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When I first started designing websites and all about SEO from Dynamics Digital, Internet searches relied on the HTML on each page to index it for search. The most important pieces of the script were the titles, headings, sub-headings, and meta tags. Meta tags were basically a list of content keywords generated by the page author that when submitted to a search engine would help index the page in its proper category. With the advent of more complex ranking algorithms and an explosion in the population of online content, search engines have changed their methods for categorizing and ranking pages significantly. Instead of Web authors submitting their content to the engines, a Web crawler is just as likely to find the page and index it. Google allows sites to pay for prominence in searches, but after that, pages are listed according to relevance and authority.
Relevance is the easy part. When you read an article about search engine optimization, it usually drones on about where and how to place keywords. The basic principles of keyword placement for relevance are frequency, occurrence, proximity, date, accuracy, and title. Since you are competing with thousands of pages for single word searches like cooking, it is often recommended to tailor each page of content to a more exacting search such as recipes for pork meatloaf. Relevance is pretty self-explanatory, and if you want to refine your knowledge as it pertains to search engine optimization, there are hundreds of articles available.
Authority is the part of search criteria that can get your content listed in front of other pages with similar relevance. In most cases, each website is ranked from 1-10, with more credible sources assigned a higher score. If you are running a website, you will want to make sure that every page is well written, conveys the expertise of the subject matter, and cites sources for news information. The search algorithms also account for linkage from places that are more credible. If CNN or the Huffington Post cites your content as a source, it does wonders for your authority ranking on the subject.
While relevance relies on the number of keywords, authority is based on the quality of content. Before you publish, you need to ask yourself these questions. Do you trust the information? Is the subject matter overly redundant, or already covered by articles published on the same site? Is it a similar topic to previous articles with slightly different keywords? Are there errors in spelling, grammar, or facts? Is the topic of genuine interest to the author and readers, or is it an attempt to generate views by targeting trends and searches? Is the article produced by an expert or enthusiast with a deep knowledge of the subject? Does the article provide original reporting, research, or analysis, or is it a rehashing of other published information? Does the article appear cheap or hastily produced? How does the quality stand up when compared to other pages generated in a search of the subject? Is the analysis insightful or interesting and beyond obvious? Finally, is this something you would favor, share, or recommend to others?
Something that is well researched, well-produced, and contains original substance is a dramatic improvement over content that appears to be written just because the author feels there is some sort of demand. Articles are written in the vein of saving money through obvious means, replacing high-end products with cheap alternates that are not intended for said use, and other material published by amateur journalists with little knowledge of the subject negatively affect the authority in search. They also hurt the reputation of the content producers.
Examples of Authority RuleOffenders
Articles such as “5 Other Uses for Empty Butter Bowls” state obvious facts that are of little value. “The Worst Diet Scams” is an example of content that isn’t original and overproduced. I actually read an article once that recommended cleaning your house as an alternative to a gym membership. While a stay at home parents are a great group to cater to, it is almost an insult to say they do not know all the uses for a buttered bowl. Stating the obvious has never passed as insightful analysis, and it definitely affects your credibility. If you do decide to produce online content, stick to what you know, but don’t violate the other rules of authority in doing so.
Following the guidelines I have laid out in this article will not only allow you to collectively increase your site’s or content’s authority for optimization in searches, but it will also help you maintain higher quality. The algorithms used by Google and other popular search engines are increasingly focusing on quality to determine authority and will continue to do so as long as programmers are paid to improve search.