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In our last post, we talked about how content quality is more important than ever. Search engines such as Google want high-quality content, and authoritativeness is one of the most important factors they consider when evaluating material. But what does it mean for content to be authoritative, and why is that relevant?

What is authoritative content?

As OKWrite explains, “authoritative content is unique content that informs the reader, demonstrates subject expertise, and provides the right level of depth for the target audience.” 

What makes authoritative content?

ProBlogger defines authoritative content as having the following features:

·         Insight: this is when an author synthesizes information without simply regurgitating facts. Every author has their own unique strengths that they can bring to bear when discussing a subject. So instead of just posting a list of links, go the extra mile and filter that knowledge for your readers. Let’s say you wanted to write a post about Tutankhamun. Instead of just giving your reader a list of basic facts, give them something a bit more unique. You could, for example, discuss how forensic evidence and the presence of numerous walking sticks in his tomb suggests that he had a disability.

·         Simplicity: you’ve probably heard the acronym KISS (‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’). Well, this applies to online content as well. It might be tempting to assume that this means being as brief as possible, but that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, you want to make sure you’ve distilled your information as much as possible. Going back to Tut, that could mean focusing on a specific subject rather than trying to provide a comprehensive overview of his life, reign, and tomb.

·         Depth: you also want to make sure you’re giving your reader enough information. This might seem obvious, but it can be easy to forget that not everyone is as knowledgeable about a topic as you are. With our Tut example, you shouldn’t assume that your readers already know everything about him, from his original name to the significance of the Restoration Stela.

·         Breadth: it’s important to help your readers connect the dots. You want to help them link the information you’re giving them to other subjects. So if you were writing about Tut’s tomb, you might discuss how his tomb compares with other New Kingdom pharaohs. You could also draw your readers in by including a story-like narrative.

·         Relevance: it’s important to make sure you’re giving your audience information that they can actually use. It can be tempting to treat your publication like a smorgasbord, but it’s best to resist that temptation. In other words, if you have an Egyptology blog, don’t suddenly switch gears and talk about the career of the RMS Queen Mary.

It’s important to EEAT

Since Google is the leading search engine on the web, it pays to think about the kind of content they want. As we discussed last week, they judge criteria on the basis of:

·         The first-hand experience of the creator

·         The expertise of the creator

·         The authoritativeness of the creator, the content itself, and their site

·         The trustworthiness of the creator

They refer to these factors with the acronym ‘EEAT.’ They’ve also said they’re looking for what they call ‘people-first content.’ In a nutshell, they want the kind of material you might find in a traditional encyclopedia or a major magazine. You should avoid typos or obvious factual errors (they might want to remind their new AI of that last one!). You should also focus on a specific area instead of trying to be everything to everyone. And definitely don’t cram keywords into your content like it’s a Stephenie Meyer sentence.  And while AI can help you produce content, using it to churn out tons and tons of shlock is a bad idea.

How is authoritative content used?

You might be wondering why authoritative content is so important. The simple answer is that professionals in a wide range of fields rely on it. To use our trusty, hypothetical Egyptology blog as an example, imagine that a journalist is writing a piece to coincide with the fact that February 16, 2023 marks the centenary of the opening of Tut’s burial chamber. They don’t have a background in Egyptology, and so they desperately need background information to write their article. Luckily, they find your publication, which offers a wealth of information about ancient Egypt. Of course, journalists aren’t the only ones who use authoritative content. Professionals such as lawyers, government officials, academics, and businesspeople need it as well.

How can Newstex help creators of authoritative content?

Many people who need authoritative content turn to information databases such as ProQuest or LexisNexis to find it. Because they offer a curated range of material, it’s often easier to find what you need there rather than turning to the open web. Newstex partners with these information databases to provide the kind of in-depth material professionals need (if you’re wondering if your publication might be a good fit for one of these databases, you can take our quiz here).  

An air of authority

Authoritative content is more important than ever. Google and other search engines like material that’s grounded in facts, well-written, and brings something new to the table. They also like it when authors stick within their expertise rather than throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks. Not only will this please Google, but it’s also likely to please your readers, too. After all, they’re more likely to remember you if you’re saying something new instead of simply repeating what everyone and their uncle has already said.

Being smart about your sources is essential to producing authoritative content. For some tips on verifying material on social media, check out “5 steps to verify social media accuracy for publishers.”  

Infographic - What is authoritative content