Building Brand Authority: Rethink Your Owned Media

So you want to build your brand.

You’ve done the keyword and audience research, and you’ve produced a ton of great content for your website that speaks very directly to the problems and challenges of your most valuable user. It’s starting to get good traction on Google. 

Job well done, right?

Well, no. Not remotely done, not in the E-E-A-T age of SEO.

Wait, though –why is a veteran of the SEO industry referencing a Google initiative to say that website content isn’t the end goal for building brand authority? Because even Google, if you’re reading their recent guidance and studying the composition of the SERPs these days, is telling you to expand your influence on other platforms.

 

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In this post, I’ll explain the limitations of working solely with your owned media – and why to embrace a more holistic way forward.

Your owned content alone won’t cut it…

Yes, your website – and any blogs and LPs that come with it – is naturally going to host much of the content you use for ranking. But it’s inherently biased to show your brand’s best side.

The same is true for your brand’s social media profiles. Whether it’s on Reddit or TikTok or LinkedIn, brand reach is relatively limited because people don’t want to hear from entities; they want to hear from humans. These days, web users are savvier and more skeptical than ever and looking away from your owned media to find trust signals and authenticity.

Brands need to pivot their way of thinking and incentivize customers to generate content for them. How do you build a brand that encourages people to contribute social proof and talk about the problems your brand has helped them solve? More specifically, how can brands encourage people in their user communities to contribute content? Making those partnerships offline is hard, but it’s hugely important in building organic brand traction.

One of the things I always tell my B2B clients is that we have to talk about how we’re helping our customers’ customers. For instance, let’s say you’re a real estate mortgage company working with real estate brokers. Getting recent home buyers to talk on social media or community forums about how easy and painless the mortgage process is with your company will entice realtors to work with you – and to push that partnership as a selling point to their customers. 

…but don’t ignore the power of full-funnel owned content

A major initiative for brands to build authority on their own site is to provide valuable content that’s tangentially related to their main topic. Back to the real estate mortgage company example – an article on how and why interest rates have trended over time would be extremely useful to savvy home buyers without being overly pushy or promotional. 

You can bring tons of users to your site with that type of content, but again, that’s not your whole job. The next question is how people are navigating your site after they get there, which is where social proof comes in.

On your website, that looks like customer stories, case studies, user testimonials, etc. – which aren’t about new users or brand discovery as much as they are about strengthening your brand’s authority. Make sure those are readily available and navigable for users looking to learn a little more about the brand that’s been so helpful to them so far.

Lean on your thought leaders

Google and its users are highly prioritizing first-party POVs these days, which is why the SERPs are so heavy with Reddit, Quora, and other social media content. That means that thought leaders associated with your brand have the potential to be far more engaging than your brand itself.

You don’t have to go as extreme as founder-led branding (look no further than Elon Musk’s influence on X’s user engagement as an example of the risks there), but there are several on- and off-site strategies you can employ to leverage individual voices to build your brand authority. 

For off-site properties, LinkedIn is a great place for thought leaders to drive value for their brands, especially since LinkedIn automatically ties individuals to their companies. Conferences, webinars, podcasts, etc. – those are also great outlets for individuals to share their own great content and forge connections to bring back to their brands.

For site properties, make sure your blog has richly detailed author pages (including contact info and part articles) so anyone who reads the blog and wants to know more about the author – or, better yet, connect with them – has a way to do so.

Last thoughts

If this seems like a more personal approach to brand-building, then I’ve gotten my point across in this post. While many SEOs are up in arms about AI content (SGE) and how it’ll affect their numbers, there’s a huge opportunity to build your brand by flexing away from keywords and algorithm updates and toward building more authentic connections with your community of users and would-be users. 

If you’re interested in hearing how we’re helping our clients build these connections, let us know – we love talking about the new way forward in SEO.

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