Marketing Channels

What Is an Authority Website and Why Should You Create One?

CopyPress

Published: December 15, 2022

If your brand has authority in your industry, you’ve basically got it all. Your company has a loyal following, the trust of its current customers and leads, and the platforms to share information and keep the cycle going. Today, we’re looking at what an authority website is and why developing one sets your brand up for success when trying to become the go-to resource in any niche:

What Is an Authority Website?

An authority website or blog is the first or most often recurring resource people visit online for information about a specific industry, topic, or niche. Content drives these sites and they become popular because the target audience trusts and respects the brand or team behind the information. Authority websites are often large, in page count and content volume, and provide valuable information about anything you’d ever want to know about a niche topic.

They also have editorial standards. Sites with true authority aren’t fly-by-night operations that run out of someone’s basement in their spare time (even if some of them started that way). Most people who make authority sites are bloggers, freelancers, or entrepreneurs trying to make brands out of their own names. But brands, corporations, small businesses, and nonprofits can do the same if they put the time and effort into the creation process.

Who Decides Which Sites Have Authority?

Two groups decide if your website is authoritative or not. I’m sorry to say your team isn’t one of them. The two groups that decide whether a site is an authority include:

Search Engines

Search engines decide the authoritativeness of your site on a technical level. Google and its competitors rank content that comes from sites with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) higher than content from other sources that don’t have those qualities. But the search engines don’t decide who fits that bill arbitrarily or at whim. They use carefully measured metrics to give content those coveted titles and placement.

The number and quality of backlinks are two determining factors. The more quality backlinks you have, the more authoritative Google rates your site. If more people and brands (not spam sites) link to your content, then Google sees the behavior as votes or acknowledgments that your content is good. Another E-A-T factor is your bounce rate per page, and overall for your domain. Sites and content with lower bounce rates mean people stay on the page and engage with your content longer. The more time they spend with it, Google assumes this means it’s more relevant and helpful.

Your Audience

Your audience also gets to decide if your website is authoritative or not. Their behaviors influence what the search engines think of your site. For example, lower bounce rates signal better authority to search engines. But lower bounce rates happen because your audience is spending more time on your website and engaging with your content. They wouldn’t spend that much time on your site if they didn’t think it was helpful or worthy of their time and attention.

Your audience also helps signal content authority by providing backlinks. Every time someone links to your site or content on their own sites or social media profiles, they’re providing the votes search engines need to determine if your content has authority. More shares also help your content get more reach and recognition. Social shares signal to your audience’s friends and followers that they trust your content enough to display it on their own feeds.

Why Should You Care if Your Site Has Authority?

Here are a few reasons you should care if you’re running an authoritative website:

Everybody Knows Your Name

Having an authoritative website in your niche is the equivalent of being Norm and walking into Cheers. Everybody knows your name, and that’s good for brand recognition. Authority and recognition usually go hand-in-hand and one can always benefit the other. If you already have brand recognition on social media or through an industry following but don’t have a website yet, you can build one that piggybacks off the name recognition. In contrast, if your brand is new or is relatively unknown in your industry, you can build an authoritative website to improve your brand image and gain more recognition.

Audience Connections

Authority sites focus on providing high-quality, large quantities of information to a niche audience. The more you know about what your audience wants to see or learn about, the better connections you can make with them. And these connections extend beyond providing content. The more you know about your audience and the more information they share with you, the better you can target your marketing efforts at other stages of the funnel. So instead of just pulling them in with your content marketing, you can create more effective pushes to convert at other phases in their journeys.

Better Search Engine Positioning

More authoritative websites appear higher in searches. And appearing on page one or in the featured snippet for any keyword or phrase has an entire host of benefits. Not only does it increase your brand awareness and recognition, but it also attracts a bigger audience to your content. Even when you only pull someone to your site for a strictly informational search, they remember what they learned and who provided the information.

When they are ready to make a purchase or compare products and services, they’ll be more likely to come back to your website and your brand for those things after engaging with your helpful content.

What Are the Characteristics of an Authority Website?

Any site could be an authority site, in theory. You don’t have to earn some special denotation or badge to make your site an authority, like celebrities grabbing blue checkmarks on social media. Authoritative sites are often more of an unwritten rule, kind of like social status in high school. The popular kids don’t wear t-shirts or something that proclaims their popularity. They just have that quality about them and everyone else knows.

The same goes for your authority website. The most distinct characteristic of an authority site in any niche is the content volume. Authority sites have more pages and content than other sites in the same industry or niche. The more content you create, assuming it’s high-quality and SEO-friendly, the better chance you have to rank in search and grab an organic following. Another hallmark of an authority site is a large backlink profile. The more people who link to your site and give it their “thumbs up,” the more authoritative it looks to search engines.

Related: Types of Authoritative Backlinks

How Do You Know if Your Website Is Authoritative?

Checking your domain authority (DA) score can help you determine if you’ve got an authoritative website or blog. While not a direct Google ranking factor, the metric is still a decent predictor of where you fall in Google’s E-A-T landscape based on ranking factors and algorithms that do directly affect your search engine positioning. There are a variety of DA score checker programs available across the internet, but Moz developed the original.

Simply enter your website or blog domain and click the “Check Authority” button to get your DA score and other information, like the number of linking root domains, ranking keywords, and your spam score. Tools like these allow you to check out the DA scores for your top competitors, too. The more you know about other authority websites in your niche, the more you can learn about improving yours to be a top source and contender.

If you’re looking for other ways to get a leg up on the competition, request your free content marketing analysis report from CopyPress. Inside, you’ll find data comparing your best content to that of your top three competitors. You can also learn more about your content gaps and what topics to cover to make your site more helpful and authoritative to your audience.

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What Is a Good Domain Authority Score?

Your site doesn’t have to have a DA score of 100 to be the most authoritative in its niche. It just needs one of the highest scores in that niche. Don’t focus on your DA score as an absolute when trying to decide if you’re running an authoritative website. The metric itself is relative to the competition and other websites trying to rank for the same keywords and reach the same audience.

A DA score of 30 might sound low. But if the other “top-ranking” sites in your niche only register scores between 20 and 25, then your site is more authoritative in that niche. The most important thing to remember is that any score below 100 means you have room to improve, but if you’re already above the competition, you’re doing alright.

What’s the Difference Between a Niche Site and an Authority Website?

Niche sites and authority websites aren’t the same things. Niche sites focus more on targeting keywords rather than audience members. Essentially, they’re more focused on gaining credibility and positioning by pleasing Google through technical aspects and metrics. Authority sites, in contrast, focus on targeting a specific audience, market, or group of like-minded thinkers. The primary goal of an authority site isn’t to rank highest on Google, but to become the definitive resource on a niche or in an industry.

Essentially, niche sites and authority site publishers have their eyes on the same prize: gain more recognition and visibility to help meet our goals and make money. The mindset draws the line between the two. Companies that create authority sites care more about their audience’s needs, wants, and pain points. Providing helpful content and ongoing education matter more than a quick rise to the top of the search engine results page (SERPs).

Authority site creators know that by putting in the work and staying the course, they’re going to reach the same heights as a niche site, but have better staying power at the top of SERPs.

Are There Different Types of Authority Sites?

Did you know that, by internet standards, Wikipedia is actually an example of an authority site? It’s enough to make your high school research teacher curl up under their desk and cry. But Wikipedia’s authority status has more to do with its DA than its credibility and accuracy. By authority criteria standards, Wikipedia has massive amounts of content on almost every topic imaginable. It also has a hefty backlink profile.

Overall, most of what you find on Wikipedia is probably true, but because anybody can edit the site with no expertise or credentials, that’s why researchers frown upon it as a source. But Google—and many of your audience members—likely don’t care as much about those things as the content volume and linkability. This distinction just goes to show that there are different types and levels of authority website categories into which your site can fall. They include:

Local Content Websites

Local websites are their authority on information in their geographic area. They cover a wide range of topics, from news to education, law, and retail. Local websites are authority sites because they are the definitive source for information in that local niche. For example, if you want to know what holiday events your town hosts, checking with the local paper or the town government is going to give you the most accurate information about dates, times, and expectations. The original source for any type of information is always the most authoritative.

Related: Local Online Marketing: What It Is and How To Use It

News Outlets

Next to the original source for any piece of information, a news outlet should be the most authoritative and credible source in any niche. Reporters study and train on how to get the information you need and deliver it in an unbiased and straightforward manner. But because of a fresh wave of yellow journalism and “fake news,” it’s more difficult to tell which outlets have true authority and which ones have caused enough commotion to become household names.

Most longstanding newspaper organizations and radio and television broadcast companies qualify as authoritative news sites, like the BBC, The New York Times, and any of your local newspaper or broadcast affiliates. Be wary of any “flash news” sites that claim larger-than-life stories, such as The National Enquirer or TMX. While these are news outlets, they don’t intend to provide factual information and authority on relevant topics. They want to create a buzz and invent scandal.

It’s also important to remember that most reputable news sources also carry some level of political, economic, and national bias. For example, the BBC is more likely to report on topics that affect European countries rather than those in the United States. While these leanings don’t affect the authority of most news outlets, they can affect the credibility and accuracy of information.

Related: You’ll Never Believe It!: A Guide To Clickbait

Industry Websites

The industry website sector is likely where most brands and companies fall when creating an authority website. Which are the sites that everyone in your organization always talks about? Which sites do you “trust” when you’re looking up information that affects your own work? These are likely the most authoritative websites in that industry. But your company doesn’t have to be a Google, UnitedHealthcare, or Marriott-level brand to become an authority in its niche. Supplementing brand recognition for knowledge and solid SEO can help your company compete with the heavy hitters for authority content in its industry.

Subject Matter Expert Blogs

Authority sites aren’t just for brands, businesses, or corporations. Individuals may create authoritative sites that are just as successful by sharing their breadth and depth of knowledge with the world. Social media, podcasts, and other forms of self-promotional content and channels have led to a rise in qualified, experienced subject matter experts (SMEs) sharing what they know with the rest of us.

The only downside of trusting an SME blog is that anyone can claim to be an expert on anything. The audience has to be able to tell if the person actually knows what they’re talking about or if they’re just a hack. A quick Google search can likely help you figure that out. Verified or highly active social profiles, published content, and partnerships with notable brands and organizations in their field or niche are signs you’ve found a real expert’s website.

Does Your Content Affect Authority?

Your content is the biggest thing that’s going to affect the authority of your website. It’s what’s going to help your audience and search engines decide if your site is authoritative or not. User experience (UX) matters, like providing easy navigation, uncluttered pages, and a minimal ad experience. But these days, all sites should have some level of UX safeguards in place. Maybe though features set sites apart in the early 2000s, but not today.

Now, content is king and you should be mindful of how you present it to your kingdom—AKA your audience. The quality, quantity, search intent, and usefulness of every piece you put out influence the authority of your site.

How Long Does It Take To Build an Authority Website?

Website and blog authority increases over time. Your site won’t become authoritative overnight unless you’ve already established your expertise and thought leadership in another way, such as on social media. Though there’s no set date on how long it should take your site to become authoritative if you follow the right steps. If you publish content consistently in the same niche, avoid SEO penalties, and continue to grow your organic following, you should see improvements within a few months.

Your DA score is one of the key indicators of how long it might take to see results from your authority-building practices. A low score means you can make improvements to gain more authority from your audience and search engines. A mid-range to high score means you’re doing better, but there’s still room to improve. The lower the DA score, the longer it’s going to take to achieve your goals.

According to a study from The Side Gig Longlist, it can take up to nine months to see significant changes to your DA score. The longer it takes to build this authority with search engines, the longer it is before your content and site receive the best possible positioning. And until that happens, unless you have a driving social media or influencer partnership presence, you might be at Google’s mercy before your audience can discover your authoritative content.

How Can You Improve Your Website’s Authority?

The easiest way to improve your website authority is to create audience-focused content and lots of it. When you please the people, everything else follows. But creating great content requires prep work. To gain more authority from your audience and search engines, spend more time on activities like:

The more you can learn about the state of your industry, your audience’s interests, and how people view your brand, the better decisions you can make about what content to create. It’s also important to remember your website’s UX design. If your content is already top-notch, but you’re not seeing the results you expect, the problem could be with the design itself. Other ways to improve your website’s authority and keep your audience engaged include:

  • Following content creation best practices. For example, with written content, proofread all your pieces, include high-quality images, and aim for an upper-middle-school level readability score.
  • Refresh outdated content. Update broken links, find the most up-to-date statistics, and eliminate information that no longer serves your audience.
  • Keep your sources credible. Use only information you can trust in your research and link to other reputable, authoritative sources.

Related: Tips To Improve Your Website’s Domain Authority

Build Authority Through Strategy With CopyPress

The trick to building the best authority website is to follow a strategy with well-defined goals. Start the new year off right by downloading our latest eBook and creating your plan. In How To Analyze Your Content and Craft a Winning Strategy for 2023, our Director of Content Analysis, Jeremy Rivera, teaches you how to start your marketing analysis, monitor campaign success, and find gaps in your strategy. Request your free copy today and start building the authority you want with a solid content marketing strategy.

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