What Is an Authority Site?

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An Authority Site (also referred to as a publishing site or a digital media outlet) is a type of destination website that establishes the owner as a domain authority for certain topics. Authority sites are designed specifically to build brand equity and brand loyalty among visitors, rather than sell goods or services. An authority site is now commonly seen as a key component in an enterprise content-marketing strategy.

Authority Sites Work in Tandem with Passive Sites

An organization is likely to use an authority site in tandem with a passive website, which is likely to consist of product information and is meant to convert visitors into customers. The image below depicts the relationship between an authority site and a passive site.

As is depicted in the graphic, an authority site sits at the top of an organization’s content funnel and is meant to attract visitors early in the buying process, even before they’re in the market for whatever an organization sells. For an authority site to be effective, it needs to have a deep base of relevant content and a steady stream of new content posts.

In contrast, passive sites sit at the bottom of an organization’s content funnel and consist primarily of product and company information. They’re called passive sites because once they’re built, they require little upkeep, nor do they require regular content posts.

How Authority Sites and Passive Sites Work Together

Based on high volume content, authority sites are meant to attract broad audiences. Site administrators can tune content for search engines and make regular posts to social platforms, such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. An authority site then filters out prospective customers by making various product offers to visitors. Such offers link through to a corresponding passive site, which is much like an online sales brochure.

Content on Authority Sites

Content on authority sites will target demographic groups that are likely to purchase the products sold on a corresponding passive site. For example, if a company sells energy drinks on its passive site,  its authority site would include content for people likely to consume energy drinks, say, young adults who engage in outdoor sports.

Authority Site Design

Where passive sites tend to place heavy emphasis on page design, including flashy graphics, page animations, and multi-media features, Authority sites tend to have clean, simplistic designs and are organized around content categories. For example, an authority site meant to attract visitors likely buy energy drinks might have the following content categories:

·        Mountain Biking

·        Rock Climbing

·        Motor Sports

·        Board Sports

·        Video Gaming

Note that passive sites tend to have minimal text, making pages on passive sites not well suited for ranking in search engines.

Authority Site Construction

Because commercial content management systems (CMSs), such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, are designed specifically for the construction of passive sites, such platforms tend to have powerful page building capability, enabling any level of HTML5/JavaScript development. Likewise, large ecosystems of vendors have evolved to enable the rapid development of sophisticated product pages without hand coding.

Likewise, commercial any commercial CMS can be used to build an authority site, although post editors in these commercial systems may not have the depth and breadth of features necessary for rapid development of hybrid content as well as deep integration with third-party content tools, such as the Adobe creative suite.


Web Heretics is the official media outlet of Mojified, a business platform for creating media outlets.