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Building an authoritative resource is just One of the ways for laying down a foundation for a link-able site. What falls under authoritative?
On good site design
There are many sites with ugly design in DMOZ. But they usually bring value in other ways that transcend their design. While editors may say that a good design is not part of their criteria, I know from experience that a good design can help convince an editor that you are serious about your design. If it can help impress an editor, then it will surely convince a potential linker.
All of the above will help get you into DMOZ. But if your site isn't DMOZ-ready can you really expect to get free one-way inbound links from webmasters?
[edited by: martinibuster at 1:13 am (utc) on June 18, 2007]
So, in other words, a pig-ugly design can sometimes be a positive element in that it is evident that all "care" has been spent on the written content.
And, of course, a nice design can also be an element of "care".
Where it often becomes apparent that no "care" has been expended is when there is a generic business design created with vacuous stock images, meaningless textual babble, and a form as sole method of contact.
* Original Content (it was only original when the first author penned it... everything since then is a repackaging of the same basic information)
* Useful Content (useful to who... the site owner, the viewer, the buyer, the seller, the industry, the merchant.)
* Does not replicate anything else on the web (that is a very big ask... in this day and age, anything that is worth adding into a website has almost certainly been included into another site, blog, forum etc...)
In the travel sector, you will usually find each state and region has a big, official govt site. I consider them as authority sites, as I do with much of Wikipedia and Wikitravel. But do they offer unique content that does not replicate anything else? Not even close... they repackage what is, and has been, available on other sites long before they came into existence.
MB.... I'm playing devil's advocate with the bait you have dangled in the water with this post... and for every opinion I have, there will others who totally agree/disagree.
As an industry we have been trotting out "useful content" and "original content" for years as the holy grail for websites. They remain just as much a moveable target now as ever before and will continue to mean different things to different people.
Successful websites (authority if you will) get that way because they fill a market need...and that will probably be because they package their information and services in such a way that it impresses the viewer. The information provided can be found in lots of other places, its just not packaged as well, or used as effectively, as on the authority site.
As long as editors does not get biased its all good.