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Laymanizing SEO Tech-Talk: What Is “Authority”?

If you’re not an SEO guy and you decide to start reading a little about the arcane art, you’re quite likely to be completely overwhelmed by the level of jargon that the SEO industry throws around. It’s almost as bad as trying to learn Dungeons and Dragons when you’ve never encountered the concept of a ‘hit point’ before. The concepts are complex and layered enough that it’s possible to spend an entire blog post discussing the “deep” meaning of a single word — which is exactly what I’m about to do:

Authority (Also: Juice, Weight, Power; often with “link” coming directly before, as I get a lot of my link authority from .edu sites.) — the ability of a link from one website to boost another website up in the rankings. If you get a link from the National Institute of Health, for example, it carries a lot of authority. The major factors composing Authority are Site Age, Traffic Trends, Site History, Content Quality, and Link Equity

Site Age — The amount of time a particular website has been around. Older websites are favored by the Google algorithm and most others as well.

Traffic Trends — The changes in your site’s traffic metrics over the past few months. A site with declining traffic is seen as having become irrelevant; a site with increasing traffic is seen as becoming more relevant. A large portion of the supposed power of social media is to drive traffic to ‘young’ content, thus giving it a boost in Authority by improving it’s Traffic Trends.

Site History — A site’s prior states (i.e. parked for a long time, sandboxed, high-Authority for a long time, and so forth) compose it’s Site History. History is probably the least important of the factors composing Authority, but it’s definitely still felt.

Content Quality — The degree to which a search engine’s algorithm decides that your site’s content is user-friendly, useful, and unique. Content
that appears profit-driven (like banner ads, in-line ads, and buy now buttons) is never ‘quality’ content; content that has appeared elsewhere on the Internet in that exact form is the same way. How exactly the search engine decides what is ‘useful’ is heavily debated, but probably has a lot to do with the use of certain words (“how to” being the most obvious example.) An SEO content creator’s job is to ensure that your site is filled with Content of the best possible Quality.

Link Equity — The measure of a site’s popularity based on the number and the Authority of the websites that link to it. The primary job of a link builder is to improve your site’s Link Equity by creating more and higher-Authority links to your site.

Bringing It All Back Together
In the end, all SEO is about improving your page’s Authority. Site Age and Site History are almost impossible to manipulate (though some people do try
to purchase domain names that are just going offline in order to create the illusion that their page is older than it appears), but all of the other factors can be tweaked by a skilled individual. The major divisions of SEO — social marketing, off-page SEO (link building), and on-page SEO (content creation/web design) work together to get your site the traffic it needs to succeed.

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