If you’ve been involved in the world of SEO for more than a few weeks then you’ve probably heard people talking about authority sites, especially in the fallout from the rolling updates Google have been pushing out into the SEO world. There are some pretty common (and huge) misunderstandings out there about authority sites and this is especially in relation to how to structure them, how “big” they need to be and of course the type of SEO you should do with them to get them ranking. Put simply an authority site is a “large” and comprehensive website or blog which is filled with authoritative information on a specific subject.
What I want to do today is take some time to look at the most important points to include when putting together your authority website, so you can avoid the most common pitfalls.
You need to plan your site well in advance and you can either use a mind mapping tool to do this or just sketch it out on paper. One of the best ways to structure an authority site is to use a system called “siloing”. This is where you plan and then create groups of pages which are very tightly focused on a specific subject. So let’s take the example of a site about acne treatments with a silo about “natural acne treatments.” Within this silo you’d have a set of pages about the best natural acne treatments, acne treatments you can make at home etc etc. Using this structure provides you with lots of SEO “juice” and gives you tons of internal linking opportunities too.
You can’t start an authority site and then try to figure out what structure to use – you need to plan it all out first. You can create a site with the silo model in just about any CMS or web development program.
How Many Pages?
There is this massive myth that creating an authority site means writing or outsourcing thousands of pages of content but nothing could be further from the truth folks. A true authority site can contain as few as 50 pages of content and as many as 500,000 or more. The reality is that once you’ve created enough content to answer any potential questions your visitors might have about a given topic then you have created a true authority site.
Never, ever start the creation of an authority site with the focus of creating a single page of content for every single keyword you could find on the subject – you’ll just wind up with a lot of repetitive and boring content as a result. Your only goal with an authority site should be to create the kind of content that people will link to naturally and that your visitors are going to bookmark and share your site with their friends as a result.
Snow White SEO
When you’re building an authority site it’s going to mean investing a significant amount of time and even money in the entire process – especially if you’re hiring high-quality writers who create great content for you. This investment on your part isn’t something you want to waste so you need to keep your nose clean when it comes to SEO. All those spammy links you can point at your Tier-2 web 2.0 sites…forget about them! When it comes to building an authority site you’re effectively creating a small online business and you need to treat it with the same level of care. Keep your SEO tactics clean when it comes to building backlinks and any other promotional methods you might intend using – otherwise you run the risk of wasting hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars of your money as a result of trying to take a shortcut.
Getting results from an authority site takes time, so you’ll need to be willing to invest at least a few months to watch it get traction in the search engines and actually start to develop and generate either leads or revenue from that point onwards. You can’t expect to see results in less than 90-days or so.
If you’re planning on generating income from the Internet over the long-term then an authority site should definitely be part of your overall plan, just be patient and be consistent and you will see results.
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