Becoming an authority is important to a website. It means you are a “reliable”, “factual” or “accurate” source of information. This will increase your “web trust” in the eyes of the major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. It also increases visitor and reader confidence in your content and services.
There are some attempts to measure authority such as this article: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Measuring-Website-Authority-in-Google/, where it is shown that authority level in Google is related to these 3 factors:
1: Age of the domain
2: Link popularity
3: Size of the website
One big question remains: “Why are some websites more trusted sources in search engines and Wikipedia despite having similar or lower authority level?” Or, to state this question another way: How do you become an “authoritative” website?
Wikipedia, the biggest online encyclopedia, released some information on how your website can become authoritative in nature. This article will take a look at this information and extract useful input for SEO and website owners or blog authors.
What Wikipedia considers a “Trusted Resource”?
On the Internet, almost any website or blog can claim they are an “expert” of something. But Wikipedia looks beyond that. If you are writing for Wikipedia, they have a strict set of rules that any contributor should follow when citing resources. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in an article in Wikipedia being edited or even removed from the site. The primary reason is that Wikipedia only allows articles backed up by a “trusted resource”.
But again, since anyone can claim they are expert of something, it can be a bit hard for Wikipedia contributors to decide which information can be trusted or not. This is where the guidelines can be very important. One rule for adding article topics in Wikipedia is that if there are no “verifiable and trusted resource” on that topic, then that article should not be added to Wikipedia. This is why you often see a lot of “self-promotion” articles in Wikipedia get deleted; because of the absence of reliable source supporting that topic. Wikipedia will not immediately delete those type of articles, instead they show some warnings to any interested contributors, such as in this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OfficeSIP_Messenger. Take note of this warning: “If notability cannot be established, then article is likely to be merged, redirected, or deleted”
“Verifiable and trusted resource” means third party content sources. The most important verifiable and trusted resources are as follows:
1.) Educational journals – the journals published by prominent universities and colleges.
2.) Books authored and published by universities
3.) Mainstream newspapers
4.) Expert authors of blogs, self-published sources
#1 to #3 are easy and understandable. The content published in those sources are very reliable and verifiable because:
1.) There are lots of people involved in the fact-checking process during the editing and publishing process. For example, before an article or a research paper can be published to an academic journal, it will be reviewed by an expert or a number of editors.
2.) They are supported with facts and research which is verifiable.
3.) They are trusted sources of information because they are publicly recognized experts in their field. For example, a mathematical text book written by a Ph.D in Math is more accurate than those published elsewhere.
#4 warrants a more in-depth discussion in the next section.
Definition of “Expert Authors”
Most websites on the Internet are those in the blogosphere that self-publish their content. In this way, only the blog author is solely responsible for fact-checking its content. In general, self-published sources in Wikipedia are not a reliable source of information, as anyone can publish blog content and claim to be an expert.
However, self-published material written by an “expert author” according to Wikipedia will be considered a reliable source. Remember that it is so hard to show that you are an authority if your content does not reflect your expertise. So how you can become a “real expert author”?
1.) First, you need to have some expertise in a certain topic. For example, if you want to start a blog about bone fractures, you should be a licensed orthopedist. In this way, your content reflects your expertise in treating bone fractures and giving advice to your readers pertaining to bone related illness.
2.) It’s not enough just to be certified to practice a profession. You should have some work previously published by “reliable third-party publications”.
What are these reliable third-party publications? They are as follows:
1.) Official publications of your professional organization. For example if your profession is Electrical engineering, your official publication can be coming from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, such as here: http://www.ieee.org/publications_standards/. If you have written an article published by IEEE, then its great because it can help in establishing your authority as an author.
2.) If you are a student studying a certain course (for example you are a Mathematics major), your official publication can either be your University journal or other university mathematical journals.
Best practices of Web Authors to become an Authority
There are millions of blogs on the Internet. They are created for different purposes, such as advertising, search engine optimization, sharing of information or even self-promotion. Be careful of your primary purpose for starting a blog, because it will have a strong impact on it’s authoritativeness. A website or blog with “dark hat” purposes created for spamming, SEO content factory, link advertising, affiliate content factory, page rank selling, etc. will have very low reputation in the web industry and it will be impossible to become an “authority” or a “trusted resource”. And reputation on the web is not easy to attain. So what are the best practices that as a webmaster or blog author should do in relation to increasing the site or blogs authority?
1.) Only start a blog with topics matching your core expertise. This will let you create the best content possible. Also, being an expert author of that topic means you will not easily run out of article topics for your blog.
2.) Limit the niche of your blog to at least one, reflecting your core expertise. This will have the best results for search engines in identifying your website as an authority of the subject matter. For example, if you have a multi-niched website with topics in sports, entertainment, and medicine, it has some disadvantages in self-publishing if you are a single author because you can never be an expert for all of those topics.
You should have at least one major niche (with sub-niches) for best long term results. This will let you create a lot of article ideas that still belong to that niche.
Case Example: Mr. X is an athletic coach in running, cycling and triathlons. He writes some articles that are published in reliable sports magazines, such as USA Triathlon Magazine. Mr. X’s sole expertise is triathlon. He decided to create a blog that shares his information about these sports. What niche should he select?
Answer: First, he could write a blog all about triathlons. But this topic is so specific that he might run out of topics in the long term. Also, this a very specific niche that only attracts specific visitors which are triathletes.
To increase the potential of having a high amount of visitors and publishing a lot of content in the future, he might decide to write a blog about “multi-sports” in general. In this blog, he writes post relating to running, triathlons, cycling, etc. As a result, it will attract a lot of visitors in the site which are inclined to these sports.
To search engines, Mr. X is an expert author about “multi-sports”. A lot of websites, including Wikipedia, might use Mr. X’s articles, even if they are self-published because:
a.) He has shown some expertise in these types of sports. He practices and coaches a lot in that field.
b.) He has some published articles in reliable sports publications.
3.) Boost your authority by showcasing your published articles in the reliable publications of your field. For example, Mr. X can create a page in his site called “About Mr. X” or “My published articles”. In this page, he can provide a link to his articles published in reliable publications.
3.) When writing content; whenever possible implement strict content quality practices such as fact-checking, citations, spelling and grammar-check.
4.) Make sure your website conveys a professional image to your visitors. Avoid too many ads, pop-ups, spammy comments, spammy external links and link pages in your site.
5.) Moderate comments and only publish helpful comments. Although Wikipedia does not consider a website or blog comment as a reliable source, moderating helpful comments can be helpful to create a user-friendly website.
6.) Make sure your website or blog does not fall into some “questionable sources” as defined by Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SOURCES#Selfpublished_and_questionable_sources_as_sources_on_themselves
a.) The content is promotional in nature. Common example are content that are primarily written to induce the reader to buy something as stated on a content (affiliate-based content).
b.) Content that relies heavily on personal opinion without any citations or sources.
By following the tips in this tutorial, the quality of your blog or website content will dramatically increase and this will translate to better user experience as well increasing the authority level of your site.