10 Tactical Ways to Position Yourself as an Authority Online

by Laura Roeder · 52 comments

How can you quickly become known as the go-to authority in your field?

You could hire a celebrity publicist, sign a six-figure book deal, or make a few simple tweaks to your website.

Does the latter sound too easy? Here’s the truth:

People pretend that superficial things like web design don’t matter, but trust me, a polished site can seal the deal with web visitors.

Now enough hype. Here are ten tactical ways you can tweak your website today to position yourself as the top dog in your field.

1. Put Other People’s Logos on Your Homepage

Have you ever been quoted at a newspaper, spoken at an event, or won an award? Put their logo (with permission of course) right on your homepage.

People connect logos and prestige instantly, and the funny thing is, the logos don’t even need to be that important.

So, if you were featured anywhere, grab those logos and create a section on your site to feature them. Personally, I include them towards the bottom of my home page, like in the picture below:

Figure 1. See how I feature logos on my home page?

2. Go Graphic for Your Title

Many people make the mistake of not having a logo in their title. This is a problem because a stylized logo makes your website feel “homemade.”

Now, your logo doesn’t have to cost $5,000 or even include any graphics. Instead, it can just be your business name in a more distinct font/color scheme. As an example, refer back to Figure 1 above to see how I stylize my name on my site.

3. Prominently Feature Testimonials

Short, impactful testimonials get your customers excited about your work AND prove that they aren’t the first one to hire you!

The quotes collection plugin was meant for quotes, but it can be used to rotate testimonials in any widget-ized section of your site, too.

What if you don’t have any testimonials? Where can you get them?

Twitter and Facebook. Just start using the nice things people say about you and your business as testimonials for your website. This works because these mini-testimonials have a name and picture associated with each comment and that helps build trust.

4. Don’t Get Stale

As your website evolves, it’s easy to let little things slip by the wayside. While perusing my site, I discovered an old opt-in form from a past event that was no longer delivering the content it promised. It may seem small, but to the person who opted in, I didn’t deliver and I could have lost their trust forever.

Get a system in place for continuously checking links, autoresponders, and old pages to make sure everything is still up-to-date and in working order. Check out this broken link checker plugin to help you get the job done.

5. Create a Favicon

A favicon is the term for that little icon that shows up next to a website’s title at the top of your browser’s window, or in the tab that you’re browsing. Creating a custom favicon that matches your branding is one of those tiny tweaks that divides the boys from the men.

Sure, it’s subtle, but it really adds polish to your web presence. In the latest version of Thesis (1.8), there’s a built-in favicon uploader which makes it a snap to add a favicon to your Thesis WordPress site.

6. Ditch the SEO Gobbledygook

Did you think you were being clever by listing your keyword 50 times on the bottom of your site? We can all see it and it looks like a hot mess! Always write for humans first and search engines second.

SEO gobbledygook anywhere on your site looks like a desperate ploy for a better ranking – which is not something someone who is already at the top needs to do. Instead, use the built-in SEO features in Thesis to optimize your site for search. If you don’t have Thesis, the All In One SEO Pack plugin works too.

7. Clear the Clutter

If you want to position yourself as an authority, you want your site to promote YOU, not other people.

It’s tempting to fill your sidebar with badges like “I’m a Super Cool Blogger 2009,” ads, buttons, and various other widgets, but they lead people away.

Plus, it makes you look like a newbie blogger, not a professional.

8. Use Your Own URL (and email address)

Top authorities can afford web hosting! Dump that blogspot, typepad or WordPress.com URL and move to your own “grown up” website. (What are you doing not using WordPress.org anyway?)

Beside being unprofessional, freebie websites build up SEO juice for the company that hosts your site, not yourself. This goes for your email address as well – use your domain name in your email address and get professional, consistent email addresses for everyone in your company.

9. Spring for a Designer Already!

Just one hour with a web designer can take your site from mundane to marvelous. When people think of web design they usually assume a 6-month project that takes thousands of dollars is coming, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Most designers are more than happy to be hired for just one hour to tweak your site, or create a header graphic for you for a few hundred bucks. Browse through the Thesis Designer Directory to find someone who fits your style. This small expense has a big payoff in positioning yourself as #1 in your field.

10. Get Psycho About Typos

Yes, we all know this one, but have you actually done it? Your entire site should be scoured top to bottom by at least three people, or a professional copy editor. Or cheat a little bit by using the “After The Deadline” plugin, which uses artificial intelligence to check the style, spelling and grammar of all your posts and pages.

Small mistakes can be a huge turn-off to a prospect. After all, if you can’t get it together for your own site how can you be expected to provide top quality to your customers?

What Else Can You Do?

Implementing just one of these ten tactics can greatly bump up your reputation in your prospect’s eyes.

If you’d like additional help, you should join my new course Creating Fame. It’s a step-by-step guide to making you and your business famous using social media.

Note, enrollment is  currently open for a limited time until Tuesday, October 12, 2010.

About the Author: Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to create their own fame and claim their brand online. She lives in Venice Beach, California, where she video blogs, makes frequent trips to the library, and volunteers with local middle schoolers.

If you enjoyed this article, enter your email below to get free updates!

{ 52 comments }

Derek

I’d also like to add one thing… Laura mentioned that you should include logos on your site because it helps build trust. In my experiences, it does help build trust and INCREASES conversion rates. You’d have to split test it yourself to see if it works for you too, but chances are, it will.

Laura Roeder

Derek, stop ruining my random ideas with actual empirical proof! Jeez!

Derek

I’m a research nerd. I actually had an article to quote on my comment, but I didn’t want to sound pedantic. Ha ha.

David Krug

Laura,
Great article and great seeing you here. You bring some great points forward especially about the logos.

Laura Roeder

Thanks David!

Jared

Thanks for the article, GREAT practical tips – Quotes Widget for testimonials, great suggestion!

Derek

If you could figure out how to hard-code the testimonials, it would be better because plugins hurt server load times. However, if you can’t hard code it, a plugin should work until you can!

Anton Amoto

It’s true. My site was down with too much plugins installed. I wish Laura could provide some hard code in the next article of this blog.

Salvatore

All this suggestions are very useful for me.
Thank you very much (I apologize for my “Italian-English”).
Laura, your blog is amazing !
Salvatore from Naples (Italy)
just another happy Thesis customer !

Derek

Hey Salvator. Thanks for being a happy Thesis customer 😀

Steve

6. Ditch the SEO Gobbledygook:

Believe the word “someting” should have been spelled “something”……..

Chris Mower

Ahoy Laura,

Great article. It’s crazy how many people are using .blogspot or .wordpress or .whatever in their URLs and are trying to establish a reputable business.

Spend the extra dough (and it’s not that much $59/year at some places) and make yourself look legit. Great advice.

Along with that, many of those sites are way cluttered. You can have stuff on your site, but make sure it’s organized and looks good, and make it relevant.

Once again, great article.

Chris

Derek

I’m not sure why people skimp online. If you were to start a business in the real world, it would cost $100,000. You’d need furniture, inventory, permits, a storefront, and etc.

Yet, online, all you need is like $5,000, which includes a domain, web hosting, and a snazzy web design from a top designer.

Laura Roeder

Agreed, that’s what always drives me nuts as well! In a “real” business has to shell out waaaay more than $100 constantly.

Toronto Dentist

Great post Laura. A few made me blush because I know I’m guilty (cough – keyword spamming – cough). I invested in a custom widget for testimonials. Including the full name and photo adds the credibility to put it over the top.

Joe 😀

Devin Mathias (@moredonors)

Great stuff… thanks for posting and sharing. As a helpful note – so nobody is cynical about #10, you may want to change “someting” to “something” in #6.

Kudos!

Derek

That wasn’t Laura’s fault. That was my fault. Sorry Laura!

Jason Ulsrud

Awesome article…. Thanks for the recommended plugins. There’s so many and it’s hard knowing which ones to use. That, plus I’m usually way too busy to do the research needed to find them.

Thanks so much…

Derek

They are nice plugins, but as I mentioned above, if you can figure it out without a plugin, you’re better off because it keeps your website snappy!

Paul

Nice to see you walk the talk with your own site (clean, cool relevant). Can you give me some idea of the time you spend managing / updating content (exclusive of the blog)

Thanks

Derek

Are you talking about Laura’s blog or the blog here at DIYthemes?

Paul

Laura’s – although DIY’s is nice too:) I was interested in some general guide around typical maintenance resource commitments for sites (B2B consulting w/ blog etc)

Laura Roeder

Hey Paul! I do a short newsletter every week – you can sign up on the homepage of my blog. That takes me about 15 minutes per week to write (BTW I save a ton of time by using an edit calendar – this a strategy I teach in Creating Fame).

chris g tucker

I’m Scared Laura, my existing website is very highly ranked for my search words, but it is antique! I want so much to switch my website over to Wordpress Thesis Theme, but scared that if I do, I will lose my backlinks ?
What do I do to switch safely ?

Laura Roeder

Hey Chris, Derek is the real pro in this area but you definitely will not lose any backlinks. Backlinks are other sites that link to your URL, and your URL will remain the same when you switch to thesis. You do want to make sure that all the pages of your site have been re-directed, thats where you risk losing backlinks. So if someone links to http://www.yoursite.com/peanuts.html you need to make sure that you have peanuts.html redirecting to a new page, not just a dead link. But all of your backlinks to your homepage (which is what most backlinks tend to be for a site like yours) will remain with no problem.

Derek

The question is, where are your backlinks pointing exactly? Chances are, you can redirect them. Also, even though you rank highly for your keywords, are they performing like you want them to?

David Krug

Actually you don’t even need to redirect them you can even use the same url structure and just have the site be on Thesis. Url structures are so flexible with WordPress that nothing needs to be lost.

That’s the beauty of WordPress and it can all be done on this amazing platform known as Thesis.

Derek

Usually, I’d agree with you there. However, there’s only a few pages on his site. Doing redirects won’t be that bad, and, there’s no reason to use a .html format if you don’t need to…

David Krug

Good point 🙂

Craig Samborski

Laura,

Thank you! Timely, well thought out and well written!

Craig

Paul

Hi Laura
There is an auto blogging course going around promoting people to use Blogger. Go Figure!!
Thanks for the info

Joi

Advice most excellent! I know I should probably switch my e-mail to the one with my domain name(s) but the e-mail system that comes with our server isn’t too sexy. You’re right, though, it’d be more professional. I need to switch.

Now, off to check my clutter…

Laura Roeder

Joi you can actually use any email platform to read your email, my favorite is gmail! (Yup, you can use gmail to read email hosted on your own domain.) They kind of bury the free edition, here’s the sign up page: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html

Rob

Broken Link plug-in, very handy! Other great tips too.

Thanks, Laura.

Ron

Thanks for the article I am just getting start with thesis, but I am a web design and trying my hand at blogging so this was really helpful, I’ll have to go hunt down that fancy spell checker as I am very very bad at spelling… its sad really.

Rhonda

Although I still haven’t switched to Thesis (although I bought it forever ago) thanks for the great post and information. Blog clutter drives me nuts, I want to see content easily without wading through piles of ‘stuff’.
Love the favicon idea, it’s on my Monday morning to-do list!

Mark

Laura always has great ideas, that is why I am one of her disciples!
I have been using Thesis for my website for about 6 months now. It is easy so easy to use and the functionality is more than what I need.

Rob in Atlanta

Great list. I need a logo.

Rolf the Coach

First may I say thank you. I used every one of your tips as i have Thesis 18 that you gave. My favorite was the Favicon. I had no idea what that was. Building a blog is quite the challenge.

Terence Collins

Laura,
Thanks for the great article and tips.

I have a question. I’m noticing that many bloggers do not include the date of their post on their blog (as you did not). I also notice the comments do not include a publish date either.

What is your thinking here? I can see reasons for going either way but would be interested in your thoughts.

Thanks,
terence

W. Michael Hsu, CPA

Thanks for all the fantastic tips… I’m going to get on some of these right away. Oh, and you are right, I didn’t think I could just find a designer and hire them for a few hours to tweak my site. It’ll be a great place to start. =)

Matthew Ogborne

Hi Laura,

Just to say thanks for the great article, thanks for the tip on the ‘After the Deadline’, I certainly need it!

Matthew

Jessamina

Clickable Cool Logos for the Tyra Banks Show and NY’s tv10/55 on MY site!…
Thanks for the great tip..simple and Effective..You’re a genius.
Jess

Matthew Ogborne

Hi Laura,

Some great points there, “10. Get Psycho About Typos” has been my weakness, definitely on top of them now though!

Matthew

Victoria

Fantastic article Laura. There is so much I need to do to improve my business website but this has really helped. Keep up the great work

Cathy

I keep hearing that wordpress.org is THE way to go… and initially I tried to create my website using Wordpress. I ended up tearing out my hair, and wasting a great deal of precious time. I’m no computer geek, but I am an intelligent woman who is pretty good at figuring things out, but I gave up, and made my site using Weebly instead. And it was easy.
So there must be something I don’t know… why is Wordpress best? I’m damn sure it’s not user friendliness. Something about SEO?

Tom

Laura,
These were very good tips. I added the recent quotes and just finding the right place to put it. Thank you!

Etre Heureux

Hi Laura
thank you very much for these useful tips
I’m going rightaway to implement logos and icons
small details can make big differences!
thanks!

Fajr | Stylish Thought

Great article and great tips. I will definitely add the logos of features as well as testimonials. I have a few features, but I have a question about getting features. How does a blogger go about getting features?

Beverly Schnider

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

Patrizia

Wow!I’ve never heard about after the deadline plugin..I’ve to try it!Thanks for sharing these useful tips!:)

Rusty Kastman

Thanks for amazing information, this is helpfull to me. I’ll once more the following day to learn a brand new challenge.