SEO in the Sustainability Sector:

Understanding and Achieving Authority

by R.E.S. Martina

Did you know…

  • Google is the most visited website on the internet. 
  • Google has been visited 62.19 billion times in the year 2019 (Similarweb, 2019).
  • 15% of all searches have never been searched before on Google.
  • Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day (Internetlivestats, 2019). 
  • An average person conducts 3–4 searches every single day. (Moz, 2019)

(See more stats here: SEO for Beginners in 2021 | A Simple Explanation of How Search Engine Optimization Actually Works)

Why is Google so powerful?

We’ve all been there. We have a question we want an answer to, a famous person at the tip of our tongue who’s name we just can’t remember, or we’re craving a certain kind of restaurant but haven’t decided which one, and we turn to Google. Sometimes our searches are reasonably specific, like “Mexican restaurant near me,” and other times, they’re a little more ambiguous, like “name of actor in that tv show from the 90s.” The latter might take a little more digging, but through the power of the internet, which we access through search engines – 92% of us use Google – we can almost always find an answer to our query.

But how? How does it all work? How does Google know which websites to show us and in which order?

I won’t cover how a search engine works in this post, but in one of my upcoming articles, SEO Basics, I’ll explain the essentials, including what a web crawler is and how indexing works. For the purposes of keeping things brief, in this post, I’ll dive a little deeper into the main filters – sometimes referred to as pillars – specific to Google’s algorithm. 

If you just read my previous post, Understanding Google’s E.A.T.-based Algorithm, you’ll already be familiar with the acronym E.A.T., which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. Some SEO experts also refer to the three main pillars of Google’s Algorithm with the acronym A.R.T., which stands for Authority, Relevance and Trustworthiness. As you can see, Authority and Trustworthiness appear in both acronyms, so in this post, we’ll discuss Authority in greater detail.

What does it mean? Why is it important? And how can you build ‘Authority’ for your website and your company?

Authority, at it’s literal interpretation might seem quite similar to Expertise, but when it comes to SEO, authority is typically in reference to something called domain authority, sometimes also called a domain rating. This domain authority is Google’s way of quantitatively determining if a website is an authority in its field or not.

The quantitative metric used by Google is the backlink. A backlink is a link from a website or webpage to your website or webpage. The more backlinks from other websites to your website, the more authoritative it is perceived to be by Google. But not all backlinks are created equal. Backlinks from websites that are perceived to have a high domain authority provide more authority with the links coming from their website. 

Here’s an example:

A link from tesla.com to your website will be perceived by Google to have a significantly higher level of authority than a link from a small personal blog.

 

Tesla.com’s Domain Rating score according to ahrefs

 

The reasoning for this is simpler to explain than the workings behind it. The idea is that if your website is being used as a source by other websites, as is evidenced by them linking to your website, then your website must have valuable content and be an authority in its field. If a website that is already relatively authoritative links to your website, that increases the perceived value and authority of the content on your website. Using the previous example, the logic is that if tesla.com is linking to your website, your company must be authoritative in its field, because such an authoritative source is essentially vouching for your company by directing their traffic there or citing information from your site.

What does this mean for your company in the sustainability and green energy sector?

Interestingly enough, it means that just like the days of old, relationship building is becoming increasingly important again, in a world growing ever-more global and remote. The biggest indicator of this trend is the rise in the last few years of a strategy called ‘Guest Posting.’ Guest Posting is when someone, in this case you or a representative of your company, writes an article or a blog post for another website or publication in the same niche. This then creates backlinks from that website to yours and can attract the attention of your target demographic. In the case of a highly authoritative website like tesla.com, this would score some serious points in the eyes of Google.

However, volume is a significant factor as well.

That’s where the SEO press release shines. If you’re not familiar with the concept, the idea of a press release might throw you off a little bit. Print newspapers are hardly a thing anymore and I, personally, don’t know a single person that goes out and intentionally reads press releases in their leisure time. But SEO press releases have a different objective, although there are people who read them (typically they’re researchers and assistants at media outlets looking for a potential story). 

The objective of the SEO press release is to create a multitude of relevant backlinks for a website or a webpage. Since a properly distributed press release can be picked up by over 100 different websites, publications and news outlets, they provide a variety of authoritative backlinks from websites that have a high number of backlinks themselves. 

As you might be able to tell from the example before where I discussed the purpose of this authority metric, using SEO press releases is a shortcut to establishing domain authority quickly. However, it’s not exactly what Google had in mind either.

And that’s the fun part of the SEO game – finding ways to bend the rules to get the best results, while still staying in bounds on the field of play. But as we both know, if you were running the marketing department for a multi-billion dollar company, you might not need a method to create backlinks and establish domain authority because that would’ve been accomplished along the path to that success.

So don’t worry about trying to compete with tesla.com. The sustainability and green energy sectors are still relatively open, from an SEO perspective, so there’s still time to claim your stake. 

 

To continue your journey into the depths of the SEO mystery, check out my next post about the importance of building expertise, trustworthiness and relevance in the sustainability and green tech field.