The Six Signs of an Authoritative Blog

By Obaidul Haque, {grow} community member

For many reasons, blogging remains one of the most important components in a search and social media marketing strategy. And to be successful, you not only have to strive to establish your own distinctive blogging voice, but also create guest posts for powerful blogs, especially as you’re starting out.

Identifying authoritative bloggers may be an essential way to grow your audience and promote your business.

How do you identify the best, the most popular, the most authoritative, blogs to connect with? Well, you can’t judge a blog by its cover … or its design, or its author, or even the subject matter. Let’s look at a strategy to determine how authoritative a blog really is.

The Importance of Authoritative Blogs 

To get the maximum out of your guest blogging efforts, you should select blogs with a good search engine score and a favorable reputation among the target audience. Since you spend so much time on researching and writing content for guest posting, it’s your duty to make sure that your crafted content finds an appropriate home.

By getting your content (guest article) placed on authoritative blogs, you not only build high quality backlinks the natural way, but you also obtain an excellent opportunity to gain exposure globally, reach out to a new audience and attract traffic to your company website or blog. It can be fun and rewarding. What more could you ask for?

A delicate balance

As an SEO professional, I know what a nightmare a search penalty can prove to be. I understand what ‘unnatural link warnings’ from Google mean and how one single update can send an entire website or blog straight to hell, while jeopardizing the sheer existence of your online business too.

Cranking out articles one after another and submitting them to several blogs at random to quickly build tons of links overnight is not guest blogging. That’s spam! If you are taking to guest posting that way, brace yourself for problems!

So now that we’ve established that, let’s look at the six vital signs of authoritative blogs:

1) Freshness – The very first sign to look for is the frequency of publishing. If a blog shows a lack of updates, it’s not only bad from SEO point of view but it also signals disinterest from the blog owner. Usually, blogs with good search engine authority are very regular and frequent with their posting schedule.

2) Published Guest Writers – If it’s an authoritative blog, it’s not going to allow just anyone to publish a guest post on their site. Take a look at some of the previously posted guest articles and check out the bio section. It will help you know the quality of published guest authors and the kind of links included.

3) Blog Stats – Before you look for anything else, you need to check out the stats of the blog you want to place your guest post on. To do that, you don’t need access to the Google Analytics account of that blog (that’s impossible unless you are an IT genius, LOL). Not to worry, there are several tools that you can use to gauge the authority of a blog. Alexa.com and Compete.com are good examples.

4) Google PageRank – This is, in fact, a part of the blog’s stats. A handsome Google PR indicates good search engine authority. But bear in mind – ‘All authoritative blogs can have high PR, but all high PR blogs can’t be authoritative.’ Look for the other signs to be sure whether a blog is really authoritative.

5) Number of Comments – Authority is not just about numbers or stats. It’s also about the degree of reader engagement. So, you can simply take a quick look at some of the guest articles published on the host blog and check out the number of responses or comments each of them have garnered. A high number of posted comments as well as their replies by the author is definitely a good sign of high reader engagement. It ensures a great guest blogging ROI.

6) Social Shares – Authoritative blogs also have good social media influence. Before you decide to publish a guest article to your chosen blog, make sure it has a solid social media presence so that your guest post can receive maximum exposure.

Do you have more tips (or signs) that guest bloggers can use to identify authoritative blogs? Please let me know.

Obaidul Haque is an SEO professional, freelance writer, passionate blogger and the owner of HelloBloggerz.comHe works with a wide range of clients from across the globe and helps them expand the online reach of their businesses. He can be reached via Google+ or Twitter.

 

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  • very helpful advice here

  • It’s not an easy thing to find an appriopriate blog to write a guest post. Your post is really helpfull. Now, I know how to find a ‘correct’ blog. Thank you!

    http://www.martazych.pl

  • Obaidul

    Glad you liked it, Liza.

  • Great post Obaidul, These signs are very important as authority means everything these days and will become even more important as time goes.

  • When doing a guest blog, you need to look deep into why you are writing this guest
    post, whom you are writing it for and what the bottom line reason is. Overall it’s
    to grow your business online, to build your brand, and to actually engage with
    new audience. You are doing this to tap into new reader, engage with them, which
    may start the path down your sales funnel.

    All the best with your guest blogging, keep up the good
    work.

  • Obaidul, This is an excellent article. You’re right, we should evaluate carefully whether a blogger is an authority or just someone putting up a website for marketing purposes. All of the suggestions you gave are valuable ones. Having an Alexa toolbar loaded is very handy to check instantly site rankings.

    I also look for typos. Sloppy websites are often a sign of sloppy bloggers. One typo is forgivable, but if the article is loaded with typos then I will leave quickly.

    Thanks for your guidance on this!

  • Hi Obaidul,

    While the points make sense, they’re not necessarily guides to go by. For example:

    1. Freshness doesn’t necessarily equate quality. Respected blogger dropped to one post a week to ensure quality, while the likes of Mashable come under fire for quality due to the amount of posts. Frequent posting can also add to the deterioration in quality, because of putting undue pressure to “have to” come up with a post for that day.

    3. Compete only measures traffic from the U.S., while Alexa only measures true stats from sites that have Alexa installed, and the visitor has the Alexa browser app installed as well. This approach misses a large chunk of traffic.

    5. Comments can definitely offer up how good a blog is. The main “problem”, if you like, is if an author is replying to every comment, then you can immediately halve the comment count. Also, many bloggers never bother to remove spammy comments, adding to the number again while diluting the authority of the blog.

    While there are ways to combat these “flaws”, it probably offers a better approach to look at repeat traffic; subscribers (that takes commitment); longevity of the blog; are the posts generic lists or offering true thought leadership; and where the blog is being referred to elsewhere (linkbacks or articles).

    Cheers, Obaidul, have a great weekend!

  • I don’t think number of comments matters too much anymore. I know some massive blogs that don’t even allow comments, an example is http://sethgodin.typepad.com.

  • Obaidul

    Hey Danny,

    Definitely, a higher frequency is good only if you don’t compromise the quality of the content. But ‘freshness’ has utmost significance, as Google itself counts it as a criteria for ranking websites or blogs in search engines.

    No, you don’t need to install Alexa.com for checking out a specific blog’s stats. A lot of professionals take help from Alexa.com when it comes to doing competitive intelligence.

    As far as I think, longevity (that you’ve mentioned) doesn’t help much when you are evaluating the authority of a blog. There are so many sites that have been running for so many years, yet they offer little value. So, you have to look for other signs as well and then make a well-informed decision.

    Thanks for sharing your views. I appreciate it.

  • Obaidul

    Comments make a blog come alive. Without comments, a blog is ‘DEAD’. Period.

  • Obaidul

    Thanks for your visit, Carolyn.

  • Obaidul

    Thanks for your visit, Wasim.

  • I disagree strongly. The success of a blog cannot be measured by the number of comments alone. Engagement takes many forms: likes, shares, etc. Don’t forget that some people are more comfortable sharing their thoughts on social networks.

  • Don’t agree, here are some other massive blogs that don’t allow comments http://zenhabits.net, http://www.456bereastreet.com/, http://www.wolf-howl.com/. With social media now many people are moving comments over to social media. There no comments on the blog but more people talk about the posts over on Facebook or G+.

  • I also disagree that a blog without comments is “dead.” There are many reasons why blogs don’t get comments, especially in the corporate world. In fact many companies have firewalls in place that don;t allow active readers to comment. A rule of thumb is that even on highly rated blogs 2% or less of readers leave comments, so that leaves a lot of other people who are enjoying the post.

    Having said that, I do agree that comment activity is a sign of life and an important symbol of social proof. It’s like walking into an empty restaurant. Perhaps you begin to wonder if the restaurant is any good! Did I make a mistake by coming here? A lively comment section is also an indicator that the blog is connecting and has a lively audience, but you have to look at it in context.

  • Then these “professionals” are wrong, unfortunately. Go to Google and do a search on “problem with Alexa ranking” and you get 53 million
    results. Click through on some of these results and you get very smart
    insights on why no-one in their right mind should trust or use Alexa:

    http://slashdot.org/story/07/07/23/152243/the-real-problem-with-alexa

    http://forums.seochat.com/google-optimization-7/problem-alexa-ranking-455207.html

    http://www.seobook.com/archives/000944.shtml

    http://pingler.com/blog/the-real-problem-with-alexa/

    To the point of longevity, the main reason good blogs last so long is
    because they post great content. It may not necessarily be frequent, but the content is awesome.

  • Seth Godin and Leo Babauta prove otherwise.

  • Obaidul, this is an interesting post. Unfortunately, I quaff at the word “authoritative.” My background in medicine demonstrates that no source, regardless of the amount of research, experience or exposure, can be truly authoritative. In fact, this is a word that plaintiff’s lawyers often use to “trick” medical defendants or their experts into agreeing with something they never meant to agree with. Typically, the question would be about a source–an article or a textbook. If I agree that the source in question is “authoritative” I am apparently signifying that I believe ALL of what appears within it is true and applicable to every situation. In that case, NO SOURCE can be completely authoritative. Not sure what word would work better, but I know what you are getting at–how do we know that a blog is worth reading, and that the author truly “knows his/her stuff”. Honestly, I can’t say that I completely agree with you about the number of comments, and the freshness of the material. For me, its really how the content translates into something I can DO in my own situation or circumstance, and that fits with my blog’s goals. It is the authenticity from the writer I am looking for. Tell me the truth, even if it isn’t what I want to hear.

    So, my two absolutely favorite blogs (albeit they are not related to the medical field) are {grow} and Stanford Smith’s “Pushing Social”. Why? Because they typically identify their specific goals, they are not trying to be all things to all people, and I know they are speaking the truth, as they see it. This makes it relatively easy for me to take away what will work for me and leave behind (but never discount) what won’t.

    Thanks for listening. Appreciate the ability to add my two cents.

  • Obaidul

    If you talk about problems with Alexa stats, what do you say about problems with Google Analytics data? 🙂

    I have been using Alexa for so long. And it’s been a great help!

  • Obaidul

    These are only exceptions. You can’t use these examples to prove ‘blog commenting’ wrong or useless, can you?

    Many wouldn’t allow comments on their blogs only because they don’t have the time to moderate.

  • They’re two different things. Alexa’s primary “goal”, if you like, is to show perceived authority of a site, but the methodology is flawed. You don’t need to install their add-on, as you say, but they do give more authority to browsers that visit with the add-on active. That immediately dilutes the authority of Alexa.

    Google continuously improves their data and takes it from multiple sources, including much-improved mobile and social data (something Alexa is weak at).

  • Perfect point – most of the conversation about a blog post happens pretty much anywhere but the blog itself. Comments are great but shouldn’t be used as a definitive metric of a blog’s authority.

  • Obaidul

    When we’re talking about the authority of a blog, Alexa stats still do make sense. Alexa may be in need of further improvements, but you can’t reject it completely.

  • Not rejecting, but certainly not taking it as an authoratitive source either, especially when it comes to a blog.

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  • I’m not saying blog commenting is wrong or useless. Quite the opposite. I agree with your point that blog commenting is a sign of an active blog but I disagree that no comments is a sign of an inactive blog or a blog without authority. It may be true, but not necessarily. The engagement may be taking place in other places. A small example: What if a post has been tweeted 1,000 times but has 2 comments? That is a sign that the blog has had an impact and has gone viral but may not necessarily be provoking comments on the blog. And then there are the corporate examples I pointed out which are not the exception, they are the rule. Very difficult to get comments on a corporate blog.

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  • Ella Scott

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it! my web page;

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