What Is Domain Authority (DA)?
When optimizing your website for greater online visibility, you should pay attention to its Domain Authority (DA). Developed by the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company Moz, it’s become an increasingly common performance metric used by webmasters.
Unless you’re familiar with DA, though, you may assume that it’s just another meaningless metric with little or no utility. While you can build a successful website without ever tracking this metric, DA is important for several reasons.
However, the situation is much more complicated now. Modern search algorithms take the quality of an entire website into account. Pages published on a domain that’s judged to be of high-quality gain an immediate boost in ranking capability. This in-built advantage is termed domain authority.
Link reporting services such as Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz, and others all report a similar metric to domain authority, even if they differ in name and precise methodology. However, each is a close approximation of the evaluation criteria Google is thought to use.
DA is an algorithmic-based metric that predicts the ease at which a website will rank in the search results. Moz’s algorithm applies a DA of one to 100 to each website. Websites that tend to rank higher in the search results have a higher DA than their low-ranking counterparts.
DA is based on a website’s backlink portfolio. To determine your website’s DA, Moz’s algorithm will look at your site’s backlinks. If your website has a strong and organic portfolio of backlinks, it will probably receive a high DA.
Moz calculates DA using several factors, some of which include:
- Number of inbound links
- Number of referring domains
- Authority of referring domains
- Spam Score of referring domains
You can check your website’s DA using either the Moz Link Explorer tool at moz.com/link-explorer or by downloading and installing the MozBar browser extension for Chrome. Just enter your website’s root domain, at which point the respective tool will reveal your website’s DA.
What’s a Normal DA (Domain Authority)?
A normal or average DA ranges from 30 to 40. If your website falls within this range, you should be able to rank your site with relative ease using search engine optimization (SEO). If your website has a DA of 50 or higher, you’ll be able to rank it with even greater ease.
With that said, DA is still a comparative metric, so a high DA doesn’t necessarily guarantee high search rankings. If your website’s DA is 42 but the average DA of your competitors’ websites is 50, you’ll have to step up your SEO efforts to achieve higher search rankings.
DA vs PA: What’s the Difference?
Because they are both performance metrics developed by Moz — and they both use a one to 100 scale rating — DA and Page Authority (PA) are often confused for each other.
DA and PA aren’t the same, however. DA is a measurement of how well an entire website will rank in the search results, whereas PA is a measurement of how well a page on a website will rank in the search results.
To calculate PA, Moz uses a formula similar to DA. The only difference is that PA is page-specific, whereas DA is domain-specific. Your website will only have a single DA at any given time, but it may have dozens or hundreds of different PAs. A web page with 750 backlinks from many different referring domains will likely have a higher PA than a web page with 50 backlinks from just a handful of referring domains.
How DA Affects Your Website
DA won’t affect your website’s usability. In fact, most visitors won’t check or see your website’s DA. Nonetheless, it can affect your website’s ability to rank in the search results.
All the leading search engines, including Google and Bing, use backlinks in their ranking algorithm. Each organic, nonpaid backlink is a vote of popularity. It indicates the linked website is popular enough to merit a backlink.
Therefore, search engines will scrutinize your website’s backlink portfolio as part of their ranking process. And while you can always analyze your website’s backlinks manually, checking your site’s DA is easier and less time consuming.
Using the Moz Link Explorer or MozBar browser extension, you’ll have a better understanding of your website’s backlink portfolio and the degree to which those links influence your site’s search rankings.
Ways to Increase Your Website’s DA
Don’t let a low DA restrict your website’s search rankings. Whether your website has a low, average or high DA, there are ways to increase it.
Your website’s content, or lack thereof, will affect its DA. If you rarely or never publish new content, you won’t attract many backlinks to your website. After all, webmasters create backlinks to guide their visitors to other relevant or pertinent content. To compel webmasters to link to your website, you must regularly publish new content.
Optimizing your website’s URL slugs so that they’re short and descriptive can increase your site’s DA by encouraging more webmasters to link to it. If your website uses long and confusing URL slugs, it probably won’t attract many backlinks.
Webmasters may forget the URL, or they may enter it incorrectly when trying to link to your website. By keeping your website’s URL slugs short and descriptive, more webmasters will link to your site, thus increasing its DA.
Performing on-page SEO can also increase your website’s DA. Granted, Moz’s algorithm doesn’t directly analyze on-page SEO factors to calculate DA. It focuses on backlinks instead. But when you perform on-page SEO, search engines may give your website more favorable rankings, which in turn increases its visibility and attracts more backlinks.
On-page SEO consists of the following processes:
- Creating relevant title tags and meta descriptions
- Adding image descriptions using the alt text attribute
- Structuring content with HTML headings
- Using a responsive, mobile-friendly design
- Including outbound links in content
- Optimizing for faster load times
Avoid the temptation of using black-hat techniques to artificially inflate your website’s backlink portfolio. From spamming blog comments to buying backlinks or engaging excessive reciprocal link exchanges, black-hat techniques such as these will only hurt your website’s DA.
Tracking your website’s DA is important because it allows you to gauge the ease at which your site will rank in the search results.
If your website has a high DA, you can rest assured knowing that your website is sending the right backlink signals to encourage higher search rankings. If your website has a low DA, on the other hand, you’ll have to spend more time and resources on SEO to achieve first-page rankings.
How to Leverage Domain Authority to Boost Your Google Rank
Social media may rule the current online landscape, but great search rankings are still a priority for a profitable website. Rising to the top of Google will bring a steady stream of new visitors for you to convert into long-term paying customers.
This is, of course, always a valuable addition to your advertising and other marketing efforts.
Not so long ago, it was possible to rank in Google through trickery and subterfuge, but those days are mostly over.
If you want organic traffic from today’s Google, your site needs to genuinely display the signals of quality the algorithm is looking for. One of the most important of these signals is domain authority.
Improving Your Domain Authority
- Concentrate your link building efforts on securing links from websites which have a high domain authority of their own. In linking terms, Google judges your website by the company you keep, and recommendations from authority sites carry enormous weight.
- And on the flip side, work to weed out your less valuable links from less reputable sites. Let go of the ‘every link helps’ mindset, and remove or disavow all links which have little relevance or worth to users.
- Try to encourage unlinked mentions of your domain on high-traffic sites. Citations don’t need to be linked to carry influence, and a natural profile will include plenty of examples in the mix.
- Work on attracting visitors through non-search sources such as mailing lists, offline advertising, and so on. The greater your visibility outside of search, the higher the Google algorithm will estimate your domain’s authority.
- Make quality your cornerstone. From content to user experience, accept no half measures or second best. Make your visitors happy and important metrics such as bounce rate and dwell time will be improved. Google will take strong note of these signals when evaluating your domain’s authority.
The ever-evolving Google algorithm reportedly takes over 200 factors into account when ranking a site. Many of these will be completely outside of your control, but domain authority is something you can work toward improving.
It’s not easy to manipulate, but if you aim to make your site the best in its niche, authority will naturally follow.
How to Improve Your Website’s Domain Authority (DA)
If you’re tired of spending countless hours on search engine optimization (SEO) with nothing to show for it, improving your website’s Domain Authority (DA) may help. Search engines are powered by complex ranking algorithms that evaluate hundreds of ranking signals. While DA isn’t considered a direct ranking signal, it’s intrinsically tied to SEO. By improving its DA, your website will rank more easily for your desired keywords and placements.
Overview of DA
DA is a comparative, point-based measurement of how easily a website can rank in the search results compared to other sites. It was developed by Moz, a Seattle-based digital marketing software and services provider. DA ranges from one to 100. The higher a website’s DA, the easier it is to rank.
DA is considered a comparative metric because it’s influenced by other websites. In other words, the optimization activities of other websites can affect your site’s DA. If you don’t make any improvements to your website, its DA may go down. Moz updates DA scores about once or twice a month.
You can check your website’s DA using Moz’s Link Explorer tool or its Mozbar extension for the Chrome web browser. Keep in mind, DA is a site-wide metric, meaning it applies to all pages. Your website’s homepage, for instance, will show the same DA as its lower-level pages. Moz offers a separate metric to measure the ranking ability of individual pages. Known as Page Authority (PA), it shows the ranking power of your website’s individual pages. Both DA and PA are displayed in Link Explorer and Mozbar.
Create Impeccable Content
To improve your website’s DA, create impeccable content that’s unique and valuable to visitors. Content affects visitor engagement. If your website has substandard content consisting of poorly written articles or blog posts, visitors will spend less time engaging with it. Moz’s proprietary algorithm is designed to look at visitor engagement, and it will respond to poor engagement by lowering by your website’s DA.
With impeccable content, your website will have stronger visitor engagement. Visitors will spend time browsing and interacting with it, which should prompt Moz’s algorithm to increase your website’s DA. Impeccable content can also attract backlinks, which Moz’s algorithm uses to calculate DA.
Get Socially Active
Increasing your website’s social media marketing activities can improve its DA. For a higher DA, cultivate a following on all the major social media networks by posting high-quality content. As its popularity on social media increases, so will your website’s DA.
Like Google’s algorithm, Moz’s algorithm evaluates social media-related signals. If a social media post generates hundreds of likes and shares, Moz’s algorithm will identify it as being high quality. Moz’s algorithm will see that the high-quality post was published by your website’s brand, so it may raise your site’s DA.
Acquire Backlinks From Many Different Domains
The number of unique domains that link to your website can affect its DA. Moz’s algorithm doesn’t particularly care how many total backlinks your website has. Rather, it’s most influenced by your website’s number of linking domains.
You may acquire 50 new backlinks, but if they all originate from the same domain, they probably won’t raise your website’s DA. Acquiring 50 new backlinks from 50 domains, on the other hand, will have a far greater impact. A high number of linking domains shows Moz’s algorithm that your website is popular, so it can improve your site’s DA.
Target High-DA Websites for Backlinks
DA uses a similar formula to Google’s PageRank system that involves passing authority down a metaphorical pipeline. When another website links to your site, it will pass down some of its authority. Your website will receive this authority, resulting in a boost to its DA.
Some websites, however, have more authority to pass down than others. A website with a 50 DA, for example, will have more authority than a website with a 10 or 20 DA. Therefore, acquiring backlinks from high-DA websites is useful for improving your own site’s DA. The high-DA backlinks will pass down more authority, encouraging a higher DA for your website.
Keep Your Domain
Avoid the temptation of switching your website’s domain. As a site-wide metric, DA follows your website’s domain and not its individual pages. If you move your website to a new domain, you’ll have to start from scratch to rebuild its DA.
You can preserve some of your website’s DA when changing its domain by using 301 redirects. Not to be confused with 302 redirects, 301 redirects denote a permanent change of location. They will pass some of the authority from your old domain to your new domain, allowing your website to retain some of its DA.
Wear a White Hat
Using white-hat optimization methods can encourage a higher DA. Optimization methods, of course, are often classified as white hat or black hat, depending on whether they are allowed by search engines. Search engines allow the use of white hat methods, but they prohibit the use of black hat methods.
Even though they are prohibited by search engines, some webmasters use black hat methods to try and manipulate their website’s rankings. Some of them spam blogs with link-embedded comments. Other webmasters buy backlinks. Regardless, if you use these or other black hat optimization methods, your website’s DA may suffer. A high DA requires the use of white hat methods that aren’t prohibited by search engines.
Moz has refined its DA algorithm over the years to combat black hat SEO. It’s now able to detect the use of black hat optimization methods, and Moz’s algorithm leverages this data when calculating DAs. If you use black hat methods to optimize your website, Moz’s algorithm may give it a lower DA.
DA is a metric developed by Moz that represents how easily a website can rank in the search results. Like search engines’ ranking algorithms, it looks at many signals. DA is influenced by content, backlinks, social media marketing and spam-related signals. By covering these areas with a comprehensive SEO strategy, you can improve your website’s DA.
Can Social Media Be Used Effectively to Increase Domain Authority (DA)?
Domain Authority is an SEO standard invented by Moz to help webmasters gauge their website’s influence on the internet. They calculate ranks based on the quantity and quality of a website’s backlinks. This motivates webmasters to promote their websites in any way possible to anchor their links on other high-ranking sites.
Do-follow backlinks are what many marketers desire when trying to increase the rank of their website or webpage on Moz. Since social media websites typically restrict links as no-follow links, many don’t bother with social media to influence the ranking algorithm. Although this is entirely true, there are still indirect means of boosting one’s Moz rank if the social media page has quite a lot of notoriety.
Here are some hypothetical situations in which social media can be useful for DA:
- Faster Search Engine Indexing
The most annoying aspect of publishing a blog post that you’ve put your heart and soul into is when Google doesn’t even bother to crawl it. One hidden feature of publishing to popular social media websites is the fact that Google will crawl these links with a higher priority, especially if there is an existing following on the social media account.
- Attracting New Visitors
Getting your content out to different corners of the internet is how you can expose your website to a new audience. Posting on different Google+ communities, Sub-Reddits, or lesser known social media sites can bring unexpected amounts of visitors that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Opening up your website and brand to new horizons is made easy with social media. Don’t think about submitting your content to social media pages as a way rack up easy views, but rather an opportunity to network with people. Perhaps your blog post or web application will get noticed by a Youtube star or the owner of a large blog. This is how you will organically obtain guests posts, backlinks, and large-scale brand recognition.
- Engaging Your Audience
Both Moz and Google prefers to rank websites that are exploding with activity. Engaging your audience on a daily basis with updates and discussions is a great way to create buzz. It will also allow for older subscribers to revisit your website to check out fresh content
- Brand Awareness
Sharing on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and other social platforms is how your brand can spread as if it were peer pressure. Producing interesting content offering unique services is how to grab the attention of users so that they may subscribe to your website. The buzz created by brand awareness will certainly increase mentions on other websites and blogs, which will certainly help with your MOZ rank.
Of course, social media is still just a small aspect of your website’s marketing strategy. Improving your overall digital presence is becoming a more complicated process and the MOZ ranking system only shows a superficial part of it. Focusing on the correct niche and the right target audience is how you can send viewers down the sales funnel, increasing your revenue. Also, keep in mind that artificially boosting your website’s social media or MOZ rank will be detrimental in the long term, so don’t even consider it.
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- 13 September 2020
Lukasz Zelezny, a London living SEO Evangelist and conference speaker. Was working for FindAProperty, PrimeLocation, ThomsonReuters, HomeAway and others. I am offering my affordable SEO London Agencies substitute service.
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