Brands often forget that websites do better in search rankings when they focus on authority instead of popularity.

Big traffic numbers are evidence of a successful content marketing campaign, but they also aren’t all there is to establishing a foothold in Google’s search rankings. After all, the search engine puts a lot more emphasis on authority, rather than popularity, as evidenced by a recent Webmaster Help Channel video answer from Matt Cutts.

Demonstrate authority through expertise

A user asked Cutts how algorithms parse the differences between popularity (high pageview totals) and actual subject matter authority. The question was framed in the context of social media: If social signals affect search algorithms, does Google trust the traffic coming from Facebook or Twitter as an indicator of expertise?

The video response was, while it’s a work in progress, search crawlers are getting better at assessing credibility. One of the ways they do this is the old reliable method – links. However, they don’t bestwo authority in a vacuum. Basically,  a website with a lot of inbound links from relevant (and well-known) sites will build authority on that topic.

A website with a lot of inbound links from relevant (and well-known) sites will build authority on that topic.

This is a call for subject-matter consistency. If a business reliably provides resources and valuable information about a certain topic, it will accumulate inbound links that contribute to page authority. However, if the links come from all over the place and are on subjects from across the board, there isn’t going to be any authority to give.

Organically encouraging links

With all this talk about links, it’s easy think about guest blogging as a valid web marketing strategy. After all, the more content exchange there is between sites, the more links there are going back and forth among them. However, Matt Cutts himself proclaimed guest blogging is dead, as Brafton reported, so remember links need to be accumulated naturally, by:

Doing GOOD guest blogging – Brands can still be active in their communities or industries and offer to reciprocate content, as long as it isn’t a blatant excuse to share links and represents genuine media shares.
Reaching influencers – The best way to disperse content, especially considering the importance of social sharing, is to write content that influential bloggers or social users will share.
Focusing on editorial votes – A link is best thought of as implicit support of an idea, concept or piece of information, so focusing on valuable and useful content will encourage readers to link back to blogs or news stories.

Want to learn more? Check out these related Brafton articles:

It’s time for BAD guest blogging to bite the dust – Not all of it
Reaching influencers: What guest blogging is supposed to achieve
Google thinks of links as ‘editorial votes’

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.