The Importance of Being Authoritative

EinsteinA blog’s authority as defined by Technorati is the number of distinct websites or blogs linking to it in the last six months.  Authority is a good proxy for reputation in a given topic neighborhood of the blogosphere.  Technorati even offer a widget you can add to your blog that displays its authority for all to see.  Authority is important because it can determine your position in blog searches results.  The higher your authority the more likely your blog will be found.

Dave Sifry collected some interesting data about authority and blog / blogger characteristics in his 2007 State of the Blogosphere message

Low
authority

Medium
authority

High
authority

Very high
authority

# blogs linking in the last 6 mo.

3-9

10-99

100-499

500+

# blogs in tier

1,111,882

416,073

26,418

4,070

Average blog age (days)

228

260

455

530

Average # of posts per mo.

12

18

25

57

Average total post count

90

159

380

935

       

First of all the tiering of blogs by authority follows a crude power law.  Note too, that with more than 57 million blogs in existence when the State of the Blogosphere post was written, only 2% qualified to be in one of the above tiers (i.e. more than 2 links from distinct blogs in the last 6 months).  The distribution of authority (like wealth some would argue) is definitely skewed.

Second, it appears that blog posting frequency correlates with a higher authority.  But the offline reputation and network of the blogger, his / her level of expertise, and quality of writing also play a strong role.  Still, feeding readers with interesting content frequently and consistently is a good thing. 

Third, age counts, but only in combination with other factors.  It has been rumored that Google now gives a higher ranking to sites that have longevity (see Grappone and Couzins’ Search Engine Optimization:  An Hour a Day pp. 69-70).  Also, human social networks have a way of sorting themselves out according to a power law, with a demonstrated age bias (see Duncan Watts’ Six Degrees).  Older network nodes are likely to be larger just because they have been around longer.  Active older blogs tend to have more content and have had the opportunity to habituate their readers.  Habits (and links) can sometimes be hard to change.

Lessons for publishers and authors?

  • Post frequently and consistently.  You’ll set your readers expectations, build a solid body of content and expand your reputation.  This will make it more likely people will link to you. 
  • Age counts, so once you start, stick with it!
  • Take the time to become part of your blog community, both online and offline.  An offline social network can make link building in the online space easier. 
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