Whether you’re an experienced digital marketer or brand new to the world of SEO, you’ve probably heard of Domain Authority (DA). The DA metric has a long history in the SEO industry and many SEO strategists use it to understand and measure the ranking potential of websites.
But what exactly is Domain Authority and how important is it to your own SEO strategy? Domain Authority isn’t just for SEOs, and anyone looking to rank higher in search results can benefit from a more nuanced understanding of this Site Authority metric.
In this article, I hope to demystify domain authorities by answering the following questions:
- What is Domain Authority and how is it calculated?
- What do I really need to know about Domain Authority?
- How can I increase domain authority?
- How can I use DA in my SEO strategy?
What is Domain Authority?
Domain Authority is a metric created by Moz, an SEO software, that measures how likely a website is to rank in search engine results. Domain Authority on a scale of 0-100 with higher scores predicts more significant ranking potential.
Are you curious about the Domain Authority Score for your own website? Check your score with this free domain authority checker.
How is Moz Domain Authority calculated?
There are several factors that Moz uses to calculate DA, but the most significant is inbound links pointing to your domain, also known as backlinks.
Moz collects this information from its constantly updated Link Explorer index. Sites with more backlinks and unique referring domains are more likely to have higher DA scores.
You can read all about the math behind domain authority in Moz’s Authority Scoring Guide. But to keep it as simple as possible, it’s all about your backlink profile.
What is a Good Domain Authority score?
Because domain authority is on a 100-point scale, it can be tempting to categorize certain scores as “good” or “bad.” But achieving a perfect DA score is an almost impossible feat achieved only by the biggest, most popular websites
This is why Moz emphasizes that this metric is comparative. Websites with low DA scores can still and often rank high in search engine results.
Let’s say your website has a DA of 25 It may be low compared to millions of other websites, but if that score is higher than your competitors, you’re likely to outrank them for important keywords in your industry.
In other words, a good domain authority score is higher than the domains you expect to outrank.
How to check Domain Authority
Interested in domain authority scores for your own website? You have many options. Here are just three:
- Moz’s domain SEO analysis tool
- Linkgraph.io’s Domain Authority Checker
- Ahref’s website authority checker
Domain Authority: what you really need to know
So what do site owners or digital marketers really need to know about Domain Authority?
If your main goal is to generate new customers from search alone, understanding the ins and outs of this calculation is not mandatory However, domain authority has many direct applications to building a successful SEO strategy. Here are the most important things to understand about this site authority metric
1. Domain Authority is not a ranking factor
While DA can help measure ranking potential, it plays no part in Google’s ranking algorithm.
This is why new or small websites with low domain authority scores can still outperform competitors if they create high-quality, informative, fresh, and relevant content for users.
However, some of the factors that Moz uses to calculate domain authority are Google ranking factors, such as the number of linking root domains and the number of linking pages. As a result, there is often a positive correlation between DA scores and other SEO performance indicators such as keyword ranking, average position, and organic traffic.
2. Domain Authority is not the only site authority metric
Moz’s Domain Authority isn’t the only site authority metric available for SEO. Other major SEO brands and keyword research tools, including major link indexes, have developed their own authority metrics. Some you may recognize include:
- Majestic’s quote flow
- Scores of authorities in Semrush
- Ahref’s Domain Rating (DR)
And since each of these brands uses its own unique calculations and link indexes, your website’s score for each metric can vary widely.
For example, the Domain Rating vs. Domain Authority scatter plot below compares the Ahrefs DR and Moz DA scores of nearly 9,700 domains. The upward trend shows that the site authority metrics have a positive correlation with each other.
However, the data also show that there are times when DA and DR scores for the same domain can differ widely. Groups of domains with DA scores may be significantly lower than DR scores because Ahrefs considers both link quality and domain referring authority in its DR calculations.
So while DA is arguably the most used authority metric in the SEO industry, it is by no means the absolute truth of ranking potential. It’s important to note that there are other ways to understand your website’s health and ranking potential beyond DA.
3. Google’s PageRank is the original authority metric
Long before Domain Authority came onto the SEO scene, Google’s Page Rank was the original authority metric.
Google used to display the PageRank of web pages publicly in its toolbar, but because black-hat SEOs use that information to help them rank, Google now keeps PageRank scores under lock and key.
Basically, every time a page links to another, it moves along a portion of its PageRank (or link equity). This means that pages with lots of backlinks will pass along higher PageRank than others. It looks something like this:
Unlike Domain Authority, PageRank is actually a ranking factor that Google relies on when promoting web pages. So even though Google no longer gives us direct insight into PageRank, site owners need to understand that every hyperlink still travels along the PageRank (or link juice) across the Internet.
4. Improving Domain Authority & off-page SEO go hand-in-hand
Since domain authority calculations rely primarily on backlinks, off-page SEO techniques like link building and digital PR are really the only way to improve site authority metrics like DA.
While improving on-page SEO will always be a worthwhile effort to improve your relevance and quality in Google’s eyes, on-page optimizations won’t directly affect your DA-like backlinks.
However, with high-quality content on your website, earning backlinks through off-site strategies will likely become easier. As with SEO in general, a multidisciplinary approach can be more effective than relying on a single strategy on its own.
How to increase Domain Authority (safely)
Since DA is primarily calculated through backlinks, off-site techniques like link building are the best way to try to improve your score. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, because we have no control over whether other websites want to link to us or not.
Also, some link-building techniques are considered “black hat,” meaning your website may be penalized by Google if it appears to be paying for backlinks or engaging in spammy link practices.
But there are plenty of ways to safely increase your domain’s overall authority and, in turn, your DA score. Below are some of my favorite link-building strategies because they’re both effective and Google-friendly.
1. Get listed in directories
For small and local businesses, listing your domain across online directories is a high-impact and cost-effective (under $100) way to increase your DA. Here are the top 10 directories to get you started
Local SEO strategies like citation building are some of the most affordable growth strategies you can try. Not only will Google better understand the markets and areas you serve, those links back to your website will help increase your DA score over time.
For more help with local SEO, visit LocaliQ Marketing Lab’s free local SEO course
2. Write great content
En primer lugar, concéntrese en hacer que su contenido sea tan bueno que otros sitios lo descubren y lo enlacec de forma natural (piense en E-A-T). Escriba una excelente publicación orientada a las palabras clave que están clasificadas y un blogger o empresa que quiera escribir sobre este tema descubrirá su publicación en su investigación y, con suerte, estará vinculada a su sitio en su publicación. Digo con suerte porque si la información que has proporcionado es de conocimiento común y no hay forma de demostrar que el escritor obtuvo esta información de tu página, es menos probable que obtengas una cotización.
Pero si compartes una investigación original o un artículo de liderazgo intelectual sobre el tema (algo difícil de replicar), es más probable que obtengas este enlace de retroalimentación. Puede adoptar este enfoque para palabras clave de gran volumen o temas de gran nicho. Solo asegúrate de promocionarlo en las redes sociales para atraer más atención.
3. Contribute guest posts
Contribuir con contenido de blog, investigación original o liderazgo intelectual a otros sitios web relevantes con un alto DA en su industria también es una excelente manera de obtener vínculos de retroceso a su sitio web y, por lo tanto, aumentar su DA.
Los editores siempre buscan contenido excelente y, si les proporcionas este contenido, no solo mejorarás tu experiencia con la marca, sino que muchas veces obtendrás un enlace a tu sitio web en la empresa, o incluso en el cuerpo de la publicación. .
Para elevar su autoridad de dominio más rápido, busque oportunidades de blogs invitados en publicaciones específicas de la industria que tengan relevancia para la suya. Por ejemplo, el siguiente cuadro muestra la relevancia real del sitio web de mi marca en comparación con uno de nuestros principales competidores.
The majority of our competitor’s backlinks come from websites related to Business and Technology. Because we want to elevate our Domain Authority to be higher than theirs, we focus on earning guest blogging opportunities from websites with the same topical relevance.
4. Invest in public relations
Having a PR team can benefit any size business, but for enterprise-level brands, earning links in reputable publications is really key to competing against other websites with high domain authority scores.
In terms of your overall brand awareness, press coverage that doesn’t include a link can still have some positive SEO returns because Google looks at off-site signals like brand mentions to understand your website’s authority. But specifically for increasing DA, dofollow links from top-level publications will ultimately have an impact.
If you’re a small or medium-sized business that doesn’t have the resources for a PR team, consider signing up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO). This service connects journalists with industry experts and can be a great way to earn high-quality linking opportunities.
5. Try broken link building
Although a more advanced technique requires the use of backlink tools, broken link building can help you find link opportunities to improve your DA score. The process is as follows:
- Use a backlink analyzer tool to find broken links on other websites.
- Create content that can serve as a replacement for the missing resource (or identify existing content on your website).
- Contact the editor and offer your content as a replacement.
Other ways to use Domain Authority in your SEO strategy
Beyond an authority flex, you can also use Domain Authority scores to develop a highly-targeted SEO campaign. The comparative nature of DA can help you set realistic goals and benchmark your own SEO performance.
1. Choose keywords according to DA
When it comes to choosing the right keyword targets, DA can be a useful metric for knowing whether or not your website can realistically compete with those pages already ranking on page one.
I recommend optimizing your web pages for keywords with a Keyword Difficulty score less than or equal to your Domain Authority. For example, if you want to rank for the keyword “coffee subscription boxes,” it will likely take at least a DA of 60 to rank on the first page.
This is not an absolute barometer, but it can be very helpful for identifying lower-competition keywords that will bring your website organic traffic in the short term while you build up your Domain Authority over time.
2. Identify your SEO priorities
Because DA is a comparative metric, one of the best ways to use the score is to think about your competition.
For example, if your DA is already higher than your competitors, only high-quality content will get you to the first page. This means your team would be better off investing your resources in on-page optimizations, which are more cost-effective and can often be done in-house.
The reality is, off-site SEO is usually more time, resource and cost-intensive. If there is still a significant gap between your domain authority and your competitors, being aggressive with your off-site strategy is a must if you want to compete and make your website more visible on Google.
3. Pay attention to Google’s guidelines
Increase Domain Authority, improve your ranking
In some ways, domain authority can feel a bit like a status symbol in the world of SEO. Really high DA scores are impressive and not easy to get, but remember, your SEO success is not limited or defined by your domain authority.
Still, improving DA is worthwhile because it depends on the factors needed to rank well in Google, and ranking well in Google means more traffic to your site. To show Google that your domain is authentic and well-trusted by other websites on the Internet, follow the steps covered in this post to increase your domain authority:
- List in directory
- Write great content
- Guest posts on other sites
- Invest in public relations
- Try broken link-building