5 Ways SEO Specialists Can Position Themselves as Industry Thought Leaders

Becoming an industry thought leader carries countless benefits when it comes to promoting your brand. With online competition more intense than ever before, the challenge of becoming recognized as an authoritative figure within any industry can be troublesome, so how can SEOs become thought leaders in their niche? 

Statistics suggest that positioning yourself as a thought leader is highly valuable in terms of search engine optimization. 60% of buyers claim that thought leadership builds credibility for brands entering new markets, while 57% of buyers say that thought leadership generates awareness for lesser-known brands. 

Finally, 53% of buyers believe it’s important for startups and small companies to produce thought leadership if they want buyers to work with them. 

Despite the clear perks, becoming a thought leader can be a profoundly difficult process. With many different personalities and perspectives abound for many industries, how can SEO specialists position themselves above the noise? 

The answer lies in bespoke optimization tactics and a strategy that helps to add greater value to your content among your target audience. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at five key steps SEOs can take to position themselves as reputable industry thought leaders across a range of sectors: 

1. Make Tutorials Your Content Staple

Leadership hinges on generating content that actively educates and engages others. This means that you must seek to demonstrate your value and expertise to your audience. 

How can this be achieved? Creating educationally focused content is one core principle of thought leadership. Popular forms can include hosting webinars, participating in podcasts, creating online courses, and even building event-gated content on your website. 

One strong, actionable starting point is to gear your content more directly towards tutorial-based formats. 

Tutorials can come in all shapes and sizes, and establishing a listicle format can help you to create how-tos that can educate and guide your readers in a way that can help them to learn something valuable. 

Always remember to make your tutorial content relevant and refrain from writing anything that doesn’t offer sufficient value to your readers. Here, the goal is quality, not quantity. Publishing tutorials that offer little substance can undermine your efforts and turn your leads away from reading more of your content. 

To shape your tutorials to add more value, consider incorporating the following fundamentals

  • Add your own data-backed, original research where possible
  • Offer more point-of-view pieces on key industry topics
  • Share your thoughts on the latest industry news
  • Post your content on social media platforms to build your presence
  • Keep education at the forefront of your goals
  • Monitor how your content strategies are impacting your lead pipeline and make the necessary adjustments

Over time, your tutorial approaches are likely to generate patterns in engagement where you can delve deeper into your focus on the topics that resonate most. 

2. Link-Building Holds Added Value

Thought leadership and SEO are more naturally intertwined than you may think. The strategy leans heavily on building your authority online, which, in turn, improves your SERPs on Google. 

It’s for this reason that your thought leadership strategy must incorporate link-building as a core facet of your approach. After all, what’s the use of you positioning yourself as a voice of authority in your industry if Google doesn’t agree?

While building your reputation online, you should also be lazer-focused on link-building with reputable and relevant domains. 

Link-building generates greater exposure and shows that your brand is actively endorsed by respectable websites within your industry.

In addition to this, data shows the websites that rank at the top of their SERPs feature 3.8 times more backlinks than the rest of the top 10 ranked sites. However, Google also warns that quality is more important than quantity, and linking to low domain authority (DA) or domain rating (DR) pages can do more harm than good. 

So, how can you identify quality link-building opportunities within your industry? One strong tool is Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

Using Site Explorer, it’s possible to use existing reputable websites in your industry to explore their backlinks from other high DR pages. This helps to highlight the precise domains that are already building relevant links in your industry and enables you to target them with your link-building pitches. 

For added results, it’s worth checking out which domains are using dofollow links and categorizing them by DR to identify high-value opportunities. However, it’s worth noting that extremely high domain rating websites could be more difficult to successfully build links with due to their scale and potential ambivalence to link-building pitches. 

3. Guest Blogs can Assert Authority

While exchanging links can be advantageous for building your reputation as a thought leader and climbing SERPs, there’s no better way of positioning yourself as an authoritative industry voice than through guest blogging. 

While you’re likely to have an on-site blog, you’re largely catering to an audience that has already become familiar with your industry presence, or those who have discovered your website via a Google query. Guest blogging introduces you to a wider network of leads through publishing your content on high-reputation external websites. 

You can discover ideal and relevant host sites using a similar process to the one discussed in the previous point. Utilizing Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to identify high DR sites that are already linking to relevant leading industry blogs is a great place to start, and be sure to share your expertise accordingly to appeal to a prospective new audience. 

Although the prospect of guest blogging can seem like a time-consuming process for SEOs at startups or SMEs, the value of publishing your work on external high-reputation sites can’t be underestimated. With this in mind, there are plenty of quality guest blogging agencies that can work on building your online presence on your behalf, helping you to focus on more on-site essentials and growing organic traffic. 

4. Create a Winning Author Bio

It’s all well and good to create guest blogging content and build a suite of educational materials for your followers but to underline your status as an industry thought leader, it’s worth creating an author bio that showcases your value to your audience. 

But what should you include in a winning, value-adding bio? Let’s take a look at some essential considerations

  • Keep things concise: Aim to make your bio between 50 to 100 words long to keep things punchy and to the point. 
  • Adopt a third-person approach: Utilizing a third-person perspective helps to maintain a more professional and credible tone. 
  • Showcase your credentials: Be sure to add your job title, role, and your area of expertise for added credibility. 
  • Add experience: Additionally, add your relevant experience, where you’ve been published, any awards, and even qualifications where appropriate. 
  • Remember to pinpoint your expertise: Emphasize your knowledge of your specific niche. This will help readers to understand where your thought leadership excels.
  • Add your social media profile: Adding links to your professional profiles or personal websites can make a world of difference in offering further reading. 
  • Let your personality flow: Try to include some of your personality in your bio to ramp up engagement. Although this can be tricky to squeeze in, it can make you far more personable and memorable to readers.

The great thing about author bios is that they’re the perfect pitch for further information once somebody is done reading your content. With a strong enough bio, your leads are more likely to click through to look at more of your expertise either on-site or via your socials. 

5. Cater Directly to Your Audience Needs

One of the biggest pitfalls of SEOs attempting to position themselves as industry thought leaders is that they can lose track of their true area of expertise while assessing which content is the most effective for harvesting clicks and building engagement.

As a thought leader, you must nurture a dedicated audience that trusts your insights and educational materials. If you begin staking a claim to be an expert in, say, wellness as well as agriculture, your audience is likely to not only become suspicious of your claims but also alienated by content that’s irrelevant to their needs. 

With this in mind, you should always look to establish yourself as a leader in a specific industry niche, and only ever briefly leave this area of expertise by acknowledging the insights of others and applying it to your core knowledge base. 

Which industry niche should you hone in on when creating value-building content? You can let your engagement decide. 

To determine the effectiveness of your strategy, measure your results for the content you create and identify patterns or trends that indicate which specific area is more ripe for engagement than others. 

Tracking metrics like your website traffic, engagement with specific content, social media followers and comments, and the conversions generated as a result of posts can all help you identify how your audience responds to specific content and whether you can focus more heavily on specific industry niches. 

Here, it could be worth adopting a more general approach when covering your industry, to begin with before refining your talking points depending on the engagement you receive. 

To truly excel as an SEO specialist demands a multifaceted approach. It’s essential to delve into workflow optimization strategies to navigate the complexities of the digital domain effectively.

Building an Audience-First Approach is Vital

To become an established thought leader, SEOs must acknowledge that their target audience holds the key to their success, and treat them with the necessary respect every step of the way. 

What this means is that you’ll need to use the available metrics to listen when your content is failing to make the right impact on your audience profile and make the appropriate changes to rebuild the desired levels of engagement. 

Additionally, you should be willing to interact with your audience whenever they comment on social media or suggest your blog. As your readers are the ones who can control your influence in the industry, putting them first is nothing short of imperative. 

Your path to becoming an industry thought leader can be one that’s filled with competitors and challenging link-building processes, but the rewards can help your bottom line in a way that builds a sustainable perception of value from your target audience. It’s for this reason that a successful thought leader strategy is worth its weight in gold for every SEO specialist

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