January 25, 2024
In the first half of this two-part series, I discussed how generative AI is affecting the search and content marketing landscapes and what brands should be doing to prioritize the human element in content. In the last half, I’m sharing my top three approaches to building brand authority beyond backlinks that will help you establish your company as an authoritative resource in your market.
If you haven’t had a chance, be sure to read the first part of the guide on the CopyPress Knowledge Base.
There’s a decent amount of info within the quality raters’ guidelines relating to how Google tries to understand who creates content. To build authority, the human element is necessary. But more than that, crediting authors and showcasing writer bylines on branded content shows Google who created it—and how it fits with user search queries.
While authorship doesn’t always equal high-quality content, it’s a step in the right direction to show search engines your content isn’t spam, inaccurate, or AI-generated. If you’re familiar with Google’s developer and quality guidelines, you’ll understand the significance of E-A-T:
And if that wasn’t enough, Google added another E to the equation for “experience”in December 2022. The reason behind this addition was to solidify the idea that expertise isn’t the only important factor in establishing authority and quality. First-hand experiences are equally as important. In reality, Google’s search quality rater guidelines aren’t ranking factors. But they do influence how Google sees and presents your content to users.
That is, will Google see your content as high-quality, with evidence of experience and expertise?
Following these quality rater guidelines will ensure that it does.
The fact is that content generation tools don’t come with first-person experience—of anything. You can’t get the same nuance or feeling from AI content that you get from someone’s human experiences and expertise. And the E-A-T quality rater guidelines are excellent for painting a clear picture of what makes helpful, authoritative content. We even saw this way back in May 2022, with Google’s core update that was specifically tied to these rater guidelines.
While these aren’t actual ranking factors, your content will come under fire if it fails to meet the criteria. If you’re not working with experienced creators, niche authors, or subject matter experts, your authority — and rankings — can suffer. Plus, understanding E-A-T helps you create the types of content your audience wants to see in a way that encourages Google to rank it for the right topics and keywords.
These guidelines help take some of the subjectivity out of what makes high-quality content. There are plenty of ways to incorporate this, too, which go beyond link-building techniques. So, the framework E-A-T gives you can help you ensure your content is:
The bottom line is that bad information online can definitely have consequences in real life. By weeding out and regulating high-quality content from poor content that doesn’t meet E-E-A-T guidelines, the Google team ensures the credibility of information for its users.
Read more about it: E-A-T and E-E-A-T: What To Know About Quality Metrics
Let’s dive into the fun part.
Besides your link-building strategy, it’s absolutely possible to establish authority and trust within your industry. And with the continuing development of generative AI tools, it’s critical to make sure you’re doing so with all content your business publishes.
I’ve found three distinct approaches that are essential to start building authority beyond acquiring quality backlinks, which I’ve outlined here:
The thing to remember about content generation tools like ChatGPT is that they can’t think or create. These tools are almost like fancy parrots that repeat the words and phrases you teach them.
And the way to counter AI-generated content is to establish authority with yours. By creating original, high-quality human content, following Google’s quality rater guidelines will be that much easier.
This isn’t to say that tools like ChatGPT can’t be useful in our work, though. It’s just a matter of understanding the limitations and not relying solely on these tools to create content for you. If you are going to combine AI with your current tool stack, though, there are several ways to use it effectively without jeopardizing your content authority:
Original, authoritative content should come from the source, whether it’s your own expertise or a contributor’s. One of the pitfalls of generative AI tools — as we’ve seen — is there’s no way to tell where the information comes from or who to credit.
While there isn’t exactly a risk of plagiarism, there is the risk of publishing inaccurate information. Because of these challenges, it’s more important than ever to dive into the resources you’re using as references when creating content. Look for reviews, expert authors, relevant industry credentials, and other evidence of your sources’ credibility. Another best practice is to keep it fresh.
Don’t rely on sources if the info is out of date. A good rule of thumb is to look at publish dates and avoid referencing sources that are more than a couple of years old. With the way that content marketing and SEO are constantly evolving, though, you might even avoid resources that are more than a year old.
The next kicker here is adding more value than what’s currently ranking for your target topics. Take a look through the SERPs of each topic you create content for.
What are competitors including that you don’t already have? What can you include that competitors don’t already have? Find ways to add more value — like expert interviews or quotes — to the content you produce, and you’ll see your authority improve over time.
Watch the webinar recap: Discover the Top 3 Ways To Build Authority By Going Beyond Link Building
Go beyond publishing under just your brand name or company team and include the authors and experts who contribute to your content. Create detailed author bios to display on your site and in published articles. Make and host a separate author page where readers and customers can learn more about the people behind your brand’s content. You might even have them add links to their profiles or social pages to promote their contributions and further help establish your brand’s authority.
The point is to cultivate transparency behind your brand’s content. Knowing the face behind an article or other form of content makes a huge impact on the level of trust and confidence audiences place in your company. You don’t want to leave authorship ambiguous, like crediting “the team” or “the company.” For bigger departments and organizations, this can mean going into details to determine who’s credited and what expertise they’re contributing.
Lay out the plan for crediting contributor content even if someone should leave your organization in the future. Having these plans in place clarifies the creation and publication processes and can help your team ensure writers and authors get the proper credit.
Authority comes from the combination of original content, topical knowledge and expertise, and first-hand experience. But an important thing to remember is there’s “expertise” and then there’s “experience.” One doesn’t always equal the other. Take health care, for example. It’s one thing to give advice on how to choose the right doctor for general checkups (experience), but it’s another thing entirely to advise people on which medical treatments work for a specific condition (expertise).
This is where subject matter experts add value to your content and where AI gets tricky. The more AI-generated content out there, the less trustworthy sources become. So, it’s imperative to find expert sources right from the start. But the ability to write well isn’t the same as expertise — and this goes both ways.
You may find excellent writers who have no expertise or even first-hand experience with a topic. And you may work with subject matter experts who have the expertise but not the writing skills. The key is to combine these resources and use interviews and quotes to enhance what writers produce.
If you do have an SME writer, consider your team fortunate — you’ve found a unicorn!
But most of the time, working with an SME takes the form of fact-checking, integrating additional details that speak to the expertise, and making sure the information is accurate. Partnering with an SME is also a link-building tactic in itself. Using organic outreach and crowdsourcing, you can gather insights from experts in your topic areas. Focus on key questions that an expert can answer about the topic.
Then, look within your industry space to see who can provide these answers to your questions. After creating and publishing the content, credit and encourage SMEs and contributors to share links via their websites, social channels, and other online platforms. If you combine these approaches with your current link-building strategies, you’ll have a solid foundation that will ultimately help you build better — and lasting — authority.
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