What is an “Authority Site”?


An ‘Authority site‘ is a site that seems to get an extra ranking boost from the search engines. Somehow, in their analysis of the site and its backlinks profile, the search engine algorithm recognizes a site as being an ‘Authority’. Getting backlinks from sites that are seen by the search engines as an authority are close to being the sorts of links that probably past the most link juice, so they are much sought after.

Individual webmasters may think the content of *their* site is enough to make it an authority on a topic, but that is not enough in the eyes of the search engines. It could be assumed that determination of an authority site is based on the backlink profile of a site. Think for a moment that you are a search engine….. How would you determine which site was an authority for a particular keyword or niche? I would do it two ways: Firstly, I would look at which site(s) do the top ranked sites in that niche or keyword link to. If most of them link to one particular site or a few keys sites, does that not tell you that those sites must be some sort of authority site for that niche? The other way would be to look at the backlink profile. What proportion of backlinks come from self promotional means of link building (such as directory submission, social bookmarking, article distribution, blog commenting or forum posting)?. Would you consider an authority site to have a smaller proportion of their backlinks from these methods of link building relative to those that are willingly given as the site is worthy of linking to (ie its an ‘authority’).

Some of the SEO Kiddies think that when Google gives a website sitelinks it is then an authority site, but that is not the case.

To establish yourself as an authority site, you need to:

  1. Focus on building an awesome site with strong content and lots of pages that other sites want to link to (or in our case, an awesome forum fill of awesome content).
  2. Get as many of the top ranking sites for your keyword or niche to link to you (not an easy task; but what does it tell the search engines if you do?).
  3. Build as many non-self promotional links as possible (what does it tell the search engines if all the links to your site were self promotional?). A high mozTrust is indicative of authority status. Try and get as many backlinks as possible from sites with a higher mozTrust.
  4. Get your forum listed in DMOZ and the Yahoo! Directory, and maybe a few of the other key paid directories (this one is certainly debatable, but it does say to the search engines that you are a serious website).

For more and a different perspective, see this video from SEOMoz:


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