Last updated: June 8, 2015 by Loz James
Content authority hacks
How much authority does your content give you?

It’s no secret, blogging helps to attract and build an audience. Whether you run a business blog, a niche or personal site, it can help establish your authority and position you as an influencer. But if your writing fails to achieve any of this, it may mean that your posts don’t communicate your authority well enough.

And in this post I’ll show you exactly how to change that.

Authority Is A Perceived Value

InfluenceIn his seminal work, Influence, Robert Cialdini lists a number of cues we use to identify someone as an authority:

  • Impressive job title
  • Clothes they wear
  • Cars they drive and so on

These cues force us to respect and obey people we deem as authoritative figures more that we would do in other circumstances.

Various quite scary experiments have proved that we will go much further than usually to obey an authoritative figure.

Take the famous Milgram experiment for example. It proved our willingness to obey authority figures even if their orders conflict with our morals.

OK but what does this mean to you?

For one, since authority is a perceived value, you could include cues in your writing that would make it seem more authoritative to others.

And here are some of them.

1. Relevant & Intriguing Research

Content marketing research
Research is essential in building content authority

After our parents, teachers are one of the first authoritative figures in our lives.

And thus we develop a high respect for people who educate us and help expand our knowledge.

Therefore showing your audience that:

  • You’re familiar with relevant research
  • You understand this information and,
  • You are willing to pass it over to the others often evokes the perception of authority

Whatever you’re writing, back up the information you present with facts and figures.

Mention reports and study findings from reputable sources – academic papers, research and studies conducted at respected research centers or by well-known companies in your industry.

Kevan Lee of Buffer is a great example of using research and studies to write highly authoritative content. Just take a look at these examples:

2. Quotes & Comments From The Experts

Content marketing influencers
Don’t forget to link out to those influencers…

Referencing or including industry influencers, movers and shakers or experts in your copy signals a number of things to your readers:

  • It shows them that you hold the same people in high regard as they do
  • Aligns your writing with the experts and influencers and,
  • It can also show that you hang out with the right crowd

There are two main ways to include experts or influencers in your writing:

Quote & Reference Their Content

The quickest way is to either reference or directly quote an influencers post or opinion.

For instance, I often reference Brian Dean in my SEO related posts. I consider him an authority and I’m confident that he researches things before making any statements. As a result, I’m not afraid to cite his findings or point readers to his articles.

Reach Out & Include Original Comments From The Experts

Even a tweet or short comment sent especially for you will automatically raise the profile of your writing.

When considering who to ask for a comment though, look at your audience first. Find out who are the people that influence them. Whose ideas they identify with and whose beliefs they share and follow. And then invite these people to respond to your content.

3. Graphs & Visual Data

Content marketing graphs
Are your visuals off the charts?

A 2016 study conducted by discovered that:

“[…] presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action than presenters who don’t use visuals.”

In addition, the study found that most audience members had expected a presenter to include professional, quality images.

One reason for that might be that our brains process visual information 60000 times faster than text. As a result, it takes us less time to discern the core message behind an image than decipher a block of copy.

Another reason is that visuals affect us emotionally. It doesn’t matter if it’s a complex graph showing the correlation between two ranking factors or a simple image of nature, visuals are not only great communication tools but they also affect us psychologically and physiologically.

For instance, according to two sources: Randy Shore and a study published in the Public Understanding of Science Journal, we are significantly more likely to believe in claims about medication effectiveness when the information about it includes a scientific-looking graph.

And that’s even if the graph adds no new information whatsoever!

Content marketing graph
Does this really help? Apparently so…

(According to the study, even seeing a graph like this made people think that a particular drug is more effective. Image courtesy of

In other words, we tend to believe claims backed up by numbers and visuals. And we automatically apply authority to sources where we’ve seen them first.

Therefore, if possible, back your claims with relevant graphs and other visual data.

4. Proprietary Research

Proprietary content marketing research
Proprietary research can really set you apart…

This is by far the most difficult cue to obtain.

But it’s also the most powerful at establishing your authority.

Presenting proprietary research findings communicates that you know the subject and are willing to invest time, effort and resources to:

  • Illustrate specific techniques pertaining to your industry
  • Warn your audience about mistakes and things that could cause problems
  • Discover new ways that could help them achieve their goals and more

Companies like AdEspresso or Moz constantly run and publish test results to help their audiences get better at their jobs building their authority in the process. For instance:

What To Do next?

  1. Take a good look at your writing

Do you back your claims with relevant research? Reference and include influencers? Do you use visual data to help communicate your ideas?

Including any of these in your copy will automatically raise its profile and help establish you as an authority.

  1. Share this post with your audience

Sharing useful content is another way to increase your credibility and raise your authority status.