If you’re blogging, you might be wondering how you can make your site stand out among the literal billions of other websites out there.
For many, search engine optimization is the answer. Although it sounds simple in theory, SEO has lots of moving parts that you need to attend to. One of those is domain authority.
If you’re new to SEO, you’re probably asking, “What is domain authority?” More than that, though, you want to know how it can help your site get the recognition and traffic it deserves.
This guide is here to help. It will walk you through the basics of domain authority and why it’s so important. Then, you’ll learn a few tips to start improving your domain authority today.
What Is Domain Authority?
Domain authority is one of many metrics you can use to keep track of your site’s ability to rank. What is it exactly?
You can think of domain authority as a scorecard for how well your site stacks up against your competitors. The ranking was developed by the SEO company Moz. It’s designed to work within Google’s PageRank algorithm.
In essence, DA provides you with a metric you can use to predict where you’re ranking in the search engine results. The formula considers a few different factors, then assigns your site a score from 1 to 100. A score of 100 is the best rank, while 1 indicates the worst score you can have.
The Factors Involved in DA
Your DA score considers a few different factors. These are:
- Linked root domains
- Total number of links
Given that at least two of these factors are proprietary, you might not put much stock in domain authority. Keep in mind, though, that domain authority works within Google’s PageRank algorithm.
Google is notoriously tight-lipped about how it decides page ranks. It’s fairly common knowledge that there are more than 200 factors involved in determining a page’s SERP ranking. The domain authority score can give you some insight into how your site is stacking up against competitors on these factors.
MozRank and MozTrust are similar tools. They give bloggers and website owners some insight into how their sites are performing.
So, why are rankings, trust, and links so important?
Google’s algorithm considers links and the trustworthiness of a domain when determining SERP rankings. Moz’s domain authority gives you a peek not at how Google is scoring you, but at how you’re performing against other sites.
Links signal trustworthiness to search engines. A site that has many incoming links from authoritative sites is likely a good resource. A site that links internally makes navigation easier, and a site that has outbound links is likely backing up its claims.
All this makes your site more “authoritative” and trustworthy in Google’s eyes. Google wants to send its users to safe, trustworthy sites, so SEO efforts focused on building this trust can help you rank higher.
Domain vs. Page Authority
You may also have heard of page authority, or PA. Domain and page authority are similar, but they provide you with somewhat different information.
PA is focused on the predictive ranking of a single page. DA, on the other hand, focuses on the score of your entire website.
A single page can be quite authoritative, but the domain as a whole may have a low DA score. Likewise, a domain might score quite high, but a single page may not be very authoritative.
Why Is DA Important?
As noted, DA isn’t one of Google’s ranking factors. It’s important to keep that in mind. Improving your DA will only improve your SERP ranking if you’ve made overall improvements to your SEO efforts.
That’s because DA itself has no impact on SERP rankings. It’s more of a predictive tool you can use to determine where your page should be ranking.
On its own, DA isn’t particularly helpful. You could, in theory, claim the top spot in the SERPs with a DA of 30. That’s not a great score, but if your competitors’ DA scores are worse, you should outrank them.
DA is more helpful to see where you are versus your competitors. If you’re scoring 30 and a competitor is scoring 50 on DA, then they’ll continue to outrank you.
DA also sheds some light on where you can make improvements to gain a competitive advantage. For example, you can look at the factors that make up DA. If you’re scoring low on the total number of links, it could be time to rethink your linking strategy.
How to Build DA
Improving a DA score can take time and effort. Improvements at the bottom end of the scale are fairly simple. At the higher end of the scorecard, improvement will be much more incremental.
That said, you can definitely improve your DA. So, how do you do it?
Your linking strategy is central to your DA. You’ll want to focus on two types of links:
- Internal links
Linking between pages on your own website increases your DA. Google likes internal links because it makes your website easier for its bots to crawl. If your site is easier to crawl, the search engine will give you a boost in PageRank.
Keep in mind that Google gives weight to what users want. Internal links that lead to other relevant content help people navigate your site and find the answers they’re looking for.
If you’re blogging, creating an internal linking strategy should be easy. Backlinking is a bit more complex.
Creating a Better Backlinking Strategy
Almost everyone knows how important it is to get backlinks. That’s why you’re doing all those guest blogging stints.
Google likes when authoritative sites link back to yours. These links demonstrate that your site is trustworthy and that you’re probably an expert on your topic. That means your site is likely a good resource for Google to direct its users to.
The importance of backlinks has led some people to do backlinking the wrong way, though. Google will penalize sites for black hat SEO tactics like buying or trading backlinks.
Given that, it’s important to build backlinks the right way. As a blogger, you have many options:
- Guest blog for another site
- Do an interview with another blogger
- Find decayed links and ask to replace them
You can use services like ‘Help a Reporter Out’ to find opportunities.
Remember that buying backlinks will be more likely to get your site penalized. You may also be penalized if low-quality “spam” sites link back to you. Google will let you disavow these links, so it won’t consider them when it determines your page rank.
The right backlinking strategy can increase your site’s trustworthiness, its Google PageRank, and it’s DA.
MozTrust and MozRank
There are two other factors that contribute to your DA. How can you go about improving MozTrust and MozRank to improve your DA score?
Moz doesn’t offer any insight into this. Instead, the best advice is to focus on improving your overall SEO efforts. By focusing on SEO, particularly your linking strategies, you can increase your DA score.
How to Check DA
If you’re interested in a domain authority check, you’ll need to adopt one of Moz’s tools. The company’s Link Explorer and Keyword Explorer will let you check domain authority.
If you have a Moz Pro account, DA scores are already incorporated into your campaigns.
Looking for a way to check your DA without signing up for something? You can use the MozBar, a free toolbar for Chrome.
A Word of Caution
It’s important not to get too caught up with improving your DA. Since it has no direct impact on your rankings, focusing on getting a better DA score isn’t necessarily going to help you rank higher.
Instead, focus on improving overall SEO efforts for your blog. By improving your SEO, you can raise your rank, which will help you increase traffic and gain visibility.
As you improve your SEO and rise through the ranks, your DA score should also improve. Keywords, technical SEO, and great content are all still more important than your DA score.
Finally, keep in mind that it’s tough to improve a good DA score. Moz intentionally designed the scale this way, so that it’s more difficult to improve from a score of 70 to 80 than it is to improve from 10 to 20.
So, what is a good domain authority score? Google itself only scores 95! There really is no such thing as a good or bad score, since the metric measures your ability to rank, not necessarily your ranking.
DA Is One Piece of the Puzzle
You asked, “What is domain authority?” and now you know exactly how this metric can help you build a better site. With more insight into your linking strategy, your competition, and your overall SEO, you’ll be set to take on the competitive world of SERPs.
Looking for more tips and tricks to get your blog up off the ground? Check out more informative guides and take your blog to the next level.