As we say in the industry, “Content is king.”
After selling my old company, I started a new company. That meant building an entirely new brand from the ground up. Fortunately, I was able to use my personal brand to bring in an audience for my business and establish trust in the quality of my work.
As a thought leader in the search industry, I frequently deliver keynote speeches, write guest blogs, and produce content for my company’s website to gain exposure for my personal brand and my business. The added exposure amounts to increased leads for my business and greater brand authority for me and my business.
Google holds a sweet spot for major brands in its organic results, as they usually get first pick for crawling and indexing. This is why we must utilize content marketing to establish ourselves as thought leaders and gain trust and authority for our brands.
Thought leadership and brand authority essentially go hand-in-hand.
Brands are built on the backs of leaders who can choose to emerge from underneath their brand.
So how do you become a thought leader for your brand?
How to Become a Thought Leader
Create Your Platform
You can’t just declare yourself a thought leader — that is up to others to decide.
The first step to becoming a thought leader is building your brand and establishing your credentials.
For personal branding, it’s key to leverage your social media accounts, especially LinkedIn and Facebook. Fill out a detailed bio of your accomplishments and career skills. These will become important channels for brand outreach and content promotion.
To beget your brand, you must ultimately improve your web presence. Go through the proper channels to position your website to gain exposure:
Establish a branded domain name.Create a unique logo and complementary color scheme.Acquire local citations for your website.Optimize on-site technical factors to provide quality user experience.
Most importantly, discover an underserved niche in your industry that presents room to scale and that you’re proficient in. Conduct your keyword research to gather a better understanding of how to meet the demands of your customer base.
Now, it’s time to formulate your ideas and disseminate them to the masses.
Building a Branded Blog
Most marketers realize the value of branded blogs in conducting their SEO campaign and creating brand awareness for their business.
Branded blogs allow businesses and individuals to express their ideas about topics important to their niche.
Consistent blogging allows you to provide commentary on current industry trends and display your command over their subject matter.
Google rewards content that is relevant, fresh, and presents a unique spin on a topic. Producing evergreen content strategically positions your web pages to acquire backlinks, develop page authority, and help your website rank organically for targeted keywords.
More importantly, building a consistent blog establishes your brand’s authority over its niche through quality content. The higher the quality of your content, the more customers trust your brand. This, in turn, amounts to greater brand loyalty, which contributes heavily to your return on investment (ROI).
Building Your Content
Following Your SEO Talents
You want to develop thematically related categories for your content to position your web pages to index and rank for a wide range of semantically similar keyword phrases.
With machine learning technology, Google can evaluate the quality of your content and determine its relevance to user intent better than ever.
Expand your content marketing strategy to different sources to acquire backlinks and establish your value to customers in your niche.
Providing comments on relevant blogs, participating in niche forums, and writing industry reviews all get you engaged with your community and communicate your command over its most important topics.
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Everything you put your name on could be a valuable backlink and traffic source for your website.
You should also consider producing content that serves to display original research, such as a white paper or an e-book. In terms of writing, long-form content is shared at a much higher rate than short-form content and typically ranks higher than thin content.
Other content with high shareability include:
Identify your brand to customers through keyword terms utilized in your content and across all web pages of your sales funnel. Optimize all meta tags with appropriate keywords from your research and include social media buttons to encourage easy shareability.
Marketing Your Content
Social media marketing is an absolute must today.
Leveraging social media can help increase your brand’s exposure, expand your audience, and allow you to engage with your audience to create brand loyalists.
Your Facebook and Twitter feeds allow you to syndicate content with backlinks that will improve their rank. Compounding posts will also grant your content more inbound links.
Connect with influencers in your industry that would benefit from your sponsorship. Not only does your content reach a wider audience but also a more relevant audience. Look on BuzzSumo for ideas on topics that are going viral on social media.
Use different channels to market your content, whether through paid promotion or email marketing campaigns. Email marketing often has a higher ROI than search marketing and is effective at retaining existing customers and keeping them up to date with your brand. My business uses monthly newsletters to keep customers updated and to create social value for our products and brand.
Building a brand should not necessarily seek to acquire a wider audience, but to retain your existing one to foster a community and create brand loyalists. One way to do this is to always respond to user comments and reviews, whether on your native website or your social media page.
Finally, a syndicated blog or podcast may be effective to curate thought leadership, but it’s critical to become more active within your community.
Interview other thought leaders in your industry.Publish the interviews on your website.Quote thought leaders:Reach out to a thought leader for a comment or quote next time you’re writing an article.Ask a thought leader to share some of your content with their audience. This creates a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties, generating valuable backlink and content promotion opportunities. I regularly post and share content from other influencers in the SEO industry on my social media accounts.Write a book. I wrote a best-selling book on Search Engine Optimization, which gave my personal brand (and various businesses) immense exposure and established myself as a thought leader within the SEO field.Speak at industry conferences. This will allow you to present your ideas in a professional setting. Public speaking engagements put your name in front of some very powerful influencers and put a face to the brand name.
It’s also important to establish the value of your products and business to your customers.
Publish testimonials on your website to show successful case stories and have someone else brag about your expertise. Online reviews and word-of-mouth advertising affect consumer decisions more than any other advertising factor out there.
The Advantages of Thought Leadership for Your Brand
It’s no secret that brand authority and thought leadership reaps multiple benefits. Businesses considered as thought leaders enjoy more sales, profitability, and are less price sensitive.
Consider IBM’s Smarter Planet Program that launched amid the 2008 recession. It generated $3 billion in revenue in 2010 alone and increased their brand value in every region globally.
Thought leadership makes brands more innovative and creative and differentiates them from the competition. Consider how valuable brand authority remains in today’s highly competitive consumer market.
More importantly, becoming a recognized thought leader in your industry usually comes as a result of measurable SEO results–more average shares per post, high conversion rates, and more authoritative backlinks than your competitors. This all communicates trust for you and your brand, which means higher organic rank and greater brand exposure.
There are more benefits to being a thought leader and making your brand authoritative:
Higher indexing and crawling rates for your website Larger audience to market content Increased leads for your business higher CTR based on brand recognition
It’s important to realize that SEO is not static. It requires consistency and years of churning out content to get your voice recognized as a thought leader.
Historically, I’ve been experimental and ambitious in my business strategies, which is why I’ve enjoyed many successes up to this point. Go against the grain and establish yourself as a thought leader and brand authority in your niche.
Becoming a thought leader boils down to the quality of your content and what you can provide for it. What can you say that no one else has said before?