With Google having abandoned its Authorship towards the end of 2014, many brands are panicking about how to improve their Google ranking and be regarded as a trusted source. There are still a number of key ways that you can build authority online, helping you improve your visibility and get the right type of visitors to your website.
But what are the things that are important to Google? How do you improve your own SEO and why does that matter? Here are seven simple but effective ways that you can show Google you're an authority.
Make your expertise clear online
Although Google ranking doesn't use its own Authorship, expertise, authority and trust are still the three major areas that the search engine uses to judge whether you should perform well or poorly compared to others in your industry. The best place to do this is on your company's About Us page, and it's not as complicated as you may think.
Analytics often show that this landing copy is among the most frequented by visitors, though this depends on how well your website is laid out too. There are a number of different methods to help you write an effective About Us page. Speaking directly to your audience will help you showcase your USPs without coming across as arrogant, while it will also help you set the right tone for your business. It's also a good idea to include customer testimonials if you have any, and don't forget to consider the design of the page too.
Some companies have opted for fairly creative pages to speak to their audience, but just think of it like you would an elevator pitch, or how you introduce yourself at a networking event.
Because trust is such a subjective term, it's hard to establish whether or not Google trusts your website. Using logic is a good place to start; if you're producing low-quality content that anyone can post at any time with little attention paid to engaging consumers, you're unlikely to perform well on any metrics. User engagement is a good way to measure whether you are a trusted source. Look at this and see where most of your traffic is heading and where they spend the most page time.
Advocate authoritative content
Whether it's copy on your own website, what you share online or articles you create yourself, you need to make sure that all your content speaks from an authoritative standpoint. This doesn't have to be formal, many brands show it in a relaxed and approachable manner.
Creating your own original content is a particularly good way for Google to realize you are a trusted source. The search engine loves unique, fresh thought leadership content that is regularly updated. In addition, it's a great platform to use to produce industry-relevant articles that convey your own knowledge.
It's also important to think about the people you are engaging and interacting with online. Not only will this reflect on you as a brand, but links are still one of Google's top ways of determining page rank. A link to your site from a spammy account is pretty pointless but building a network of trusted sources could help you rise up the SERPs.
Practice good SEO
Google uses artificial intelligence to help determine its search results. RankBrain - the name of the machine-learning system - was part of the Hummingbird update implemented by the company. With this and the fact that Google uses more than 200 different factors to judge ranking, you need to ensure that you are not using any so-called Black Hat SEO.
These outdated tricks may have worked previously but RankBrain and the other factors are designed to find sites that use them and penalize them severely. The use of artificial intelligence means there are no shortcuts or ways you can fool Google into thinking you're investing more time than you are or cheat your way up the rankings. The simple (albeit boring) answer is to just create good content that your audience will love.
Share your stuff
There's little point creating fantastic content if no one will ever see it. Social media is a brilliant way to reach out to potential and existing customers, as well as other industry leaders. LinkedIn is an effective way of increasing your own professional network, while platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to engage with customers and vice versa.
Neglect mobile at your peril
At the end of last year, Google made a significant change to its rankings by putting mobile-optimized pages above desktop-friendly ones for the first time. This gave everyone a clear signal that the industry has undergone a transformation and user habits have changed significantly. Google wants to see that brands are responding to this, so if you want to show the search engine you're an authority, you need to make sure your site is mobile responsive.
However, make sure you don't launch your mobile site until it's ready as it could end up hurting your ranking. It's better to have a well-ranking desktop site than a bug-filled mobile site. Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure your desktop and mobile site are cohesive and make sure you test that Google can see your site.
Prioritize your customers
Businesses know that consumers are the most important part and it's no different when it comes to Google. Understanding your customers better will help you design content that speaks to them, raising your conversion rates and helping your page rank.
Persona research, learning more about the consumer journey, understanding the buying cycle and targeting the pain points of your audience will help you engage with them.