What is an authority site?

Young people have no respect for authority now...

Young people have no respect for authority nowadays (Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

Making an authority website should be the goal of any business that focuses on SEO. While it is possible for an ecommerce website with little content that is able to rank for a wide range of different high profile keywords, the goal needs to be the main information source for individuals looking for information about that particular niche. An authority site is typically an information hub, but it can fill a number of different roles, depending upon the needs of the business and it’s current SEO outlook. Typically, an authority site will contain some of the following characteristics.

Authority site: Definitive Information Provider

One thing that many authority sites have in common is the fact that it is a bonafide information provider for information that is related to the business’ particular industry. Typically, the more information contained on the website the better. Websites that are able to achieve status as an authority website are able to provide a wide range of information about any and all subjects related to their niche.

By looking at what other websites have done successfully, businesses that are interested in becoming an authority site will be able to learn how to go about structuring content and navigation to make the experience seamless for the end user, while also remaining search engine friendly.

Depending upon how broad a particular niche is, a site could be an authority website with just a few pages. Broader niches could require hundreds or thousands of pages to be a true authority. In example, if a particular niche focused on “Stock mufflers in Honda Civics,” that authority site might only need 10 to 15 pages to display all of the relevant information. However, if the website were focused on “Honda Civic Parts,” in general, there would be a lot more content required to provide well-rounded information on the subject as a whole.

Authority websites should strive to cover the entirety of their subject matter as wholly as possible. There can be dozens of websites considered to be an authority in the same niche, but those that are able to go above and beyond in terms of information quality and quantity are much more likely to position themselves as an authority site.

Keep in mind that there are no strict definitions of an authority site. There is no magical number of pages that needs to be reached in order to be considered one. Instead of setting limits and aiming for a certain number of pages, set goals for providing the best coverage of the subject matter within that niche.

Links

While it is not a necessity to be considered an authority site, a large majority of websites will have links from other authority sites within their niche. While links might not play the same prominent role in SEO as they once did, having a high quality inbound link profile still helps the website to rank and is required for most competitive keywords. A website can have the greatest content in the world, but if the website does not contain what the Google algorithm is looking for, it will never be able to rank. The goal of any would-be authority site should be to garner links from other authority sites within the niche. This signals to google that the website provides excellent information that is worth being linked to. The higher quality the website is that the link comes from, the better.

Additionally, would-be authority sites also need to make sure that they link to other high quality websites as well. Understanding link juice, how it flows from one page to another, and how to structure it’s outbound links for maximum effect is an important part of SEO. The business need to make sure that the website is linking to other high quality websites in its niche. An easy way to make sure that a website has appropriate outbound links is to link to sources for the information provided. If a particular website was used during article research, a link to that website would be appropriate and would help to establish professionalism as well.

Links allow websites to pass their Google authority from one page to another, and one site to another. This is commonly referred to as ‘link juice.’ A strong navigation system helps authority sites to pass this Google authority from one page to another on their own site. The outbound links allow the website to pass that authority on to other websites. Essentially, an outbound link is viewed as a vote of confidence for the websites that are linked to. This is applied in reverse for inbound links, meaning that the goal should be to garner as many votes of confidence as possible.

Expanded Content

One thing that can be noted by visiting authority sites is the fact that many of them offer expanded content, greatly helping their ranking authority. Expanded content refers to adding other, usually visual additions to the content so that it is more than just words on a page. Remember, half of the population learns better visually. For this reason, would-be authority websites should add images, videos, and info graphics that help to support the claims that are being made on the page.

By providing better information with expanded content types, the website is able to not only help users to better understand the information that is provided, but this also makes a website much more likely to garner links from other authority sites that find the content useful as well.

The ranking authority of a given website depends on a number of different factors. Not only should the website be the best provider of information in the given niche, but it should also have a solid SEO structure, links from other websites that are within the niche and considered to be authorities, and enough information to cover the entire niche as a whole.

Having an authority website can mean big returns for a business. No matter what style a website is published as, whether it is an e-commerce site, informational site, web magazine, or other type of website, that doesn’t stop them from offering a wealth of high quality information related to their subject matter. There is no set requirement that must be met to be an authority site, but there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account such as what subjects need to be covered. Building an authority site takes time, effort and knowledge, but can pay off big in the long term.