No one knows exactly how search engines calculate authority and, in fact, there are probably multiple “authority” signals. The type of links your site receives (lots of quality or ‘neighborhood’ links?) or social references (from respected accounts?) and engagement metrics (long clicks?) may all play a role in site authority.
Find below, courtesy of Christopher Ratcliff from Search Engine Watch, a guide to Authority and what it means for your webiste.
An authority website is a site that is trusted. It’s trusted by its users, trusted by industry experts, trusted by other websites and trusted by search engines.
And yes it is a rather nebulous term.
All the ones you’d expect… Major news publishers, such as The Guardian, BBC, The Huffington Post, as well as industry blogs and popular well-regarded sites.
If you’re a niche website, but still highly regarded, you can still be an authority as much as the more general publishers above.
Google and other search engines have methods to determine the authority (trustworthiness) of a website. They DO not divulge, but the SEO industry hypothesis, test and evaluate all the time to assertain what the Search Engines are looking for.
A link from an authority website is very valuable.
Google treats a link from another website to your site as a vote of confidence. Google will therefore rank you higher based on that vote. Therefore the more good quality links you have the better.
One link from a high authority site has more value than many links from a bunch of low authority sites.
You have to be creating content that’s at least equal to the quality being created by the authority site.
The key is to build your audience, not links. These should just come naturally.
The Guardian probably isn’t going to link to your seldom updated David Hasselhoff fan-site with single-paragraph-long, deeply repetitive posts.
However if you create a David Hasselhoff fan-site containing relevant, entertaining, helpful content and you’re publishing at a regular rate… well… who knows?
It’s impossible to ascertain exactly which elements Google prioritises over others when it comes to ranking search results. The only thing that we can really be sure of is that the quality of a website’s content will always be the top priority.
Your content needs to engage visitors; keeping them enthralled by the page and then offering them clear, relevant navigation to other areas of your site.
Your content should be detailed, but not wordy. Easy to read, well formatted, full of high quality images and generally just be a pleasure to consume.
It’s not an exact science, but a good rule of thumb is not to publish anything you wouldn’t be happy to read yourself.
It also helps if you’ve been around for a while and have amassed a body of still relevant evergreen content, but that doesn’t mean an established site can become complacent.
If this website started publishing nothing but single-paragraph-long, deeply repetitive posts on a former Knight Rider actor, then you can be sure that another, younger, more relevant search marketing site would take our place on the search engine results pages.
There are various tools around. Moz has an Open Site Explorer which will give your site a score out of 100 based on its own various metrics.
Let’s take a deep breath and check our own score…
Do remember however that this is a score from Moz, not necessarily Google, so treat this like an educated guess.