The secret to an authoritative blog post

Published on: 29 Dec 2017
4 min read

Do me a favor. I know this is risky but head over to Medium now and spend an hour and come back (if you are wondering as to what the risk is, it is of you never turning up here again but that’s OK. I’ll take that).

Now, if you have returned, which you must have, my risk has paid off. Answer this - how many blog posts did you skip? Of those that you started to read, how many did you skip midway in pursuit of better posts? I’m hoping you have found at least a couple of posts that you felt worth your reading time. What made the posts that you read worthy of your time? What about the rest? Why they never made the cut? What makes us share some posts with friends and colleagues and what makes us pass some?

I’d say it is the authority. The Oxford dictionary defines authority (noun) as

The power to influence others, especially because of one's commanding manner or one's recognized knowledge about something.

Did you feel the posts that could engage you had something in them that would fit this definition of Authority? Did the author exhibit sufficient command and knowledge over the subject? In almost all cases the answer is a Yes. Obviously there are other elements like the analogies, style and your own interest in the subject that influence the success of a blog post to win your reading time. However, nothing stands out like Authority and nothing else really has the kind of impact that Authority has on the success of the post across classes of readers.

Great, now that we agree that it is the authority that really helps your post stand out, how do you go about making your posts authoritative? Let’s explore.

Well documented evidence to back your claims, show the kind of research that went into creating the post

In his post on how long should your meta description be, Dr Pete, as he is fondly called, from Moz offers results from various experiments that he and his team have conducted. When you go through the blog, it leaves you in awe about the kind of work that went into it. You are able to see the research methodology that was applied, hypothesis being tested, anomalies recorded, insights derived from each round of experimentation, and the genuineness in sharing the results. The best part about this post in particular is an update from Dr Pete apologizing for an error and the impact it had on the final results (in this case, there was no impact).

If there is anyone I can trust with my money in the SEO world, needless to say it is Dr Pete and it is not because he is a rockstar SEO or something but just the way he goes about his research and sharing the results.

Dumb it down for your folks

Many a times you come across some highly technical material in the area of your work - could be a scholarly article or a research paper. For a beginner it may be too much to read (forget absorbing) it whereas you are in a position to make sense of it. Use this advantage to dumb down the material presented in the research for your average reader. Quote your source but at the same time, translate it for an easier comprehension using analogies that your audience feels comfortable with.

It also pays to be a bit more prescriptive about what you are presenting (if you are confident of doing so). By nature, experts limit their tone and tenor to presenting evidence and avoid sounding like they are recommending. While they have their reasons to do that, you are not bound by the same. If you are convinced that something is worth prescribing, go ahead and take a stand. Here is one such example, where I went ahead did just that - I created “The Gold standard for the list of Meta Tags and Markup for your website”. Obviously, I spend sufficient time and research into zeroing down on this list and in dumbing it down for an easier consumption. However, I can hardly claim that this is my own. Posts like this from Moz and this awesome listicle from Lance Pollard, among many inspired me to come up with this.

Keep the show running

With great authority comes greater responsibility.

Do these presciptions still hold? Do they need further research given changes in X, or given the recent publications? What does your own experience tell you? How did this work for others?

Pondering over these questions and making necessary updates (clearly demarcated as updates) helps you in staying true to your mission. As a side efect your readers are confident in putting your ideas into use and respect you for your work.

Honestly, nothing matters more than that. Don't you agree?