What is domain authority?

The easy guide to understanding your website’s domain authority 

Claire Sy

Let’s say you have a small online shop. You’re trying to get more people to visit your website, but it’s not going as well as you hoped. You learn about something called domain authority. When you check it out, you find out your website’s domain authority score is lower than your competitors’. 

Realizing this, you decide to focus on improving your DA. But why does DA matter so much? Understanding its significance is crucial for anyone looking to carve out a space in the digital landscape. 

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about domain authority, including how having a higher domain authority can help a website, and why you should care about it. 

What is domain authority? 

Domain authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz, a company known for creating search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help marketers improve their online visibility. It was introduced around 2009 as part of Moz’s efforts to provide a comprehensive metric that could predict how well a website would rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Before this, there were few standardized gauges of a website’s potential to rank, making it challenging to assess your site’s potential. 

The early internet days were marked by simpler metrics, such as PageRank, which primarily focused on the quantity and quality of links to a webpage to determine its importance. However, these metrics didn’t provide a holistic view of a site’s ranking potential. Moz’s domain authority aimed to fill this gap by incorporating multiple factors into a single, comprehensive score. 

Domain authority vs. page authority: What’s the difference? 

Domain authority and page authority are both metrics developed by Moz to predict how well a website or a specific page will rank on the search engine results page (SERPs). While they share a common purpose in assessing ranking potential, they operate at different levels of a website’s structure. Here’s how they differ: 

Domain authority 

Domain authority measures the ranking potential of an entire domain or subdomain. This aggregate score reflects the power of a website’s backlink profile. It factors in the quality and quantity of incoming links, among other variables. Domain authority is a holistic measure that lets you gauge your site’s ability to rank in comparison to competitors. It is particularly useful for strategic decision-making to enhance overall search visibility. 

Page authority 

Page authority is like a detailed check-up for the individual pages of your website, looking closely at its ability to rank well in searches. It considers the strength and quality of links coming to that page, how good the content is, and if the page is set up right for search engines. Page authority is useful for people creating content or working on SEO, helping them make specific pages—like blog posts or product pages—do better in search results. Understanding a page’s PA can show you what needs to be fixed to help it get noticed more. 

Calculating your domain authority score 

Moz calculates your domain authority through a complex algorithm, which is calculated using dozens of factors, including the number of linking root domains and the total number of links. If you get a link to your site from another website, that’s called a backlink. Getting backlinks is generally great because it shows your site has valuable information that others think is worth sharing. 

Links from high-authority sites contribute more positively to the DA score than those from lesser-known, low-authority sites. Moz uses machine learning to compare your site’s link profile against the profiles of other sites with known search engine rankings. This helps Moz predict how well a site will rank on SERPs. 

Finally, the DA score is placed on a 100-point logarithmic scale. This means the higher your DA score gets, the harder it will be to increase. Going from a DA of 20 to 30 is easier than moving from 70 to 80. 

6 crucial factors influencing domain authority 

Several factors play a crucial role in influencing a website’s domain authority. Understanding these factors can help you enhance your site’s authority score and overall search visibility. Here’s a closer look at the key elements that impact the domain authority metric: 

Link profile quality and quantity 

One of the most significant factors affecting domain authority is the website’s link profile, which includes both the number of inbound links (backlinks) and the quality of those links. High-quality backlinks from reputable and authoritative sites contribute positively to domain authority. Conversely, links from low-quality or spammy sites can negatively impact your score. It’s not just about the number of links but the diversity and quality that truly matter. 

Site structure and user experience 

A well-structured website that offers a great user experience is more likely to receive high-quality backlinks and repeat visits, both of which can positively influence domain authority. This includes having a mobile-friendly design, fast loading times, and an intuitive navigation structure. Search engines favor websites that provide a good user experience, and this preference is reflected in domain authority scores. 

Content quality 

The quality of a website’s content is another critical factor. Engaging, original, and valuable content is more likely to attract backlinks and social shares, both of which are important signals used in calculating domain authority. High-quality content not only draws visitors but also encourages other websites to link back to your site, thereby boosting your domain authority. 

Social signals 

While the direct impact of social signals (likes, shares, and followers on social media platforms) on domain authority is debatable, there’s no denying that a strong social media presence can enhance a website’s visibility and authority. This increased visibility often leads to more backlinks and higher traffic, indirectly boosting your score. 

Search engine accessibility 

Ensuring that search engines can easily crawl and index your website is crucial. Using robots.txt wisely, creating sitemaps, and implementing proper redirects and canonical tags help search engines understand your site. Better accessibility can lead to a stronger link profile and higher domain authority. 

Moz’s algorithm updates 

Finally, it’s important to remember that DA is a proprietary metric of Moz, which means it’s subject to changes and updates in Moz’s algorithm. These updates can affect how DA is calculated, potentially leading to fluctuations in your site’s DA score. 

Domain authority’s limitations: What DA can’t do 

While domain authority is a widely recognized metric in the SEO world, it’s important to acknowledge its limitations. Understanding these constraints can help webmasters and marketers use domain authority more effectively without overrelying on it. Here are the key limitations of domain authority: 

Not a Google ranking factor 

First and foremost, domain authority is not a Google ranking factor and has no effect on the SERPs. As of the domain authority 2.0 update in early 2019, a domain’s DA score is calculated based on a machine learning algorithm’s prediction about how often Google is using that domain in its search results. Therefore, a high DA doesn’t guarantee high rankings in Google, and changes to your DA score may not always correlate with changes in your search engine rankings. 

Relative, not absolute 

DA is a relative metric, meaning it’s most useful when comparing websites or tracking the ranking strength of a website over time. The score itself, without context, provides limited insights. A DA of 30 might be low in one industry but quite competitive in another. It’s the comparison against similar sites that offers the most value. 

Fluctuations are normal 

DA scores can fluctuate for several reasons, including changes in the backlink profile of the websites you’re compared against or updates to Moz’s domain authority calculation algorithm. These fluctuations are normal and don’t necessarily reflect your site’s search engine performance changes. 

Can be influenced by external factors 

DA can be influenced by external factors beyond a webmaster’s control, such as the linking practices of other sites. For instance, if a high-authority site suddenly links to you, your DA might jump significantly, regardless of your own SEO efforts. Conversely, if high-authority sites remove links or see their own DA drop, your site’s DA might decline. 

Potential for misuse 

Because DA is a well-known metric, there’s a potential for misuse, such as in the context of link selling or spammy SEO practices. Some might focus on artificially inflating their DA through manipulative link-building tactics, which can detract from genuine efforts to improve website quality and user experience. 

Focus on long-term SEO strategies 

Relying too heavily on DA can distract from more impactful, long-term SEO strategies that focus on content quality, user experience, and technical SEO. While DA provides a snapshot of your site’s potential ranking power, it doesn’t offer specific guidance on how to improve your site’s actual search engine performance. 

7 easy tips to get a good domain authority score 

1. Benchmark against competitors 

When it comes to navigating the competitive landscape of SEO, understanding how your Domain Authority (DA) stacks up against your competitors is invaluable. By benchmarking your DA alongside those in your industry or niche, you can identify areas where your site may be lagging. This comparative analysis can highlight gaps in your SEO strategy and illuminate opportunities for improvement. 

Perhaps your competitors have stronger backlink profiles or more engaging content. Recognizing these differences can inspire targeted adjustments in your strategy, aimed at closing the gap and even surpassing your competitors in search engine rankings. 

2. Create quality content 

Quality content is the cornerstone of a strong online presence. By focusing on creating material that’s relevant and genuinely useful to your audience, you’re more likely to engage readers and encourage them to share your content. 

Originality plays a crucial role here; unique insights, comprehensive guides, or in-depth analysis tend to attract attention and garner backlinks from other sites, which is essential for boosting DA. Additionally, regularly updating your website with fresh content keeps your audience coming back for more, increasing the chances of shares and links. 

3. Build high-quality backlinks 

Backlinks significantly impact your DA score. Guest posting on reputable sites within your industry can lead to valuable backlinks, as can sharing your content across social media platforms. Networking with other webmasters and influencers can also provide natural backlink opportunities. Remember, the quality of the backlinks is far more important than quantity; a few links from high-authority sites are worth much more than many links from low-quality sites. 

4. Optimize your internal linking structure 

An often overlooked aspect of SEO, internal linking helps distribute page authority throughout your site, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content. Using descriptive anchor text for internal links improves user experience and helps search engines understand the context of linked pages. Ensure your most important pages are prominently linked from your homepage or main navigation menu to boost their visibility and authority. 

5. Improve your site’s user experience 

A positive user experience is vital for retaining visitors and reducing bounce rates, both of which can influence your DA. Making your website responsive ensures it’s accessible on mobile devices, a crucial factor with mobile browsing on the rise. Page load speed is another critical factor; faster sites provide a better user experience and are favored by search engines. Simple, intuitive navigation helps visitors find the information they need quickly and easily, contributing to a positive overall impression of your site. 

6. Remove bad links 

Spammy or low-quality backlinks can negatively impact your website’s link profile. Conducting regular link audits allows you to identify and address these harmful links. If outreach efforts to have these links removed fail, Google’s Disavow Tool can be used to ask Google to ignore these links when assessing your site. Cleaning up your link profile can help improve your DA over time. 

7. Stay patient and consistent 

Domain authority is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistent effort in implementing SEO best practices is key to gradually increasing your score. Keep track of your progress by regularly checking your DA score with tools like Moz’s Link Explorer. Understand that fluctuations are normal, but a steady focus on quality content, backlink acquisition, and user experience improvements will lead to sustainable growth in your site’s authority. 

However, we understand that SEO can be confusing for beginners. If you’re still unsure about how to get started, you can hand over the heavy lifting to the professionals.  

Boost your site’s domain authority 

Grasping the essence of domain authority empowers you to fine-tune your online strategy, but it’s the implementation that truly counts. Register your domain with Web.com and set the foundation for future growth. You can use our AI Domain Generator tool to streamline your journey to a higher DA while ensuring that your domain name resonates with your brand identity and SEO goals. 

As you embark on this journey, remember that the digital landscape is ever-evolving, and so should your strategies. Embrace the insights DA offers, but anchor your approach in the holistic development of your site’s value to real users. 

  • Claire Sy

    Claire is a Content Marketing Writer at Web.com. Although she’s just started her content marketing journey, she’s eager to write compelling articles while learning more about the SEO and marketing world. Growing up, Claire had always loved reading, but she started taking an interest in writing through poetry and stories. She also likes playing chess in her spare time.

Leave a Comment

Trending Topics