Jake Gauntley feels that the best way for brands to prosper in 2023 is to focus on flexing expertise, authority, and trustworthiness online – and he gives you actionable tips on how to achieve this.
Jake says: “Building on your EAT is not only essential for organic success but as a way to instil online consumer confidence across all channels.”
What should SEO content writers, websites, and publishers incorporate within their content to demonstrate expertise?
“Depth. Expertise doesn’t solely stem from a single piece of content; it derives from the brand and the website itself. For example, if a brand wants to operate in the healthcare or finance sector, it will need to demonstrate why they’re an expert within a respective field.
Therefore, from a content creator’s point of view, it’s essential to ensure you have links to the accreditations or social profiles of the people you’re looking to write content for you. You should establish why that person is an expert in their field and why it would be relevant for them to address your proposed topic.
Being able to back up an author’s profile with tangible qualifications and accreditations enables you to determine whether they’re someone you can trust. It’s important to think with expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, however, it’s a two-way street - where authority and expertise build trust and vice versa.”
What is the best way to demonstrate who the author of a piece is?
“Within the article schema, you can add all of the extra information about the author. It’s advisable to link to social profiles, accreditations, and essentially anything that links that piece of content to the actual human. It’s important to ensure your author is happy to link to their social profiles, however, if someone is an expert within their field they’ll more than likely have an active social media presence.
Providing clear links to social profiles is a great way to confirm all of the other things they’re talking about within that field. They should affirm that the person is not an imposter with a stock image, but an expert with links to verifiable locations where people can see they’re active. By correctly verifying users, you can deem whether they’re worthy of creating content and whether the user can trust this content.”
From a social perspective, do Twitter and Linkedin give the best bang for your buck when demonstrating who a person is and their expertise? Are there up-and-coming social platforms you would recommend as well?
“It’s very much dependent on what the person does. Authenticating a doctor would naturally require vigorous checks for things like medical accreditations, for example. There’s also no harm in linking to someone’s TikTok profile if they’re active within that space and their profile provides a fair indication of their status.
When there are different avenues to exploring who an expert is, they are well worth looking into. Linkedin is the most professional option, Twitter is great if they participate in active discussions, and TikTok shouldn’t be overlooked because it will offer additional, perhaps nuanced, insight.”
Is it a good idea to link out to blogs and top newspaper sites where people might have published in the past? Will this risk driving traffic away from your website?
“If the link is within an author page or it’s in the source of a main piece of content they’ve written about, there’s less harm in traffic suddenly going away from your page. There’s likely more benefit in having that link as a visible, credible way to back up your information. This is also a way to ensure information transparency - where your role as a content creator is to be transparent about who your writer is and where their information has come from.
Driving traffic away from your website is unlikely to be a big deal because you’re probably not going to be competing against that page. Even if you are, the good things that come from having links to credible sources are likely to outweigh the negative impacts deriving from losing traffic to another page.”
What are your thoughts on the styles that tend to be the most effective in terms of length and type of content?
“Authoritativeness can also stem from the offline factors a brand engages in. Many companies put on expert in-person workshops and offer information about these activities via their website. This is a great way to prove that your brand embodies a particular practice/culture rather than it being perceived that you’re only doing something for SEO purposes.
Offline functions like these can help to back up your stories about why your brand is an authority within its space. In-person events can hold significant value outside of SEO and ELT for building your brand and business. If you want to be viewed as the best in the business, you’ve got to be doing all of these things anyway, they just so happen to be a ladder that leads to positive SEO benefits.”
Can you gain trustworthiness by constantly making people aware of the content you publish?
“Absolutely. Trustworthiness derives from consistently providing accurate, trustworthy content you can back up with sources. You should also offer full transparency about where the information has come from and who created it. However, if you’re an eCommerce business, it also comes down to whether people can trust you when they hand their money over.
Trustpilot and internal product reviews on your website are great ways to garner trust, respect, and authority. As a business, it’s important to be seen as someone who does good business and gets good reviews from customers.
If you’re not getting regular positive reviews from customers, there’s ultimately something fundamentally wrong with how you’re operating within the chain of your business.
However, if you are getting 5-star reviews, it’s a great idea to integrate these ratings within your website. Many businesses show their Trustpilot ratings in a prominent place on their website - where people can get a great indication of positive customer dealings. This goes hand in hand with the content side of things, where you can show you know what you’re talking about in terms of the information on your website, but also that you’re a trustworthy business in terms of delivering on your promises when customers hand over money.
Both aspects contribute to trustworthiness, where you can firstly show you’re a good business so people want to give you their money, and secondly prove your worth with real customer reviews displayed on-site.”
Should every business have a process to ask for reviews or is this something that should be more organic?
“This is a sensitive one. Requesting reviews can be a normal business practice where companies follow up with customers, however, asking for reviews can seem needy if requests are ongoing. It has a lot to do with finding a sweet spot in terms of how frequently you ask people, but if nothing has gone wrong then there’s no harm in asking.
You’ll need to ask everyone for reviews if you want to purport an accurate representation of your business and act on negative experiences. These will allow you to focus on areas of improvement, where if things aren’t great you can proceed to make them better. If you do have lots of questionable feedback, though, it’s probably not worth promoting it on your profile.”
Have you ever experienced someone asking for a review before you’ve received the product?
“It has gone a bit crazy, hasn’t it? The frustrations are real - being asked for a review after a day, getting a second reminder a day later, then a week later and two weeks later. Often companies will request reviews after a couple of days when you’ve barely had time to experience the product at its full capacity. With this being said, reviews are less effective when they’re merely a commentary on the early part of the customer experience.”
What shouldn’t SEOs be doing in 2023? What’s seductive in terms of time, but ultimately counterproductive?
“In terms of counterproductivity, my biggest tip regarding things brands shouldn’t be doing in 2023 is: don’t stand still. Don’t bank on previous success within SEO as a guarantee that your page will continue to rank and perform well. Companies often make the mistake of reaching a high position for a given search term and thinking the job is done.
Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work that way - especially in a constantly changing environment where many brands are fighting for the top positions. You can’t afford to rest on your laurels, reach a high-ranking status, and put your feet up. If you do this, you’ll start to slip over time and failing to update your SEO tactics can lead to you falling by the wayside.
A really good analogy for this involves looking at football teams or sports teams in general. The great ones will continually update their roster to give themselves the best chance to compete. If a season hasn’t panned out exactly as expected, changes can be made in the offseason to retool for the future and promote a successful outcome.
Other teams may fail to have a successful season but still do nothing. Doing so would be a recipe for disaster that aligns with doing nothing to improve your SEO practices. Football teams will sign fresh players, promote player development, and ultimately operate with long-term success in mind. If they don’t make sure they’ve got fresh talent and fresh ideas, they’ll risk sacrificing the top spot or winning the next title. In this sense, it’s essential to continuously strive for improvement even when you’re at the top of your game”
If you’ve got a client that’s ranking number one for a competitive keyword phrase, how do you justify spending a significant budget to keep that ranking when you don’t necessarily know when those rankings will disappear? How do you calculate how much you should be spending on that?
“In this instance, a change of tactics can do you the world of good. You might’ve been doing loads of content and on-page technical work to get in great shape and reach position one. Once you get to position one, you can then revert to making sure you’ve got a steady stream of links going to that page. With this being said, it’s not necessarily that you have to keep doing the same things over time. What’s more important is to make sure your content remains fresh. With certain types of pages, the information will need to be changed over time.
You should ensure your content remains up-to-date and maintain a regular stream of links going to a given page. By doing so, you’ll indicate that people still think it’s a good page. You can’t just drive a load of links to a page and be content with your number one position. If you get no links from that point onward, that’s going to look even more suspicious than anything else.
If it’s a money-driving page and, for example, you’ve dropped from position one to position five, you could calculate how that would impact the revenue that page drives over, perhaps, a set of keywords. If you are going to attach monetary values to potential decreases, you should consider investing a little bit of money in that page over the long term. This might not seem like that much of an investment compared to what your website could lose.”
Jake Gauntley is SEO Account Director at Reprise Digital and you can find him at reprisedigital.co.uk.
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