Finding Link Sources & Building Topical Authority Links

SEO Question: Many people tell me to get authoritative links. How do I find authoritative links?

SEO Answer: It helps to get links directly from sources that would be considered trusted seed sites in algorithms like TrustRank or topical hub and authority sites in Topic Sensitive PageRank. As TrustRank, Topic Sensitive PageRank [PDF], and other similar trust / topical trust related algorithms flow around the web it also helps to get links from sites that are linked to from seed sites.

Sites like DMOZ, the Yahoo! Directory, and Wikipedia might be considered obvious authorities and trust seed sites, and there are numerous other ways you could find potential trusted seed sites.

One example of a way to find general high authority / high trust domain might be to look for sites that link to multiple trusted related resources in one field that also link to multiple trusted related resources in other fields. For example, you could do something like Yahoo! Search (linkdomain: a couple sites in field 1) AND (linkdomain: a couple sites in field 2).

Sites that you know the brand of even if they are outside your industry, or see ranking across a wide range of queries are also well trusted authoritative domains.

Some algorithms might transfer a lot of trust to anything listed in multiple seed sites. So if you wanted to find what sites were listed in DMOZ and the Yahoo! Directory that link at a competing site you could do a Live search for something like

Some algorithms may take the top x% of sites from each category of trusted seed sites and consider those as trusted sites as well. The Yahoo! Directory lists sites roughly in terms of authority, so viewing the top sites in a specific category is a good way to find the most authoritative sites in that category.

Yahoo! also paginates results in each category. If you are in need of co-citation in the Yahoo! Directory and your domain lacks adequate authority to be listed on the first page of your category you can buy a category sponsorship for about $100 a month without worrying about Google calling you a link buying spammer or removing your site from the results (even though you are buying an ad for distribution, link equity, and co-citation - typically with more indirect value than direct value).

The Google Directory is powered from DMOZ data, and sorts listings in order of PageRank, so that is another good way to find the top authorities in a specific category. Also when you search the Google Directory for a domain like it will show pages listed in the Open Directory that mention that domain.

You could also create a Google Custom Search Engine which was seeded by a seed site such as the Open Directory Project's RDF dump, and then search that for domain mentions.

When looking for topical hubs you could also look at:

  • sites which link to many top ranked authority sites using a tool like hub finder.

  • top ranked sites for related fields broader than yours...for example, if you had an SEO site you can look for top ranked pages and sites about search
  • who links at industry standards and other important documents in your field
  • top ranked sites for your keywords + blog (helps if your topic is somewhat tech or web related in nature)
  • track mentions of competing sites using Google Blogsearch or Technorati
  • topical authority blogs in Technorati
  • once you find a few hubs or authorities use the Google related sites feature to find related sites

Another way to get authoritative links is to see what social sites and people outside of your industry are talking about and linking to that is related to your industry or related industries. Think of ways to create related ideas and industry standards.

Yahoo! tends to sort backlinks roughly in terms of authority. In addition, Yahoo! allows you to search for .edu, .gov, .mil, or things with .k12 in the URL. Combine those types of ideas with a specific topic or a link search function to find a targeted link opportunity.

And, if you are into looking at competitive linkage data right in the search results SEO for Firefox is the extension for you.

Published: November 29, 2006 by Aaron Wall in seo tips Q & A


November 29, 2006 - 10:48am

Great post - concise and informative.

November 29, 2006 - 1:29pm

Your post is more on finding the authoritive sites then about obtaining the links. Here's my free advice to get authoritive links to your commercial website:

- Make a non-commercial website the authorities might link to. For instance: "Top authorities on ..." (help them by providing a banner that shows they're ranking on your site)
- When search engines visit the "Top authorities" website show them a 301 redirect to your commercial website.

301 redirects aren't indexed so it will be hard for them to find out your deceipt.

My blog shows some instructions how to do this!

November 29, 2006 - 1:46pm

DMOZ is dead. The pages you see there right now are static, the database has been offline and editors havn't been able to make changes since September 22.

Concerning topical authority links: There are a huge variety of link sources, it's just going to take a lot of work to get listed everywhere. You can spend a lot of time doing research using a wide variety of tools, but I would recommened spending most of your time actually obtaining the links, once you got the fundamentals down, lists of places to pitch, submit or try to get links from are very easy to find. I know of a lot of web designers and SEO consultants that spend too much time in the planning phase and not enough time doing the tedium (I enjoy it) of link building and creating content.

November 29, 2006 - 4:13pm

In typical DMOZ style it is taking quite some time but I wouldn't say DMOZ is dead. It's taking a while because new hardware and procedures are being put in place so that something like this doesn't happen again.

Great article. BTW, I finally finished your book!

November 29, 2006 - 11:32pm

Aaron thanks for the information, this is a good resource to start finding proper links for a website. Link building is a process, it changes over time: I would say is different for a new then for a stablished website, also the rules change overtime as the Internet and SE evolve.

Web Design Ireland
April 2, 2007 - 2:23pm

"Another way to get authoritative links is to see what social sites and people outside of your industry are talking about and linking to that is related to your industry or related industries. Think of ways to create related ideas and industry standards."

This i Strongly agree on, its very important

Well about Dmoz, looks like its back up and running now, not that is going to make much difference in waiting for a submission

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