Principle of Authority: How Can Link Builders Use It?

This is the last post of the series. This series was originally inspired by Robert B. Cialdini’s book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’. In this post I am going to discuss the last principle that is Authority. I will discuss in detail about what this principle actually means and how this works in real life. I will also share some ideas about how digital marketers can use this principle for their interests.

What is Authority?

Authority usually means a person or a committee who has the power to order or direct  an individual or a group of them a.k.a followers. Principal of authority says that people tend to follow those who they respect and who they perceive as ‘experts’.

For instance if George Clooney is an authority figure in your eye, you probably will accept what he says and will seriously consider what he recommends. The power of authority comes from a variety of different sources that include clothing (how they dress), experiences, executive level titles and prefixes like CEO, Dr. or maybe president and contexts. This photo on Moz Blog is a perfect example of authority in action:

So, if an authority figure is recommending a restaurant, there are more chances that you will go to the restaurant and this is just because you are under the influence of an authority figure.

 The way authority principle is being used

There is more pressure on you to do something if someone you consider as an authority has told you to do so!

If you are in the SEO industry or even closely working with the SEOs, you must have heard that Matt Cutts few months back dropped the hammer on guest blogging and links coming from guest blogging.

Matt is considered to be the most powerful authority in the SEO and digital marketing industry (he is the face of Google Web Spam team) and that is why whenever he says something, people listen.

After his blog post there were many clients and webmasters that got busy removing and disavowing links that were coming from guest blogs.

Note: Obviously the call of authority was not the only reason, but fear of the consequences of not removing the links also was in play.

When a person you consider as an authority figure endorses something, you feel a sense of reliability and trust which is otherwise impossible.

I use the power of authority on my blog too. If you go to my website about us page you will see multiple authorities’ comments about me. When people who want to hire me or avail my services look at these comments, they find my website more credible and trustworthy, thus there are more chances for them to convert.

Ann is a very respectable name in the blogger and social media world, when people find her comment on my website; they tend to trust my service more than ever before.

How can link builders use this principle?

This is a powerful principle and if you know how to use it for your campaign you will end with lots of links, endorsements and likes within no time which will have a huge impact on sales.

  • Relationship Building

For instance, you have content on the furniture industry and you want to spread it far and wide, the best idea is to build relationships with the experts within the niche, request them to consider your piece and share it with their audience.

If your content is really powerful, chances are they will do that for you and their followers will also like that because the page is recommended by the authority they follow.

As a result, you will see a good amount of referral traffic, endorsements and natural links that point back to your website.

Remember two things when using relationship building:

    • Authority for one might not be for others, so in order to target a larger audience you will need endorsements from multiple authorities.
    • You will not always be lucky enough to get a positive response from authorities all the time, so it’s always a hit and miss game.
  • Interview Authorities

Getting authority figures to endorse your content is not a piece of cake; continuous effort is needed for it. There is another way you can use to gain the trust of a larger audience and the reason why they will trust you is because this is coming (indirectly) from the person they consider as an authority.

Interview the authority figure (it is relatively easy to get a positive reply as this benefits both the parties) and ask him/her questions keeping your goals and audience in mind. When you make the interview go live, you are likely to get better response and higher number of shares because your interview is a piece of trust for them as it contain the words from the person they consider as an authority.

The principle of authority can tremendously increase the level of trust, but if you try to misuse it (using fake endorsements) chances are that you’ll hurt your brand (if caught).

Previous Posts of this series:

This was the last post of the series. Please let me know your comments about this post and the series. Also let me know if you need any other book that you want me to review.

4 thoughts on “Principle of Authority: How Can Link Builders Use It?”

  1. Influencers / Authorities all the same and very important for link building. As SEOs we need the ability to influence the influencers so they mention us, link to us or promote us in some other way. Especially in recent years this seems the only way to do large scale SEO the smart way. SEO has become marketing + technical knowledge of what search engines want…

    Well, Matt Cutts an authority? More like the guy that scares all the little SEOs into following the Google guidelines 😀

    Greetings from Innsbruck,


    1. Great summary in few words and why link builders especially need it.

      As far as Matt is concern, no matter what you call it you still listen to him religiously 🙂

  2. Authority is when you admire someone to a greater extent that you consider their recommendations more powerful than others. For instance Rand Fishkin is authority for me, I will more likely to read an article recommended by him instead of the other I found online.

    For more explanation to this, I would recommend you to read this article as this contain more explanation:

    Hope this helps!

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