How to build trust and authority online (part 2 of 2)
In part 1 of how to build trust and authority online, I discussed the idea of running a business without advertising. Creating great content, becoming known as the expert in your field by creating a web presence that helps you build trust and authority. Instead of interrupting people who aren’t interested in your services, people come to you because you are the expert!
Sounds good right? But now?
In this post I am going to tell you the number 1 secret I use to build trust and authority online.
But before I do I’m going to fill you in on 5 other ways to build trust and authority online and give you some examples of how I do it in my business. Note these are all ‘online’ things, there are obviously loads of things you can do ‘offline’ that will also build your authority.
1. Start blogging
What you are reading right now is an article I have written because I am an active blogger. I have posted over 140 blog posts on my blog A Website Designer (lots more elsewhere).
Blogging has a lot of benefits but from a trust and authority perspective it has enabled me to:
- be associated with other well known bloggers,
- allow people to get to know me via the site and show some of my (limited) personality,
- build up a following on the blog and on social media,
- create content that people like to read and share, and
- engage and respond to comments on the blog, answering people’s questions etc.
All of this helps in building my authority and building trust among my audience. Your own website is the number 1 starting point for building authority because you have full control over the content and you have no restrictions.
There is a lot of info out there on business blogging, I will talk more about this in future posts as it’s something I’m quite passionate about.
Guest posting is also part of blogging but it’s about blogging on other people’s sites. This deserves it’s own mention here because when it comes to trust and authority guest posting offers a lot. Not only can you get in front of a whole new audience with your great content but you can also be seen to be associated with other expert bloggers which makes people trust you more. One place you can start with this is My Blog Guest (also see this post about their neat little track backlinks tool), however for higher authority blogs I would generally approach people directly.
Commenting on other blogs is another aspect of blogging that will help you build authority. For one thing it gives you a chance to get to know other bloggers and possibly set up relationships perhaps for guest blogging opportunities or other partnerships in the future. However in addition to this, with plugins like CommentLuv (which automatically shows your last blog post under your comment on someone else’s blog) you can also get some interest from their audience if your comments are useful (i.e. people see your useful comment and go off and check out your latest blog post on a related topic).
2. Write an ebook
I have written 4 ebooks so far. Ebooks are a brilliant way of building authority and they don’t take that much work. You can really go into detail on a topic in an ebook and you can showcase your full expertise. If you are an active blogger you will have loads of content you can use as a starting point for your ebook (your old blog posts and people’s comments).
People who take the time to download, possibly print an ebook are going to appreciate your expertise and trust you more than a 1 page blog post (assuming it’s a useful book). It’s also a really great tool for building a list.
Building authority online is about getting people to follow you and you do this by creating great content. An ebook is one way to create something more substantial than a blog post but still simple and free to create and publish (as opposed to a full book).
3. Start an email newsletter
An email newsletter is still one of the best ways to engage with people and get them consuming your content. These days however people aren’t just going to sign up on your website for a newsletter for no reason. You need to build something that is useful to people.
When I used to have an email subscription form on my site I was lucky to get 1 email sign-up per month. After creating some useful content and asking people to sign up to my emails in exchange for downloading the content (ebooks, free downloads etc) I’m getting close to 100 a month!
A lot of people still find it convenient to just get the occasional email and don’t pro-actively log onto your blog to check for the latest articles. You can also track some useful stats with your emails so you can get some idea of how effective they are (i.e. I track how many people sign up with Google Analytics and track open and click rates in the email program).
Furthermore with services like Mail Chimp it doesn’t have to cost anything.
4. Be social
It’s hard to imagine someone who has established a good amount of authority online who doesn’t have a decent social media following. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are where the people are. It’s all well and good to have great content on your blog but you need to get people to read it.
Engaging with people on social media will help you promote your posts, it will help you become associated with other experts (and built trust through association) and it will immediately build ‘social proof’ where people can see that you have influence on social networks which automatically builds trust and authority.
Incidentally you can use a service like Klout to measure your influence on social media.
As a general rule based on market share online I would suggest signing up for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in that order. Google+ mainly because they own search and announcements like the recent social search change reinforces that if you care about your search results you should be active in Google+.
5. Join some forums
Forums are still a great way to market online and set yourself up as an authority. They would have to be the easiest way to get out there and start helping people with your expertise. Once you do this you will start noticing that people see you as an authority. Why wouldn’t they? You have solved their problems.
Simply sign up to a forum in your industry and after reading some posts and getting to know the forum start looking for opportunities to help people. For some people forums are the first place they will go to get problems solved. Depending on the rules you might even be able to point people to articles you have written to help them solve their problems. This will help more as they can see the full extent of your expertise on your blog.
I’m active in a few forums, I particularly like the Australian Flying Solo forums for small business owners as a general small business forum.
6. My number 1 secret to building trust and authority online
Earlier on I said I would tell you my number 1 secret to building trust and authority online. In my field credibility is important. It’s very easy to start a website design business, and a lot of people have been burnt by dodgy providers. So people are looking for something that enables them to trust me when they visit my site. In my case I give them that thing before they get to my site and I do it by doing this.
Secret: Ranking number 1 in Google (for website design)
When you Google ‘website design’ my site comes up 1st in Australia (last time I checked, it fluctuates a bit). It’s amazing how many people who end up coming to see me or requesting a quote from us that mention this when they do so. I think most people know that Google is very good at determining the authority in any given industry. You can’t start a website design business this month and be topping Google next month it doesn’t work like that.
The great news is that a big part of why I am ranking number 1 in Google is because I have done all of the other things in this list. Creating great content that people want to share is a huge part of ranking well in the search engines. i.e. authority in people’s eyes is somewhat correlated with authority in the eyes of Google.
What do you do to build trust and authority online?
I’d love to know what you think of this post and what you do to build trust and authority online for your business so please comment below.