What is the difference between an authority site versus a pure seo approach for marketing?
Authority marketing can be a difficult concept to grasp for a lot of people, but I find the people who struggle the most with the concept are those who are already successful in using another strategy.
Here is my expertly executed whiteboard diagram I whipped up for some successful but cynical affiliate friends over the weekend.
Before I describe it, let me give you some background.
Today, as I write this, I am on a train traveling down to the big smoke (ye olde London Towne). I will be staying with my big brother while I do a talk and spend a few days hanging out with affiliate folks at A4UExpo. This show is going to be jammed packed with affiliates and those who want to be.
Of course, while preparing my slides I have been talking to friends “in the biz” and we had a lot of discussions about the right and wrong ways to build affiliate income. Which is how I came to create the picture above.
It used to be that affiliates were SEOs or PPC people, but a good number are now looking at blogs. On the other side are the bloggers who might have traditionally looked to Adsense and other advertising networks for monetization but who are now looking at affiliate stuff.
You will find the smarter affiliates are building blogs, and the more advanced bloggers are dabbling in PPC, but why?
1. Authority Sites Build Protection
Authority sites are simply more resilient than pure SEO sites.
The standard route for a niche site builder or affiliate blogger is:
- Find a profitable niche
- Lots of keyword research
- Create a search-friendly site structure
- Build links
- Create more content around high-converting affiliate offers
Seems like a good plan?
Yes, it is, and it can be very profitable.
Some folks use PPC instead of SEO, but it comes down to the right products, for the right audience, and sending a ton of traffic at well-converting pages.
So what’s the problem?
As I described in my article about how Authority sites can survive an economic downturn better than others, there are two ways an Authority site beats a pure SEO site.
The issues are many, but mainly
- Google can and do change its algorithm or could give you a manual penalty, deserved or not.
- You have all of your eggs in Google’s traffic basket.
2. Authority Link Building Versus Affiliate Link Building
How does a traditional affiliate site or niche website build links?
- Parasitic SEO?
- Emailing for swaps?
- Buying links?
These tactics work, but they are not particularly sustainable and they create a very clear and fragile link profile.
Ask yourself if Google wants to reward this kind of profile or punish it. I’m thinking the latter.
Compare this to an Authority site.
Secondly, a good authority blog will attract links naturally, they will be voluntary, organic, and spread over time. Because the authority blogger is known, trusted, and liked, and is known for creating valuable and credible content.
What do you prefer to link to? You like to link to great resources that you know your readers would really love, right?
Are there sites you link to more often than others? What do they have that other websites don’t?
Build a really good blog, an authority blog, and the pattern becomes self-reinforcing.
You start to attract more links because you are an authority, and you can weather whatever shifts take place in search algorithms because you have a loyal audience.
Heck if you are the go-to business in a niche and they don’t rank you then they are not doing their job properly.
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3. Authorities Don’t Just “Generate Traffic”
As I just touched on, an authority site, even a Google authority, is not dependent on Google for its business, but it goes further than that.
Niche websites and affiliates focus on traffic. Traffic at any cost. It is what I describe as “hits thinking”. Got to get those numbers up, those are rookie numbers.
A healthy, substantial business doesn’t just attract a revolving door of people, you can think longer term. As well as selling what you have right now, what are you doing about customer lifetime value?
Where those niche sites and traditional affiliates go wrong is they have a treadmill of getting brand-new visitors, while ignoring their old ones.
Instead have a strategy for keeping your visitors engaged, to cultivate loyalty. An authority blog is a natural solution to that.
Look at the Diagram Again
If you take another look at the diagram you will see on the left the Authority north sea oil platform, and on the right the good ship “Paris Lohan”. Further to the right, a huge wave is about to come crashing down.
Above sea level is what I describe as “visibility”. Both the Authority and Paris have good visibility.
Under the surface though you can see that the Authority has “depth” and substance.
Instead of “Expertise” you might say “talent” or “value”.
Under “Personality” you might have “Likability”, “Loyalty” or “Community”.
It doesn’t matter which definitions you use, nothing is supporting Paris, she is getting by on pure visibility. Even the Kardashians have shown they have some authority because when they suggest you buy something, their loyal fans go ahead and buy!
North Sea oil platforms are structures built to withstand waves 50-80 feet in height. They need to withstand the worst that environment can throw at them. Authorities are the same when faced with search engine algorithm shifts, increased competition, struggling economies, and other harsh market factors.
Unfortunately, the little ship looks likely to sink rather than make a big splash.
Build Authority to Build Your Defenses
By building authority you create a defensible structure that can grow sustainably, fight off competition, and can survive the highs and lows of your market.
What do you think?
Agree? Disagree? How would you explain it better? Let me know …