The Fourth Pillar of SEO Success? Authority

Learn how to make sure your back links are authoritative so that your site will become trustworthy in Google's eyes.

by Jason Bagley

Podcast

| 5 min read

In the previous episode of Smart Marketing’s Pillars of SEO Series, Jason Bagley and Justin Lester discussed popularity in link building, and the importance of ranking via your backlinks.

In this episode, we talk about making sure those links are authoritative, and by association, your site will become trustworthy in Google’s eyes. 

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Full episode transcript


About the Smart Marketing podcast

Whether you’re a business owner, seasoned marketing professional, or just starting out, the Smart Marketing podcast will help advance your knowledge by sharing the latest in SEO, paid advertising, email marketing, content marketing, social media, and conversion optimization.

Your hosts — Jason Bagley and Justin Lester — bring you regular, actionable digital marketing tips, tactics, and strategies that you can use to improve your marketing.

Jason Bagley is the VP of Digital Strategy for SiteCare and Justin Lester, the founder of Ruby Digital, a digital marketing agency from Cape Town, South Africa.

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Full episode transcript

Jason:
What is up, Smart Marketing fam? No Justin, I must apologize for that intro, because that’s definitely over-compensating for the last episode’s, I would say, opening fail. But are you well, my son?

Justin:
Always good, always good. So should let’s get cracking. So we’re talking today about the fourth pillar of SEO.

Jason:
And it’s about authority. And Justin, you are the authority on SEO, so I think you need to pull up that mic and take it away.

Justin:
Cool. So yeah, I mean, in the third pillar of SEO we spoke about… The third and the fourth and the fifth pillar being basically the process of link-building and how that plays a critical role in ranking. And the first one we spoke about was popularity, so that’s were we really touched base on having volumes and velocity of links. And then the next one is making sure that the links that you do build are authoritative. So authority.

And then in the first and second episodes we spoke about readability and relevancy. I definitely could say to go check out those so you get a bit more context to this. And yeah, one of the ways that we measure authority in SEO is we look at a metric called domain authority. So different companies will call it different things, so it’s coined by typically the software that goes and crawls the website to discover who’s linking to you. So Moz, for instance, they’ve got their own calculation and they use the word domain authority, Majestic SEO use citation flow, and Atrius use domain rating. Really the same things. And then…

Jason:
Justin is this the old school… What is it called, Page Rank or Site Rank or something?

Justin:
Yeah, it’s sort of like… So Google used to have something called PageRank, and it was more on volume, so it would basically be a score out of 10, zero being very little, and 10 being tons and tons of links. So it was almost like a way to measure the authority or popularity of a domain. But again, what’s important to remember is that just because you have lots of links, and highly authoritative, if you had PageRank, it doesn’t guarantee you direct. So it really is a pillar, that’s why it’s just one pillar of a successful SEO compared.

So if you can think of domain as, again, guilty by association. I say guilty by association as, how authoritative are the people linking to you? And if you’re linking to a very authoritative… Or someone is linking to you that’s highly authoritative, then that authority is going to get passed down to you. So the way the… If I could put it to you this way, the scores are out of a hundred, and if you use an example, Google is by Google standards, the most trusted and authoritative source possible. So if you can imagine Google has a score of a hundred, and they link to you, well you’re going to inherit a huge amount of value and score out of that 100. So it could propel you to-

Jason:
So, I think…

Justin:
Yeah?

Jason:
I want to, I guess, clarify that because I mean, in Google’s website, you search, use it, they link to you there, because it’s in results. But I’m assuming what you’re talking about is any articles that they write, because Google has a whole bunch of blogs that they put out on different topics and things like that, and you’re more talking about if they link from there to your website, that domain-

Justin:
Correct.

Yeah, Yeah. Sure, and I mean other websites as well, Facebook… They also are considered a highly authoritative site. If you go and run them through Atrius or any of these tools, you’ll see that… You’re looking at domain ratings of 95 plus, easily. So yeah, if you can think of it, it’s like Google almost rates these websites at the top, and then how far you are associated with them will determine your rating. And yeah, that plays a huge role.

Again, I just want to clarify it doesn’t mean how much… A website does not gain its authority through how much traffic the site that’s linking to them gets. Because again, we spoke about it in the previous episode, it’s very easy to inflate traffic and it doesn’t mean that you’re an authoritative site. So think of it again, a bit like a voting system; you need the number of links, you need lots of people voting for you, but before you can even be considered, you need to be… It’s going to carry more weight if you’ve got authoritative people that are promoting you, even to be considered to be voted into something. So if you think of it from that perspective, that’s kind of how authority works.

Jason:
And then I guess just on the flip side of that is if… And we’ve spoken recently about this for spammy websites that potentially have, or do link to you. So obviously there I’m assuming their domain authority potentially is probably like a zero or less than a 10, does that also affect… Because as you said, guilty by association, meaning you’re associated to those sites because of their spammy content. Does that account for it? And I’m assuming obviously there’s a way to get those links removed or block them from Google tracking them to you?

Justin:
Yeah. So again, a hundred percent correct. You know, having lots of highly authoritative sites is positive, and having lots of very low quality sites can be equally detrimental. So again, if you try to manipulate the algorithm, and Google see you’ve got a million websites pointing to you and they’re all very, very, super low quality, I mean, what signal is that sending to Google? It doesn’t look very trustworthy. Clearly you’ve bought into some site network and are trying to clearly gain the system, and you’re going to get penalized and it’s going to really affect your ability to rank. So it’s not as easy to fool Google as you would hope. But these are the rules about the game you have to play.

Justin:
So that concludes the episode on the fourth pillar of SEO, of authority to run a successful SEO campaign and rank above your competitors.

Jason:
Awesome. I dig this one. Thanks so much, Justin. And if you dig this one, you know what to do, give us a thumbs up, a like, a five star, a wadda-wadda fish paste, and we will see you in the next episode.

Justin:
Cheers.

Jason Bagley | Vice President, Digital Strategy