What is "Authority Rubbing" and How Does it Work - a Case Study Example.

Authority Rubbing is the "new" term being banded around for a concept which has been known in online SEO circles and communities for years - literally - at least 12.

The idea behind this (sometimes written as authority jacking) is that you attempt (through linking) to become associated with websites of authority on a given topic.  If your site can be seen to be somehow associated, then it is theorized that your site will gain ranking as a result of the association - which signal is boosted and by how much in terms of weight is speculation, although it may be a purely stand alone signal in the grand scheme of things.

Note that the association is itself in no way related to companies being somehow tied together in business or affiliation - it is purely a technical reaction within the algo which is assumed to somehow help.  Kind of like in real life where if you are rubbing shoulders with an authority person, such as the president - you will naturally be seen with some respect by anyone who sees you doing this. 

In that example, you may gain more respect than if you were rubbing shoulders and hanging out with a local government representative, so there is also theory that the strength is scaled, in a similar fashion to how link strength is scaled (at the very least conceptually).

Enough of the theory anyway - and at the moment that is all this is - theory - which I will hope to prove one way or another with a simple couple of experiments.

Now just to re-iterate, AUTHORITY RUBBING is NOT the same as simply linking out from site a to site b, where you hope that site a gets a boost because it links to site b which is an authority.

When considering authority rubbing, you have to bear in mind the most important factor about it - and that is, it is a form of linking which is out of control of the owner of either website, therefore not easy to manipulate by any one individual and therefore (again theoretically) a potential signal more favoured by the owners of a search engine should they choose to implement the concept.

I will talk you through the diagram below.

The concept of Authority rubbing.

In the diagram above, you can see we start off with a total of 5 websites.  Sites A,B,C are considered authority sites and this is reflected in the serp order shown top right.  Site X is our long suffering website which is stuck at number 11.  Site Y is a "sacrificial" domain where the Authority Rubbing will occur.

All we have to do is create that sub-page on site Y and link to each of the domains as listed in the diagram - that is what this experiment is all about.  If the theory is correct, then after a couple of weeks following crawling of the sub-page on site Y - we should see an increase in the position of site X.

Within all this, we can have a think about the fact that site X may naturally attain a serp boost anyway if we were to link to it from site Y - which does scupper the argument slightly.  However with a bit of instinct and knowledge of the typical rankings gained from a single link from a fairly weak domain such as Y, it will be fairly easy to tell whether the increase in rank (if any) is inclusive of any rubbing factor.  This would be indicated by a stronger than typical boost - again though - the determination of this would be from my experience over the years.

In any instance, we would hope NOT to see a drop in the position of site X - and this is grossly important because these days simply getting a link on its own can cause a drop..... so you can draw your own conclusions on that aspect!!

As I mentioned earlier in the page, there is a lot of speculation about this, and the relative standing of site Y in the eyes of the search engine is also considered a possible factor in the outcome (for example - if Y has a DA of 2, the increase in position of site X may not be as considerable as it maybe if site Y had a DA of 40).

For the purpose of our test, we are going to be using realistically owned domains - IE those with a strength most typically owned by people starting out or not owning a big brand company.

As a quick note - I have recently seen a case whereby a site which was not doing very well (over on page 3) was listed in this manner on an extremely popular website alongside a few others, one in particular is a high ranking site on the same exact (and I mean EXACT) topic.

Whilst the site which was already ranking well did not move (this is NOT to say for certain that it did not benefit - as things get tighter up the serp) the other website went to around position 15 from around 25.  This represents quite a large impact on a competetive SERP.

Case Study on Authority Rubbing (sometimes referred to as Authority Jacking).

16/NOV/2015

I have elected to create a new webpage on a domain to perform the task of site Y - it is not an existing webpage in other words - to which I am adding links.  I don't see either way being different really, although I may revisit.  The page is a blog page and it will be listed for a while on the domain root, but the links are not listed on the root - the snippet does not conain the links in other words - they are high up the new page, but not high enough to be included on the blog homepage.

The links themselves are dofollow - I was undecided about this - but I felt that if the same ignoring of the importance of nofollow links applies to rubbing as does with normal linking, then we would not have a result at all.  Having said this - the same may not apply and we could all benefit from adding them in as nofollows.  Dofollow it is though - just to be on the safe side.

The metrics of site Y root are as below.


Metrics - hardly an Authority website.

You can appreciate the fact that this site will give VERY LITTLE weight to anything it links to by virtue of its own low strength in traditional forms of a straight out link.  This is why I have chosen it.  Any raise in the target page is more likely to be a result of the grouping / rubbing - which is what we are trying to identify.

The target webpage of this experiment (as in a sub page page on site X above) is currently at position Page 3 Position 10 for a phrase.  It has languished there for a couple of months.  It has two links to it from other websites which are weak and of little authority.  So (and I only say for clarity and summary) sub-page on site X will be getting a link from sub-page on site Y, as will site A,B,C.

Ok - all pages chosen and new page uploaded.  Waiting.........

   

28/Nov/2015

Target Page of this study is still at page 3 slot 10 - so no effect.

08/Dec/2015

No movement - DONT WASTE YOUR TIME!

CASE CLOSED - UTTERLY BORING - NO RESULT EXCEPT TO SAY THAT THERE WAS NO CHANGE HERE AFTER OVER 3 WEEKS - SO EVEN IF IT HAD WORKED - EXPECT A WAIT.  IN ESSENCE THIS TRIAL HAS COST ME LINK JUICE.

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If you're looking to find out how tough internet marketing REALLY is - follow me on my IMJourney with actual case studies.

My name is Martin Swift, I have around 18 years of IM and SEO experience full time, am a computer programmer with around 25 years  programming experience in languages such as C, PHP, VB, HTML etc.

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