Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Cheat Sheet for Building High Ranking Authority…Without Cheating

seo authority

First, let’s define authority: domain authority is the likelihood of a single domain to rank well. The higher the rank the higher authority that site will have and vice a versa.

You can also talk about individual page authority. This is simply how well a page will rank on search engines. A page that ranks well has a lot of authority.

So the key as an SEO, website owner or blogger is to increase that authority on both the domain and the page. Making that happen isn’t really that hard as long as you do four things very well:

Create authority with deep links

If you want to build an authoritative website in search engines, one in which ranks high across multiple pages, then you need to create strong relationships between your pages.

In other words, you need to create authority for specific pages, optimizing each page for a specific set of keywords before that authority is lifted to the domain.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Link a cluster of pages by topic – In other words, strategically link pages about “SEO” to other pages about “SEO.” Link pages about “social media tools” to other pages about “social media tools.” If you link a page on social media tools to a page on SEO, then that link will be less relevant.
  • Send more links to one particular page – Inside that cluster, link to one page (what I like to call the hero page) in particular from the other topical pages. The percentage of links this page gets should be about four times higher than the rest received.
  • Send domain-based external links to hero pages – When I say external I mean from pages outside of that topical cluster and any other topical cluster. This could be your home or about page. Think pages higher in site architecture.
  • Avoid cannibalizing keywords – Produce as many variants on a keyword for the number of pages you have pointing to the hero page. You will dilute the effectiveness of a keyword if you don’t. For example, say I have a hero page on marketing ideas for small businesses. And say I have inside this topical cluster 26 pages—the hero page and 25 other supporting pages. It would be a mistake to use the keyword “marketing ideas for small businesses” on all those pages pointing to the hero page. Instead, you should create keyword variations on that phrase.
  • Drive external links to the hero page from relevant website Backlinks are still the backbone of search, but getting other sites to link to you is another story. You cannot control this process; you can only influence it by attracting high authority links.
  • Locate links high on a page – When creating links on the pages supporting your hero page, the higher they are on the page the more weight and credibility they receive.
  • Fix broken pages – Like broken links these can send bad signals to search engines. Identify the broken links, fix them or 301 redirect to a better page.

Create authority with videos

We often think of authority as an expert. Someone people go to for answers on a particular topic. The deep linking process above is one signal that your site is an authority. The more links throughout and the more coming to those pages sends signals to search engines that your site is an authority.

But influencing those back links is a whole strategy that you have to use if you want to become a high ranking authority site.

Videos improve time on page, attract links and add to the array of rich media you have on your site. Anyone can create good videos by following the tips below.

  1. Do Your Research – Start by researching which videos are already out there.
    • You want to avoid making a repeat video and having to compete with it on authority. But if you find something people want to know about and there is not video, then you have your title.
    • Discover what people are searching for on Google. Are they finding the content they want? Is there a high enough volume to justify the video? If so, then you have your content.
    • If there is already a how-to on a topic you wanted to do, can you find ways to extend that topic? Imagine you can find videos on “how to build links.” Extending that topic and you can come up with a variation like “How to Build 30 Authority Links to a Single Page in 30 Days.”
  2. Use an expert – If you’ve been in the industry for 20 years, then no doubt you are already an expert…and you will sound like an expert. But if you are new to an industry, consult as many experts as possible. The last thing you want to do is wing it. Even if you’ve been in an industry for five years, it never hurts to interview an expert or two. That will make your video look more credible.
  3. Write the script – Never improvise the video. Take the time of sitting down and put your thoughts on paper in the form of a script. This will keep you clear, concise and compelling. And write the script in a step-by-step formula. Meaning go as far as saying, “Here’s step one.” Explain the step. “Now, let’s move to step two.” And so on. More importantly, since you are using video do more of showing the steps than telling.
  4. Edit and test video – Hiring a professional to record and edit the video is recommended. But if you can’t afford that, then make sure you use a tripod and correct lighting. Once you are finished editing the video, test it out on other people. See if they can actually perform the task while watching the video. A good video will allow people to finish the task while watching the video. 
  5. Optimize and share it – Load this video on YouTube and your site and then share across social platforms. Email it to other bloggers and websites who might be interested in it, which will encourage them to embed it. Don’t forget to tag it with keywords and load the transcript on the page or in the video (on YouTube). Make the share buttons for this video visible.

Create authority pages with authority content

The Panda Update really made a big impact on low quality content and the sites that host those pages. Google said the update could affect about 12% of search.

Sites like were absolutely clobbered by the update, and tumbled from the rankings. Before the update Mahalo ranked for 33,875 keywords. After the update they ranked for less than 10,000, falling out of the top 100 search results.

That’s a 70% drop.

Fortunately Google came along and gave a recommended way of building authority pages. The idea is to ask the same questions that a Google engineer might ask.

Here are the ten most relevant:

  1. Is the post original? Everything you write must be original. It cannot be copied or stolen. Nor do you want to have redundant content on your site. That will kill your rankings, too. And content that is stolen from you is out of your control, but there are ways to minimize their impact on your site.
  2. Is it practical advice? Relevant research? Addressing your readers needs by giving them tutorials and how-to’s to help them solve meaningful problems is a great way to create authoritative content. If you can add new, original and relevant research, then you are truly creating something valuable.
  3. Did you correct any errors? Bad spelling and incorrect grammar can influence your page rank. In fact, Matt Cutts admitted he saw a relationship between pages with high page rank and good grammar and pages will low rank and bad grammar. This includes clean editing. Did you edit the article many times before you published? Did you have someone else look it over?
  4. Will readers like the content? Or will machines? SEO copywriting is all about delivering content that people will find useful, compelling and unique. So always write with people in mind and not the search engine spiders, because the truth is that search engines take their cues from people and not the other way around.
  5. Are you providing information beyond the obvious? As you are developing the idea behind a blog post, search the web for similar topics. Use your working headline. Is there anything similar? Will you be teaching people something insightful? Will 80% of your readers think what you share is fresh? Different?
  6. Would you bookmark your post? People like to save their favorite articles. Will they save yours? They will if it is a long list of useful resources or a great story with great characters or revolutionary research or a unique how-to tutorial.
  7. Is your article cluttered? Preview the post and what do you see the most of? Ads? Call to action offers? Promotions? Or do you see lots of white space and your content? Your reader targeted content should dominate 90% of the page.
  8. Would a magazine publish your article? Just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you are publishing great content. Compare your content to what you find on a magazine rack.
  9. Is your article short, thin and useless? Panda’s whole focus was to penalize those sites where page after page all you find is a brief, keyword stuffed article explaining a topic. If you can’t create long, practical and potent posts on a daily schedule, maybe you should consider doing it less frequently.

Create authority by increasing social signals

Google continues to make changes to its algorithm based on social signals, the reach of your social circles and the sharing in those circles, all of which will impact your search rankings.

And it seems that most SEOs agree that at the page level and domain level social signals will affect your rankings. Here’s the SEOmoz chart:

future of search

In fact, one study went as far as to prove that the number of tweets that a page gets will influence its rankings:

twitter key stats

In addition, many online publishers are throwing SEO out the window and developing content with one thing on their mind: getting that page to go viral so it collects tweets, FB likes, Google+ votes, etc.

Here is a list of five articles that will help you learn how to increase social shares for you content…leading to authority and higher rankings!


Obviously building page authority will take less time than building domain authority will, but either way you need to be patient. The formula can really be summed up like this: a slow accumulation of high quality content (including video) that is shared more and more, which attracts more and more links…with a balanced distribution of internal links.

How long will it take for you to reach “authority”? There really is no way of telling because it depends on factors like competitors ranking for the same terms. You just have to be faithful to the process and trust that within time you will reach your goals.

What other ways do you use to build authority in your site and pages?


Paul Chisholm David B. Snow, Jr. Tomeo Kanbayashi Chung Mong-Koo John C. S. Lau

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