Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Long-Term Power of Authority

I've been reading a great e-booklet, called "Authority Rules".  It spells out just how to get a lot of links coming to your website or blog.  And, as we know, links mean traffic, links mean search engine ranking, and links mean spiders.  Links are critical to success.

The idea is to become an authority in a particular area of knowledge.

I can hear people already saying, "I'm no expert!"  and "I just wanna sell stuff!"

My answer is: "You don't have to be an 'expert' to share knowledge, and wanting to sell stuff is a great place to start!"

Let me tell you some stories.

When I was growing up, I had a great friend named Jon.  He and I shared a fascination with World War II, and plastic ship models in particular.  He found that some of the Japanese model companies made some of the most detailed and beautiful models.  Unfortunately (at least in my eyes) they only made models of the Japanese ships.  That didn't seem to bother Jon.  He loved them.  He built them, and he read about them.  He learned their names, and the battles they were in.  I followed along for the ride, but never quite shared his fascination so completely.

Fast forward.  We both went our separate ways, in college, jobs, marriages and lives, but we still keep in touch from time to time.

In the intervening years, he set up a website dedicated to his fascination with the Imperial Japanese Navy.  He showed pictures of the ships.  He started researching logs and historical documents and posting that information at his site.  Soon he was getting more and more traffic.  The site won awards and garnered much recognition among military historians and military history buffs. 

Keep in mind, that Jon's "day job" is NOT "historian".  He works in technology, in programming.  He just enjoys researching his passion, and shares what he learns.

Fast forward a little more.  A shipwreck is discovered, and it's believed that it's one of the Japanese aircraft carriers that was sunk in the battle of Midway.  An expedition is planned, with remote diving bots armed with cameras, to see if the wreckage can be identified.  Who do they call on to be the expert that can look at the video and images sent back up the wire?  Who can identify the ship?  Do they call on those with advanced degrees in naval history?  No, they call my friend, Jon, who runs a website. 

He goes on the expedition, and is able to work with them and identify the downed ship as the Kaga, which was, indeed, one of four Japanese aircraft carriers sunk in the battle of Midway.

Fast forward a bit more.  Jon and his colleague in the running of the website publish a book, "Shattered Sword, the Untold Story of the Battle of Midway".  It's considered by many to be the definitive work on the battle.  It includes many facets of the battle that had never been revealed before, including much from the perspective of the Japanese.

It's no surprise, then, that if you go to google and search for "Imperial Japanese Navy", that his website is #1.  It even outranks the Wikipedia entry.  It would also probably not surprise you to know that this site gets over 50,000 hits a month.

My point in telling you this story is to reshape your perspectives of what it means to be an "Authority", an "expert".  It doesn't necessarily mean you have to have degrees and the accolades of academy.  It does mean, you have to learn, and share what you learn.  In the process, you gain trust.  People will trust you to tell them what they want or need to know.  Once you have that, you are an expert, regardless. 

And they will come to you, and link to you, and tell others to find you, and your business will flourish because they will buy from you.

PS.  If you want to buy Jon's book, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway, get it here.

Mark is currently in the curriculum Department of an internet and SEO training company. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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