Eric Cartman: spoiled brat, petulant cry baby, raging narcissist, deeply prejudiced, full-fledged psychopath, evil genius (remember that time he duped Scott Tenorman into eating the chopped up remains of his parents just because he pulled a prank on him?!)
There are many words to describe South Park‘s most polarising yet popular character. But content writing guru? Hear me out.
If you’ve watched even a handful of South Park episodes, you’ll know how much Eric Cartman loves authority (or should I say “authoritah!”). Whether it’s as Officer Barbrady’s big wheel-riding deputy, a Dog the Bounty Hunter-esque hallway monitor or the leader of a radical pro-ginger cult that seeks to destroy every non-redheaded child, Cartman seizes every opportunity he can to assume (and inevitably abuse) power over his peers.
If Eric Cartman was involved in the Stanford Prison Experiment, he’d turn into Lechero from Prison Break before the first yard break.
One of Cartman’s most famous—and frequently used—catchphrases throughout the show is “respect ma authoritah!” While I don’t condone any of his despicable (but admittedly hilarious) actions, content writers can learn a lot from this pearl of wisdom from Eric Theodore Cartman.
Before we dive into some of the more technical stuff, this part is quite self-explanatory. When we talk about authority in writing, we mean displaying expertise, credibility and a command of the subject you’re writing about. Supporting your insights by citing credible sources and factual data. Making it clear to your audience that you know what you’re talking about and you aren’t bullshitting them with half-baked, poorly-researched, empty-calorie fluff for the sake of clicks.
However, when it comes to content writing for SEO purposes, there are other important ways to build authority:
- Getting links from leading and authoritative websites.
- Being mentioned in the news or on authoritative websites within your field.
- People sharing your content widely, genuinely and consistently across social media.
By doing all of these things on a consistent basis, you can cement yourself as not just an expert, but an authority within your industry.
Authority doesn’t just improve the quality of your content, but it increases the visibility of it, too. Authority plays a crucial role in SEO. It’s one of the biggest factors in where your site ranks on search engines, as made clear in Google’s major E-A-T algorithm update (the “A” standing for authority) that they rolled out in August 2018, as well as the core update they launched this January (“If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?” they asked).
It makes sense why authority is so important to SEO. To put it plainly, Google’s main goal is to satisfy its users’ search requests, to provide them with the most relevant and useful information based on their search query. But with an ocean’s worth of websites and pages to sift through, how do they know where to direct their users? By assessing the authority of a website and its content.
Think of it like this: before the days of search engines, if you wanted to learn how a car engine works, you wouldn’t just pop round and ask your neighbor, would you? Of course not. Instead, you’d probably seek out a mechanic or pick up a car manual. What you’re looking for in this situation is an authoritative source that can give you the information you want.
Google works the same way. If you can satisfy the needs of Google’s users by providing authoritative and valuable content, you increase your chances of ranking highly on their search engine results pages (SERPs).
Authority: the gift that keeps on giving.
Building authority has plenty of knock-on benefits. Authoritative content is more likely to attract high-quality links to your site—ideally, from other authoritative sources such as Wikipedia, leading media publications and government sites. Links—and the quality of these links—play a huge role in determining the authority of a website, so the more links you get, the more authority you build. It’s a win-win.
Authoritative content can also help to boost your domain authority, a key SEO metric that Google uses to assess the authority of your website. This figure, out of 100, is based on numerous factors including the age of your site, its backlink profile and, of course, the quality of its content. Websites with higher domain authorities are more likely to rank higher on search engine results pages.
Authority can also help to drive conversions and improve your CRO (conversion rate optimisation). Authority wields influence. So if people trust and value the content that you’re providing them, they’re more likely to respond to your call-to-action (CTA) or any other recommendations you make to your audience. And if your authority has been working its magic—boosting search engine rankings, attracting organic traffic/clicks, getting eyes on your content—just think about the opportunity that this creates.
So the next time you approach a piece of content, remember the wise words of Eric Cartman. No, not “screw you guys, I’m going hoooome!” (although we all feel like that some days). But “respect ma authoritah!”