How to build Domain Authority (DA) for SEO
Domain authority is a term you may not be familiar with if you’re new to search engine optimisation (SEO), and though it sounds pretty self-explanatory, it’s a little more technical than it appears. However, if you want to see your website climb Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs), you’ll need to get to grips with the concept. Read on to learn everything you need to know about building your domain authority.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is simply a score used to predict how well a website will rank on search engines. This metric was developed by leading SEO and digital marketing authority Moz, based on a scale from 0 to 100, where a higher number corresponds to better domain authority.
It’s also worth noting that domain authority is not the same as page authority (PA), another Moz ranking metric. While PA predicts how one specific page will rank, DA predicts the ranking ability of the site as a whole.
Why is DA important for SEO purposes?
First and foremost, remember that domain authority is a predictor, and therefore will NOT directly impact how a site ranks. Google does not use this metric itself, which means DA has no influence over a site’s actual SERP performance.
However, don’t knock its value just yet. Domain authority is particularly useful as a comparative tool, giving you an idea of how your website stacks up against those of your competitors in Google’s eyes. For example, if you have a DA of 50 and a business rival’s is 40, this indicates that you’re likely to outrank them in SERPs. However, if your website has a lower DA, this suggests lower ranking abilities corresponding to reduced visibility and traffic.
You could also take domain authority into account during your link outreach efforts, or in other words, when looking for platforms to publish links to your own website. Acquiring a high number of inbound links is essential if you want your website to rank highly in SERPs, but the quality of links is also important. Examining the DAs of different platforms gives you a sense of how valuable Google considers them to be, and placing links on the sites with better scores will likely have the most positive SEO impact.
This can be applied to the terms you want to rank for as well. When you type your desired keywords into Google, you’ll know they’re probably not worth targeting if the SERPs are dominated by websites with significantly higher DAs than yours. However, if you and your ranking competitors have similar DAs, you’re more likely to rank well for this keyword, so pursuing these should prove far more fruitful.
How is domain authority calculated?
Moz calculates domain authority using its own unique algorithm which takes over 40 different factors into account. As the company hasn’t publicly declared all these elements, you can’t actively ensure that your website ticks all the boxes.
However, we do know that the number and quality of inbound links to your website — its link profile — is taken into account. We’re also aware that Moz calculates domain authority using two of their other tools: MozRank and MozTrust. The former scores pages on a scale of 0 to 10 to indicate how many links point towards it, while the latter measures how trustworthy those links are. For example, links from universities and government institutions will be considered more credible than personal blog links, and a page’s MozTrust score will be boosted accordingly.
How do I check my domain authority?
Moz includes a domain authority checker as part of its Link Explorer tool. Simply input your website address and hit ‘analyse’ to see your DA. This feature is also included in the MozBar Google Chrome extension that can be added to your browser.
What is a good domain authority?
Some SEO experts have hypothesized that a DA score of 40 to 50 is average, between 50 and 60 is good, and over 60 is excellent. However, in reality, it’s not all that productive to deem domain authority ratings as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
If you have only recently launched your website, don’t be disheartened by your low score — as brand-new sites always start with a domain authority of one. Moreover, it’s important to remember that the DA scale is relative, so there will always be fluctuations. As Moz explains: “If Facebook were to acquire a billion new links, everyone’s PA and DA would drop relative to Facebook”. This means that your score won’t necessarily reflect your SEO efforts, which accounts for why domain authority is best used comparatively. Forget about the value of the number itself, and instead focus on how it measures up to other websites, and remember: Your aim is to have a higher DA than your competitors.
How can I increase my domain authority?
When attempting to boost your domain authority, bear in mind that Moz uses a logarithmic scale. In simple terms, this means that there isn't an equal distance between each number, so it’s much easier to increase your score from, say, 20 to 30 than it is from 70 to 80. Therefore, if you’re starting with a low score, you should be able to increase domain authority more quickly.
Clean up your link profile
Though we know little about how exactly Moz calculates DA, it’s clear that links play a significant role. Therefore, your first move to improve domain authority should be examining your current link profile by conducting an audit. You can do this using a backlink checker like SEOMoz or Ahrefs, which will give you an overview of all the inbound links to your website. Low-quality, low-relevance links (or spam) is not valued by Google, and your website could even be penalised if Google suspects you’re part of a prohibited link scheme that intends to deceitfully manipulate how a page ranks in SERPs. Disavowing unwanted links will give you a healthier link profile, and a higher DA.
Obtain more high-quality links
With all the bad links gone, you can focus on acquiring new inbound ones from high-quality platforms. Of course, this is easier said than done, but these links carry critical ranking power which makes them the most effective means of building domain authority. You could use an online tool like HARO to reach out to journalists and provide industry-specific knowledge in exchange for a link, while SEO blogger Neil Patel recommends using Q&A websites like Quora to gain quality backlinks. Simply search for questions relevant to your field and write a helpful answer including a natural link to your content.
Create quality content
It will be much easier to attract quality links when your own website features amazing content that users want to engage with. If you publish well-written guides and blogs for example, it’s more likely that people will find your site, as Google will consider these posts useful resources. As a result, both your rankings and domain authority will improve. Comprehensive content which answers users’ questions always brings the best results.
Improve your holistic SEO strategy
While improving domain authority is undoubtedly useful for SEO purposes, remember the relationship works both ways. The best means of building your site’s DA is a holistic and effective approach to SEO. Consider on- and off-site elements such as meta tags—the titles and descriptions that appear in SERPs—as optimising these will make it easier for users and search engines to process the information. Making adjustments to site speed, navigation and user experience could also go a long way in improving your SEO. As these factors play a significant role in a successful website strategy, it’s a no brainer that your efforts will be reflected in your site’s DA.