Panda, Penguin, EMD update and all of their versions and other little helpers have come to life because Google got tired of the webmasters trying to outsmart their algorithm and game the system for their own benefit. Sure, the benefit of whatever sort id the reason for the existence of almost every website out there, but those who provide a great user experience and are a valuable resource to their visitors while they’re trying to achieve the ‘benefit’ for themselves are the welcomed players, and Google is, should and will cherish them.
That is, in theory. In reality, we have seen many good websites tank because one or more segments of their on or off page optimization didn’t please the guys in Google. It becomes more and more clear that the only way to half-secure your online business, if it’s mostly based on getting website visitors from search engines, is to build websites that send high authority signals and that can’t be seen as manipulative in any way. The good news is: it’s doable; the bad news – it can’t be done quickly.
Preparing your website to become an authority
Apart from a great number of quality and not so quality links, websites that have survived all of the algorithm updates have one more thing in common: loads of good content. Now, having great content is even better, but if you are an average, or a bit above average, webmaster, you just can’t create great content all the time; so publishing solid content of constantly good quality is just fine – as long as you cover all the basis.
It’s a simple fact that you can’t make an authority website with only a handful of pages, so constantly adding content related to your niche is extremely important. However, sooner or later you will use up all of the article topics you can come up with on your own, so it’s best to create your content strategy right from the start.
To do that, there is nothing that beats a good keyword research. Start as broad as you can, but not too broad so that you encompass the largest niche imaginable, like ‘cooking’, not even ‘recipes’ – go for ‘grilling recipes’ instead, and create a few root concepts within that niche, for example: ‘grilled vegetables’, ‘grilled meat’, ‘grilled cheese’, ‘grilling accessories’. You then drill into each of them with any keyword research tool you like, and populate the master spreadsheet with them – no worries about the competition, you’re just generating content ideas right now.
So, instead of becoming a pawn in cooking niche, you’re becoming the king of grilling niche. And you’re doing it in such a way that every single fan of anything related to grilling can come to your website and find something that interests him.
The next thing is to decide on your website’s architecture: not all of your content will be based upon a commercial keyword, or the one that is being massively searched for, but that’s ok – you have the content for the people, so now use it for the search engines as well, to build links from these less attractive pages to the ones that are the most profitable. That’s why you have to decide on your ‘pillar pages’ before you begin creating your website, so that you don’t get lost in it after.
Link building for the authority building
First understand this: a professional looking website with tons of useful content will get links much easier than a thin site with poor layout – it’s just the way things work. And we aren’t talking only about the natural links, those that (we all hope) will come by themselves after a while; your guest post pitch, or any other outreach email will be accepted much easier this way – webmasters are being very careful with what they link to (just like you should be, by the way).
A huge part of authority building is building or attracting quality links; today, it’s mostly the links from guest posts on good blogs and broken link building, but there are other very successful strategies as well, and that is widely known anyway. But often overlooked is the fact that it’s not just the quality of the links that you want to pay attention to – it’s also where you’re pointing them. Your home page is, of course, the most important page on your website, but you want the links to your pillar pages as well, and occasionally even some to the less important ones. That way you’re building the authority of the entire domain, and you’re doing it the way that Google loves.
Finally, don’t forget about social signals, they have already become an important signal of authority that you simply can’t overlook. But that part, you can think about it later.