A goal of many webmasters is to have their website achieve the status of an authority site for their most important keywords. An authority, or sometimes referred to as an expert site, requires strong content, a large number of pages, and a large number of incoming and outgoing links that are themed to website content.
It’s widely considered by many observers that the Google algorithm places great importance on authority site status. It is a goal well worth striving for with your site.
An authority site also requires a healthy dose of PageRank. Most authority sites have at least a PR7, with many being much higher. It should be noted that the size, in terms of number of indexed pages and the content of a site, is also very important in recognizing authority sites. PageRank is only one of several authority site attributes, but is the one we are examining more closely right now.
Developing an authority site (as we’ll call it throughout this article) is a worthwhile goal, for website owners attempting to rise to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for their most important keyword phrases. In fact, authorities are usually positioned on the first two pages of the SERPs. The object of authority site building is to become one of the most important sites in the opinion of the Google algorithm for those keywords and phrases.
The keys to becoming an authority site are highly interrelated. They include number of indexed pages, content, links, and strong Google PageRank. All of those factors work in harmony as your site rises in the search engine rankings to achieve that highly desirable authority site status. Lacking any of those qualities, your site may not reach the authority goal.
One common thread that joins all authority sites is their relatively high levels of Google PageRank. While perhaps not the most important factor in the authority rank status, it is a good indicator of that possible position. That PageRank level requires an abundance of powerful inbound links from related themed sites.
Also important for potential authority sites are links from the most important internet directories, including the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), the Yahoo! Directory, and the Google Directory. In fact, any good quality human edited directory will help enhance a possible authority site.
To get to the authority site realm, your site needs incoming links. Let’s examine that PageRank issue for authority sites.
Many observers discount the importance of Google PageRank as a relic of Google algorithms past. They say its importance has diminished to being little more than green shaded eye candy for website owners. That may be true in many cases.
While PageRank may have possibly had its value lessened, it still is seen in abundance on Google designated authority sites. As PageRank rises, it does indicate that linking programs are successful. As we shall see, there is more to linking,than simply their absolute number. PageRank shows you are making solid progress toward achieving authority status with your linking activities.
An authority site needs solid on and off page content, themed incoming links, and strong PageRank. Each of these factors is needed for becoming an authority. Because each is dependent on the others, they are all intertwined and important. Google PageRank is one of those necessary elements.
All authority sites are content rich with often well over 1000 pages in total. Authority sites tend to be large sites; hence their importance. Authorities simply have an abundance of content. That heavy emphasis on content is reflected in off page factors as well. Because so many links are coming into the authority site’s high volume of content, there is usually strong link anchor text working towards themeing the site.
Links to the home page strengthen the PageRank of that main entry page. That PageRank is filtered through to the internal pages as well. Various internal pages also receive a PageRank boost from their own incoming links. Not everyone links to a site’s home page. That fact is especially true for authority sites. A well designed site map and internal linking system are essential to redistribute the incoming flow of PageRank to the pages requiring it most.
Other sites link to interesting and useful content for the benefit of their own visitor traffic. Each incoming link helps a web page’s link popularity and Google PageRank. It is thought that the most recent incarnation of the Google algorithm is placing much heavier weighting on incoming links. On page content factors are possibly being treated as less important. While that may hold true for the algorithm directly, it doesn’t account for additional links attracted by strong and informative content.
Many authority sites include a forum, a blog, and often a theme link directory as part of their content. All of those options enable a site to increase its amount of fresh themed content very quickly. All of them attract additional PageRank through their incoming links.
Good content draws natural links from other sites. Those links bring with them an influx of PageRank.
Authority sites require links for both PageRank and as link popularity for high search engine rankings. Links are the reason for PageRank, which depends on links for its value. Perhaps more than anything else, authority sites require themed incoming links, although all inbound links are helpful.
Like the related hub sites, which are identified from their heavy use of outgoing links to theme-related sites, authority sites must link out to other important sites as well. Authority site owners must be careful to maintain a high ratio of inbound to outbound links, favoring the former, of course.
Some additional incoming links from high PageRank sources might be purchased. While I don’t usually advocate the buying of links, sometimes it has a place for some websites. Each case should be examined individually for the usefulness of purchased links.
Authority sites should be submitted to all of the major and secondary internet directories. The most important directory links, especially the human selected ones, carry tremendous weight with Google. Along with submitting to DMOZ, website owners on their way to authority status should also consider submissions to the important secondary human edited directories. These include JoeAnt, Gimpsy, Skaffe, Zeal/Looksmart, and GoGuides.
Being included in DMOZ is a very important step towards becoming an authority. The recognition, by that most important directory, may even be part of the calculation as to which sites achieve authority status. Paying the $299.00 inclusion fee for the Yahoo! Directory might also be worthwhile strictly for the PageRank enhancement alone.
Added incoming links from charity sites and even from government agencies are especially powerful in terms of the Google algorithm. Displaying high PageRanks and often being authorities in their own right charities provide very desirable links. You may have to trade some volunteer work or a service for the link, but it’s well worth it for the authority site enhancement.
Potential authority site owners should never be afraid to link out to important and theme related government and charity sites either. As an authority linking out to other authority sites can also add the attributes of a hub site to your website. As you are probably aware, the main quality of a hub site is its high number of outgoing links to related theme websites. A site can be both a hub and an authority, or it can be either one. They are not mutually exclusive.
Authority site aspirants should seriously consider link exchanges with competitor sites. While that concept appears on the surface, to be counterintuitive, it’s not. A site that has links to and from, all of the major sites in the theme topic, will be seen as important for that reason alone. If a site were not important, it would not have inbound links from the leading sites in its industry. This is one area where linking to a direct competitor might provide some real value.
Along with having large numbers of indexed pages and high numbers of inbound anchor text rich links, an authority site usually features very high Google PageRank. It’s well worth your while to start a linking campaign that adds the necessary PageRank for authority site status. In the SERPs for your most important keyword phrases, the top two and often three returns pages contain numerous authority sites. Because of the importance attached to those sites by the Google algorithm, they are unlikely to see any kind of a major drop, even if the current algorithm is changed.
In order to develop a well themed high PageRank authority site, you must be certain to have the on page and off page content that will attract numerous incoming links.
Since many of the links will be natural one-way inbound links, you might not always be able to control the link anchor text. That is not always a bad thing, as mixed link text works in your favor. The sheer volume of incoming links, many from authority and hub sites, will provide ample link popularity and PageRank for your potential authority site.
Make certain that you have a good internal linking structure and a site map to properly distribute the inflow of PageRank to the pages most needing it.
It’s certainly worthwhile to develop an authority site for your most important keyword phrases.
Getting the required inbound links, and the necessary PageRank, will start you on your way to achieving that exalted authority site status.