Getting authority sites to pay even the slightest bit of attention to you is a daunting task. These sites, which are large and influential, can have a massive effect on your ability to build your own rankings in Google and the other search engines. However, because they are so popular, they tend to be hard to break into. So how does one get noticed on them? Here are five ideas for making it happen.
What Do We Mean By an Authority Site?
Let’s start with the definition of an authority site for the purposes of this discussion. Authority sites come in all shapes and sizes and what some people might call an authority site, others would call a small time blog.
The generally accepted definition of an authority site is one which has significant amounts of traffic and content which is well respected. In other words, in Internet Marketing terms, Mike Filsaime’s website is considered to be authority site. He has a proven name and gets thousands of visitors per day. Your site with 5 spun articles about Internet marketing which you threw up over the weekend, not so much.
The thing is, there are also websites that some people would consider to be authority sites but which don’t quite fit the definition for our purposes. On the Warrior Forum, people talk about building so called “instant authority sites.” These sites usually have spun content and around 20-30 articles. I’m sorry to say that this is NOT an authority site either in spite of the marketing hype.
If you were to build a site with 20-30 completely unique well written articles, you would have the very beginnings of an authority site though you would need to continually add content and build backlinks for it to eventually become recognized as such.
For our purposes, when we talk about an authority website, we’re talking about one which most people would trust as a leader in its industry. So for example, if we were to look at an area I find interesting, personal finance, a good example of a well-respected personal finance authority site would be Get Rich Slowly:
As we can see from the screen shot, there are clear indicators that this is a quality authority site. On a recent visit, the first item had already been retweeted 50 times and there are 103,000 followers of the site on Feedburner.
By comparison, check out this site I found on Blogger, called “Another Personal Finance Blog”:
It has not been updated in years and even when it was being updated, all the updates were short without much content useful to the general public (it appears it is mostly personal musings on the guy’s own problems – nothing wrong with that, but not really an authority site). In addition, the site is hosted on Blogger which is a dead giveaway for a non-authority site. Again, no offense intended to the owner.
Finding authority sites is really not terribly difficult to do and I’m not going to spend a great deal of time on it. Simply pick a popular keyword for your niche and then pop it into Google (I tried “personal finance blog” for our experiment here). Check out the first few sites you find. You can double check by looking at a service like Rank Signals:
Note that Rank Signals only allows you to check on domains. If you need to check whether individual pages (i.e. the blog of a website) are authoritative, try open site explorer.
Okay, so how does one go about actually getting these sites to notice you and talk about you? Here’s how:
Comment on Them!
I know what you’re thinking – duh, I could comment on these sites but so will hundreds of other people. You’re right, they definitely will do so. And the fact is that the owners of the site are unlikely to see your comment if it’s comment number 134. However, if you can be quick about it and get into the first 10 comments on a page, you are more likely to get noticed:
Now in the example above, the guy offered up a pretty short comment. He may not have been able to think of anything else to talk about. Or it’s possible that he simply didn’t want to risk not being one of the first to comment. Either way, you are more likely to get your comment noticed and then mentioned in the actual text of the article if you write an insightful comment which really has some value to it.
In other words, you need to take the time to read the article and then write an insightful comment. Now this does require work. You need to be monitoring sites to find out when new stuff is added to them and then rush to check them out. Fortunately, this is not as difficult as it may sound.
Almost every website which is updated regularly includes an RSS feed. These things are instantly updated the moment that a new blog post goes up. Of course, regular RSS readers don’t give you instant notifications. They often have slight delays. I did however find another tool which will do the job for free. It’s called Rub. Rub is a free applet available on Sourceforge. You simply install it and then add in the feed you need to keep up with.
Once you notice a new post on a popular blog, go look, read and quickly put together an insightful post. Not only are you going to get more clicks from other readers of the site but you will also be very likely to get the site owner to notice you.
Find Influencers on Twitter
Another great way to contact authority site owners is through Twitter. Not only can you get the authority sites to notice you but you can also get general Twitter influencers to notice you. Now I’ll cover in a moment what to do once you find influencers, but first let’s take a quick look at how to find them.
I have found that Twitter’s own tools for finding influencers are not the most intuitive. The site is designed to allow you to find interesting tweets which you may enjoy reading about but it’s a little trickier to find influencers.
You can do it indirectly by looking for popular tweets and by using the discovery feature which tells you about people you might be interested in based on your profile but the problem with this is that they’re both indirect ways to find the people you want to connect with.
Just because your profile matches someone doesn’t mean that person is an influencer. The same goes for finding popular tweets – just because a tweet is popular doesn’t make that person an influencer. Again, both of these are good indicators but they are not direct indicators. Instead, I like to use a service called Klout.
Now, if you are not a member of Klout, you should definitely join. Your Klout score can actually make a difference if you are hoping to land job offers, speaking engagements and the like. You are also more likely to get in touch with other influencers if your Klout score is pretty high. However, for our purposes, Klout is great as a direct way to find influencers.
Be sure to click on “see all influencers” in order to get a broader list of people to contact.
Okay, so now that you have your list of influencers, there are several ways to get their attention. First and foremost, you can follow them and retweet what they have to say. Through Klout, you can also find them on Facebook (if they have linked their facebook account — not all of them have) and ask them (politely) to friend you. If they have not linked to Facebook through Klout, you can sometimes find them by searching directly on Facebook.
However, one of the best ways to get these influencers to help you is to offer them something. Drop them a private message on Twitter offering them a freebie of whatever product you are selling. Believe it or not, if your product is worth something, they will often respond.
I recommend that you go after around 10 influencers at a time. You may need to contact around 50-100 to get one to take notice and look at what you have to offer but once you get hold of one of these guys, it gets easier to get the others to stand up and pay attention to you.
Help Authority Sites Eliminate Dead Links
Broken links are the bane of every webmaster’s existence. Even though there are WordPress plugins meant to help you prevent this, webmasters often forget to check these things. If there are lots of broken links on a particular site, then Google will begin to assume the site is not updated. This causes the site to be dropped in the rankings.
The solution is to check regularly; however, many people just don’t bother to do so and so they live with a certain number of broken links on their sites. You can help these webmasters by locating dead links and giving them a detailed report on where they are.
I recommend doing it with no quid pro quo demanded. In other words, don’t send an e-mail to the site owner saying “hey, I found broken links on your site. If you’re willing to link to me, I’ll get you a report on them.” You will get few to no responses to such an e-mail.
On the other hand, if you simply send out a note with a report (ideally, just embed it in your e-mail – virus scares mean that many webmasters will be reluctant to open an attachment), you garner good will from the owner of the site.
This can give you an opening, AFTER giving something away for free and getting a thank you from the owner of the site to contact them and give them a pitch for looking at your own site or service (i.e. you write “no problem – I’m glad I could help. By the way, I happen to work in a related industry. If you have a chance, I’d love to know what you think of my site: xyx.com). This will not always work but it is more likely to help you snag some goodwill and a link from a handful of authority sites than other ideas.
Now, as to finding those dead links, I found a useful little applet called linkchecker on Sourceforge. It’s relatively straightforward. After you install it, you simply enter the URL of the site you want to check and then let it run. It will provide you with a detailed report on everything it finds.
Offer Guest Blog Posts on Authority Sites
Guest posts are probably the single most popular way to get authority sites to pay any kind of attention to you. They need good quality content to keep the site going and if you can provide it to them, you are that much more likely to get them to let you put up a guest post.
The first and easiest way to put guest posts onto authority sites is to hunt them down on guest post aggregation websites. For example, Blogger Link Up offers a nice free service where you can find sites looking for guest posts:
The thing that I don’t like here is that they don’t tell you much about the sites. For example, if the site owner doesn’t mention what their PR ranking is, you need to look it up on your own. The only thing that is good here is that the people you find here are definitely looking for guest content.
Your own offer of a guest post will appear on the e-mail as well and so you may be contacted by people looking for content. Again though, you need to check carefully whether the site is one you want to place a guest post on.
Another way to get guest posts into these kinds of sites is to actually contact the site owner. The advantage is that you can actually target specific sites that you are interested in working with as opposed to simply looking for places which advertised that they want content. The bad news is that these sites tend to be harder to get into.
The biggest ones (such as Get Rich Slowly as above) tend to get inundated with offers. The best bet is to write a well-crafted pitch letter to these sites where you tell them about what you have to offer and why the content would be great for them. In some cases, you may need to pay a fee for posting as well.
Look for Government Sites to Post To
Finally, you may also want to try contacting government websites which write about your specific niche. Believe it or not, there are thousands of .gov blogs and other sites out there which also need content. These kinds of websites tend to be great places to pitch your guest posts to. Many people don’t realize these opportunities exist so you can often get into them more easily than some other sites.
Now finding these blogs and other sites is both easy and difficult. There is a site, usa.gov, which is an index to everything offered by the federal government. They used to have a list specifically of government blogs but I have been unable to find it when researching this post. Fortunately however, I ran across a helpful blog post on another site which has an index to some of the government blogs available:
You should also consider looking up the government list of contests and challenges. Often, these are great ways to get links onto government sites:
You can also do a Google search for government blogs in individual states so for example, this is what I found for California State blogs:
Note that the way to do this is to search for the term “blog” and then put in site:.xx.gov. Replace xx with the two letter state abbreviation (so for example, in the example above, I used .ca.gov). Pretty much every state offers this. You can then find individual blogs to make a pitch to.
Finally, I also found that the State Department offers a series of government forums which you can post questions on:
While these don’t fit the definition of a traditional authority site, I think that given that .gov links are highly prized, this is a good last item to mention here. Best of luck with grabbing all the links you need. Please let us know what you think of these ideas below.