When a brand gets a digital PR mention or backlink for their website, it provides value. These assets build authority, drive traffic, and improve SEO. The more websites that talk about and link back to a brand, the better.
But that’s not to say that each link or mention is equally valuable.
The value of a link or mention varies depending on the authority of the referencing website. Websites carry an authority that impacts the value of the link or mention on the site. The higher the authority of the referencing website, the more valuable the link or mention is. So as you try to acquire PR mentions and links, you want to get them on high-authority websites.
The rest of this post will look at how you can determine the authority ranking of a website. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to determine the credibility of a site so you can accomplish the following:
- Identify which publications you should pitch your campaigns to
- Identify which publications you should guest post for
- Measure the results of your content marketing by placing accurate values on links and mentions
So don’t go blindly into attracting links and PR mentions. Use the following authority metrics to plan, measure, and get the best results from your content marketing campaigns.
Moz Domain Authority (DA)
One metric may be the most important when placing an authority value on a website – Moz Domain Authority (DA).
Moz’s Domain Authority measures the authority of a website by comparing it with other websites and predicting how well the website will rank in search. According to Moz, “To determine Domain Authority, we employ machine learning against Google's algorithm to best model how search engine results are generated. Over 40 signals are included in this calculation.”
DA is measured on a scale of one to 100. The higher the rank, the higher a website’s authority. For example, a site with a rank of 80 has more authority than a site with a rank of 50.
At Fractl, we use DA when determining a campaign’s promotion strategy. This metric is one of several factors we look at to decide which sites should be offered the exclusive content placement versus which sites would be a better fit for syndication.
But we also realize that DA score isn’t the only metric that matters. You may come across a site that has a high DA but little engagement, so it’s important to take other metrics into consideration as well.
How to Find Domain Authority
The easiest way to check DA of a site is through the MozBar, a browser toolbar for Chrome. When you visit a URL, the MozBar will display its DA score. You can also use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to look up a website’s DA.
Classification of Outbound Links
All types of links and PR mentions have value, but there are types of links that have more value than others. Dofollow links, which pass SEO authority to the site it leads to, offer more value than nofollow links that do not pass SEO authority.
Websites that regularly publish dofollow links are more valuable to your content marketing efforts. These sites hold a higher authority than websites that use nofollow links. When identifying websites for your outreach efforts, focus on sites that regularly use dofollow links.
How to See if a Link Is Dofollow or Nofollow
Right click on the link within a web browser, and then select “Inspect” or “Inspect element.” If the link code includes “rel=“nofollow,” it is a nofollow link. If that line of code doesn’t appear, it is a dofollow link.
Type of Publication
While DA and the type of outbound links are the leading metrics to determine the authority of a website, they are not the “be all, end all.” You should also examine the type and size of the publication.
We generally group sites in one of three tiers based on these factors.
- High-authority sites tend to be the largest publishers on the web. (TIME, The Huffington Post, CNN, etc.)
- Mid-authority sites tend to cover specific niche topics, but they have a very engaged following within that community. (Mind Body Green, Search Engine Journal, etc.)
- Low-authority sites are the smaller, independent blogs that are focused on one specific topic.
While getting links or mentions on low-authority sites has value, sites with higher authority will have a bigger reach and typically create better results for your content marketing efforts.
Content Quality and Editorial Standards
Along with the size and type of publication, you also need to look at a site’s content quality closely when determining its authority.
High-authority sites adhere to professional standards and editorial guidelines and that ensure the quality of the content is high. Sites with lower authority do not follow these standards. They may publish a high-volume of unedited articles submitted by multiple authors. This can create a dip in the quality of content on the site, and articles may lack substance and include grammar and factual errors.
Give a higher authority value to websites with editorial standards that ensure every article provides both a superior story and writing.
How to Judge Content Quality
You’ll have to use your judgment when it comes to determining the quality of the content on a site. The content itself will help you decide. But also look for open editorial guidelines that exist on the site. Pages that describe a website’s publishing mission or standards are often found in the footer of their website.
For example, there is a footer link to the blog guidelines on Content Marketing Institute that tells you they hold their content to a high standard and don’t publish stories that fail to match their mission and editorial standards.
Alexa Global Rank
Like a DA ranking, an Alexa Global Rank is valuable metric that helps determine a website’s authority. It indicates a website’s estimated popularity based on multiple factors. The rank is “calculated using a combination of average daily visitors to the site and page views on the site over the past 3 months.”
Alexa rankings exist on a massive scale as each site is given its own ranking. Sites with a low number ranking have the highest authority. The best website is given a ranking of “1.”
How to Find an Alexa Rank
You can check a website’s Alexa rank by using the free tool on Alexa.com. Enter the domain and you will see the site’s Global Rank along with other helpful metrics such as audience geography, bounce rate, daily page views per visitor, daily time on site, top keywords, and more.
The value of getting a link or a PR mention on a website isn’t just in its existence. The value is in the link’s or mention’s ability to get audiences to learn about a brand or go to their website.
To get that value, you need your brand mention or link to be seen by a large audience. Websites with a large audience and a high number of regular page views will be more likely to accomplish that goal. Therefore, websites with a high number of page views have a higher authority than a website with a low number of views.
How to Determine the Number of Page Views
The same Alexa tool that provides the Alexa Global Rank provides information on a site’s estimated number of page views. But unlike the Global Rank information, this data is provided for paid versions of their tool only.
Quantcast is a free tool that provides page view information for websites, but not all websites are a part of their database. If you are searching for a well-known website, you will be likely able to find information using their tool. Quantcast has detailed profiles on many high-authority websites, but not as many on smaller publications.
Metrics, rankings, and content quality are all important in determining the authority of a website, and so is audience engagement. Websites with a lot of audience interaction have a higher authority than websites that see little engagement from their users.
When determining the authority of a website, look at the number of comments and the type of interaction in the comments.
Give a higher authority value to websites that have an active community that uses the comment section as a place to engage in authentic, useful conversations and discussions. This shows that the website has a supportive, engaged community who will be likely to interact with content about your brand on the site.
Another way to measure the audience engagement of a website is by looking at the number of social shares on their content. When audiences widely share content from a publisher, it indicates they are highly engaged and interested in the publication.
Give a higher authority value to websites that show signs of regular social sharing because a website with a lot of social shares will likely get your brand mention a higher level of exposure than a site with a low number of shares.
Along with the number of social shares, look at the number of social followers for the publication and consider their presence on social media.
If they have a large number of followers, you know that your brand mention or story will likely get in front of that mass audience. It also increases the chances that the story will be widely shared across social platforms, giving your brand additional exposure.
Consider websites with a large number of social followers to have a higher authority than sites with little or no social presence.
Size of Natural Syndications Network
Many high-authority websites have natural syndication networks that republish or/and cover their stories. The secondary website expands the reach of the original post by sharing it with their readers. This brings additional exposure to an article and therefore increases the value of a PR mention or link on a website with a syndication network.
When evaluating the authority of a website, factor in the site’s syndication network. Place higher authority on a site that has a network.
How to Determine if a Website Is Part of Syndication Network
Identifying which sites have a syndication network will require some research or awareness on your part. There is no direct way to tell if a website is a part of a syndication network. But you can get an idea by:
- Searching for blog titles to see if other websites have republished it.
- Noticing if other blogs reference the website as a syndication partner. Blog posts that are part of syndication network often share this information as a note on their published posts.
- Plugging a single article URL into Moz’s Open Site Explorer to see how many backlinks the page has. If there are many backlinks, it’s likely that other websites are regularly covering and/or republishing the publication's articles.
As you get to know the blog and publications in your industry, it will be easier to notice which sites have natural syndication networks that will boost the value of a link or PR mention on that site.
Links and PR mentions are valuable, but not all links and mentions provide the same value.
The metrics, rankings, and qualifications outlined in this post determine the value of each placement. So use these factors to identify where you should focus your outreach efforts, measure the results of your efforts, and improve the overall effectiveness of your content marketing.
Now that you know how to determine the authority of a website, put your knowledge to use and start acquiring PR mentions and links by using our guide How to Earn High-Quality Backlinks with Content Marketing.