‘Content authority’ has been popular in modern marketing for a few years now. You might also know it as ‘domain authority’ or ‘page authority’ - either way, it’s one of the main ranking factors for search engines and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Gone are the days you would stuff keywords in left, right and centre on web pages with no context or naturality in order to rank on SERPs. In fact, the search engines will actively penalise websites that try that sort of thing nowadays.
SEO has become a game of who can answer questions with the most relevant, up to date and authoritative content possible.
In SEO terms, that means the amount of trust search engines have that you know what you’re talking about. If they deem you to be trustworthy and knowledgeable, then your website will rank higher consistently for search terms around the topic you’re trusted on.
“So, how do I prove to Google that I know what I’m talking about?”
Increasing your content authority
Well, it’s not an exact science. Lots of factors influence your authority within search engines. Getting all of these little things correct for long periods of time will definitely help your cause in Google’s eyes. Here are some of them:
Firstly, to work out what work needs to be done on new content, you have to assess your existing archive. This is to measure how well it’s performing and if it’s achieving what you want it to. If you have content that already serves its purpose and performs great, there’s no need to prioritise it later in the process.
We recommend that you:
- Create a list of all of the content on your website. You’ll want to compile a list of URLs and put them in a spreadsheet. If you have a small site, you can do this manually, but otherwise you could an SEO spider tool like Screaming Frog to compile a full list.
- Categorise your content and analyse the stats. Sort your pages into sections of the funnel - Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Then analyse the effectiveness of each depending on where it sits in the funnel. This can be done by measuring it’s traffic, rankings, bounce rate, conversion rate, among other things.
- Create Buyer Personas and match them to content. Take a short break from your content and focus on your ideal audience. Buyer Personas are what we call our audience profiles. They work a little bit differently to your average profile. Personas are a great way to determine what exactly your website visitors are interested, motivated and engaged by - so you can focus on being the most relevant answer to their questions.
- Identify gaps and optimise to start filling them. So you have a full list of your website page content and all your Buyer Personas that tell you how to target them. Now start to match content to persona. Identify profiles that aren’t being addressed with your content. In addition to that, look at underperforming content; why is it not serving the purpose you wanted?
If you work through all the content on your existing website with this process in mind, you’ll be able to perform a basic content audit that will get you started on the road to better content authority.
SEO best practices
Any content on your website - whether that’s blogs, case studies, inner pages or your homepage, needs to comply with SEO best practices. That means every page needs:
- A Title tag.
- A Meta description.
- Images with alt tags.
- A relevant H1.
In addition to this, you need to sit down with your marketing department (or agency) and set out a strategy for every page of content on your site. Determine what the goals of the page are and optimise the elements above to focus on those topics.
Those are the basics that you need to always be mindful of when creating content.
For much more information on SEO strategy - look here!
Once you’ve got the basics down on each page (source of content) of your site - the next priority is keyword strategy.
Map out all the pages of your site. Then focus on your top two or three terms you would like to rank for on that page. For example, for Red-Fern it could be:
- Homepage - ‘digital agency’, ‘growth marketing’
- Inner Page - ‘social media marketing’, ‘inbound marketing’
- Blog - ‘web content strategy’, ‘website marketing’
Tailor your content to include these terms - as naturally as you can. Have them appear once or twice in the body of your content.
Choose a main keyword and add it to your title tag, H1 and meta description. You want Google to be clear on your intent to create great content for your target terms.
The right keywords for your business will depend on the overall SEO health of your website. The higher your domain authority, the more competitive terms you can target to rank for. If you’re just getting started - focus on longtail terms with lower competition scores.
Link auditing strategy
In order to boost your content authority, you’ll need to focus on maintaining a great link profile for your website.
This is basically a measurement of all backlinks your site has ever gained. That’s all the instances in which another website has linked to one of your website pages.
Google loves websites with healthy link profiles, with lots of high quality backlinks.
Of course, it’s not just about having lots of high quality links. You also need to get rid of those pesky low quality links that a website always accumulates over time. They will damage your authority and make Google trust you less on topics you want to rank for.
So, to get a clear picture of your backlink profile, it’s time to do a link audit. The best tool we’ve found for this is SEMRush as they have a great backlink audit tool:
Ahrefs is also a useful tool to track link pickups and dropoffs, but it’s behind a decent paywall for in-depth audits:
In order to complete a simple link audit complete these steps:
Use a site crawler tool (above) to export your entire link profile into a spreadsheet. This should include:
- The URL of the page linking to you.
- The URL of the page on your site that is being linked to.
- The anchor text used.
- The follow/nofollow status of the link.
- A measurement of the link’s trust & authority.
Analyse your backlinks. This can be done manually or with an analysis tool, depending on the amount of links you’re dealing with. If your website is relatively new or low traffic, we would recommend completing the process yourself using a handy full detail guide. If you use a tool, you want to focus on the following details:
- List of unhealthy or broken backlinks (i.e., backlinks that don’t link to active pages).
- Domain authority (DA).
- Page authority (PA).
This process should get your backlink profile a gold star from Google - as long as you maintain it month to month.
The final step is to create a content strategy that will address all the weaknesses that you have identified up until this point.
Focus on strategising content that achieves all of the goals:
- Content that is targeted to a specific Buyer Persona.
- Content that is keyword focused.
- Content that is SEO Optimised and stick to Google’s guidelines.
- Content that is engaging and will naturally attract backlinks.
Of course, in content, some gaps are bigger than others. It makes sense to fill those big gaps first and get to the smallest ones when you have time.
If a piece of content has the potential to generate a ton of new traffic, it gets a high priority and should be edited or created as soon as possible.
Over time, keep creating content prioritised to fill gaps and target audiences that are most likely to engage with your content. Google will appreciate that you are producing relevant, informative and useful answers to their visitors questions. This, in turn, will increase your content authority long term.
Tactics to boost your authority now
You may be reading this blog thinking “That’s a lot of time consuming work for longer term gain” - well, yes, it is. There’s no doubt getting the small, more basic things correct first should be your top priority for your strategy to increase content authority.
However, if you’re in a position where you have already got all the above strategy in place - here’s what you can do right now to give you website a boost.
Promote your content on social media
Social signals are a big ranking factor, so you’ll need to promote your content on social media in order to start producing those signals for Google to notice. Otherwise, your content is just going to sit on your site all by itself doing nothing.
If you’re a business that already has a large, engaged following on social, then it’s just a case of incorporating your content into your social strategy. Simply start promoting it to your audience and the strength of your shareable work will speak for itself.
If you’re just getting started with your business or haven’t prioritised social before, you’ll need to spend to get up and running. Paid social media advertising can be a very simple process that produces an amazing return on investment. You just have to do it right.
Firstly, set goals and objectives for your paid social - and a way to track KPIs. Decide if you have the skills in-house to manage a paid social strategy or if you need to outsource an agency.
Outsourcing gives you a ready made expert at your disposal and time that you might not have yourself - of course, there’s a financial consideration to make with that option. If you’re planning to do everything yourself, there is a great step by step guide here.
Increase your content frequency... Today
It’s not easy to post quality content on a regular basis. But if you do, then improving your Content Authority will be much easier.
Blogging is a really useful way to signal to Google that you’re in for the long haul. If you publish informative, keyword focused blogs once, twice or three times a week, search engines will start to take notice of you much more quickly. This will increase how quickly your content matures and gets picked up for target keywords.
Most bloggers are not consistent over time. That’s why they see fluctuations in their authority.
Of course, the more content you publish (as long as it’s high quality) the more chances you have to engage and convert visitors. This will help with Google too - as another ranking factor is the amount of time a visitor stays on your page once they navigate to it from a Google search results page.
Work on internal linking
While it's impossible to directly influence every aspect of your website SEO immediately, internal linking is one area over which you have complete control. Effective internal linking can not only provide a better user experience for people viewing your content, it can boost rankings and help you manage links across your entire site.
Some strategies you can use to help optimise your internal linking include:
- Linking to relevant content users will be helpful in learning about the topic at hand.
- Using natural anchor text that makes sense to users.
- Not using artificial anchor text in an effort to fool the search engines.
- Linking from high PA (Page Authority) pages to lower PA page to pass on authority.
- Linking from high-traffic pages to high-value pages to increase conversions.
How Red-Fern can help your content authority
The secret to maintaining your content authority is to never stop learning. While it can be daunting to constantly be proving you’re capable and authoritative, it is also important for the longevity of your website’s reputation on search engines.
If you truly know and understand what you’re talking about - and you stick to the advice in this blog - Google will eventually figure out that your site is worth ranking. There’s a reason google has got to be the world's leading search engine - it learns very quickly who is an expert and who isn’t.