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Big Rewards From Creating Authority Micro-Sites

Posted on 10.06.2008

The word "authority" is bandied about in SEO circles quite frequently, but what does it actually mean and can you achieve this lofty status with a micro-site? Being recognized as an authority can put you on top of the search engine results quickly. Increasingly, SEO's realize the value proposition they provide and are turning to a secondary presence to make it happen. Let's look at the big rewards to be gained from creating authority micro-sites, how to make it happen and what type of micro-site is right for you.

An authority site (one that is prestigious in its category) is the destination where we all go for the information that we need or want. And thanks to blogging and social sites like Digg, authority sites have gained in prominence and numbers in the past few years. While garnering a mention on an authority site will get you a long way towards increasing the value of your website, creating one is an entirely different story and, for some, an immensely challenging task. But the rewards are huge.

Historically, micro-sites have been used for a brief period of time to promote a specific product or service. But those most savvy in the SEO industry are realizing they carry the power to take on a life of their own after these campaigns expire. Over time, these sites can be developed into independent projects for ultimately greater profits while keeping in line with their original mission - supporting the primary website. Truly authoritative websites include content that can be found nowhere else and provide access to others (whether to individuals or actual services) on an unprecedented level - this is what consumers want. The greatest advantage of a micro-site for website owners is that they provide access to an audience with which you might otherwise have not established a connection.

So what type of micro-site will work best to help you establish authority? Well that's the $20,000 question. If we look at Website Magazine for example, we have what I consider to be a micro-site in our Who's Who directory. Residing on a sub-domain (directory.websiteservices.com), it features a distinct design and appeals to two of our core audiences - those that own or operate Web-centric businesses such as design or SEO firms, and others - both advertisers and subscribers. The benefit that it provides Website Magazine can not be underestimated as a means to serve our greater purpose - to get our name out, promote our content and ultimately make our publication profitable. The examples don't need to stop there. Many years ago, I created a website about advertising agencies in Chicago (I often fancy myself the Don Draper type.) Listing all the advertising agencies in Chicago was a great way to open doors but I pushed the envelope much further. I ranked the top ten agencies by earnings and send out a press release. That site still ranks and drives traffic several years after the fact.

Building an authority website is the best way to gain favor with search engines. It is also a highly effective way to create lasting, long-term relationships with your customers. Some key elements of a successful authority website include interesting content such as interactive charts and graphs, constantly updated content (accessible not just through your site but through syndication channels), and what I call "badges of honor" (promoting Feedburner statistics, twitter followers, etc.), and if you're lucky enough to have an active audience, a stream of activity representing the audience's dedication.

Being an authority means that you must be willing to promote other websites, however. That may cause some a bit of distress, but as long as you are confident in the content of your micro-site and its relation to the products/services/information it provides your primary site or objective, move forward. A strong flow of outgoing links to and from other authority sites helps increase your exposure and your page ranking. Just look at Google's post today about outbound links. They're a good thing so don't worry about leaking PageRank or any of the rest of the mind-numbing SEO chatter. Links give your visitors confidence in what you have to offer and it increases the confidence and trust that they have in you. When they know they can depend on you for information, data, statistics, and relevant products (whether they receive them from you or from your broad network of links) then you are on your way to being an authority.

As an online marketer, your primary goal is for people to think of your website first when they are interested in the specific market you serve. Creating a reputation as an authority expands your market reach because visitors and customers, regardless of whether it is exactly the audience you are after, will promote your site throughout their own communities.

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