Authority – How to Build it into Your Site

by Alan Eggleston

As a website owner or builder, you are trying to work with three search algorithms created to thwart hacking of search engines: Google’s Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. Your best strategy is to try to build more authority into your site, which works with the best sides of all three of these algorithms. According to Google, to build authority means to build quality.

Defining Authority

How to Build Authority into Your Site

Photo: Friends of Europe on Flickr, Creative Commons license. Photo was edited from original.

What is “authority”? Think about authority in general: An authority is someone you trust to give you reliable information, a source you go to for good information. It’s the same on the Internet. When search engines assign authority to a website, it’s someone they feel provides solid, reliable, verifiable, unique, factual information. They tend to be news or media (who report firsthand on events or people), reference sources (who list facts rather than opinions), universities or other institutions of higher learning (who catalog histories, facts, reports, or research), and original sources (who report on research). In business, they tend to be brands (who own patents and trademarks, establishing their ownership of technology).

Unless your website is among these, how do you build authority in your own right?

Building Authority

Look at what most of these authority sites do in garnering or protecting their authority: They publish volume or quantity, reliability or quality, unique information and usually first-of-a-kind, factual information or opinion based on unique research, verifiable works with rugged footnoting, featuring usually named and tested contributors and online, vigorous linking. You can do this, too.

Volume: The more you publish the more variety you are likely to have and the better the indexing you are likely to have. Volume can be number of pages, but also length of pages. Doing both would be better. Number of pages creates depth of site, length of pages creates depth of content, and search engines like both.

Reliability: Anyone can write but only authority figures write quality content that readers return to time and again. Readers “like” quality articles promoted on Facebook, give them “1+” on Google+, “RT” on Twitter, and – most important – link to them on their blogs, in forums, and in comments sections. Write good content that others can’t find anywhere else and watch readers pass it along.

Unique: The Internet is full of duplicate articles, although less so since Panda came along (Google estimates 25-30% of content is duplicate). Still, lesser quality writers can’t pass up the desire to duplicate success and repeat what works for others – sometimes even plagiarizing works. Blogs are full of repeat material. Authority figures write their own and write on topics first. Break new ground on the topics you cover!

Facts: The Web is full of opinion and fluff. Authority figures write facts or opinion based around their unique research, research their unique position, or their knowledge makes their opinion valuable. So either bring new light to facts or discover new facts to bring new light to your readers. Use facts to your advantage to put them to your reader’s advantage. If your site sells products, create new ways to look at products using facts.

Links: A lot of sites use links merely to tap the ranking strength of the links. Go another step better and add authority to your site by citing sources or providing your reader with more information. This might be less useful for you on a higher-level sales page than on a lower-level information page.

As an authority, you want others to link to you. You still need to be careful that links to you and that to whom you link aren’t garbage links, but on the whole, quality links are good and help build authority. The more authority your site has, the easier it should be to encourage links, but promoting them should still be part of your strategy – just avoid doorway offers.

White papers: Go into depth and show your knowledge on a topic by writing a white paper on your area (or areas) of expertise. Caution: These need to be well done, far above fluff or promotional pieces. Similar to white papers are studies, poll examinations, definitions, and more rigorous research papers that provide value to your reader and establish your authority in the subject.

Leadership: Be the leader in whatever community you find yourself. If you have a website and can add a blog to take stands or create growth in that community, that’s another way of building authority. If as a website editor or publisher you can rally employees who are “community” leaders into writing posts for the website (for instance, one of your R&D techs or scientists could write information pieces; nursing or health care supervisors could write tip articles; or real estate staff could write local articles to help people moving to the area) that could help establish authority for your website.

Promotional writing: Promoting your website on social media or in professional or other industry journal websites could also help build authority, including adding links to pages in forums, blogs, on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and on Quora (perhaps address a question on your website and then refer to it in an answer on Quora).

Establishing authority, thus, means becoming an authority and with that producing quality content. It can be hard work, but it will be worth it in the ranking power you will build.