What is an Authority Site?

There has been a lot of talk about “Authority Sites” in regards to search engine marketing. OK, so what does this mean…and why are Authority Sites ranking so high in the search engine results pages (serps)?


As most people know the Internet was started to provide information. Then business people saw that they could sell goods on it, and thus the start of eCommerce. Almost everyone uses the Internet to find information, be it to learn something, or read the local headlines, or maybe to check the upcoming movie times. People search for information, so why do Authority Sites rank so well, because they provide the most relevant information, as well as the largest amount of information. One thing that is missing from the last statement is that they provide the most relevant information about a “theme”.

The term “Theme” in this case relates to a subject or a keyword phrase used by a person when searching the Internet. When search engines spider a site, they try to determine what the overall theme of that site is. If the site is designed properly, the spider will be able to find all the content that is on that site. The more related content it finds the better. Now that the spider has found all the content of the site, it takes a look at the inbound, and outbound links for the site. Inbound links, are links from other sites that point to your site. Outbound links are links that go to other sites, maybe in a statement like, “…to find out more visit…” with a link going to another site that also offers similar content.

Outbound Links

You may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to place a link on my site that goes to another site?” A search engine is looking to provide the most relevant results for a particular search phrase. A search engine will recommend a site that not only provides the search engine user with the most amount of information about a subject, but it will also look at sites that it suggests (or links to) visiting that provides more of the same information. Are you seeing how this works? Along with having a lot of content related to your target keyword phrase or theme, you will also want to provide links to more content on other sites that also relate to your theme. This will appear to a search engine, as your site is an Authority on the subject. There is more to this. Just like you need to find links to other content related to your subject, you hope others will do the same for your site. This is a way that search engine spiders measure the quality of your inbound links.

Inbound Links

Everyone has heard, you must get link exchanges to get higher rankings. Well in this case quality wins over quantity. Let’s just say you have a site about feet. If you had someone that linked to your site from their site, and their site is about video games, think about how a search engine sees this? I am on a video game site, and here is a link that reads, “Cure Foot Problems”, and the link goes to your site. Do you think the search engine is going to pay much attention to that link? Next example, someone has a site that is a directory of foot doctors. There is an article about “Getting Rid of Corns”. The end of the article has a sentence that reads, ”To get more helpful tips about curing foot problems visit the foot site”, and the link to your site is using the anchor text of “curing foot problem”. A search engine spider sees this link and says, WOW I was just on a site that had an article about Getting rid of Corns, and I found a link going to a site that has more information about Curing Foot Problems. Can you see how the second example is going to carry more weight?

Let’s summarize what an “Authority Site” is. It is a site that has a lot of content related to one theme. It has a few high quality outbound links pointing to sites that offer similar content and information. It also has a high amount of quality inbound links from sites that are related to your theme. Sounds easy enough, why isn’t everyone doing this? Well the theory sounds simple; the implementation is not so simple.

Becoming an Authority

Part of being an authority site also includes longevity. Now we all know that “Internet time” is different from regular time. Sites like eBay are about to celebrate their 10th anniversary, and it is considered an “ancient site”. When I refer to time, I mean a few years, around 3 to be more precise. This seems to be about the time when the amount of content on your site has grown to a number over 500, it is also the amount of time that you will find, that there are more people linking to your site without you asking for it. That in itself should convince you that you are now an Authority.

What can you do to speed up the process? Write, write some more, and when you are tired of writing, write some more. If you are really passionate about your field this should be easy. Along with writing content for your own site, offer some of your content with reprint rights. Reprint rights will include an Author’s By-line at the bottom with a clickable link to your site. Let’s look at this for a moment. Who is going to be interested in publishing your content on their site? Well a person that has a video game site is not going to publish an article about soothing painful feet helpful site. The publisher will have a site that is directly related to your site, and there you have another quality inbound link.

Becoming an Authority is not easy. It definitely requires the phrase, “Putting in your time”. Remember it may be a long road to the top, but once you are there it is hard to get knocked down.