Google Loves Authority
How Authoritative is Your Web Content
“We believed we could build a better search. We had a simple idea, that not all pages are created equal. Some are more important. “~ Sergey Brin, Co-Founder, Google
“It’s quite complicated and sounds circular, but we’ve worked out a way of calculating a website’s importance.” ~ Larry Page, Co-Founder, Google
“To rank well, build a site so fantastic that it makes you an authority.” ~ Matt Cutts, Head of Google Web Spam Team
These quotes from Google authority figures are valuable to us and they provide insights. We need to think about this idea of authority more and first let’s ask the question – What’s authority anyway?
Let’s refer to an authority – the dictionary.
 The power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior;
 A citation (e.g. from a book) used in defense or support;
 The source from which the citation is drawn;
 An individual cited or appealed to as an expert.
People respond to and follow important authoritative people more than others. Google ranks important authoritative web content and sites higher than others.
We may be on to something with this authority thing.
Here is a very interesting and significant excerpt on authority taken from an Article from Stanley Milgram. He was a Professor at Yale that performed a very controversial experiment on how readily people followed the instructions of an authority figure.
. . . Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
I invite you to read more about this very controversial experiment by clicking here.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the art and science of getting your web content to rank high in the search engines (mostly Google) for the words people are using to find what you have to offer.
It boils down to this:
If people think you’re important . . . if people think your website has authoritative web content then so will Google.
About 85% of the factors that Google uses to determine position in their search results are related to what other people think of your content.
This perplexes many webmasters and online marketers, since they wonder how people will consider them important when people use search engines to find things online in the first place. How are you important or authoritative if you’re invisible in the search engines to start with?
How does Google know people think you’re important anyway?
For one, the search engines will know if other websites link to you. Google follows those links to find worthy and authoritative web content. Thanks to services such as the Google Toolbar, Google Analytics, Feedburner, Google Reader, Gmail and others that keep you logged-in to your Google account, the Big G has an enormous amount of usage data that shows what people actually spend time doing online.
Google and the other major search engines are also adept at finding links. They view each link as a vote in favor of your web content and they tally up these votes. Just like in any voting situation the website with the most votes could win. So, we now know that links help to build the authority of your content in the eyes of Google and the other major search engines. How do you get started?
To get people to link to you and generally pay attention in the first place, you have to start thinking about authority in a different sense. It is not about degrees or having gone to a prestigious university (although this can certainly be leveraged). It is about creating great, delightful, informative, problem-solving authoritative web content. This content will attract people and the search engines and further help to build the authority of the material. You will be on your way when you start creating great content that delights your visitors.
Authority is also all about perception. Perceived authority can outrank actual authority, because both the general population and the most powerful search engine on the planet look to what others “vote” to be the most relevant expertise for any given topic. The search engines do not know much about the degrees or the prestgieous university of the author. They look for the number and quality of the votes (links) to the content created by the author.
An Authoritative Web Content Story . . .
Professor X teaches and conducts research at a prestigious university and is an indisputable guacamole expert. This professor really knows all there is to know about guacamole and he’s got the PhD in guacamole to prove it. He’s also published several scholarly papers on the topic of guacamole, but unfortunately those papers were not published due to the sensitive nature of guacamole technology. Other scholars have access to his work but these authoritative papers on guacamole were not made available online.
If Professor X really wants to be perceived as the world-wide authority on guacamole then it is a bad move to not publish online.
Then there’s Jason. Jason has loved guacamole from an early age. Some might even call him a guacamole fanatic. He seems to work guacamole into most discussions. He is passionate about guacamole, even though he didn’t quite make it to guacamole graduate school. Jason spends much of his time teaching himself everything there is to know about guacamole by doing his own research and experiments and reading everything he can get his hands on.
The scholarly journals won’t touch Jason with a 10-foot pole, but that’s okay … Jason decides instead to blog about guacamole and share what he learns with anyone who’s interested. It doesn’t matter that Jason doesn’t know as much about guacamole as Professor X (yet), because Jason figures his own understanding of guacamole will increase by having to transform his research into content that can be viewed across the planet – by guacamole lovers everywhere!
Jason’s absolutely right.
And here’s the good part … whenever someone needs to cite (link to) a web page when mentioning guacamole, guess what – they link to Jason! Jason’s blog is getting many votes and this propels him to a top position in search.
Then something amazing happens. Brad Pitt explains during an interview his fascination for guacamole and how guacamole has helped him to become what he is. He attributes much of his success to guacamole.
Suddenly, everyone is hot to find out more about guacamole. Search traffic goes through the roof. Reporters, journalist and other bloggers are digging for authoritative sources on guacamole … it’s downright guacamole mania.
Who will people find? Who will the media contact? Who is the guacamole authority superstar?
That’s right … it’ll be Jason.
Sorry, Professor X.
Conclusions On Authoritative Web Content
People seek out authoritative web content when they are searching. People respect, listen and apply the advice of authority figures. Google and the other search engines know this and are keen on finding links to authoritative web content and the more links that they find the higher the authority level.
It behooves you to consider your expertise and to develop it. Then share your expertise with others and become an authority figure on your topic.
Blogging is a great way to create authoritative web content. If you would like to do a bit more thinking about how to get started becoming an authority by blogging then I invite you to download this free Blog Initiation Questionnaire.