The internet is still like the wild frontier—there are websites that act as if they’re factual when they’re actually parody or comedy sites, biased, or otherwise untruthful.
Then, there are also legitimate websites run by those with true knowledge of the things you want to know about, such as digital marketing agencies (like us at Rock Content) with experience in their fields.
Most authoritative sources come from well-known professionals and experts, medical facilities, government agencies, or educational institutions.
In this blog, you’ll learn:
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How to Recognize an Authoritative Source
There are three types of widely accepted authoritative sources. They include:
- Recognized sources, such as .edu and .gov websites
- Scholarly sources, including publicly accessible databases like Google Scholar and ScienceDirect
- Credible news sources, such as Bloomberg and The New York Times (but keep in mind that news sources may be biased)
Where to Look for an Authoritative Source
Now that you know what an authoritative source is and have an idea of the types that exist, you need to start looking for them. How do you find them, though?
Use this Google search tip
If you use Google, there is a helpful trick that can assist you when looking for content on .edu, .gov, or .org sites. Type in your search term followed by “site:.gov” or “site:.edu.”
By doing this, you’re telling Google that you only want .gov or .edu websites in your results.
Search for an exact match
Another option that can help you get access to an authoritative source involves going directly to a source you trust. For example, maybe you’re writing content on a piece containing medical information.
You could type in “Cleveland Clinic” and visit the hospital’s website to explore medical content related to your marketing work.
Similarly, you can seek exact matches for journals or educational institutes as needed. Just remember, if you go directly to a source, you do need to be sure that it is an authority on the subject.
Look for a specific domain name
Similar to searching for an exact match, looking for a specific domain name can help. For example, imagine that you’re trying to learn more about search engine optimization and are familiar with Semrush.
Typing in “Semrush.com” will take you directly to the company’s website. The same is true for us at RockContent.com.
If you don’t know which domain name to look for, then you’ll want to choose a different option, such as searching for a specific organization or using a keyword to find related content.
Head to the library
Did you know that libraries often have digital sources ready and waiting for you? The nice thing about libraries is that they filter through content, like digital books, on your behalf.
They’ll have them arranged into categories including fiction, nonfiction, self-help, and so on.
Libraries also tend to provide access to databases like EBSCO and JSTOR, which are normally paid services if you try to access them from home.
With your library card, you may be able to access the content you need (including academic journals) with the knowledge that these are authoritative sources.
Skip Poor Sources and Try the CRAAP Test
Now, on top of being able to find authoritative sources, you should be able to identify poor sources and avoid them. Here is a short list of source types that you don’t want to use for any content that requires authoritative sources:
- User-generated encyclopedias like Wikipedia
- Domains not affiliated with a specific authoritative brand
- Google essay-sharing websites
- Biased news websites (yes, that includes Fox News, CNN, and any outlets affiliated with political parties)
These are just a few types of sources that may not be suitable for your research. Still not sure?
Try the CRAAP test.
What is the CRAAP test?
The CRAAP test is a way to tell if a website is authoritative or not. CRAAP stands for:
- Is it current?
- Is it relevant?
- Who’s the authority?
- Is it accurate?
- What is the purpose or point of view of the website?
For example, it’s often important to check how recently a website was updated. If you’re preparing to do PPC marketing in 2024, for example, details about Google’s platform from 2019 aren’t likely to help. However, data from 2023 would be useful.
You also need to think about the relevancy of the site. Where does it appear in search results, and who was the site made for?
After that, look at the authority. Who is the author, and what gives them authority? Are they a celebrity, a doctor with credentials, or a well-known brand?
Accuracy matters, but it may be hard to tell if a site is accurate. To find information that you can trust, look for peer-reviewed sources as well as articles with links to reputable sources.
Finally, look at the site’s point of view. Who is the intended audience, and is the content biased? What is the site’s purpose? Informational sites tend to be trustworthy, while opinion and propaganda sites are much less reliable.
Let Our Team of Writers Find Authoritative Sources for Your Content
There are many sources, both authoritative and not, on the internet today.
Some misrepresent themselves and make it hard to determine what information you should believe or use in your research.
With the CRAAP test and some guidance, you can build content that is trustworthy.
We know that doing research and putting together content can be time-consuming.
Fortunately, WriterAccess has thousands of writers who possess industry experience and know how to help find authoritative sources for your content.
Try WriterAccess for 14 days for free, and see how easy it is for your site to become an authority in your industry.