Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.
Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time. Domain Authority is not a metric used by Google in determining search rankings and has no effect on the SERPs.
Every website administrator or owner knows the importance of ranking high on search engine results pages (SERP). The higher up you show up in people’s searches, the more traffic you’re going to get. This is a fact that is not just super-logical, but also unavoidable. You simply cannot hack this. Now, your rank depends to a great extent on a little something called domain authority. In this article, we’re going to explain the concept a bit closer and see what you can do to increase domain authority in order to rank higher on Google.
Domain Authority Explained
Domain authority (DA) can be defined as the relevance of a website in its specific field, niche or industry. This relevance is calculated automatically, using complex analytic algorithms. It is scored on a scale from 1 to 100, where a lower score means lower domain authority.
Domain Authority Technical Explanation
Domain Authority is based on data from our Link Explorer web index and uses dozens of factors in its calculations. The actual Domain Authority calculation itself uses a machine learning model to predictively find a “best fit” algorithm that most closely correlates our link data with rankings across thousands of actual search results that we use as standards to scale against.
Since Authority is based on machine learning calculations, your site’s score will often fluctuate as more, less, or different data points are used in the calculation — for instance, if Facebook were to acquire a billion new links, everyone’s PA and DA would drop relative to Facebook. For this reason, keep in mind that you should always use Domain Authority as a relative metric to compare against the link profiles of other sites, as opposed to an absolute value scoring the efficacy of your internal SEO efforts.Moz
What is a Good Domain Authority?
Websites with a score between 40 and 50 are considered to have an average domain authority. Sites with a DA of 40 or lower have poor domain authority, 50 to 60 is good and over 60 is excellent 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.
We won’t get into technicalities of how the DA score is actually calculated, as the concept is rather complex. We should, however, mention that, in general, domain authority encompasses four dimensions:
- Prestige of the site and/or its authors
- Quality of information on the site
- Centrality of the site and its information
- The amount of competition in the site’s particular field.
How to Check Domain Authority
Before we dig deeper into increasing domain authority, let’s see how you can find out your website’s current domain authority and then take it from there.
Domain authority, as a concept, was devised by Moz, a marketing and analytics company that also developed the tools for measuring DA. They offer a nice full suite of tools you can use to check domain authority but there are also plenty of other tools that use Moz API to offer these insights.
A very useful and well-developed DA-checking tool is Ahrefs, which is a paid service but one that returns excellent insights. The other tool we really like is Majestic, marketed as “The planet’s largest Link Index database”. It’s also a paid service with three different price tiers.
When it comes to domain authority, SEO score is of significant importance as well. To check out how your website measures up with Google, use SureOak – a professional tool that measures different aspects of your domain’s performance. Designed to help you rank higher and grow faster, SureOak offers a large number of free online SEO tools that can transform your online presence.
If you really want to work on your domain authority, you should definitely opt for one of these tools, otherwise you may not get actual, actionable insights.
How to Increase Domain Authority
Finally getting to the juicy bit of the story about domain authority, we’re now going to look into a few things everyone can do to improve their website’s domain authority.
Step 1: Build Quality Backlinks
Domain authority is all about linking. More specifically, about backlinking. You need to get backlinks, and you need to build them, and you have to pay attention to their quality.
Basically, the more backlinks you get, the better. The same goes for the ones you build. Always try to link quality websites, the ones with good or excellent domain authority. Also, make sure your links are relevant. For example, if you’re in the restaurant business, links to sites about skincare simply won’t do.
Finally, go through your links and see if any of them is bad, broken or irrelevant. You don’t want anything to do with sources that can end up damaging your domain authority.
Step 2: Improve On-Page Content
Remember that the motto “Content is King” still applies. Your website needs to have high-quality content that is linkable and therefore attractive not just to other sites but to Google crawlers as well. The logic is simple – the better your content is, the higher the chance a high-authority site will link to it. And keep in mind that good content means content that is relevant, creative, informative and well-written. And, of course, 100% original.
Step 3: Increase Internal Links
In the race to get good links from other websites, we often neglect internal linking. This is a very serious mistake since internal links are extremely powerful. They show our visitors where the relevant content is and they keep them from leaving the website due to frustration. Not to mention the technical fact that internal links help search engines index your site more easily.
Step 4: Improve Your Website Speed
Everyone hates slow-loading sites, from users to the bots search engines use to index your website. There are plenty of things you can do to improve your site speed, which will ultimately result in a lower bounce rate and a higher domain authority.
Step 5: Increase Your Social Engagement
Social signals are a major ranking factor. To get those signals, you need to get your content out on the most important and the most relevant social platforms, and to have people engage with it. By engagement, we mean likes, reposts, shares, comments and so on. Also, your site visitors have to find it extremely easy to share your content, should they feel like it. This, for one, means placing social buttons on strategic places on your pages. Also, find a way to encourage people to post comments and questions to your posts. This is one of the sure ways to increase domain authority.
Step 6: Become an Authority
This one actually requires some of the previous steps to be fully realized, especially creating quality content and having strong social engagement. In any case, the fact is that authoritative websites, with authors regarded authorities in their respective fields, simply have a higher domain authority.
Becoming an authority in your niche will not only increase your traffic significantly but it will also significantly improve the quality of links you’re getting. And that, we know, is essential for high domain authority.
Why did my Authority change?
Because Domain Authority (and, for that matter, Page Authority) is comprised of multiple metrics and calculations, pinpointing the exact cause of a change can be a challenge. If your score has gone up or down, there are many potential influencing factors including things like:
- Your link profile growth hasn’t yet been captured in our web index.
- The highest-authority sites experienced substantial link growth, skewing the scaling process.
- You earned links from places that don’t contribute to Google ranking.
- We crawled (and included in our index) more or fewer of your linking domains than we had previously.
- Your Domain Authority is on the lower end of the scoring spectrum and is thus more impacted by scaling fluctuation.
You can read more about how to interpret these (and other) fluctuations in Authority scores here.
The key to understanding Page and Domain Authority fluctuations is that these metrics don’t exist in a vacuum — they depend on many positive and negative factors so that even if a given site improves its SEO, its Authority score(s) may not always reflect it. A good metaphor to help understand why is how “best of” rankings work. Let’s look at an example:
If Singapore has the best air quality in 2015, and improves it even further in 2016, are they guaranteed to remain at #1? What if Denmark also improves its air quality, or New Zealand (which, say, had been left out of the rankings in 2015) joins the rating system? Maybe countries 2–10 all improved dramatically and Singapore has now fallen to #11, even though they technically got better, not worse. Because there are many other factors at play, Singapore’s ranking could change in spite of any action (or inaction) whatsoever on their part.
Domain Authority (and Page Authority) work in a similar fashion. Since they’re scaled on a 100-point system, after each update, the recalculations mean that Authority score of a given page/site could go down even if that page/site has improved their link quantity and quality. Such is the nature of a relative, scaled system. As such — and this is important enough that we’ll emphasize it once more — Authority scores are best viewed as comparative rather than absolute metrics.
As a metric, domain authority does have certain limitations and definitely can’t serve as the only measuring factor. Still, it’s a metric that does create more than a considerable impact and therefore should not be neglected.
In addition, as a tool for assessing the SEO potential of a website, domain authority remains high up among the factors you simply cannot afford to ignore.
Domain authority is easy to measure using one of the many available tools. It is easy to improve, with relatively little effort. It’s also something that keeps us from forgetting the ongoing importance of proper external and internal linking.
Finally, domain authority can help us see how we fare against the competitors in our niche or industry and then fix whatever needs to be fixed in order to do better.
Now that you have learned a thing or two about how to increase domain authority of your website, your website rank should improve significantly. Remember to apply these steps consistently, and good luck.