Insightful takes on scaling your business

The research is in: Your startup’s brand authority matters

It really does

brand-authority
Amanda Milligan
Story by
Amanda Milligan

Marketing Director, FractlAmanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses alike. Throughout her content marketing career… (show all) Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses alike. Throughout her content marketing career, she’s directly managed the creation of 200+ content campaigns, led the strategy for 20+ clients, and run the 30-episode podcast Ask Amanda About Marketing. She spoke at the 2019 SMX Advanced conference and at Pubcon Pro Las Vegas 2019.

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You might’ve long suspected it, but the evidence is finally in: The authority of your brand amplifies the authority of your content.

It makes sense. People want to trust the creators of what they’re reading. It’s the difference between a stranger telling you something and a dear friend saying something else. Whose message are you more likely to believe?

But my team and I wanted to know for sure. So we worked on a project with BuzzStream to see how people rated the authority of different snippets of the same hypothetical article. The one difference? The source of the information.

[Read: How to shake up your content creation strategy and boost engagement]

Travel and Leisure represented the well-known brand opinion, and SummerVacations.com represented the lesser-known brand opinion.

Look at the discrepancy in perception:

When I saw the results, I worried new or smaller brands might see this and panic, thinking they’d never stand a chance against the big names.

But I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.

Here’s how lesser-known brands can compete against the behemoths.

Rely on research and data

When you’re saying things as a brand, you’re basically asking people to take your word for it.

Unless, that is, you have some evidence to provide them to back up your claims.

This is why so many brands have had success doing data-focused content marketing.

[Read: 4 lessons I learned after spending $6 million on Google Ads last year]

Basically, you think about a common question or problem in your industry that you want to answer or explore, and then you find a creative way to gain insights through data. You can run surveys, analyze publicly available government data, scrape social media, etc.

Sometimes, you already have the data! If you’re trying to position yourself as an authority, look internally to see what information you have to offer your audience.

Earn (and deserve) backlinks

Google hasn’t revealed all of the secrets of its ranking algorithm, though we know it’s quite involved. Some marketers suggest workarounds rather than trying to dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

In circumstances where most of your customers do (or could) come from search, don’t worry: There are ways to rank.

I know this because Google’s made some things clear: Content and backlinks matter a great deal.

I’ve addressed content to an extent, but I haven’t talked about backlinks, which serve as a sort of reputation currency in the search engine world.

[Read: 6 cringeworthy mistakes founders make when pitching journalists]

Think of it this way: If someone links to your site from their own, they’re essentially saying they trust and believe the content on that page (or trust the brand itself). But those who trust you matter, too. The more trustworthy they are, the more trustworthy you appear.

So how do you get backlinks from high authority sites? Use the data-focused content I talked about earlier! When you create newsworthy information, you can pitch those projects to reporters who have audiences that are likely to love it.

Granted, digital PR is a lot of work, but it’s also the most effective, especially when it’s adopted as a long-term strategy and investment.

Here are some other methods you can try:

  • Respond to HARO requests: Journalists are out there looking for experts to chime in on various topics; make your brand’s thought leaders available to contribute!
  • Write guest posts on publications that are authoritative and relevant to your niche.
  • Feature influencers in your content in a positive light; they’ll be more likely to share it and potentially link to it!

It’s true that recognized and respected brands will have a leg up over the competition, but that doesn’t mean smaller players can’t claim authority of their own.

If you take the time to create well-researched, valuable content, and others recognize that content (and link to you), that can go a long way in building up your authority in your space.

Published April 9, 2020 — 06:00 UTC

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