To stand out online and in your customers’ minds, authority matters.
Whether you have the biggest printing company on the planet or you run the print shop down the street, you have to have “cred” to attract attention.
There are two types of attention you want to cultivate. The first is from real live people, especially your customers and potential customers. The second is from various search engines.
Let’s talk about each of those.
Why Authority Matters to Customers
If you want customers to refer business to you, you have to look good enough to warrant that gesture. If you look weak online, customers don’t want that reflecting back on them, even if they enjoy doing business with you. However, if you look attractive and credible, you convey authority. People will be proud to refer you. This is human nature.
When it comes to luring new customers, there is more truth about human nature. People don’t like to change their behavior for just anyone. By change, I mean (1) change providers from their current printer over to you, or (2) change from doing no printing to doing some printing. Either way, people don’t like to make this move without a good reason.
One way to get a prospect to consider you is to present yourself as a low-risk option. Being authoritative is a signal that people can trust you. Authority can mean you have a good track record, trusted people recommend you, and other people (“regular” people) generally say good things about you. In a busy and noisy world, “authority” makes it easier for people to feel comfortable changing over to you, right?
How Search Engines Perceive Authority
Authority really counts with search engines. It’s the measuring stick for your online reputation.
When positioning your printing company online, your “authority quotient” (AQ) determines how and where you will be presented if someone searches for you or for a key term highly associated with you. “Authority” might be your brand statement, your credentials, your unique identifiers, your circle of high-quality people who refer you, and highly authoritative websites that link to you. Google also considers (not as much as they used to) the longevity of your online presence and who accepts and acknowledges you (backlinks). As you can see, there are many ways search engines evaluate your authority.
You may not know this, but search engines also exist on social media. Each platform has its own search criteria or algorithms, and its own mechanism for delivering results. Here’s an experiment for you. Log out of social media and go to an incognito page. Search a key term that is highly associated with your company on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Does your company come up as a result for any or all of those platforms? If not, consider this: everyday people are searching social media for answers to their questions and to find the right people to do business with. If you’re not showing up in social media search returns, it’s time to make this a part of your social media marketing strategy.
Finally, a big piece that’s overlooked is a company’s own website search engine. Whether you have your own internal search mechanism on your website or are tied to Google, your intended content should come up as the top result when someone searches your website. If you think this is crazy, try it on your own site. If you can’t find the right content or blog posts on your own site, you need to be more strategic in building authority within your own universe.
Build Your Authority to Get Better Marketing Results
In the past few years, Google has rewarded “pillar content” on your website as a measure of authority. This means you should be known for something, not just blogging random content or posting clickbait. You should have a major topic that everyone agrees is “your thing” and then a bunch of sub-topics that support and explain the big topic. Your publishing strategy should revolve around building the pillar foundation and then filling it in. If you just publish the filler content or blog infrequently, Google won’t understand how everything ties together and you won’t get credit for the big key term.
If you have many big topics you are known for, be sure to flesh out each one on your website through blogs and descriptive content to prove you are the authoritative expert in that category. Proof, as I mentioned above, means having other authoritative sources “agree” that you are worthy. If you follow these practices, Google will look more favorably upon you. That favorable treatment creates… you guessed it… more authority!
I know this is probably more technical than a casual reader wants to know, but just remember: all things being equal, when choosing a print provider, (1) people will pick an AUTHORITY as more credible, (2) they will pay more attention to a referral from an authoritative source, and (3) they will be more likely to refer you if you are authoritative.
If you’re not authoritative yourself, work on it. Create content that elevates your personal and company brand. Curate the best testimonials, which you will post on your website. Ask people to leave reviews on Google. Include thank you letters and testimonials in your print marketing. Write guest blog posts for authoritative sites and link to them. Write articles for print magazines that have a strong online presence with a searchable database. Create a rich world of useful and up-to-date content on your website that people are excited to visit and dig into.
The world is just going to get noisier. Whatever you do in your marketing program, you have to stand out as the best choice. Authority matters.
Read more from Sandy here and listen to the podcast for my advice on how print companies can optimize their sales operations.
Sandy Hubbard is a Marketing Strategist for Printing Companies. She consults with printers on how to build strategic marketing programs that can be sustained over the long haul, with buy-in from employees and the sales team…and without stress!
She has been an author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her on Twitter at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr — Join the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!