2014 – Year of Online Authority

With 2013 almost come and gone, it seems timely to look back at the year that has been – and look forward to 2014 to chat about what I see 2014 bringing in the online space.

Google’s influence with its recent Hummingbird algorithm and the ever increasing focus on Google + and Authorship, combined with the world’s dramatic uptake in social media says to me a couple of key things:

1. Recommended Experts and Authorities will rule.

2. You have to be consistently providing excellent content to be noticed as an authority – no if’s, no but’s.

For years, all internet marketers have been preaching “Content is King!” Nothing new here except for the subtle edge I like to clarify with clients and that is “Relevant Content is King!”

Google has always recognised and placed its most significant weight on content. And with Google’s constant efforts to keep spammers at bay, I believe they have finally introduced one of their most powerful methods for not only controlling – or should I say rewarding this, but also a genuine opportunity for experts in their field to distribute their content in a focused way that will reward them in direct proportion to how their content is valued.

Google Authorship recognises “Authority”. It’s designed to give credit to:

1. Individual Authors with Google Authorship verified status.

2. Businesses who produced and distribute content under Google Publisher verified status.

Yes there are two and its easiest to think of it like a Publisher of a Book or Magazine and the human Authors who write the content. Both Authorship and Publisher status are piss easy to set up and you should get your hands on “How to Set Up Google Authorship” by Ross Dunn, CEO at Stepforth Marketing or have someone like us at Zanity do it for you if you are code challenged.

The business model employed by Google with Authorship reminds me of my days as a Contributing Author to magazines and newspapers (yes the real paper kind!) where a magazine had a group of writers, journalists and authors who provided regular articles for the mag.

The strength and success of the magazine came down to 2 things: really good content that kept people engaged buying the magazine and ability to sell the advertising space at profitable prices.

The strength of the articles is what kept people coming back. It’s what increased readership. Online of course, we call it traffic, unique visitors, returning visitors and contributing bloggers but you can see it’s essentially the same.

Whilst we sit here and think the world has changed, it actually hasn’t that much.

The word “Authority” originated in Latin as “Auctor” meaning Originator or Promoter. Over time, it found its way into English as “Authority” before the more classic short version of “Author” as we know it today. People in traditional positions of authority have always been recognised – teachers, police, judges even your banker. Nowadays, anyone can be seen as an authority. It’s no longer reserved for people in certain positions, but how it should be – for people with expert knowledge who are willing to share it.

Please take note of this subtle distinction because it contains the essence of online authority.

Authorities are:
1. People with expert knowledge
2. They are willing to share it

Good quality content from expert authors who actively promote their content will always float to the top. It feels like we are back at the original Latin definition of Authority.

In 2014, I predict these few things:

1. Businesses who are now getting their heads around the importance of online, social media, engaging websites, an online marketing budget in proportion with where their customers are actually hanging out – will gradually begin to look to a serious content strategy to position themselves and their business as easy to find authorities.

2. The stuck in our old ways attitude of “this is how we’ve always done it here” that has shunned social media and regular content creation that most 2013 business owners see as more of a burden on their business than an opportunity, will slowly start to come around. The importance of content for positioning, having individual pages rank for SEO and Online Reputation Management and marketing purposes will slowly seep into the daily mindsets and activities of the forward thinking, more dynamic businesses and they will carve out a position of dominance even over more established brands.

3. Content creation will become more refined and the junk and rubbish will begin to dissipate as Google’s ability to recognise authors and their original content become rewarded in proportion with the quality, social following, engagement, sharing / re-tweeting etc, and regularity and consistency of the authors content creation. The more prolific and engaging the author, the more they will be seen.

4. Google Suggest with Image Iconswill this become standard for high ranking Authors? Time will tell but my guess is yes. Will definitely need a Google + profile and Authorship set up. They may reserve it for Authors with certain metric value so their algorithm can work in a combination of social following (Google Circles), time on articles, and sharing / re-tweeting / Google +1’s but this is achievable and I think inevitable.

Google Suggest

Will Authorship Permanently Show in Google Suggest?

5. Businesses will start investing in good copywriting, having staff trained on how to write, social media training and generally taking responsibility for their content in a much more proactive way. The downside of not doing it is increasing and the benefits of doing it will are also increasing. You’re set if you do, damned if you don’t!

6. Creative content. Content is not limited to text and I think we will see some really creative ways using all media like Slideshare, Video on youtube of course, but also emerging channels like Vine (owner by Twitter and home of the 6 second video sharing), Screen Recording content and much more from Authors as we roll into 2014.

If you liked this – share it around, like it, G+1 it, share on Facebook (appreciate it!)

If you have a question, flick it through and I’ll be happy to answer it as best I can.

Happy New Year everybody and let’s all have a great 2014.

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