Shelton Interactive

A good friend of ours, Mike Merrill, attended BlogWorld LA earlier this month. I asked Mike to share something valuable from the conference with us and he wrote this great post with some helpful blogging tips.

6 Ways to Improve Blog Readership Through Authority

Last week, I returned from BlogWorld LA and one of the sessions I felt I could apply right away was titled: “Applying the Science of Influence to Accelerate Your Blog’s Growth” with Sid Savara. Sid outlined Robert Cialdini’s 6 Weapons of Influence as they apply to growing your blog. Cialdini is a New York Times best selling author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

In this post, I’ll discuss one weapon, authority, and how it can be used to grow readership of your blog. Cialdini’s research sites several studies where a person wearing a lab coat or police uniform can command a great deal of influence over others even if they are not actually who they represent. In fact, authority figures can often make people do something they often wouldn’t do under other circumstances. But how can you use this persuasive power to get more people to read your blog or subscribe to your newsletter

1. First impressions. When someone lands on your blog they are making a decision to stay within seconds so it’s important to focus on the design and load time. There is a reason why well-designed websites often record higher time on the page. Furthermore, the page header, tagline and domain all play a part in helping the reader decide to stay on the page. There is no excuse for poor design with great themes out there for WordPress, Blogger and Posterous. Additionally, with Google Webmaster tools you can determine how to speed up the load time on your site.

2. Professional headshots. Another way to represent authority on your blog is to feature professional headshots on the home page, about page and speaker page if you have one. It demonstrates to the reader that you take your blog seriously as well as your personal brand. Often time you’ll see this represented well in the opening header of the blog.

3. Borrowed authority. We see this quite a bit on startup website landing pages but it can also be effectively showcased on blogs as well. With borrowed authority, we’ll see bloggers features such as “As seen on” and then showcase a number of local or national publications. Examples may include badges such as AdAge blog rank, a badge stating they are speaking at BlogWorld, or featured in XYZ conference.

For a good example of this, see Dallas resident Shama Kabani‘s site. She’s done a great job positioning her expertise and has been featured in a number of national publications and has two shows on prime time TV.

4. Authoritative content: If you are looking to demonstrate thought leadership and authority on a specific topic, create a few pieces of definitive content on that subject such as a published book, eBook, Slideshare or video series. Showcase these prominently on your blog. Offer to give some content away and depending on the quality and depth of the content you may even want to ask for an email in exchange for the download to build your email list. In the image below, good friend Jason Falls prominently displays his new book on the right hand side increasing his credibility.

5. More types of content.  Not only is it important to have authoritative content on your blog, but you also want to feature a variety of content types. Of course start with blog post, but consider featuring webinars, speaking gigs, podcasts in addition to your eBooks and Slideshare presentations. Notice in the image above, Social Media Explorer also asks you to join their specific membership group above the blog post.

6. Products and services on your website. One of the final ways to represent authority on your blog is to feature products for sale. When readers see actual content for sale, they often assume an implied value since you are charging for it.

I hope you have found these insights valuable in setting up and designing your blog. Do you have other great examples of how to showcase authority on your blog? Please let us know in the comments.

About Mike Merrill – Mike Merrill blogs about online marketing for small businesses, social media, personal branding and occasionally his love of bacon. He serves as Director of Marketing for ReachLocal, an online marketing company dedicated to helping local businesses acquire customers online. Mike speaks regularly about online marketing and you can find him at http://mikemerrill.com or on Twitter @MikeDMerrill.

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  • http://twitter.com/betterbloggingw Shamelle

    unusual and great post!
    My blog has 1 (if I say so myself!),2 & 3 covered. Need to gradually work on the rest.
    In addition, often, I have noticed that having many comments on posts, high number of tweets for a posts also add to “authority” of a blogger.

    • http://www.mikemerrill.com Mike D. Merrill

      Yes Social Proof is another principal in the book. Many ways to demonstrate that.

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  • Patrice Garrick

    Excellent advice that I will certainly apply.  Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.mikemerrill.com Mike D. Merrill

      Thx Patrice