Authority is defined as the power to influence or the right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. It can also be used to describe a a person who has power and control.
Authority plays a significant role in selling online. Authority helps your content get found online. Authority engenders trust so people will buy from you when they find you.
Matt Cutts once headed up Google’s webspam team and authored the company’s SafeSearch content filter. His advice to webmasters is this: “Build a site so fantastic that it makes you an authority in your niche.”
Authority’s Role in Online Sales.
What kind of sale you’re making determines the role authority plays in your online sales. Some sales are low-risk, low-value. The consequences a consumer faces if he makes a purchasing mistake on these types of sales are insignificant. The consequences of making a purchasing mistake in this type of sale is not severe nor does it last long. On the other hand, there are other businesses making high-risk, high-value sales. As the description implies, when a consumer makes a purchasing decision mistake in these types of sales, the consequences may be severe and long-lasting.
Authority’s Role in Low-Risk, Low-Value Sales
Authority plays a much smaller role in low-risk, low-value type of sales. An example of a low-risk, low-value type of sale is buying office supplies. Your business probably isn’t going to grind to a halt if you purchase the wrong paper clips or pens. The risks involved in making a purchasing mistake are low in this type of sale. That’s why authority doesn’t come into play in these types of sales.
Authority’s Role in High-Risk, High-Value Sales
The more risk there is for the consumer if they make a purchasing mistake, the more authority plays a role in the sales process. Authority plays a critical role in high-risk, high-value sales. The potential consequences of making a purchasing mistake are significant. While the consequences of making a purchasing mistake buying a box of copier paper are negligible, the consequences of a mistake can be huge when buying real estate.
Keep in mind, high-value doesn’t just refer to monetary value. While a high sticker price definitely raises the risk of a sale, sometimes value is measured in other ways such as health and happiness. Your insurance may take finances out of the equation when choosing a heart surgeon, but this decision still qualifies as high-value.
When you’re selling your knowledge and expertise, authority plays a pivotal role. In these types of sales, authority is the fuel for the engine.
Authority is critically important in high-risk, high-value sales.
There have been numerous psychological studies on the power of authority. These studies show time and again that people are more likely to comply with a request when it comes from someone with perceived authority. Whether it’s a white lab coat or a police uniform, your clothing choices can impart a degree of authority. Titles can also impart authority as well. An article on health and wellness written by Dr. Smith automatically has more authority than an article written by Francine the freelance writer.
Demonstrating your authority and expertise online
The first step in demonstrating authority is to create a professional looking website. The design of your website can act like a white lab coat or uniform in the quest to build authority. However, looking the part is merely the first step. Next you’ll need LOTS of high quality content that can be easily found online.
Some people refer to publishing content online on a regular basis as blogging. Blogs are simply another name for Content Management Software (CMS). The software that powers blogs was created to make publishing content online quick and easy. Just because your Aunt Mary documents her meal plan on her blog that nobody reads is not an excuse.
One of the unexpected benefits of publishing content regularly is that your content will often appear in what is known as a “long tail search.” Long tail search terms are words and phrases that aren’t used very often by users to search for information. Many times, these long tail search terms are ONLY used by people who are seriously researching a purchasing decision.
Publishing Quality Content = Authority
It’s not just human beings who respect authority. According to an article at SearchEngineLand.com, Google actively implementing protocols used to identify expertise and authority on the web. The result, a new classification of websites and landing pages dubbed “Your Money or Your Life.” These new guidelines are used by human quality raters and apply a higher standard to websites that deal with high-risk, high-value transactions such as finances and health. The new standards include evaluating site design as an element of authority of a website. Amateurish web design is mentioned as a detractor to authority in the leaked documents.
Getting your website to be displayed when someone does a search for information online is perhaps the best way of establishing your authority online. Consumers have learned that the “best” content is not in the ads – but rather in the organic search results that appear below the ads. This bias is confirmed in a study done by BrightEdge, which revealed that organic search drives 51% of online traffic – while paid search only drives 10%.
Consumers have learned over the years to trust the search engine’s “recommendations” a.k.a. the websites returned on the first page of a keyword search. Getting your website listed on this prime online real estate is a sure fire way to establish your authority in your niche market.