Know The Right Way to Increase Domain Authority
Whether you’re a seasoned digital marketer or new to the SEO world, 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 quantify a website’s ranking potential.
Moz Domain Authority Score Example
But what exactly is domain authority and how important is it to your SEO strategy? Domain authority isn’t just for SEO nerds, anyone looking to rank higher in search results can benefit from a more granular understanding of the site authority metrics.
In this article, I hope to demystify domain authority by answering the following questions:
- What is domain authority and how is it calculated?
- What do I need to know about domain authority?
- How to increase domain authority?
- How can I use DA in my SEO strategy?
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is a metric created by SEO software Moz to quantify a website’s likelihood of ranking in search engine results. Domain authority is on a scale of 0-100, the higher the score, the stronger the predicted ranking potential.
Curious about your own website’s domain authority score? Check your score with this free domain authority checker.
How is Moz Domain Authority Calculated?
Moz uses several factors to calculate DA, but the most important is the inbound links to your domain, also known as backlinks.
Moz gathers 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 Definitive Scoring Guide. But to keep it as simple as possible, it’s all about your backlink profile.
What is a good domain authority score?
Since domain authority is on a 100-point scale, it’s easy to categorize some scores as “good” or “bad.” But getting the perfect DA score is a near-impossible feat that only the biggest and most popular sites can achieve.
That’s why Moz emphasizes that this metric is comparative. Sites with low DA scores can still and often do rank high in search engine results.
Let’s say your website has a DA of 25. This may be low compared to millions of other sites, but if this score is higher than your competitors, you are likely to outpace them on important keywords in your industry.
In other words, a good domain authority score is higher than the domain you hope to surpass.
How to Check Domain Authority
Curious about your own website’s domain authority score? You have many options. There are only three here:
- Moz’s Domain SEO Analysis Tool
- Domain Authority Checker for Linkgraph.io
- Website Authority Checker by Ahrefs
- Domain Authority: What You Need to Know
So, what do website owners or digital marketers need to know about domain name delegation?
If your main goal is to win new customers simply through search, you don’t have to understand the ins and outs of this calculation.
However, Domain Authority has plenty of direct applications for developing a successful SEO strategy. Below is the most important information about this site authority indicator.
Domain Authority Is Not a Ranking Factor
While DA can help quantify ranking potential, it has nothing to do with Google’s ranking algorithm.
This is why newer or smaller sites with low domain authority scores can still outperform their competitors if they create high-quality, informative, fresh, and relevant content for their users.
However, some of the factors Moz uses to calculate domain authority are Google ranking factors, such as the number of linking root domains and the number of linking pages.
Therefore, there is often a positive correlation between DA scores and other SEO performance metrics such as keyword ranking, average position, and organic traffic.
Domain authority is not the only indicator of site authority
Moz’s domain authority isn’t the only site authority metric available for SEO. Other big SEO brands and keyword research tools with large link indexes have developed their metrics of authority. Some you may recognize include:
- Majestic’s citation flow
- Semrush’s Definitive Score
- Domain Rating (DR) by Ahrefs
- DR (Domain Rating) is Ahrefs’ domain authority indicator.
And because each of these brands uses its unique calculations and link indexing, your site’s score for each metric can vary widely.
For example, the Domain Ratings vs Domain Authority scatterplot below compares Ahrefs DR and Moz DA ratings for approximately 9,700 domains. The upward trend indicates a positive correlation between site authority measures.
How to Increase Domain Authority – Domain Authority vs Domain Rating
However, the data also showed that sometimes DA and DR scores in the same field can vary significantly. Domain groups with significantly lower DA scores than DR scores may be because Ahrefs considers both the quality of links and the authority of referring domains in its DR calculations.
So while DA is arguably the most widely used and authoritative metric in the SEO industry, it is by no means an absolute truth about ranking potential. It’s important to note that there are other ways to understand your site’s health and ranking potential besides DA.
Google’s PageRank is the Original Authority Metric
Google’s PageRank was the original authority metric long before domain authority existed in SEO.
Google used to show the PageRank of web pages publicly in its toolbar, but since black hat SEOs use that information to help their rankings, Google now keeps the PageRank score private.
Essentially, every time a page links to another, it passes a portion of its PageRank (or link equity). This means that pages with a lot of backlinks will pass more PageRank than others. It looks like this:
Unlike domain authority, PageRank is a ranking factor that Google relies on to promote web pages. So while Google no longer lets us know PageRank directly, site owners need to be aware that every hyperlink still passes PageRank (or link juice) throughout the Internet.
Improve domain authority and off-site SEO go hand in hand
Since domain authority calculations rely primarily on backlinks, off-page SEO strategies like link building and digital PR are the only way to boost site authority metrics like DA.
While improving on-page SEO in Google’s eyes is always a valuable effort to improve your relevance and quality, on-page optimization doesn’t directly impact your DA as backlinks do.
However, with higher quality content on your site, it may become a lot easier to gain backlinks through off-site strategies. In general, for SEO, a multidisciplinary approach can be more effective than relying on a single strategy alone.
How to Increase Domain Authority (Security)
Since DA is primarily calculated from backlinks, off-site strategies like link building are the best way to try and improve your score. But it’s not as easy as it sounds because we have no control over whether other sites choose to link to ours.
Additionally, some link-building tactics are considered “black hats,” meaning that if your site appears to be paying for backlinks or engaging in spammy linking practices, it could be penalized by Google.
But there are plenty of ways to safely increase your domain’s overall authority, thereby improving your DA score. Here are some of my favorite link-building strategies because they are both effective and Google-compliant.
List in a directory
For small and local businesses, listing your domain in online directories is a high-impact and cost-effective (under $100) way to increase your DA. Below are the 10 best directories.
Local SEO strategies like citation building are some of the most affordable growth strategies you can try.
Not only will Google gain a better understanding of the markets and niches you serve, but these links back to your website will help improve your DA score over time.
Write the content
First and foremost, focus on making your content so good that other sites will naturally discover and link to it (think E-A-T).
Write a great keyword-targeted post in the hope that bloggers or businesses writing on that topic will find your post in their research and will want to link back to your site in their posts. I say hope because if the information you provide is common sense and there is no way to prove that the author got it from your page, the less likely you are to get a citation.
However, if you share original research or thought-leader articles on the topic (something that is hard to replicate), the more likely you are to get that backlink.
You can use this method for a large number of keywords or ultra-niche topics. Be sure to spread the word on social media to get more attention.
Contribute a guest post
Contributing blog content, original research, or thought leadership to other relevant, high DA sites in your industry is also a great way to get more backlinks to your site, thereby boosting your DA.
Publishers are always on the lookout for great content, and if you provide them with that content, you’ll not only boost your brand expertise, but you’ll often get backlinks to your site in the byline and even in the body of your post.
To boost your domain authority faster, look for guest blogging opportunities in industry-specific publications related to your topic. For example, the graph below shows the topic relevance of my own branded website to one of our main competitors.
Most of our competitors’ backlinks come from business and technology-related websites. Because we wanted to elevate our domain authority above theirs, we focused on getting guest blogging opportunities from sites with the same topical relevance.4. Invest in public relations
Having a PR team can benefit businesses of any size, but for enterprise-level brands, getting links in reputable publications is key to competing with other sites with very high domain authority scores.
In terms of your overall brand awareness, news stories that don’t include links can still have some positive SEO returns, as Google learns your site’s authority through off-site signals like brand mentions. But for boosting DA in particular, dofollow links from top publications will eventually make a difference.
If you are a small to medium business without the resources of a PR team, consider signing up for Help A Reporter Out (HARO). This service connects journalists with industry experts and is a great way to gain access to high-quality networking opportunities.
Attempt to build broken links
While more advanced strategies require the use of backlink tools, broken link building can help you find linking opportunities to increase your DA score. The process is as follows:
- Use a backlink analyzer tool to find broken links on other websites.
- Create content that can replace missing resources (or identify existing content on your site).
- Contact the editor and provide your content as a substitute.
- Other Ways to Use Domain Authority in Your SEO Strategy
In addition to authority elasticity, you can use domain authority scores to develop targeted SEO campaigns. The comparative nature of DA can help you set realistic goals and measure your SEO performance.
Select keywords according to DA
When choosing the right keyword targets, DA can be a useful metric for understanding whether your site can compete with those pages that are already ranking on page one.
I recommend optimizing your pages for keywords with a keyword difficulty score less than or equal to your domain authority. For example, if you wanted to rank for the keyword “coffee subscription boxes,” you might need a DA of at least 60 to rank on the first page.
This isn’t an absolute barometer, but it can be very helpful in identifying low-competition keywords that will drive organic traffic to your site in the short term while building your domain authority over time.
Determine your SEO priorities
Because DA is a comparative metric, one of the best ways to use scores is to consider your competitors.
For example, if your DA is already higher than your competitors, high-quality content alone might get you to page one. This means your team is better off investing resources into on-page optimizations that are more affordable and can often be done in-house.
The reality is that off-site SEO is often more time, resource, and cost-intensive. If there is still a large gap between your domain authority and your competitors, an aggressive off-site strategy is imperative if you want to compete and make your website more visible on Google.
Pay attention to Google’s guidelines
While domain authority isn’t an official ranking factor (again, it’s a Moz metric), it represents two things: E-A-T and backlinks. In Backlinko’s 2022 SEO Guidelines, Brian Dean points out that Google’s quality assessment guidelines say that the creators of your primary content play a role in your rankings.
Increase domain authority and improve your rankings
In some ways, domain authority can be a bit of a status symbol in the SEO world. High DA scores are impressive and not easy to come by, but remember that your SEO success is not limited or defined by domain authority.
Still, improving DA is worthwhile because it relies on factors necessary to rank well in Google, which means more traffic to your site. To show Google that your domain is authoritative and fully trusted by other sites on the Internet, follow the steps in this article to increase your domain authority:
- list in the directory
- write great content
- Visitors post on other sites
- Invest in Public Relations
- Attempt to make a broken link
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