Even the best on-page SEO efforts aren’t enough to rank on Google. Today, the search engine accounts for over 200 factors when it determines a SERP’s pecking order, so it’s nearly impossible to optimize your website and content for each of its ranking factors.
But even though you can’t optimize for all of Google’s ranking factors, you can still optimize for one of the search engine’s most important ranking factors domain authority.
From Google’s perspective, domain authority is like your website’s reputation as a thought leader. The search engine uses your domain authority to make sure you can provide the highest-quality content about your specific subject matter. If you do, you’ll have good domain authority and Google will boost your content’s rankings. If you don’t, you’ll have bad domain authority and they won’t rank your content.
Before we dive deeper into how domain authority impacts your rankings and how you can improve your authority score, though, let’s go over what it exactly is.
To calculate websites’ domain authority, Moz accounts for over 40 factors, like root domains and total number of inbound links. Websites with a large amount of high-quality inbound links, like Wikipedia, have the highest domain authority. New websites with little to no inbound links typically have a domain authority of one.
Moz’s domain authority scale is also logarithmic, which means when your domain authority is higher, it’s harder to improve your authority score. For instance, increasing your domain authority from 70 to 80 is more challenging than increasing your domain authority from 20 to 30.
Additionally, your website’s domain authority can decrease, even if you don’t lose any backlinks, when a high-authority website, like Facebook, receives an influx of backlinks.
Since Moz can’t give the highest-authority websites a domain authority score over 100, they keep their score at 100 while lowering other sites’ domain authority. In other words, your website’s domain authority is relative to the domain authority of the highest authority website
What is a “good” Domain Authority?
Generally speaking, sites with a very large number of high-quality external links (such as Wikipedia or Google.com) are at the top end of the Domain Authority scale, whereas small businesses and websites with fewer inbound links may have a much lower DA score. Brand-new websites will always start with a Domain Authority score of one.
Because Domain Authority is meant to be a predictor of a site’s ranking ability, having a very high DA score shouldn’t be your only goal. Look at the DA scores for the sites you’re directly competing with in the SERPs and aim to have a higher score than your competitors. It’s best used as a comparative metric (rather than an absolute, concrete score) when doing research in the search results and determining which sites may have more powerful/important link profiles than others. Because it’s a comparative tool, there isn’t necessarily a “good” or “bad” Domain Authority score.
What is a “good” Domain Authority?
Domain Authority (DA)is measured on a logarithmic scale from 1-100. Because it’s logarithmic, there’s a ton of sites with low DA, relatively few sites with mid-range DA, and very few sites with high DA. To put that in real terms:
Buzz Feed has a DA of 91 (very strong)
Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund has a DA of 34 (let’s be generous and call him a minor celebrity)
Denver Dachshund Rescue is DA 17 (pretty typical for a small local business)
It’s important to point out that DA aggregates a bunch of different factors, in trying to approximate a search engine algorithm as closely as possible. Let’s take a look at some of the bigger factors here.
Links. There are two types of links: good links and bad links. Good links include editorial links to your site, provided as references from articles, attributions for content, etc. Bad links, however, lower your DA and limit your ability to rank.
A technically sound website. What does this mean? SO MANY THINGS. A few of them include a site that loads quickly (with compress images and utilizing image caching), has no 404s(dead pages that haven’t been redirected) and is full of rich, original content.
Domain age. Yes, older sites tend to rank better. Not a whole lot you can do about that one.
How do improve your domain authority?
Because of the complexities behind DA scores, there isn’t really a definitive level that defines a good or bad score. However, if you want to get ahead of the competition, then you should aim to get a higher score than their domains.
There are three principle ways to do this.
Audit your link profile
Create compelling content
Earn high-quality links
1. Auditing your link profile.
A link profile is a list of all the backlinks to your website. To make your score higher, Google prefers it if the links are from high authority sites. So, it doesn’t matter if your links are about fashion or asking “what is a fax number?” they should be from more trusted sites. Using an SEO tool will help you figure out which links are healthy and which ones should be changed.
2. Create engaging content.
Engagement metrics, such as bounce rate or organic traffic, can make a big difference to your score. Therefore, to boost your rating, you need to create quality content to attract people to your site and keep them there.
3. Earn high-quality backlinks.
Doing this is an essential part of increasing your DA score. You can use something called ‘the skyscraper method’ to do this effectively. It is a content marketing method that involves assessing the content of your competitors and ensuring yours is better. That way, it’s more likely to earn more valuable backlinks.
You can’t achieve a high Domain Authority score overnight. But with research, trial and error, and effort, in due course, it will improve. And when it does, you will have a crucial edge over your competition.
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