Google uses a complex algorithm to determine how to rank pages in its search results. One factor it considers is the authority of a website. If Google considers a website to be of high value, the search engine will consistently rank the site’s pages in higher positions than those of less popular sites.
By showing Google that you are an authoritative website, you can rank in the top spots for every piece of content you publish.
Avoiding Black Hat Tactics
Several years ago, it was possible to trick Google into believing that you were an authoritative website by using black hat techniques. Although automated software for this purpose does still exist (and to some extent is effective), more sites using these methods are penalized every day as the Google algorithm becomes smarter.
If you use such tactics to speed up the process toward becoming an authoritative website, you may see high rankings for a while. However, Google will eventually catch up to you, and this will hurt your site forever.
A better option is to build valid authority, which will work for you into the long term. You can use this as a basis to make improvements and continually adapt your site SEO as the Google algorithm changes. To do this, you need to focus on several aspects on your website.
The most important way to improve website authority is to focus on your content. Delve in depth into topics your audience wants to know more about and ensure every piece is easy to consume by adding plenty of whitespace and images.
The key to developing authority is to constantly provide your audience with fresh content. Infrequent publishing or occasionally publishing high quality and other times posting not-so-high quality will only hinder your efforts. By developing the idea that you are a source visitors can trust, you will build up a following of users who will come back time and again to see what new ideas you have for them.
Specializing in One Area
If you cover too broad a range of subjects, you will never be able to compete with all the other sites covering the same information. Being too niche is equally problematic, as too few people will be interested in the topic.
Instead, you need to find a middle ground — choose a topic plenty of people find interesting but for which few other businesses possess the same depth of knowledge. Next, promote yourself as an expert in this field by using positioning. This involves emphasizing your expertise and consistently describing your business using the same terms.
Determining Your Mission
Using your area of specialization, determine the mission of your online presence. Common goals include improving the lives of your target audience and helping others improve their skills. Your mission will help you stay on track with your content and show visitors why they should turn to you over anyone else.
Backlinks are an essential element in developing an authoritative website, but using them incorrectly can lead to negative SEO. Here are a few dos and don’ts:
- Guest blogging. Even something as harmless as guest blogging (which can be an excellent way to produce links) can backfire. For instance, Google may penalize your website if it seems like you are guest blogging excessively just to gain links. To avoid this, always choose relevant domains for your guest posts and offer useful information.
- Anchor text. The best practices for anchor text have changed over the years. Nowadays, you need to limit the amount of anchor text, to avoid spam, and use related keywords.
- Comments. You can include links in your comments provided they are relevant. Make sure you include a keyword to ensure search engines know why you are mentioning your link.
- Link farms. These are now considered black hat and are very harmful to SEO.
Profiles on social media can increase your presence online. You should be active on all the platforms where you find a large number of your target audience — these users will expect to find you there. By building up a following, you demonstrate the popularity of your business to Google. Publish frequent updates, sharing your own content and the content of others to maximize engagement.
To allow search engines to crawl your website, you need a robots.txt file. Make sure you disallow any pages you want Google to ignore, such as login pages and landing pages.
It is possible that someone could try to hurt your site by sending you spam links, which would lead Google to penalize your website. For instance, this could happen if another business wanted to take you out of the competition for a keyword. The good news is you can ask Google to disavow links in Search Console. Most people never need to use this feature, but it is good to know about it just in case.
Checking Your Site Authority
Once you have implemented all the above, check the authority of your site. By using Open Site Explorer, you can receive a score out of 100. If you apply all the above to your strategy, over time you will see your score increase.