Measuring Website Authority in Google

A lot of experts in SEO believe that the authority of a website in Google is often the most important factor in search engine rankings. This article will explain what authority is, what factors go into it, how to measure a website’s authority, and suggest some ways to increase your own site’s authority.

According to SEOMOz.org data:  

According the data above, 24% of the Trust/Authority of the host domain is responsible for the overall ranking algorithm.

Yet, one question remains: “How do we measure or estimate website authority in Google?”

If you can measure this, then you will know how to improve it. Some SEO professionals say that website authority is a “by-product of multiple factors (trust rank, relevance and endorsement from websites who have earned a position of authority from search engines” – Source: http://www.seodesignsolutions.com/blog/how-to-reference-material/authority-site-building-and-leveraging-website-authority/

Again, no SEO offers definite suggestions for how to measure it.

This article will illustrate a simple way to measure a website’s authority in Google. The objective is to provide the webmaster with a quantitative clue as to how their website’s authority compares to that of other websites.

In this way, a webmaster can formulate realistic improvement plans to become an authority website.

Qualities and Definitions of “Authority”

Some SEO beginners find it hard to understand what “authority” means to search engines. Being an authority website is analogous to being an “authority” in the real world.

For example, say you need advice about a health problem. Of course, everyone can give you an opinion about it. Your friend can suggest medications, or co-workers can suggest other things that you need to do to improve your health.

But will you believe or follow all of their suggestions? Most people consider advice, but many of them would go to a person of authority to get final recommendations.

If you’re looking for an authority in this situation, you will certainly need to see a doctor. The doctor is an “authority” on health. The doctor’s educational background, medical license to practice and years of experience treating patients makes him an authority person that can solve your health problem.

So, how does a doctor becomes an authority?

  1. Educational background and license to practice medicine.
  2. Years of experience.
  3. Referral/recommendations from other, previously treated patients, for great service.
  4. Referral/recommendations from other doctors because of expertise/specialization in a certain field of practice (orthopedics, pediatrics, etc).
  5. Large number of treated patients adds up to actual working experience.

Let’s go back to how this information relates to a website being an authority. Say you are searching for quality information relating to “computers.”

You go to Google.com to search for related information. Google returns Dell.com as one of the top results because:

  1. Dell.com has been in the business for a long time, offering quality information about computers as well as its products.
  2. Dell.com is run by experts in the computing field.
  3. Dell.com has lots of links coming to it from other websites as “votes” or recommendations which indicate that Dell provides quality service.
  4. Dell.com also has links coming to it from other, related websites, because Dell specializes in computers.
  5. Dell.com offers lots of quality information relating to computers.

Google returns authority websites at the top of search results because Google thinks that authority sites provide clear, quality and expert information relating to the user’s search query.

Of course, there are thousands or even million of websites talking about “computers” on the Internet which are indexed by Google. But they are not authority sites and have less expertise or fewer recommendations from other websites. As a result, they are not ranked as well by Google.

Looking at the example and analogy in the previous section, you can say that the following are the important “measurable” factors when it comes to being an authority website:

  • Age of domain – relates to the number of years of experience in a field.
  • Number of links pointing to the entire domain coming from other websites – relates to the total recommendations or votes from other websites. This consists of links coming from other authority websites and normal websites. This is the raw link count from unique domains.
  • Size of the website – relates to the amount of quality information found on the website.

Therefore, the authority can be measured by the following equation:

Authority level = Age of domain x Number of links pointing to the entire domain coming from other websites x size of website.

This figure can get pretty big, because the size of a website as well as its incoming links can easily reach thousands to millions. So a more useful figure can be obtained by taking a logarithm to the base of ten of the final result:

Authority = log base 10(age of domain x number of links x the size of website)

Example calculation:  Compute the authority level of seochat.com.

Given:

Age of domain: Using this tool: http://www.webconfs.com/domain-age.php, we get 7 years and 9 months. You can use 7 years.

Number of links: We’ll use this tool: http://www.php-developer.org/backlinkcount/checkyourlinkpopularity.php

Set it to the home page URL, and then select the “Entire site” option.

After pressing the submit button, the data will be given. Scroll down to get the results for estimated total back links from unique domains in unique class C IPs pointing to the entire site. It gives around 121,238.

Number of indexed pages: 247,000 using Google’s site operator. The command you use is site:seochat.com, as shown in the screen shot below.

Authority (SEO Chat) = log to the base 10 (7 x 121238 x 247000) = 11.32 or simply 11.

An online calculator is available here: http://www.php-developer.org/measure-website-authority/. Only use integers; negative numbers or decimals are not allowed.

Authority Level of Top and Bottom Websites in Google

It would be worth comparing the authority levels of some of the top and bottom websites in Google. Top websites are those websites that rank on Google’s first page. Bottom websites are those that rank somewhere between position 190 to position 210.

The hypothesis is that the authority level of top websites will be higher on the average than bottom websites. Below is the result confirming this hypothesis:

This result, achieved using actual data, confirms that top websites in Google have much higher authority levels on average than bottom websites.

For the keyword “cars,” the top websites average around a 13.6 authority level, while the bottom websites have around an average 9.3 authority level.

The same situation holds true for the keyword “bicycles.” The top websites average around 11 in authority level while the bottom websites only show a level of around 6.7.

This shows that Google loves to rank authority websites.

What can you do to increase your authority level?

As you might observe, there is no shortcut. It takes years of experience and doing good things online – sharing great content, networking with related sites, earning reputation. It does not happen overnight or even over just months.

Never stop building connections with your followers, clients, readers and referrals, as this will help in increasing the links to your website. The key is to provide good customer service. If you provide free service, make it more compelling than other free services. This attracts links, which are a factor in being an authority.

Share your expertise by consistently writing content or even hiring expert writers for your website. Content is very important; if you have a large website full of quality content, it contributes to increasing your website’s authority level. Continually adding content can increase the number of pages Google indexes from your website.

Avoid any forms of spam to artificially inflate authority level factors. Google is very good at detecting spam, and this will do more harm than good.

Becoming an authority takes years; the data shows that most authority websites in Google are more than 10 years old, typically, if your niche is competitive. Keep this in mind as part of your long-term planning.

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