There are many buzz words that seem to pop up over and over again in the world of SEO and internet marketing. One of these phrases is domain authority.
Whenever you hear an expert talking about ranking higher on Google than your competition, domain authority always seems to come into the equation. But what is it exactly and what would be considered a high metric?
Throughout this post, I’m going to explain what we are referring to when we say domain authority, how it is measured and what kind of websites would be considered to have a high domain authority.
What Is Domain Authority?
Domain authority is the term used to describe how highly a website’s content is to rank on Google based upon the domain’s overall quality.
In the past there have been different methods of judging the quality of a website, Google’s PageRank was one example. However, the most popular measure is now Moz’s invention, which is simply called “domain authority” or DA.
Moz’s DA judges a domain based upon the number and quality of links pointing to that site as well as a few other factors, which they have not made public. Based on these factors, Moz then issues a score between 1 and 100.
New sites begin with a domain authority of just 1 and the “strongest” sites are scored closer to 100. There is more information on how Moz comes up with their domain authority scores here.
For a simplified definition, you can look at this domain authority score as a metric that predicts a website’s ability to rank its content in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The idea is new content on higher DA sites will rank faster and higher in the search results.
You can measure a site’s DA by typing it into Moz link explorer tool.
What is a High Domain Authority?
The answer is: It depends based on the competition level of the industry.
As I mentioned earlier, all new websites begin life with a DA of just 1.
As a website builds high-quality backlinks, its DA will increase over time; websites such as Wikipedia that have huge numbers of backlinks have an extremely high DA.
It is actually difficult to say what a good or bad domain authority score is. The reason being is that DA is best used as a comparative tool.
For example, a particular niche may simply be smaller and have less chance of building high-quality backlinks. This is likely to mean the sites within that niche will have a harder time building DA.
Therefore, a good DA score in that niche may be 25 whereas, in a huge niche like weight loss, a good score could be closer to 70.
Does Domain Authority Affect Google Rankings?
Google has stated in the past that it does not consider the authority of a domain as a one its ranking factors and that it doesn’t have any score like the Moz DA.
In fact, you will find many examples of lower DA websites outranking higher DA ones in the search results.
However, it is well known that your profile is a big factor in Google’s search algorithms and Moz’s domain authority is also largely based around the links pointing to your website.
Therefore, while it is not used directly by Google, DA can be used as a rough indicator of how well a site will rank in the SERPs.
How Can Domain Authority Score Be Used?
Even though Google does not consider domain authority directly as one of their ranking factors, it can certainly be used as a guideline and a comparative tool.
A good way to use it is during the research phase of your website; you can check to see how much DA might be needed to rank on the first page of Google for your target topics.
DA is also a good tool to use during your link building campaigns to assess whether it is worth pursuing a link from another website or not.
Generally, sites with a higher DA will pass on more link juice to your domain so will be more valuable.
If a website has a relatively low DA, you may not want to spend as much time and effort gaining a backlink from them.
How to Improve your Domain Authority
Even though DA is not directly considered when Google ranks your website, improving it is likely to improve your Google ranking places purely because a better DA score correlates to a better SEO-optimized website.
To improve your domain score, working on general SEO practices will do the trick. Making sure your content is high-quality, ensuring your site is mobile friendly and keeping your page-load speed fast are all things you can do to increase DA.
But the biggest determinant of your DA score is your link profile, which happens to be a big Google ranking factor too. Therefore, putting some time into building a better overall link profile (using outreach, HARO link building, or other white hat link building methods) will pay dividends.
Performing a link audit and removing or disavowing low-quality backlinks is a good place to start. Once all your lower quality links are removed, a link building campaign to concentrate on building high-quality links would be the next step.
Once you’ve taken these steps, you should see a boost in both DA score and your Google rankings.