How to Leverage Authoritative Sources For Your Content


For SEO, authority is a big deal and it is proven by a number of researches that trustworthiness and authority play an important role in rankings.

There are a number of factors that either directly or indirectly relate to authority. These include domain authority, domain history, in-depth content, fresh content on time-sensitive queries, references and sources and correct grammar and spelling.

But how can you make your content authority? Easiest way is to include information and quotes from the sources that are identified as authority.

What Exactly Are Authoritative Sources?

Generally speaking, authority sources are the ones that are recognized as reliable because of the knowledge and authority they demonstrate over a topic or niche.

For instance, for medical topics, people have a confidence on content catered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the WHO. For technology resources, CIO and Techcrunch are counted upon. But if the medical content is from personal blog written by someone with no discernible credentials then it is doubtful that the source will ever be considered authoritative.

Depending on the topic, your audience and the level of writing, what means authority can be very different.

Importance of Authoritative Sources

Content created with authoritative sources at core meets the E-A-T guidelines of Google.

Authority content works wonder for SEO and gets more traffic than you expect.

Trustworthy, expert content offers value that makes people come back to your website and also boosts your conversion rates.

Tips to Find Authoritative Sources for Your Next Content

Finding authority sources can increase the amount of time it takes to create your content. But it doesn’t have to take forever or be an exercise in frustration. Here are nine tips for using authority sources to inform your content.

  1. Don’t believe the repeat.

Daniel Ray, the editor-in-chief at LawnStarter.com, says, “I see young content writers make this mistake all the time. They believe if something has been repeated a few times on the web, it must be authoritative and can be repeated again.”

You can’t afford to rest on the content of others when trust is so important. Don’t assume something is correct — and therefore safe to repeat or link to — simply because you saw it repeated a number of times on social media or in unknown blog posts.

  1. Do find the original source whenever possible.

“If you want quality, authoritative sources,” says Ray, “the best practice is to take the time to find the original source. Quote it and cite it directly rather than cite a second- or third-hand version. By going to the original source, you find the greatest amount of data as well as nuances lost in later pastiches.”

A pro tip is to follow the link trail to find out where information came from. If you find an article with a fact you want to use, click on the link the article uses to back up its claim. Sometimes, you have to click through a number of links — all on pages that have repeated the information from someone else — before you get to the original source.

  1. Don’t cite random blogs or Wikipedia, but do use them.

“Wikipedia is not reliable,” says Tim Grinsdale, owner of TOAD Diaries — “even if you see other sites referencing it.”

But Anh Trinh, managing editor of GeekWithLaptop, says that doesn’t mean you can’t use Wikipedia at all. Trinh also says you shouldn’t use Wikipedia as a source or link to it, but you can look at the source list on relevant Wikipedia articles. “You’ll often see books, websites and articles linked there that could be used as an authoritative source,” says Trinh.

  1. Do conduct a targeted site: search.

Sorting through pages of Google results that relate to competitors or aren’t considered authority can be a real drag. Research fatigue can even lead you to take the first decent-looking source at face value without looking deeper.

Save yourself some major research woe by perfecting the site: search to find authority sources. These searches limit the types of pages Google returns.

Conduct a site: search by typing: search term site:limiting factor. Here are some examples:

“blood pressure medication site:.gov” returns pages about blood pressure medication from .gov sites only

“blood pressure medication site:cdc.gov” returns pages about blood pressure medication only from the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site

“nursing degree plans site:.edu” returns pages about the search term from .edu sites

“patient infection statistics site:beckershospitalreview.com” returns pages only from the industry site Becker’s Hospital Review

  1. Don’t rely solely on “experts” on Quora or Reddit

Grinsdale says one way to get authoritative information “is to do outreach to people within the niche/industry you’re preparing to write about.” Anh Trinh advises using questions and answers on sites like Quora. “Quora has tons of authoritative sources, since most of the people answering this have the credential to back it up,” he says.


Kenny Trihn, the editor of Netbooknews, seconds the recommendation. “I find Quora and Reddit helpful. They have many knowledgeable people with different kinds of expertise.” But Kenny Trihn says you do need to do the work to backup what you find out via these types of user-based resources. Conduct “personal research that backs up the information you get,” he says.

  1. Do @ people on Twitter for comments.

R.J. Weiss, a Certified Financial Planner and founder of The Ways to Wealth, recommends turning to Twitter. “I’ve had success using Twitter to include authoritative sources in content. Specifically, using the @ feature on Twitter to ask them a question directly. The response rate is fairly high with this method.”

Weiss also notes that if you get a reply on Twitter, you can use it as a visual break in your own content. Collecting quotes via Twitter lets you embed images of the actual tweets for scannable content that appeals to many readers.

  1. Don’t forget that authority sources can be outdated.

When doing web research, remember that timeliness and relevance are important. No matter how authority your source seems, if the information is from a decade ago and you’re writing in a fast-moving industry, you can probably do better.

Limit your searches to information published the past two years when possible. And if you find a report that has the exact type of information you want but it’s out of date, see if the publisher or agency has issued an updated version.

  1. Do sign up for paid and free research tools.

Anh Trinh says, “Another thing is to look for free or paid peer-review publications. Examples of open access journal sites I use are MDPI and JournalFinder.”

Chloe Brittain seconds Trinh’s recommendation to use online research tools. She owns Opal Transcription Services, which works with numerous academic clients, and says, “Two of my favorite sources for research are Infoplease and The New York Times Newsroom Navigator.”

You can also search scholarly articles and journals via Google Scholar.

  1. Don’t forget that SEO tools can give you some clues for sources with authority.

Malte Scholz, cofounder of Airfocus, says he uses SEO tools to find authority sources. “In other words, I pull up the first result in Google and use Ahrefs to find external links that the article is pointing to,” says Scholz. “That way, I can find 5-10 sources per single page, and within 30 minutes, I can have 50-100 sources for a topic that I want to research and write about.”


Authority content can work best for your content and establish it as a reliable source of information. Finding authority sources is not tough if you make use of the tips we have shared above.

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