What does “Authority” mean to a website?
We have discussed the topic of Search Engine Optimization several times and rightfully so, it is fundamental to the success of any online business. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a systemic approach to gaining popularity with any of the search engines people commonly use, predominantly Google, followed by Bing and Yahoo.
As you learned in What is Search Engine Optimization?, the first rule of SEO is creating keyword rich content. Eventually the search engines will crawl your website and determine which keywords best describe your website. Subsequently, when that term or phrase is search for by others, your website will be returned as one of many options.
How does Google / Search Engines Make Money?
We are not going to pretend otherwise, Google is at the top of the search engine mountain and Bing and Yahoo are practically wannabes, but they cannot be dismissed totally. It might be worthwhile to keep in mind just how these “cash cows” earn their revenue. For Google, the number one source of revenue is Adsense. According to Investopedia the Search Engine Giant reported a third quarter 2018 revenue of 33.7 billion dollars, that’s billion with a “B”, and that’s for one quarter of 2018.
So if your head has stopped spinning by now, Investopedia also reported that Google is currently seeing more than 20% increase of prior years, so the internet doesn’t seem to be slowing down any. Thirty-three billion in a single quarter, that’s about 396 million per day. So how does Google rake in such astronomical numbers….. Advertising.
Google has two primary programs, Adsense and Adwords. Each of them are revenue juggernauts in their own right.
Adsense is a program that allows approved websites to display ads that are managed by Google. Adsense is a program that anyone (I should say any website owner) can apply for and there are some basic guidelines that a website must comply with to be accepted.
It is not overly difficult to get accepted, for example your website cannot be “under construction” and must have valuable content to be accepted. Once accepted you can display ads, that are managed by Google and you will receive revenue when the ads are “clicked” on. (BTW, this may be your first introduction to Pay-Per-Click or PPC).
You are most likely familiar with these ads and see them often on various websites, but you may not have known that the ads were part of Adsense. So of course on the other end of this program is the business that pays Google to have their ads appear as part of Adsense and as you might expect Google charges them more than they pay you for the “click”.
Adwords is another program offered by Google and is quite different from Adsense. With Adwords a website owner can pay Google to be RANKED high than anyone else for certain “keywords”. Major Newbie Information in that sentence.
And based on our Major Newbie News Alert, the above statement is just chock-full of useful information. In addition to the Adwords program, we will be discussing “keywords” and “rank”. So let’s define each of these briefly:
Keyword – A word, series of words or phrase that an internet user may type into a search engine.
Ranking – The level your website achieves as it get closer to being the Number 1 result in Google.
So later in this website we will discuss “How to create “keyword” rich content.” Writing articles that contain words that people are likely to search for is a critical part of driving traffic to your website, and as we know traffic is money.
Now, back to Adwords, this program allows website owners to pay for adwords. So let’s imagine that for our Stethoscope website we want to pay for the keyword “Stethoscope” or we could pay for “What is the best Stethoscope”. In either case we would be willing to pay Google to appear higher than others when someone searches for each term respectively.
With Adwords, you will only pay when someone “clicks” on your website’s link (Again we are introduced to PPC or Pay-Per-Click). However, the amount you are willing to pay per click will determine where you rank in Google. So if you are willing to pay $0.15 (15 cents) every time some visits your site through Adwords and one other person is willing to pay $0.25 (25 cents), you will appear second on the first page.
What does this mean for Website Authority?
The programs that we discussed above are the sources of revenue for search engines. But the reason that search engines exist are to provide relevant content to their users. As an example if you are looking for the best stethoscope and type “Best Stethoscope” into Google, you are going to want to get the best stethoscopes in return.
And not everyone (including us Newbies) is willing to pay to get ranked in Google. So how does Google determine which websites have the content people are looking for?
Google uses Search Engine Spiders or Web crawlers to search for Content.
So as these Robot Spiders crawl their way around the internet, they are looking for relevant content. Special “keywords” that tell the robot spider what the information on your website is about. And if its the best content available for the given “search term” then you will appear higher in Google than others who are not as relevant.
Now “keyword” rich content is not the only method Google uses to determine how to rank your website. Here is a brief list of other factors a search engine will use to place you in their queue.
- Inbound Links – the number of times other websites link to your website
- Quality of Inbound Links – How popular are the websites that link to your website?
- Website structure – Is your website laid out in an “easy to understand” manner?
- Internal Links – Can people navigate your website through page to page links?
- Bounce Rate and Length of Stay – Do people stay on your website?
- Website Speed – Is your website fast and user-friendly?
So using all of these factors, search engines will start to determine where you fall in the hierarchy of other websites that are sharing / providing similar information. And as your website grows with more and more information, it will gain Authority.
Now “Authority” is not something that website developers just dreamed up. It is a method of measuring a websites popularity and honesty as it appears to Search Engines. The measurement was created by MOZ.com and has become a recognized tool for SEO around the world.
Google uses the website features listed above (links, structure, visitor behavior) and has developed an “algorithm” to determine where you will be ranked in their search results. Now I would love to define algorithm for but I was a math major in college and I don’t fully understand it, but let’s just say its a mathematical formula based on a set of rules designed to solve a problem. See what I mean?
SEO experts are constantly trying to figure out the algorithm that Google is using and Google is constantly changing its algorithm, so there is an ongoing battle. And one of the more recent measurements that SEO experts agree on is website authority. So, website authority is typically measured in two ways: Domain Authority and Page Authority.
Domain Authority – As the title suggests, domain authority measures the overall authority of your entire website. The scale that we measure domain authority was, once again, created by MOZ and is rated for 1 – 100.
Domain Authority is often shortened to DA.
It’s important to understand that this article is not intended to drill down into the deep dark secrets of authority, but rest assured that we will discuss that in later posts. For now, we just want to understand that search engines are going to be interested in your sites authority and you would do well to work toward improving your sites authority.
As we mentioned above, features such as inbound links are important to your overall authority. Inbound links are other websites that have a link to your website. And the more authority the other sites has, the more valuable the link to you website will be. For example if a site with a DA of 60 links to your website, that link will increase your domain authority by more than a site that has a DA or 35.
Search Engines assume that if they have already given a website a healthy DA and they are willing to link to your site, then your site must be important also. Because linking to just any site will lower their Authority.
Page Authority – Now Page Authority is not so different from DA, but it is important to distinguish the two, and here is why. It is much easier to increase your PA than your DA. In fact, it is much easier to rank a single page, post or article than it is to get your entire domain ranked. So this will be an important concept as we move forward.
Page Authority is measure the same way DA is measured. Many Newbies focus solely on the DA and ignore their individual Authority of each page and this is a mistake, but we will cover this more in future posts.