Well the pedantic answer to this would be, “Not till until you adopt a less useless form than that of human being and become a well-regarded publishing website” but we’ll get into my erroneous grammatical choices in a different article. On another website.
For the beginner’s out there, let’s answer a few questions…
What is an authority website?
An authority website is a site that is trusted. It’s trusted by its users, trusted by industry experts, trusted by other websites and trusted by search engines.
And yes it is a rather nebulous term.
Which websites have authority?
All the ones you’d expect… Major news publishers, such as The Guardian, BBC, The Huffington Post, as well as industry blogs and popular well-regarded sites such as *cough* this one *cough*
If you’re a niche website, but still highly regarded, you can still be an authority as much as the more general publishers above.
Who decides which sites have authority?
Trying to think of a less snarky reply then “who do you think?” but it’s a struggle. But yeah, Google, other search engines.
So why should I care?
A link from an authority website is very valuable.
Google treats a link from another website to your site as a vote of confidence. Google will therefore rank you higher based on that vote. Therefore the more good quality links you have the better.
One link from a high authority site has more value than many links from a bunch of low authority sites.
And how do I get these links?
You have to be creating content that’s at last equal to the quality being created by the authority site.
The key is to build your audience, not links. These should just come naturally.
The Guardian probably isn’t going to link to your seldom updated David Hasselhoff fan-site with single-paragraph-long, deeply repetitive posts.
However if you create a David Hasselhoff fan-site containing relevant, entertaining, helpful content and you’re publishing at a regular rate… well… who knows?
How can I improve my own site’s authority?
It’s impossible to ascertain exactly which elements Google prioritises over others when it comes to ranking search results. The only thing that we can really be sure of is that the quality of a website’s content will always be the top priority.
Your content needs to engage visitors; keeping them enthralled by the page and then offering them clear, relevant navigation to other areas of your site.
Your content should be detailed, but not wordy. Easy to read, well formatted, full of high quality images and generally just be a pleasure to consume.
It’s not an exact science, but a good rule of thumb is not to publish anything you wouldn’t be happy to read yourself.
It also helps if you’ve been around for a while and have amassed a body of still relevant evergreen content, but that doesn’t mean an established site can become complacent.
If this website started publishing nothing but single-paragraph-long, deeply repetitive posts on a former Knight Rider actor, then you can be sure that another, younger, more relevant search marketing site would take our place on the search engine results pages.
Can I check the authority of mine, or anyone else’s sites?
There are various tools around. Moz has an Open Site Explorer which will give your site a score out of 100 based on its own various metrics.
Let’s take a deep breath and check our own score…
Do remember however that this is a score from Moz, not necessarily Google, so treat this like an educated guess.