Digital Insights

How to Find the Best Authority Sources to Earn Links for Your Website


Published: July 17, 2014

It’s no secret that Google is cracking down hard on backlinks, and frankly it comes as no big surprise. Thousands of low quality websites with little or no redeeming value have been able to game the search engine rankings by stuffing their sites full of hundreds of paid spammy links.

While these get-rich-quick linking schemes have on the one hand killed the traditional link building process, they have also helped raise the bar for digital marketers who have the determination and ability to create informative, high quality content and market it to relevant target audiences.

The original purpose of links, and the reason they continue to exert such a powerful influence on rankings, lies in the notion that a freely-given editorial link is a vote of confidence in the quality and authority of the site receiving the link. When the site providing the link is a recognized authority in its own right, it passes on “link juice” that will improve the search engine ranking of the receiving site.

How to Recognize an Authority Site

An authority site is simply a site that can be trusted to consistently provide relevant information for a given niche, and it isn’t necessarily going to be among the top-ranked sites in the search results. Too many people are still manipulating the results to blindly assume that the top-ranked sites represent the real authority for a given niche; similarly, PageRank and MozRank may not be the best indicators of authority sites.

  • Despite their susceptibility to manipulation, social engagement signals can be a great indicator of a site’s trust and authority. Just be sure to do your homework: look for regularly updated content that gets commented on and shared across various social media channels, and focus on sites that have a growing base of fans and followers.
  • Another method, which requires a more focused research effort, is to examine the authority site’s backlink profile. Two recommended tools to help you analyze any site’s backlinks are Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer.

What Types of Authority Sites to Look For

  • Relevant niche blog sites. Practically every niche has a core of writers and bloggers who are the trusted go-to source for relevant information. Crowdbooster is a great tool that can help you find the important influencers for a given niche. As with social engagement signals, you should expect authority bloggers to have a strong social presence in the form of active Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ followers as well as a sizeable portfolio of published articles.
  • Anything relevant to your local marketing area. This includes Chamber of Commerce sites, local educational and governmental sites, charitable organizations, and local radio and newspaper sites.
  • Industry or niche-specific sites. These include trade association sites, and industry certification and governing sites.

How to Get Links

  • Get started by building up your own site’s blog with informative and unique content. Potential link sources want to see that you’re in it for the long haul, and that you’re capable of producing quality content.
  • Simply send an informative email about what you do and how linking to you as a source will benefit the site’s audience.
  • Produce and submit quality content to your target authority link sources.
  • Try the newsjacking approach. Set up Google Alerts to notify you of breaking news in your industry or niche. Being the first to present an article on the latest big development might help you get your foot in the door.