Self-Styled Expert or Credentialed Professional?
This article is written to photographers who have workshopped or invested in personal mentoring with me. If you’re thinking about attending a workshop or personal mentoring, please read on, too.
As you may (or may not) know, Google is talking a lot about the importance of brand signals and the value of “authority/trust” for better ranking in search results. The idea is that webmasters ought to have the necessary “qualifications” to back up their content and businesses ought to have the necessary “credentials” to validate the products and services they offer.
With so many self-styled experts on the web, it makes perfect sense.
As early as 2011, Amit Singhal, Google’s head of search, published an article on the Google Webmaster Central blog entitled, More Guidance on Building High-Quality Sites. He posed twenty-three questions that Google themselves ask when judging a website page. And the first question on his list was: Would you trust the information presented in this article?
A number of his questions revolved specifically around this issue of trust and authority. For example, Question 2 asks: Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature? In Question 11, he asks: Is the site a recognized authority on its topic? And Question 15 asks: Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
Trust and authority. The two core issues.
Since then, the topic has gathered further traction. The SEO juggernauts at Moz.com have even built their website analysis around the concepts of Page Authority, Domain Authority and MozTrust.
Furthermore, Google considers brand names to have an inherent sense of authority and trust, and it is thus important to “think like a brand.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google at the time, likened the flood of online content from self-styled experts as a “cesspool” and said: “Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool. Brand affinity is clearly hard-wired. It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away.”
This is one reason why a beefed up Footer section including a Sitemap, Terms of Service and a Privacy Statement are worth thinking through. Without fail, brands include this kind of information on their websites.
Another way is to beef up your website’s About page by adding a third-person bio that outlines your credentials. While adding a personal message to your About page does add the personal touch, too often we miss out on communicating a professional sense of authority that fosters increased trust in what we do. Writing a third-person bio specifically mentioning what studies you’ve done or what credentials you hold or what association you’re a member of, goes a long way to achieve this.
Why a third-person bio, you ask? Simply because you can talk about yourself without sounding like you’re blowing your own trumpet 🙂
There you have it. Think like a brand and seek ways to authenticate your credibility.