Most small websites and blogs struggle to generate traffic based solely on their content being found when searched for. Often search engine optimization techniques are needed for them to get any recognition, buried under the content of bigger sites. Though these bigger sites may seem like a nuisance, they can be used to grow your site. The key is getting them to link you. These are called authority links.
Authority links are when larger and more prominent websites reference your content by linking to your site. This is important in two ways. Firstly, those links generate direct traffic to your website, but more importantly all search engines rate websites on who is linking them and the authority of those linkers. If a respectable source such as Google Blog links to you, this will bump you up the link rankings, which will then improve your overall ranking. The search engine has people it trusts and so if those people trust you by linking your site, then the search trusts you as well to deliver quality information.
There are also two types of authority sites, the absolute authority and relative authority sites. The absolute authority sites are mostly news organizations and sites like Wikipedia. If they have content which is similar to what you search for, then they will be top of the list no matter what. They also can have a wide variety of content. Relative authority sites have more niche content, like specific bloggers or an industry leader. Their websites will only show when your search is quite specific to their type of content.
Number one is, of course, deliver high quality content, but if you are delivering content that is commonly found, you are more likely to be lost in the sheer volume. Find something that is obviously missing from the field of knowledge. Preferably it is a topic you have expertise in, that way you can add detailed and concise content on a topic that is missing it. If you would prefer to produce more personal content about you or someone else, that could also be good, because of the niche aspect, but remember it is niche for a reason.
Once you have content, you can then actively search for authority links. If your content builds on or even critiques that of a bigger site, you could approach them and ask for them to link you. They could see the benefit in adding to their content or even starting a debate with you, which would reference your response. These would both be great for you, because it guarantees more traffic and a higher link ranking.
Search engines are also optimized to downgrade sites that have “bad websites” linking to them. Any sites that spam clickbait articles or have a history of dodgy information are bad for you. If they link your article or blog post, then that gets recognized by the search engine and it will destroy your link rankings.
Yet you can prevent this, by disavowing those links. Most search engines have this as an option. You simply supply a disavow file which then tells the search engine to ignore those links. This will save your rankings, but it is a constant process.
All in all, getting authority links are a vital step to growing your website, and should be a pivotal part of your marketing strategy.
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