How to Build An Authority Website Using WordPress
There are over 1.6 BILLION websites on the internet and many of them are blogs. Many people who consider starting their own website back away from the idea because they believe that there are so many websites they shouldn’t bother getting into it themselves.
What these people fail to take into account is how many of those websites are quality publications. How many of those millions of websites have taken the time to establish themselves as a source users can trust? How many websites learn SEO (or hire an seo agency), work on their designs, and learn what it means to have an authority website?
Far, far fewer websites care about this, and that’s important.
For the website owners who do care about this, WordPress is an easy-to-use and smoothly functioning content management system that can help them reach their goals.
What An Authority Site Is
An authority website is a trusted site with a robust amount of great content surrounding a particular subject. The website inspires trust with users shortly after they land on the first page. It is trusted by experts on its subject matter. It’s also trusted by search engines as a quality website they should include on their results pages.
For comparison, niche sites are smaller websites. They typically have 10-20 pages and are laser-focused on a narrow topic. They are covered in advertisements and meant for people to land on from the search results and then move on.
If an authority website is in the financial niche and is all about 401ks, then this website would strive to be the ultimate source of information on 401ks. Anytime its users had a question about their 401ks and how to make the most of them, they would return to this authority site and consult it before making decisions. Its users would subscribe to its newsletter for future tips and share quality articles to their own social media accounts. Other experts in the finance blogging niche would want to guest post on this website about 401ks.
The key difference is the amount of trust the authority site has, and that is because an authority website has staying power and is interested in establishing itself and building relationships with its users.
The Key Elements to a Quality Authority Site
There are a few key elements to an authority site that really establishes itself as a quality source.
- Understands its audience
- Has content that is helpful and answers a reader’s needs
- Is well branded
- Is trustworthy
- Ranks well in the search engines
- Focuses on a specific niche
Why WordPress Is Great For Building Authority Sites
While the quality of the content is the most important element to a top authority site, the tools used to build it do indeed make a difference.
WordPress is trusted by search engines like Google. An authority website needs search engine traffic, so it needs to be properly optimized. WordPress takes care of things like a sitemap that is easy for Google to crawl. It also makes it easy to put in your own metadata and has themes that focus on doing even more of the optimization work for you. You can install plugins that also help with this, more on that below.
WordPress is also easy to use, while still having robust capabilities. There are tons of theme choices. WordPress has been around since 2003, and in that time, has always had options that look slick and up to date.
For those of you that are less tech-savvy, you can look into how much it would cost to have a WordPress site custom-designed for you. But what fun would that be?
How to Start An Authority Site on WordPress
Even if you’ve built a website before, it can be handy to have a checklist as a reminder for all the little things you need to do to set things up early on.
The first thing an authority site needs is its own domain name and WordPress hosting service.
Hosting: While you could technically host your website for free through WordPress, it’s important to own your own authority site. Owning it will give you the benefits of technical support and the freedom to do what you want. While WordPress is well established and trusted as a content management system, there is always that chance of another company closing your site when they own it. Owning your own site is a good idea, and not very expensive to do.
Domain Name: Consider your branding. It used to be important for SEO that a URL was packed full of keywords. That is no longer the case. In fact, Google commonly penalizes sites that do this now.
Instead, focus on a branded name for your domain, hopefully, one that is also descriptive of your niche. For example, PowerBlogger101.com tells potential visitors that this website is to help you get started blogging in a powerful way. Their visitors are likely ambitious people who want to start a blog the right away.
A well thought out domain name considers branding, and that means it considers who the audience is.
Remember that shorter URLs are better and avoid using dashes if you can.
Installing WordPress: Once you have your domain, you’ll need to install WordPress to get started. You will do this in the control panel. It will be a different button depending on your hosting package. If you’d rather go around this, you can install WordPress manually on any hosting server.
Make a Few Basic Changes To WordPress
There are a few small things everyone should do once they’ve installed WordPress.
- Go to Settings, and then General. Check your site title and other settings are correct.
- Go to Settings and then Discussion. Change the settings so your comments are moderated and not published automatically. This will help you avoid spam being published on your pages.
- Go to Settings and then Permalinks. Change the selection to “post name”. This will give you SEO friendly URLs.
- Go to Posts and Pages. While you’re there, select the default “Hello World” post and “Sample Page” page and delete them.
- Choose a Theme. This will be different for everyone. You can search for themes directly on the WordPress dashboard. There are many free themes and paid ones. Consider the themes popular in your niche and also how you want your navigation to be organized.
WordPress Plugins You Need to Install Early On
When you are first setting up your WordPress site, there are a few plugins to install that will make your site run more smoothly, improve your SEO, and take care of a lot of mundane tasks for you.
Do not install too many, as this will make your site run slowly. Always make sure to check reviews on any new plugin before you install it.
Go to Plugins and then Add New. You can search for plugins from there by name or by the function you want the plugin to fulfil.
One of the first plugins you’ll want to install is for Google Analytics Code. If you don’t want to do this by a plugin, you can also install Google Analytics in WordPress manually fairly easily.
Below is a list of suggested plugins to get an authority site on WordPress running smoothly.
- Related Posts
- Akismet Plugin
- Editorial calendar
- Broken Link Checker
- Compfight (This lets you easily add royalty-free images to your posts.)
- Contact Form 7
- Pretty Link Lite
- Table of Contents Plus
- Yoast SEO
How to Create Winning Content On An Authority Site
The tools WordPress has on offer can help you a great deal, but it is still only a boost to having the most important thing: great content.
Consider your audience. Everything you think about when you create content such as the type of content, titles for your posts and your design should be done through the lens of what your audience would like.
Create a target audience avatar. If you’re stuck on this, consider trying a tutorial for crafting your customer avatar. The basic idea is to create a picture of a person. A 22-year-old man who loves video games, he goes to college and works part-time at Pizza Hut. Those kinds of details.
Brainstorm a list of ideas. These should be ideas your avatar would be interested in. Once you get started writing them all down, the ideas will come more naturally. Keep your list with you and add to it when you get new ideas.
Create focused content. This is especially important when you are starting out and defining your brand. Focus deep in on small things, on topics that your ideal audience avatar would really want to know about.
Find your voice. Consider your brand and what your audience avatar would like to read. Write like you are talking directly to them. Are you funny? Informational? Formal? Once you find your voice, be consistent with it. Your posts should sound like you.
Plot out your posts. Before you write a full post, plot out a few headlines and quickly sketch out what you plan on communicating in the post. This will help you write faster and give your posts a clearer sense of intention since you knew where you were going before you started drafting it.
Always edit your writing before you post. It’s a good idea to use Grammarly as a blogger. Even seasoned writers find it helpful to have an app checking their work for them. This will make editing smoother and your posts read more professional.
Put out new work consistently. Choose a date, like every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or every Thursday, or every other Thursday. The frequency is for you to decide and is based on what you think you can handle. Setting a specific date so you stay consistent is the most important thing.
Running Your Authority Site
Once you have your site up and running with WordPress, you’ve established a posting schedule, figured out your customer avatar, and developed your voice, you are ready to hit the ground running. Now comes the real work!
The key to being a successful authority site owner, once you’ve done all the above, is to be persistent and consistent. The first year is usually the hardest. When you get started, you don’t have an audience yet and you have to believe that at some point, you will. That if you create great content and build your authority site for a specific audience, that eventually, your content will gain traction with them. This belief will keep you going when your posts aren’t yet being read by anyone.
Creating a great authority site takes time. But once you’ve mastered it, you’ll know how to repeat the process and how to grow your online empire to greater and greater heights.
About The Author
Rodney Warner heads the team at Connective Web Design and is also a musician, outdoor enthusiast, and ice cream connoisseur.