Despite what we often see in the movies, championships aren’t won overnight. They are an accumulation of many, many hours of practice. 10,000 hours to be (in)exact.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the “10,000-Hour Rule.” That’s (roughly) the number of hours it takes in order to become an expert in something. Of course, like all “rules,” this one comes with a degree of skepticism and studies disproving the studies. Yada, yada, yada. But I think we can all agree that Michael Jordan wouldn’t be the great player he was without the thousands of hours he invested in practice long before he even came to the NBA.
When it comes to web marketing, however, businesses often think that they can skip the “practice” and move their site into “expert” status just by throwing money into it. Money may get you the resources to get there, but you still have to put in the time.
But let’s back up a bit.
Every website has a certain amount of authority that is has accumulated. That authority plays a very significant role in how well a site does in getting exposure on search engines. The more authority a site has, the greater its opportunity for success.
New websites and unknown brands have an inherent disadvantage when competing against already-established sites and well-known brands. Quite simply, those sites have been practicing daily, and you’re just getting started. Are you ready to take on the heavyweight champion after a single day in the ring? Not likely.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take them on at some point. The question is, how do you get from where you are today to being able to hold your own in the ring against the fiercest competitor?
There are a few things you can do to speed up your site authority:
- Build links
- Engage in social
- Provide value
The first two are pretty straightforward. The last one is a bit more complicated, but it should be the primary goal in all your marketing efforts.
And all of these take time. The only shortcut to building authority is investing more time in those things that get you there. If you have built up incredible site authority, but have done zero optimization on your site, you’re still going to have a difficult time competing.
For most businesses, however, the opposite is true. They spend all their time working on the optimization of the site and expect it to be a contender. The problem is that even with a perfectly optimized website, if you haven’t built up your authority, you still have no chance of competing.
Perhaps we can think of optimization as your physical ability, and site authority as a level you can compete in. Let’s take a look at Minor League Baseball as an example. You’ve got Rookie, Class A Short-Season, Class A, Double A, and Triple A. Low site authority equates to a lower-level classification such as Rookie. You might be physically fit, but you’re not ready to compete with teams in the class above you.
So how do you get there?
Time and hard work. The more you invest in building your site authority, the faster you can move up to the next class. The less time you invest, the longer it will take. But don’t be fooled: Very rarely can you circumvent the process. And those that become “overnight sensations” have very likely spent a lot of time and money doing all the right things so they can make that overnight splash.
Building site authority is necessary to compete in web marketing, but it’s a tough road. You can get there, but you have to be willing to endure for the long haul.