Site Authority is one of the most important parts of your SEO strategy but also may be one of the most difficult aspects. Let me explain.
What Do You Mean “Site Authority?”
We previously discussed that search engines rank your website through crawling, indexing, and ranking. The crawling of search engines means that they simply take note of what content you are sharing. Indexing determines how relevant your content is in regard to a search query. The ranking is influenced heavily by indexing and crawling, but also very heavily influenced by site authority. Site authority is the number of other quality sites that link back to your website. Are you linked on local business pages? Are you referred to a lot by others? Those are backlinks. Was your blog content shared by another site with a link back to your site? Again, that is a backlink. The more backlinks you have for your site, the stronger your site authority becomes.
Why is Site Authority Important to Search Engines?
Search engines, particularly Google, like to know that you (meaning your website) are credible on the world wide web. How do they know if you are credible? By how many times others link back to your site. It is a vote of confidence from the other websites when they do so. Backlinks are a signal to Google that your site is a quality resource that other people feel confident citing. Many businesses focus so much time on creating quality content but because their site is lacking backlinks from other sources, their site authority is lower and this negatively impacts their search engine ratings.
Why Getting Backlinks Can Be Difficult
Understandably many businesses prefer to create original content (this is a wonderful thing for your SEO and should be done) but they do not like to link to other sites or share others content. As social media gained popularity it is also much easier to click “share” on a link rather than republishing that content and linking back to the original source. Unfortunately, social media shares do not strengthen site authority. (Social media shares do help your SEO in other ways.) In today’s day and age, getting backlinks falls back to good old-fashioned relationship building. It takes a little work and cooperation to build a good backlink profile for your site.
Building Relationships and Building Backlinks
So how can I begin building quality backlinks for my website? Let’s look at a few ways. First, do not cold blast emails to others requesting that they link to your site. Honestly, that is just tacky and will not be received well. Think of those in your circle of influence, is there a natural connection between your website mission or business? Reach out to those sites and first offer something to them that will be of value to them. Never begin by asking them to do something for you. Sure you may give them some content or advice and they never link back to you. Then you know that you may not want to pursue that link-building relationship in the future. Keep in mind that it is not the best practice to pursue these link-building relationships with your competitors. No one wants to share content from another source that could potentially take their business. Another option for building quality backlinks is called link reclamation. Were you mentioned in a blog or other website without a link? A polite email asking them to hyperlink your site where you were mentioned is not abnormal. (Consider going back through your own site and finding areas where you may have overlooked a mention of another site and add that hyperlink as well!) Finally, don’t forget resource page websites. Are you part of a local chamber of commerce or other business networking group that lists your site on their page? Resource pages are usually great at linking back to sites. Consider joining some resource pages if you are not already a part of them.
A final note here: It may be tempting to subscribe to a site that boasts that it will give you a crazy number of backlinks for a certain amount of money. Google is not so concerned about the number of backlinks you have but more so about the quality of backlinks you have.
How Do I Know How Many Pages Have Linked to my Site?
To gauge your site authority, you need to look at your site’s backlink profile. You may access this information in the back end of your website or you can use a tool to analyze it such as Moz, but the simplest way to determine your backlink profile is to have Dogwood conduct a site audit for you. This is a free service and we will send you a detailed report covering many aspects of your website that also includes a list of all the sites that have linked to you and which pages they linked. Note that If you choose to use more than one of these tools, know that the metrics they give are close estimates, but may differ slightly in how the numbers are crunched and the authority designated to the sites that backlink to you. Don’t be alarmed at that.
Measuring your website authority will help you get a better understanding of your site’s search engine optimization efforts. Remember that SEO is the long game of encouraging search engines to rank your site higher. While it takes time to build authority with search engines, you will see results when you put the work in! Our crew at Dogwood would love to help you evaluate your site and maximize your SEO efforts. Reach out to us and let’s start a conversation!
To learn even more about search engine optimization, you might enjoy reading Dogwood’s Guide to SEO.