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How Does Google Determine Authoritative Websites

In this article, we’ll look at some of the factors that Google uses to assess whether a website is authoritative.

Rilind Elezaj


How Does Google Determine Authoritative Websites

Harmful content is a constant battle for Google. That’s why it is trying to remove low-quality websites from the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Because of this, having an authoritative website is more important than ever.


But, if you’re unfamiliar with SEO, you might be wondering what “authoritative” actually means. What elements does Google consider when determining the “quality” of your website?


This issue has received new interest as a result of its battle against harmful content. The short answer is that there is no single “authority” metric. Instead, Google considers a number of secret indicators that might potentially change from query to query.


According to research, Google’s ranking algorithm is 21% dependent on “link authority features,” or the quantity and quality of links pointing to a certain domain. And 19% dependent on page-level link features, or the number of links pointing to a particular page. In simple terms, the quantity and quality of links that your site receives from other websites determine its authority.


In this article, we’ll look at some of the factors that Google uses to assess whether a website is authoritative.

First of All, Why Does Authority Matter?

There are many reasons why website authority is important. First of all, it’s important for search engine optimization (SEO). How well you do in search engine results depends on the authority of your site in Google’s eyes.


When deciding where to place a website in their search results, Google takes authority into consideration. Higher authority websites are more likely to rank first in search results, which increases organic traffic.


The quantity and quality of backlinks, domain age, content relevancy, and social signals are some of the factors that affect authority. A website with great authority tells search engines that it is reliable, credible, and offers people useful information. This raises its visibility and attracts more users to the site.


You’ll hardly ever appear at the top of the SERPs for any of your target keywords if Google doesn’t view your website as authoritative. As a result, it will be difficult to get visitors to your website.


Website authority is essential for building trust and credibility with users. When people come across a website with high authority, they are more likely to perceive it as a reliable source of information or a reputable brand. This impression is necessary for building a positive reputation and attracting a loyal audience.


And it’s a good idea to connect with other authoritative websites, so they can recommend your website to their visitors. By doing these things, you can make your website more trustworthy and gain an advantage over others online.


Thus, the authority of your website directly affects how well you can connect with customers online. This means that an important part of your SEO strategy should be increasing your reputation and creating trust with search engines.

The Original Authority Metric: Pagerank

Google had a single authority figure when it first started. That was PageRank, which is all about examining links to pages. It is one of the factors used by search engines to determine the ranking of websites in search results.


PageRank works by analyzing the number and quality of links pointing to a webpage. To determine a page’s PageRank ranking, Google counted the number of links it received from other websites.


Google rewarded pages with plenty of links, but it also considered how important the links were. Pages that have several connections from other authoritative pages will have greater authority than pages with links from less credible sources.


When a website receives a link from another website, it is seen as a vote of confidence or recommendation. The more links a webpage receives, the higher its PageRank score. But, not all links are created equal. PageRank also takes into account the authority of the linking page. If a highly authoritative website links to a webpage, it carries more weight than a link from a less authoritative site.


PageRank considers the entire link structure of the web, treating each link as a vote. It evaluates both the quantity and quality of links to determine the authority of a webpage. As a result, pages with high PageRank are more likely to rank higher in search engine results, as they are considered more important and trustworthy.


But, even very authoritative pages, or those with high PageRank, weren’t always able to make it to the top of Google’s search results. It’s important to note that while PageRank used to be a major factor in search engine rankings, search algorithms have become more complex over time.


Today, search engines like Google consider many other factors besides PageRank. Those such as content relevance, user engagement, and website usability, to determine the authority and ranking of websites.

How Google Determines Authority Today

These days, content and links continue to be among the top-ranking factors. But, another important component is artificial intelligence, specifically Google’s RankBrain engine. 


Besides, Google’s ranking algorithm uses over 200 important signals. According to Google’s latest statement, none of these signals or metrics today include a single “authority” aspect as PageRank did.


As opposed to the earlier days of PageRank, none of the metrics or signals used now involve only one aspect. There is no indicator that a website is authoritative or not. Instead, a number of factors are considered together to determine a site’s authority. These factors combine to produce an outstanding website.


While PageRank is still an important factor, it has been upgraded and improved with other signals to provide more accurate and relevant search results. Here are some of the key factors that Google considers to determine authority:


  • Relevance: Google looks at how well a webpage’s content matches the user’s search query. The content should be comprehensive, accurate, and provide value to the user.


  • Backlinks: Google analyzes the quality and quantity of links pointing to a webpage. High-quality, relevant backlinks from authoritative websites are still considered important signals of authority.


  • User signals: Google monitors how users interact with a website. It monitors by including factors such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and time spent on the page. Positive user signals state that the website is providing a good user experience and valuable information.


  • Content quality: Google assesses the quality of the content on a webpage, looking for originality, expertise, and trustworthiness. Websites that produce high-quality, valuable content are more likely to be considered authoritative.


  • Website structure and usability: Google evaluates the structure and usability of a website to ensure that it provides a seamless user experience. Factors like mobile-friendliness, page load speed, and ease of navigation contribute to a website’s authority.


  • Social signals: Google also considers social signals, such as the number of shares, likes, and comments on social media platforms. While not a direct ranking factor, strong social engagement can show that a website is reputable and popular.


It’s important to note that Google’s algorithms are constantly evolving, and the specific weight and importance of these factors may change over time. But the goal remains the same: to provide the most relevant and reliable search results for people looking for information on the internet.

Authority Is Assessed Per-Page

Even though there is no one authority figure, the signals work like one. The next issue is a result of that. Is this authority calculated for every web page, or can domains have a worldwide status that spreads to every page?


Google says that each page receives a specific amount of authority. It avoids the idea of domain authority since it could lead to incorrect conclusions about certain pages, particularly those on well-known websites.


For example, you can’t judge the authority of a website by looking at YouTube or Twitter; you have to take the user into account. For websites like Medium, WordPress, and Tumblr, the same remains true. The popularity of the website does not automatically entitle the individual pages to a part of that popularity.


Each individual webpage is evaluated separately to determine its authority and relevance. This means that different pages on the same website can have different levels of importance.


Search engines examine things like the quality and number of links that point to a page, how relevant its content is to what people are searching for, and how people interact with the page. They want to make sure that the page provides helpful information and a good experience for users.


Factors such as the links that lead to a page, how much people engage with it, and how unique and up-to-date the content is all play a role in determining its importance.


By looking at each page individually, search engines can give users the most accurate and useful search results. This way, they can rank pages based on their own merits, making sure that the most trustworthy and helpful ones show up at the top of the search results. It also means that different pages within a website can appear differently in search results based on how relevant and important they are to what someone is searching for.

What You Can Do to Improve the Authority of Your Site

Making your website authoritative requires effort and time. You won’t get the results you want right away, and it will take at least a few months.


However, there are a few things you can do to help your website in moving up the authority ladder:

Get backlinks from trustworthy websites

Links are the most important factor in determining authority, as we said earlier. You can build them from reliable websites in a few different ways.


You can use a variety of effective methods to attract high-quality connections to your website. Building authoritative links is essential to your site’s authority, even though it takes time and effort.


The first is via building connections with influential people in your sector. You can offer to produce original articles or submit other content when you get in touch with notable people in your field. If they post that content on their websites, they’ll link to your business as the source, which will raise your authority.


Also, make sure that your website’s pages have proper optimization. Use relevant keywords in your titles, headings, and meta descriptions to help search engines understand the content and improve your visibility in search results.

Publish high-quality material

Quality content shows your website’s authority to users and other key players in your industry. It reflects your expertise and dependability in your line of work.


But having reliable information is simply one aspect of quality content. Additionally, your content should be unique for your website and provide readers with fresh perspectives.


Continuously update your existing content to keep it relevant and accurate. Additionally, expand your content by covering new topics, thus showing your expertise, and increasing your site’s authority.


It is Google’s responsibility to give its users the best options available. Giving people new perspectives on a subject rather than repeating material they’ve already heard is a key component of giving them the best responses.

Provide a great user experience

Focus on providing a seamless and user-friendly experience on your website. Make sure it loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, and is easy to navigate. Engaging and interactive elements can also help keep visitors on your site longer, which means a positive user experience.


If you have a site that is hard to navigate, it is hard for Google to recognize it as authoritative because it doesn’t provide a great user experience. To make it simple for users to navigate your website, use a sitemap and a simple navigation bar.


Page load speed is another element of user experience, so it should be a top priority for your website. The majority of the searches made by internet users are instantaneous. To prevent users from leaving your page, you should work on speeding up your pages if they take longer than two seconds to load.

Link to reputable websites

Since it would be almost impossible to go into great detail on every subject on your website, it’s crucial to include links to reliable websites where readers may click to learn more.


A reasonable amount of links can guide users to extra resources that may be of use. However, including too many links may make your writing difficult to read.


Avoid linking to the same place twice on a single web page. Also, stay away from linking to another website if you have a page on your own website that you could link to instead. But, you should be careful to link to reliable websites because they might also affect your authority.


When you link to a page, you are recommending it as having good information on the subject you are covering. Search engines like Google can doubt the reliability of the information if you link to a site with low domain authority.

Use social media to build your brand and attract traffic

Like many marketers, you might think that Google would view your website as authoritative the more it is shared on social media.


This isn’t exactly the case, though. The main reason social media isn’t taken into account when determining rankings is because Google is unable to go through every tweet or Facebook post. Using this insufficient data may affect rankings. And that is something Google most definitely does not want.


This shows that social media is not a major indicator of your authority. But it can still help you in achieving your other goals, including authority.


Social media is a great tool for connecting with influential people in your industry. Later on, you can use these connections to create links, which do affect your authority.


Furthermore, social media is a great platform for increasing brand recognition and authority. So, you can gradually attract high authority sites to link to your site by building connections with industry experts and marketing your brand.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to note that authority is not a static measure and can change over time. Google’s algorithms are continuously updated to improve the accuracy of determining authoritative websites. Websites should consistently meet the criteria mentioned above to maintain or increase their authority.


Overall, Google’s determination of authoritative websites revolves around providing the best possible search results to its users, prioritizing trustworthy, reliable, and relevant sources of information.


Keep in mind that generating authority takes time and consistency. By applying these strategies, you can gradually raise the authority of your site while positioning yourself as a trustworthy source in your sector.

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