What is an Authority Website?

What exactly is an “Authority Website“? This term is used a lot in the SEO world of search engine optimization companies and webmasters who want to rank their sites higher for their chosen keywords. You can find a lot of technical jargon about authority sites that will go into tremendous detail about how page rank, works, how to climb in the serps, short tail vs. long tail keywords, monetizing your website and backlinking strategies, plus, a whole lot more.

All of those elements are part of an authority website. Webmasters, trying to get their website to the top of the search engines are pulling out all the tools at their disposal to drive their site up above all competitors. The search engines, on the other hand, are trying to keep a robust but competitive business model thriving and their goal (besides revenue) is to satisfy their users and serving up relevant content for what is being searched. And, not any relevant content, but, the best content and from authority websites.

It seems the search engines have become fairly good at weeding out an authority website from a look alike authority site (a spam site or a legit website but that really isn’t authority, but the webmaster is throwing everything at it including the kitchen sink to get it to rank over the real authority sites. So, this is where the search engines have to become real smart – to decide which is spam, which site is real and which site is real and authoritative. You could almost think of it as a battle between the webmasters and seo companies and the search engines. Or, even, between the webmaster of the non authoritative site and the webmaster of the real authority website. Each is vying for top positions. The money spots. Of course, being in first place, top spot, on page one being the prize. 2nd and 3rd slots being honorable positions.

So, what really makes for an authority website? Think of it like this and it might help to understand the difference. Let’s use a site on gardening as the topic of our example. In fact, maybe it’s a site on organic gardening on the west coast. The owner of the website just happens to be an organic farmer and is a talk show host on a radio show that has millions of listeners. His website is chalk full of real content from professors at a local university specializing in farm practices, horticulture, gardening development of maximizing the usage of land for high yielding organic crops. Besides, this content, there are examples, demonstrations, training, question and answers, an active forum, a podcast – recordings of the weekly radio show. Local and statewide newspapers quote this farmer and reference his website on a regular basis to cover gardening topics. Many large popular websites are linking to his. News websites, universities, government websites and other authority websites.

The next example is someone who is a real organic farmer but really a hobbyist. Grows the best tomatoes you’ve ever had and uses the best urban gardening methods available. The website goes up, becomes locally popular to other urban gardening enthusiasts and from time to time a local newspaper does a write up about this gardening method being performed by local citizen.

The next example is someone who decides they can make gobs of money from building a niche website on organic gardening. Fill it with various advertisements and start filling their bank with the revenue that’s going to start pouring in. The three websites in our example are all going for the same keywords. By the way, besides these three there will be many more competitors for the same keywords.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Which website do you think will rank highest for a given keyword? So, since we already know which one – let’s talk about the other two. The second site probably won’t go crazy with optimization because the owners goal is not to earn revenue but to share info. The motive might not be there to go to great lengths to “rank”. The third site is going to employ various search engine optimization strategies to outrank the first website. Can it be done? Yes in many instances. But, the webmaster will probably also from time to time need to “freshen up” the site to hold onto the top spot if he is able to attain it in the first place. Partly, because the search engines will continue to refine their tools that determine ranking of sites. It will try to identify the true authority websites and make sure they rank above websites that are trying to earn top spot with “back linking” strategies and other seo practices.

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