Google is in an ongoing battle with problematic content. It's continually working to eliminate low-quality sites from the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Because of this, it's more important than ever before to have an authoritative site.

However, if you're new to SEO, you may wonder -- what does "authoritative" mean? What factors is Google looking at when deciding how "quality" your website is.

I'm here to answer that. After years of working with SEO, monitoring changes, and using Google recommendations, I can tell you what to do to help Google see your site as a high-quality, authoritative site.


When Google was shiny and new, there was a single authority figure. It was known as PageRank. This was all about looking at the links going to pages.

Google counted the number of links your page received to help figure out the PageRank.

Google rewarded pages with many links; however, it also worked to determine how important the links were. Pages with several links from other important pages would gain more authority than a page with links from unimportant pages.

How Google Determines Authority Today

Today, content and links are still important ranking signals. However, Google's RankBrain System is another essential factor.

Google now ranks over 200 major signals. None of the metrics or signals today involve just one factor, as they did in the old days of PageRank. No one signal says if a site is an authority or not.

Instead, many things are used together to determine a site's authority. All these things work to create a high-quality site (according to Google).

Improving Your Site's Authority       

Google doesn't get too specific with what is looked at to determine your site's authority. While this is true, we know it involves several factors that you have to work on improving. Things like inbound links, original content, high-quality content, and more all make up the authority of your site.

Authority Is Assessed Per-Page

Even though there is no one authority figure, the signals work like one.

According to Google, authority is assigned on a per-page basis. It avoids the concept of domain or sitewide authority, because this may result in false assumptions about specific pages, especially ones on popular sites.

For example, you can't look at YouTube and Twitter and say how authoritative the site is; instead, you have to consider the individual user. The same is true for sites like Medium, WordPress, and Tumblr. Just because the sites are popular doesn't mean the individual pages should share in that popularity.

Improving Your Site's Authority

Unfortunately, there's no one thing you can do to improve your site's authority. But you can follow Google best practices to help ensure your site is seen as valuable by users and crawlers. This will increase your site's presence in SERPs and help increase your site's visibility to searchers.