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So if you wanted to come top for the Himalayan-varieties of Hibiscus rosasinensis, you wouldn't need much link power at all.
If at some time in the future there are many sites targeting such a phrase, then the link power would come into play and you might expect to see both powerful pages/sites with a small mention of the phrase and less well linked pages/sites with a page focussed on the phrase.
Yes, my PR2 site does come-out on top of in its small niche. But I receive comments from ordinary visitors with the Google toolbar saying that at PR2 Google doesn't consider me an "authoritative" enough in my field. I know that's naive but somehow that doesn't feel right.
I said my site was an authority site, as it's consistently number one in it's niche, been on tv and other media, PR6, hundreds of thousands of views, etc. In my mind, that makes it an authority.
The advertiser wanted their ad pulled because after "researching" my site they determined that it didn't have enough links to be considered an authority (google shows over 200, altavista closer to a thousand). And I also had an alexa rank slightly above 100,000 (which is now at 90,000).
Do I consider my site an authorty? Yeah. But there doesn't seem to be any clear definition of what makes an authority site that I've heard (though I'd like to!).
True, I don't think we could define that too easily. Teoma have worked on the problem with some success IMO.
If you compare high PageRank and low PageRank pages, I think we could say that PR is a good indicator for the general question of global public interest on the Web (i.e. across all topics).
> Topic PageRank concept is a lot better solution
And yet, so easy to game.
As far as I can see, you could manipulate topic sensitive, recursive link analysis engine with considerably fewer resources.
Though many people would disagree, I think that Google's overall balance is about as sensible as anything at present. (sandbox and 302s aside).
Taking authority as recursive link popularity (PageRank) and using it with basic on page factors (title, body) and anchor text means that for competitive phrases, people have to work quite hard to engineer the results. Of course Google have built many layers of manipulation-detection onto it. Hopefully by the time they run our of duct tape, someone will have come up with something that is sensitive to topical authority and that is hard to manipulate.
For the moment, brickwall and madmatt69 can continue to dream about higher PageRank for niche sites, or rest assured that one can achieve authority in one's topic regardless of PageRank.
So I guess it depends on whose opinion your interested in. If you want Google to recognize you as an authority site, you need to be very theme-centric - in terms of content, keywords, navigation, site/directory structure, file naming conventions, etc. You probably need zero to very low advertising, and links from educational institutions, libraries, and other similar non-commercial sites, and/or other authority sites within the field.
The way to identify an authority site is not easy. You need to look at the consistently top-ranked sites in Google for a set of keywords relevant to topic, find the backlinks (use MSN!) and cross-tabulate to find common links. This should lead you to the top of the hill :-) My assumption is that there are only a handful of designated "authorities" for any given keyword set, not dozens.
He referred to your authority-like and hub-like scores. They are looking for a pattern that makes your page/site look to the machine like other authorities or hubs might look. They are not necessarily judging whether you are actually an authority or on what you are an authority.
You very well may have the highest authority-like score in your niche, which means that the system works. You do not need an authority-like score that competes with a nobel winning physicist (unless he has some pages on his hobby of growing Hibiscus rosasinensis).
It is not a binary value where you are/are not an authority.