What is an Authority Site & Why Should You Care?

So this site is called Authority Hacker and helps you building authority sites. But what are these and why should you care? We'll answer these two questions on this page.

For those who are not great readers, here is a podcast I've recorded with Mark talking about the Authority site model and everything there is to know about it:

​What is an authority site?

​An authority site is a website that earns it's reader's trust both due to the quality of its content and the quality of its experience. Because both of these are great, the website users are happy to sign up, return, engage and share the content they find on the site.

How do you achieve that?

You earn trust by helping people with whatever issue they may have at the time they land on your site. It shouldn't matter wether it makes you money or not. The best way to earn trust is to provide extensive information on how to solve their current problem. It's also good to explain why your solution is the best out there.

Once you've helped the readers once and if the experience was seamless, a good chunk of them will start reading more of your site. If they like what they see, they will start following you on social media. They're also more likely to subscribe to your mailing list or stay in touch with what you're doing in any other way.

As long as you don't disappoint your audience, they will stay with you for as long as they care about what you're writing about. You will be able to capitalize on that relationship to make money while helping them.

Help people to achieve trust

See this as a long term relationship versus a one night stand. ​Most marketers out there try to make a quick buck. They do so by building sites, plastering them with a ton of affiliate links and throwing paid traffic/links. Doing this acts as a gateway page to what the user is actually looking for.

As a consequence, the user will never remember their site, never return and never buy again. This is a one time thing. Tomorrow they will have to rebuild traffic and sales from scratch again paying or hustling all over again for it.

On the other hand, the authority site owner will simply have to send an email, share a post on Facebook/Twitter. By doing so, they will see a chunk of their followership come back to their site. These people can convert into sales again and again as long as what they're sharing is valuable to their audience.

Here is a list of my personal criteria for sites I'd call authorities:​

  • The site truly helps those reading it and offers expert advice.

  • The site has a recognisable person or group of people behind it.

  • The site is not promoting dodgy affiliate products

  • The site focuses on building engagement and you can see users interacting on it and about it.

​Some examples of authority sites online

When people think authority site, they usually think about Wikipedia, WebMD, CNN. While these sites are authorities, much smaller entities can achieve a great deal of authority online as well. Usually with one or two persons running the whole operation for under 2 years. Here are some examples I particularly like:

1 - Asian Efficiency

Niche:

Personal productivity

    Launched in:

    September 2011

      How they help:

      • How to productivity guides
      • Productivity software tutorials
      • Lifestyle improvement

        Content Avenues:

        • Blog
        • Email

          Monetisation:

          • Affiliate sales
          • Own product creation (main)

          2 - Matthew Woodward

          Niche:

          Grey Hat SEO / Link Building

            Launched in:

            February 2012

              How they help:

              • How to link building guides
              • Link building tutorials
              • Overall grey hat SEO Advice

                Content Avenues:

                • Blog
                • Email
                • Forums

                  Monetisation:

                  • Affiliate sales
                  • Ad sales

                  Claimed revenue: $14,829/month in february 2014

                  3 - Superfood Profiles

                  Niche:

                  Superfoods & natural remedies

                    Launched in:

                    January 2012

                      How they help:

                      • Health benefits of superfoods
                      • DIY Home Remedies
                      • Replacing Junk Food With Healthy Alternatives

                        Content Avenues:

                        • Blog
                        • Social Media

                          Monetisation:

                          • Amazon Affiliate Sales
                          • Adsense

                          If you've taken the time to check these sites out, I'm sure you're interested in following one or several of them. However, despite the fact that they're in completely different niches, these sites have commonalities:

                          • ​They are genuinely helpful and offer actionable advice
                          • They focus on one topic of specialty only
                          • They engage users (look at the discussions in the comments, their social media streams etc)
                          • They focus on building a relationship by pushing people to subscribe and follow them over pushing for direct sales.

                          Another interesting point is, they all make 5 figures a month profit on average and are less than 3 years old. Not a bad place to be.

                          Who can benefit from this model?​

                          I'd love to say that this model is for everyone but this just isn't true. If you don't have valuable information to share with the world, your chances of success are rather slim. In order for it to make sense, you need to have a way to monetise the traffic you generate. This is because building such a site is a serious time investment. The profiles that will benefit the most from this model are:

                          • ​Specialists and enthusiasts
                            Are you passionate about a sport, a hobby or a craft? Sharing your knowledge through an authority site is a great way to combine what you love with revenue generation.
                          • Professionals
                            Are you working in a field that requires a lot of training and specialisation? Sharing what you learn at work using the authority site format will help generating side revenue or even quit your job.
                          • Product & Service creators
                            Are you selling your own products or services? Build sites focused around solving the problems your offering solves. This is a great way to build a self sustaining sales engine.
                          • E-commerce sites
                            Running an online shop? I'm sure you're struggling with duplicate content and positioning your products against your competition. Start a section that focuses on helping people having the problem your products solves. This is a great way to acquire traffic interested in buying your stuff.
                          • Internet marketers
                            Online marketers by trade may take advantage of the model to either build long term assets that can generate revenue for years. Or they can resell these properties at high prices to any of the demographics mentioned above.

                          The Pros & Cons of the authority site model

                          Cons

                          • They can take a long time before they turn out to be profitable (often around 6-8 months).

                          • They require a huge amount of time and attention in order to be successful.

                          • The content needs to be good enough to earn attention. Otherwise the whole model falls apart.

                          • Outsourcing and scaling high quality content and promotion is somewhat of a challenge.

                          Pros

                          • It feels good to be helping people while making money.

                          • They're true passive income once they're rolling.

                          • Working on them is fun and interesting.

                          • They're an incredible platform to launch much bigger businesses from.

                          • They're a high value commodity that can easily be sold for a 6-7 figure number when they're successful.

                          Theoretical maths on building authority sites vs short life span sites vs client work

                          Before you check out the graph below, it's important to note that all the numbers are made up. However, they are close to what I've seen happen with many of my sites, my friend's sites, colleagues and others that surround me. The results you would achieve following any of these paths depends on so many factors that it would be hard to predict them.

                          Google Visualization API Sample
                          Authority SiteGrey / Black HatSEOClient Work20142015201620172018201920200100,000200,000300,000400,000
                          xAuthority SiteGrey / Black Hat SEOClient Work
                          201460006000024000
                          2015200003000030000
                          2016400007500040000
                          2017800003500050000
                          20181200009000055000
                          20192000004000064000
                          202030000010500073000

                          x = years, y = expected $ profit

                          A few interesting things about this graph are:

                          • ​Spam is the best short term money earner by far but falls behind over time and is very irregular.
                          • Client work is safe and revenue increases over time but very slowly. There is also no real acceleration effect and a ceiling you will quickly reach.
                          • Authority sites make the least amount of money in the first few years. However, they have the potential to make much much more than the 2 other tactics once they reach a certain scale of traffic.

                          Should you build an authority site?

                          As I said earlier, this business model is not for everyone. But those who make it on this path enjoy both the fun and the success these can bring. Plus, you'll feel great about the community you're building around your site.

                          Despite the fact that they're so great, I only advise people to start authority sites if:

                          •  They can add value to the niche they're about to enter or hire someone who can.
                          • They are ready to keep at it for at least a year with a good amount of weekly work to do
                          • Have a good understanding of what is good content and what is crap.
                          • Know how to build good user experience on a website.
                          • Know the basics of ethical content promotion, white hat SEO and general online marketing.

                          Now I understand that these are a lot of requirements. That's why I created this site, to help people meet them and be successful with their authority sites. So even if you don't tick all the boxes above, I truly think you can do well in building authority sites.

                          If you're interested in acquiring the skills needed to successfully create and run authority sites and grow your passive income while mixing passion and work, then you're in the right place. Simply join our mailing list bellow and we will be emailing premium tutorials on creating, running and optimising authority sites.

                          If you're in one of the situations bellow, you will absolutely LOVE what we send you:​

                          • A non tech savvy but passionate person looking to start a website to generate a side income.
                          • A website owner struggling to find and engage his audience ethically online and thus, struggles with revenue.
                          • A Professional looking to quit his job and launch his own business.
                          • An online marketer looking to get off short term fads and looking to build real assets that are FUN to work on.

                          It's completely free