Search engine optimization (SEO) is a numbers and metrics game where the rules and standards change frequently. For this reason, it makes sense that we’re always looking for the next great number to help us figure out how good we are at SEO and how we compare to the competition. Domain Authority is just one metric you can watch to learn more about your search engine performance and SEO efforts. In this article, we cover:
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score that refers to the number of relevant backlinks your website receives from other reputable ones. Developed by Moz, it’s supposed to predict how likely a website is to rank on a search engine results page (SERP). The score ranges from one to 100. The higher your score, the better likelihood you have of getting a higher ranking.
Today, there are multiple companies and programs that use Authority as a tracking metric, but Moz is usually at the forefront of the conversation. This is like how Google is one of the most popular search engines and therefore is most commonly referenced in SEO conversations. Domain Authority is not a Google ranking factor and does not actually influence your SERPs. It’s merely a predictive tool to help you during website creation and optimization to get your best chance at ranking.
Domain Authority measures the predicted ranking strength of entire domains or sub-domains. In plain English, it can tell you the projected ranking for your entire website. Page Authority tells you predictions about the strength of individual website pages.
Both can be good metrics to review, depending on what SEO goals you’re trying to achieve. Page Authority can help you raise your Domain Authority overall. By itself, Page Authority can help you figure out which sections of your website could use optimization to make them better. This can help you prioritize which areas to work on first to try and raise your overall Domain Authority.
Good and bad Domain Authority scores have less to do with the actual number your website receives and more with your link profiles and your industry or market. Sites with large numbers of high-quality external links, like Google itself, have the highest Domain Authority scores. Small businesses or websites with fewer inbound links have lower scores. For that reason, it’s fair to say that yes, the higher your score, the more web traffic you can receive, and the higher your SERP ranks may be.
Moz provides a list of the Top 500 sites based on their Domain Authority. It includes a variety of popular and well-known websites like People, Investopedia, and Apple. The lowest ranking site on the list has a DA score of 92. That’s pretty high for a small or mid-sized company. The DA is supposed to tell you the ability to rank within your own competitive landscape, so it’s more important to compare your score to those of your competitors. There is no such thing as an absolute “average” score with this metric.
Some brands, typically big-name ones, are authoritative online without even trying. The keywords that naturally exist on their websites carry some of that weight. Being well known also helps to earn them a lot of backlinks. But what does that mean for smaller businesses and startups?
Because your Domain Authority really only matters in your niche, you don’t have to concern yourself with what the big names are doing, unless they’re your direct competitors. Domain Authority should only matter to you as a metric to expect how much organic traffic you may receive from search engines and tell you if there’s a chance you could do better with more optimization.
Calculations for Domain Authority rely on data from a web index of links. In 2019, Moz updated to Domain Authority 2.0 to use a machine learning model to find the best algorithm to match the index data with rankings across actual search results. Some of the calculation factors include:
There’s also speculation that link diversification, the author of the piece, and the type of content may affect DA. Moz doesn’t mention this information itself. The speculation comes from Amine Rahal, someone who has been engaging with this metric for years. Brand new sites always start with a Domain Authority of one, and it can increase as the site earns more authoritative backlinks.
Moz offers a Free Domain SEO Analysis Tool to help you check your website’s DA. Simply enter any URL into the search bar, and the program gives you the current Domain Authority score for your site. It also provides information like linking root domains, ranking keywords, and a spam score.
Image via Moz Free Domain SEO Analysis Tool
More than just providing the scores, the tool shares your site’s top pages by link based on the Page Authority algorithm and the top linking domains based on link authority. It tells you the estimated clicks for top keywords and which ones rank highest in current SERPs. Other useful information includes:
Image via Moz Free Domain SEO Analysis Tool
This tool not only gives you the Domain Authority number, but also provides insights into why that number is the way it is, what you’re doing well, and where you can improve. Though the Moz tool may be the most popular free, comprehensive one, there are other paid and free alternatives that allow you to check your Authority score, including:
Moz based Domain Authority 2.0 on machine learning calculations, so the score can fluctuate as more or different data points become available and factor into the algorithm. Because more authoritative domains take up higher slots, it’s easier to grow your score when it’s lower, such as in the 20 to 30 range, than when it’s higher, such as in the 70 to 80 range.
Since the metric can change with data updates, it’s important to use Domain Authority as a comparative metric rather than an absolute one. This means you can use it to look at where you stand against competitors at any time, but not as a basis for your eternal SEO strategy. You can come back and check from time to time to learn your new rankings. There are many potential reasons your Domain Authority may change, going either up or down, such as:
The best way to influence your Domain Authority is to improve your site’s overall SEO. Like general SEO, doing just one thing is unlikely to affect your site enough to make a big DA impact. Working repeatedly on multiple actions may be more helpful. Here are some ways to do that:
Domain Authority relies primarily on backlinks. Look for ways to add and prioritize gaining relevant ones. Quality is better than quantity. Your DA score may improve with five relevant, trustworthy links instead of 50 random ones from sources that don’t matter.
Chances are you’re already using follow links on your site and other publishers are too. These are hyperlinks that, when added to your content, tell Google you’re connecting your page to another source. The search engine then gives that other website a “point” because someone linked back to them. You can collect these points when other publishers link back to your site. Use follow links for relevant, reputable sites to help build a good backlink profile and encourage other sites to do the same with your content.
A nofollow link allows you to use a hyperlink to another place on the internet, but it doesn’t give that other site an SEO “point” for the link. You can create a nofollow link on the page or post HTML that looks like this:
<a href=”https://copypress.com”rel”nofollow”>Click Here</a>
You may use a nofollow if you have a link to a site that might be less authoritative, or if you’re linking to a competitor’s content and you don’t want to boost their SEO. You can decide when and how to use these two types of links to build your ideal backlink profile and make connections with other web publishers.
Creating great content makes it easier to get natural or organic backlinks without working with other publishers to create them. You can earn these kinds of backlinks when writers or content creators reference and link your content in their own pieces. You can also get them when people share your content through various channels. Content that may be most likely to get you good backlinks include:
Most principles of SEO and content marketing rely on focusing on what the audience wants. That’s why we often stress that you have to know who your target audience is and what they like to get the best exposure and reach for your content. If you’re creating content that the audience likes, they’re more likely to share it online with friends and followers.
Use the page authority metric to learn which of your pages can benefit from SEO attention. These are the ones you can prioritize updating and fixing first to raise your overall Domain Authority. When updating, consider replacing broken links, oversized images, and outdated statistics to make the content more relevant to the current landscape of the topic.
Identify your closest competitors and use the Domain Authority tools to look at how their sites perform. With the Moz tool, you can get all the same information for your competitors’ websites as you can get for your own, just by using their domain URL. From there, you can look at those keywords and their pages and see what they’re doing and what you could do differently.
If your competitors have a higher DA score, you can analyze page structure and keyword content to see where you can improve. You can also look to see where they get their backlinks from and research if you can get ones from the same or similar sources. If you’re looking to learn even more about your competitors’ marketing strategies, request your free content analysis from CopyPress. It can show you gaps in your keyword strategy to help you outperform other sites in your niche.
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Once you’ve identified the keywords you should target to remain competitive and provide valuable content to your target audience, contact CopyPress to learn how we can create content to support your SEO and inbound marketing efforts.
Getting your content out to as many sources as possible can help you in a variety of ways. It can contribute to brand recognition, search engine positioning, and web traffic. But all these things can increase your chances of acquiring backlinks. Consider sharing your content out to social media or putting links to certain web pages in your email newsletters. If you’re looking to engage in content syndication, start a call with CopyPress. We have relationships with quality content publishers in different niches to find the right home for your content.
Building Domain Authority is a long-term strategy that takes time to see results. Engaging in these practices so that they become second nature, and periodically checking your DA numbers, can help you use this SEO tool to its full potential and hopefully help you increase your SERP rankings.
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