will determine whether or not it even gets a chance.  CopyBlogger says 8 out of 10 will read your headline, and only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.  A well constructed headline can improve these odds.  The hook is whatever keeps them reading after the first few sentences.  It should be something interesting, such as a reference to a current event or historical intersection, and it should make people want to keep reading.

  • Jeff Goins offers 5 easy tricks to help you write catchy headlines.
  • Scott Martin of The Daily Egg shows how to create a winning headline in 9 simple steps.
  • CopyBlogger’s e-book “How to Write Magnetic Headlines”

Win Over Influencers:  The basic truth about building authority says that “what others say about you is more important than what you say about yourself”.  If you make powerful friends in your niche, they can speak on your behalf and strengthen your reputation.  Social media power users can promote your content on their platforms, and your readers, followers and friends will begin to do the same.  It will be a chain-reaction of your content being spread across multiple channels.  Now that’s true SEO.

  • John Haydon of Socialbrite discusses how to get people to share your content.
  • Marissa Buie of NotableBiz offers three insights on how to get others to share your content

Attract the Most Suitable Users:  Buying a “list” of subscribers and followers online  has no value, but at the same time, just creating great content with hopes to attract hits and pageviews simply won’t work by itself.  The focus must be on getting relevant site visitors that will become loyal and request updates, whether its through RSS feeds or emails.  Getting people to want to pay attention in the long-run is the key to building online authority and selling ideas.

  • discusses 6 ways to build customer loyalty

SEO Matters:  Google constantly communicates and provides detailed updates on SEO changes and what they look for in high-ranking pages.  Some claim that SEO is a form of “gaming Google”, and that it somehow falls into the category of violating local statutes, common decency and the unwritten rules of Internet law.  Google has provided this information because they want you to utilize it, and if you do, you will rank higher.

  • offers a beginners guide to SEO
  • Search Engine Land also offers a guide to SEO

Speak Google’s Language:  Using the write platform to display content can be crucial in gaining higher rankings from Google.  StudioPress y CopyBlogger Media and WordPress both provide SEO-friendly frameworks.

  • and their framework of “Genesis”
  • Terry Mickelson of WebProNews discusses how to write proper HTML code for SEO

Design for the Future:  The main point here is to not be sloppy.  The more presentable and chic the site is, couple with how easy it is to navigate will make an enormous difference in the authority of your website.  Plus, the growth of mobile internet use and trends like Google Instant Preview are starting to make design a crucial factor in the success of most websites.

  • gives informative tutorials and on how to build a site with SEO in mind.
  • gives a guide on how to build a great mobile site using SEO.

Respect the Power:  When you become an authority in a particular niche, you become a leader, and along with that leadership comes great power.  If you treat your followers well, and don’t abuse the power, you’re authority will create endless opportunities for you and your website.

Professor X vs. Ned Newbie

CopyBlogger uses an interesting story about “Professor X” and “Ned Newbie” to provide the perfect philosophy for gaining credibility and authority online.  In this internet fable, Professor X is an expert in the established field of “green widgets”, holding a PhD in “widgetology”, and publishing several scholarly papers on the topics of green widgets, but refusing to publish them freely online.

Ned Newbie knows nothing about green widgets, but is extremely interested in the topic and has recently began devoting nearly all of his free time to learning everything there is to know about green widgets.  Scholarly journals refuse to acknowledge his existence, so Ned decides to blog everything he learns, and focuses on transforming the newly learned content into web pages that can be viewed by anyone across the planet.

After hours, days, weeks, months and years of work, Ned finally established himself online, and whenever someone needs to cite a web page about green widgets, they begin to link to Ned.

What Ned has done (that professor X didn’t do) was not only become an authority and learn everything he could in the area, but share it all as well.  Once you’ve done both of these things, you can make money by selling something related to your authority, or repackaging already created content.

To finish a graphic that displays the most important action to increase online influence:

What Makes you Influential Online graphic source