If you are a university student, which book would you read – the one recommended by a learned professor or the one you can get cheap from a second-hand book seller? Whose advice would you take for buying a sophisticated gadget – a gadget-guru or a grandpa?
The short point we are trying to make here is that you seek advice from those with authority on the subject in question. You respect opinion of those you trust.
This applies also to website / blog visitors. If you have a blog with a high perceived authority on a subject, say, ‘water purification’, your blog will be listed high on major search engines and more people will discover it while searching for this subject. And if your content is authoritative and useful, they will visit your blog again and again and recommend it to others. The blog’s authority is likely to rise over time not only because you will continue to enrich it but also because more people will promote it on the web and perhaps in the real world too.
Now don’t tell us, you don’t care for your blog’s reputation. If that were the case, you would not be blogging at all or keeping your blog private to yourself. You might not be blogging to make money out of it, but you still need appreciation, audience, social engagement and feedback. No? And if money making is your primary aim for blogging, you cannot live without high authority.
What we are discussing here is NOT how to add a thousand visitors a day or get the top place in search pages. We are advising that you make your blog valuable; number of visitors will go up without asking for that. In any case, if you are after numbers, we have a question to you: do you want a crowd of casual visitors or people who care for what you say? What type of visitors will give you correct feedback and [if you keep the blog for business] buy your product?
What adds value and authority to a blog?
Blogs, unlike plain websites, are updated regularly and this itself gives them more value than other websites. Blogs are also taken as serious stuff as compared to social networking platforms [e.g. Facebook, Twitter] and this too gives blogs an inherent advantage. Bloggers, therefore, have to just leverage their strength with sincerity towards blogging and a bit of technical tweaking.
1. Be original.
We are not suggesting that you compose a poem or create a painting and put it in your post. If you can write about a subject - be it a literary theme, a technical subject, a fine art or something else – in your own words, that is originality enough.
Just be your own. Do not copy others. If you find yourself weak on a theme and yet still want to write on it, do a lot of research and assimilate knowledge before you give your opinion on it.
2. Have genuine expertise in the subject.
This follows from the first point. Write on topics on which you have expertise. Even if your blog discusses commonplace topics such as the current political happenings around you, you will have high authority if you have a deep understanding of the subject matter - in this case, politics.
Very generic descriptions of a situation, rants about one’s everyday life, poetry or prose that is superficial, superficial arguments… these are some examples of dull mind. If you are not an expert, you can’t fake expertise beyond a point. We have tried to show it on this post on Indian Top Blogs that faking does not help, especially in the long run.
Authority come with hard work and perseverance. It does not come with quick-fixes and paid SEO. In fact, serious search engines such as Google and Bing look for authoritative content so that searchers get satisfactory results. Google recently declared that it would work for rewarding websites with in-depth articles.
3. Have great resources.
Top blogs have a great resource base. Such blogs consistently post quality content, which lets their resources grow over the years. In addition, they work hard to link to other high-quality resources. In some cases, they post e-books, presentations, podcasts, videos etc to support their main content.
4. Maintain the blog the way a professional would do.
To be, and to look, professional, the blog must not only have quality content, it should be presented in a professional way. Professionalism does not mean being too serious, boring or technical. It means, being standard, top-notch, outstanding. It also means being presentable.
Do not allow grammatical and proof mistakes in the written matter. Use colours and text properly. Keep navigation easy. Keep the blog clean and uncluttered.
You can also visit this post on ITB; it shows that great websites are clean and uncluttered.
5. Socialise; put value in your comments on others’ blogs / walls / etc.
Socialising is an important aspect of blogging. Unless you are a celebrity blogger, you must not ignore it altogether. Even celebrity bloggers must socialize, but the rules work differently for them.
Don’t make comments on others’ blogs just to praise them so that they reciprocate the praise. Don’t just ‘like’ things on others’ Facebook walls or similar places. Praise, but with a word on why the praise is well-deserved. Contribute by narrating your own parallel story. Caution against a pitfall. Suggest a way out. Participate in the ongoing discussion by putting forth your point.
6. Do not indulge in fights or personal attacks even if you are deeply offended by someone's point of view.
However big an expert or public figure you may be, people will hate you if you don’t conduct in a dignified manner. Remember the hate it generated on the web when a learned Supreme Court judge in India recently said that 90 percent of Indians are fools?
Some bloggers cover up their lack of depth with off-the-cuff and intemperate comments and blurting out of emotions. Such posts sometimes make the post ‘viral’ as people tend to enjoy fireworks and tension, but that is not what a regular, serious, blogger would strive for. We suggest that you use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for such quick reactions and reserve the blog for quality stuff.
Generally don’t criticize people, criticize ideas. Criticise without hurting egos. Don’t berate a particular religious or racial group. Don’t attack scriptures, national symbols and such other icons that people emotionally relate with. Even if you need to criticize something strongly, use temperate language.
Now a few slightly technical tips. These will not add to the intrinsic value or authority of your blog but help it stand out in the crowd.
7. Give your blog an independent identity.
Blogs and websites that are not sub-domains of a portal but have their own identity are taken more seriously by people as well as search engines / web directories / ranking sites. For this reason, the website ‘www.baking.com’ will have a higher web authority than ‘www.baking.wordpress.com’ or ‘www.indiannewspaper.com/author/baking’.
For further details, you might consider visiting the ITB post on value of having an independent domain name.
8. Keep cleansing the blog of incoming dirt.
We add widgets, hacks, apps, links, shared content and so on to spruce up our websites / blogs / social networking accounts and to add new functionality on them. Though the internet is full of good Samaritans who give away useful content, some black sheep offer malicious content in the garb of useful apps etc. You must, therefore, take all precautions before putting anything on your blog, which has code in it. Also note that sometimes even innocuous looking content such as images, songs and video – you might think that these cannot have any code other than data – might have harmful code embedded in it.
Beware of websites that offer to help your blog, and for that ask your password.
Also beware of web directories, listings etc which have a lot of advertisement and unrelated matter. Similarly, avoid link sellers and link-farms - sites that promise numerous reciprocal links.
Remove unwanted comments from your blog. Avoid comments that contain blank, irrelevant, praise; these are often sent by spammers. We’d soon come out with a post on the tricks comment spammers use to lure gullible bloggers.
9. Go after links, the way it will help visitors.
SEO experts often ask website owners to collect large number of links from other sites that have good Google PageRank and that come high in search results. Together with it, it is often suggested that we interlink our own pages on the website / blog and give a meaningful and relevant ‘anchor text’ to every link. It's good SEO advice, and it helps your blog build authority too. However, we’d like to further refine the linking logic: go after links but in a way that the linking helps visitors. For example, in this very post, we have given links to our earlier posts so that visitors wanting to read further on this subject can visit those posts.
Why not visit this ITB post on the importance of links: Give your blog links and backlinks.
10. Get Google authorship.
Google now has a useful provision called ‘Google authorship’. In short, if you go for Google authorship, your name and photo show up when your blog / website comes on a Google search page. This is a minor trouble, but helps by giving you a visual identity beyond your blog / website.
You can visit these post on IndianTopBlogs for blogging tips: all tips we've posted so far. This compilation gets updated regularly.