If you’re at all familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), chances are you’ve heard of domain authority a few times here and there. At its core, it’s a metric scale from 1 to 100 that search engines use to determine your site’s ranking potential against your competitors.
However, domain authority is more complicated than that and is influenced by numerous ranking factors that help calculate your overall score. With all of its moving parts, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what domain authority is and how it affects your site.
Defining domain authority
The domain authority score is the brainchild of the search engine maestros at Moz, one of the world’s top SEO resources. It differs from a similar concept known as page authority in that it focuses on a website as a whole as opposed to the ranking strength of an individual page. Domain authority is primarily calculated from machine learning algorithms and data from Moz’s Link Explorer web index, which work in tandem to determine which site on a search engine results page provides the “best fit” answer to a searcher’s query.
Some of the key factors that influence domain authority are linking root domains as well as acquiring inbound links. While reading that may tempt you into whipping out your credit card and paying for hundreds of low authority links to point to your site, keep in mind that domain authority isn’t just determined by quantity but by quality as well. In fact, the presence of numerous spammy links or inbound traffic from untrustworthy or low authority sites can greatly damage your overall domain authority. One earned link is worth more quality traffic in the long run than 100 spammy links are in the short term.
Using a domain authority checker and interpreting results
The best way to find your site (and your competitors’) domain authority score is through a tool like a domain authority checker. It’s a great way to see side-by-side comparisons and determine your site’s performance against others. Depending how old your site is, though, your domain authority score might be relatively low. If you run a domain authority checker and see a 27 staring back at you, your first instinct might be to panic. After all, isn’t a 27 out of 100 a failing grade? Not when it comes to domain authority.
A few things to remember when interpreting your score are age, authority, relevance, and trustworthiness. Unfortunately, all of these factors take time to improve. Brand new sites automatically start with a domain authority score of one. As you add insightful, helpful content that answers search queries and gain quality inbound links, that score starts to go up. Moz also uses a logarithmic scale, which means jumping from 20 to 30 is much easier than jumping from 60 to 70. Plus, domain authority is best used as a comparative tool as opposed to a definite score. As long as you’re scored equally or higher than your direct competitors, you stand a solid chance at ranking.
Boosting domain authority
If you’re dead set on becoming a true thought leader and industry pioneer through your website, you’re probably wondering how to go about kicking your score up a few points. The truth is that it’s difficult to directly influence your domain score, and it’s not the best use of your resources to focus all your efforts on that. Instead, you’re much better served by amping up the SEO across your website which search engines and Moz will then analyze in turn.
One big focus should be a quality link-building campaign. Again, purchasing spammy links might show an immediate uptick in search rankings as well as your domain authority score, but it’s also easy to be penalized by Google and other engines as they see this as a “black hat” SEO practice. Direct your efforts to developing quality, insightful content that is shareable and encourages other sites to link back to it as a resource. Google loves to reward organic linking and if you’re providing the best answers on the internet, you may even find yourself with a featured snippet.
Start off small
While structuring and executing an SEO campaign might sound daunting, especially if you’re part of a smaller team with limited resources, you have plenty of ways to achieve better rankings and a higher domain authority score. Partner with quality content companies if you’re unable to handle consistent writing in-house. Invest in freelancers or SEO agencies to consult you on the direction your site needs to take. Though it starts off as a mountainous task, once you see those rankings start climbing it will be well worth the investment.