As business owners, we all want our websites to rank well in Google Search. If potential customers find our competitors before they find us, we’re highly likely to miss out on their business. In order to reach one of the top positions in Google Search, numerous factors are involved.
When a search term is entered into Google’s search engine, Google needs to establish the intent of the query. It then looks for webpages which would be relevant to that query and which contain quality content. When ranking results, Google Search also evaluates whether webpages are easy to use.
Google has published some excellent and easy to understand guidelines on How Search algorithms work. Amongst these guidelines Google states, ‘… if other prominent websites link to the page, that has proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted.’ As a result, the main activity in off-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the building of links back to a website. However, not just any links will do, as Google is looking for links from prominent websites. In the SEO industry, these are often called authority sites.
Let’s look at how you can enhance the reputation of your website in Google Search by building authoritative links from other websites.
In the SEO industry, various metrics are widely used to determine the authority of a website. The most popular metric is Domain Authority (DA) which is ‘a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs)’. Another popular one is Domain Rating (DR)which is a website authority metric developed by Ahrefs.
In general, authority sites are considered to be those which have the highest metrics and the goal is to acquire relevant links from these sites. However, it should be borne in mind that Domain Authority and Domain Rating are metrics used to try to predict how a site will perform in search results. They are attempting to model how Google Search functions but, of course, these metrics are not actually used by Google.
As mentioned earlier, Google uses numerous factors in determining which results to display on a SERP. In Google’s words, ‘Search algorithms look at many factors, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings’. It’s not necessarily the case that sites with the highest Domain Authority or Domain Rating appear in the highest positions of search results.
The screen shot below shows the first few results on the SERP for a search I typed in for ‘computer repairs daisy hill’. I’ve used the Moz SEO toolbar, a very useful plug-in for Google Chrome, to show the Domain Authority value for each of the results. You can see that, although my site has the lowest DA score (21) of the five shown, it appears in first position. The results below my own have DA values of of 23, 96, 25 and then 23 again.
How Do You Define an Authority Website?
The same principle applies when considering authority sites from which you would like to acquire backlinks. You shouldn’t assume that websites with the best metrics are the most helpful sites from which to acquire backlinks. It’s necessary to consider this in a much more holistic sense. The most helpful sites are likely to be those in a niche which is appropriate for your business. Also of great value is to consider sites which are in your geographical region. Websites related to businesses which have genuine standing in the wider community are also important.
An example of this would one of my articles which was published recently at Business Australia. Although the domain authority score for the website is just 40, which is much lower than many popular blogs, it’s the website of an organisation with significant standing in the business community. Business Australia has actually been in business for 195 years which makes it one of the longest-serving organisations in Australia.
My purpose in this article is not to cover the different means of acquiring backlinks, but rather to look at the authority sources from which you would like those backlinks to come. One of the most popular means of acquiring links is by writing content for publication on the internet. I’d like to cover this topic in a little more detail for the remainder of this piece.
Quality Content Creation
One of the distinctions of a genuine authority site is that they will generally not charge for publication of articles on their website. However, they will have high standards for the quality of the content they will accept. This is because they are looking for articles which will be useful for their readership. By contrast, many of the blogs with high DA scores exist primarily to make money by charging writers to guest post on their blogs. The content is often thin and of poor quality and exists purely as a vehicle for an anchor text link back to the sponsor’s site. Many of these sites are little more than glorified article directories. Some cover specific niches, whilst others are general blogs with various categories.
Guest posting on blogs is an attempt to improve the standing of one’s site with Google by virtue of backlinks sprinkled around the internet. However, what Google is actually looking for in order to rank pages highly on the SERP’s are high levels of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). Expertise and authoritativeness can certainly be established by posting articles in various places on the internet. However, this is less likely to happen by posting low-quality content containing somewhat subversive anchor text links back to one’s site.
Is Guest Posting Helpful for SEO?
There tends to be some confusion about whether guest posting is actually helpful for SEO. This confusion arises from ambiguity around what Google has said about this in the past. I once read an opinion that it wasn’t a good idea to have an author bio at the end of a guest post because by doing so Google would know that this was a guest post you had written. The assumption was that Google disapproves of guest posting per se and that having an anchor text link in an article would be more productive. This link could then be seen as a natural link back to your site which hadn’t been created or paid for by you.
However, in their own words, “Google does not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.” However, what does violate Google’s guidelines is ‘when the main intent is to build links in a large-scale way back to the author’s site’.
I would make a distinction between guest posting and writing quality content. It’s one thing to write a piece of content wrapped around an anchor text link to your site. It’s quite another to write an article which has the reader in mind and where you are using your experience and expertise to educate them, help them to solve a problem, or to grow their business.
If you take the more holistic perspective that your purpose in writing is to establish expertise and authoritativeness in your field, then you certainly should have an author bio accompanying each article you publish. By doing so you are highlighting that you are the author of a piece of quality content with an appropriate link back to your site. Such content should then be posted on sites which are appropriate for your industry. As you post quality content on sites across the internet with intrinsic authority, you build your reputation, and establish yourself as an authoritative and expert voice.
It’s hard work to find websites with genuine authority, write quality content appropriate for them, and have it approved for publication. It’s much easier to pay someone to write content for you and have it posted on a popular blog, or even pay to have a link inserted in an article somewhere on the internet.
You may be a genuine expert in your field but you have no idea how to go about creating quality content. In this case you may need to enlist the services of a professional writer who will be able to take your knowledge and use it to create great content for the reader. The important thing is that the content shines with your own unique experience and expertise in your field. In this way you establish and enhance your reputation. As you do so, Google and the other search engines will recognize your growing reputation and rank your website higher as a result.
It’s just about impossible for a website to consistently rank well in Google Search unless it has authoritative backlinks. Acquiring these links requires time, effort and dedication. It can take weeks, months or even longer to begin to see the results you’re after. However, it’s all worthwhile as you see your rankings begin to rise. As your rankings rise, so do the number of clicks through to your website. As you convert those clicks into clients, your business grows and you’re onto a winner.
Illustration: Banner vector by Upklyak
Norm is a certified IT Support Professional and the founder of Norm’s Computer Services, a local computer repair and IT support business in Brisbane, Australia. He is also a Google certified Digital Marketer.