Understanding how your website’s search engine result page rankability compared to your competitors can be tricky. Luckily thanks to our friends at Moz, there’s an answer, Domain Authority (DA).
What is Domain Authority?
To preface, Domain Authority (DA) is not a ranking factor that Google uses to decide how to rank your website, however Domain Authority is a good metric to help show how your website stands up against competitors.
According to Moz, “Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed to help predict how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages”. This score ranges from 1 to 100, higher scores signal a greater chance of your website ranking well on the SERP. Moz calculates Domain Authority through predictive machine learning modeling and data from its Link Explorer web index tool which comprises dozens of data points into an overall score. While all of these data points aren’t known, Moz has announced that overall SEO website health (on page optimizations, metadata optimizations, technical SEO improvements) and high authority backlinks have a positive impact on Domain Authority.
Today, Moz is not the only tool that uses this type of metric to measure potential rankability. For instance SEMrush also has an Authority that uses similar data (i.e. backlink quality, number of referring domains, keyword rankings) to calculate it’s score. Additionally, ahrefs aso has its own tool that calculates your website authority using similar data points to Moz and SEMrush.
What is a Good Domain Authority Score?
While Domain Authority is not a factor that Google uses in it’s ranking algorithm, Domain Authority can still be a good third party indicator of how your website compares to others.
Obviously websites with a higher score (1-100) have greater ranking indicators compared to websites with lower scores. That being said, a strong gauge of your site's performance is to measure it against your competitors' websites. Because each website is different in the type of backlinks it receives, the authority of those referring domains, and the availability of referring domains it’s important to analyze your top competitors and get an understanding of the baseline Domain Authority in your space and go from there.
For instance, if your industry and competitors receive backlinks from high authority websites such as Forbes, Business Insider, Wikipedia, University’s, or Government entities, the baseline domain authority will likely be relatively high. However, industries that are not relevant to these types of domains (i.e. restaurants, small businesses, etc.) will seek out backlinks that are more relevant to their personas regardless of their Domain Authority, which would net out in lower scores across the industry decreasing the “industry baseline”.
How Do I Check My Domain Authority?
As mentioned above, there are a variety of tools that allow a user to check their website’s Domain Authority. For instance Moz and ahref’s both have free versions that allow a viewer to drop any domain into this tool in order to access its Domain Authority. This can be useful when looking to compare one’s own domain to their competitors to see where their website stacks up against a variety of metrics such as Domain authority, linking domains, inbound links, and ranking keywords.
How Do I Improve My Domain Authority?
Building your website’s Domain Authority is a long term strategy which is dependent on gathering high quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites. Additionally in order to truly build Domain Authority you should focus on gathering referring domain links and not only multiple links from the same domain.
Focus on content relevance
Receiving backlinks becomes much easier when you have high value and relevant content for the domains you are reaching out to. Additionally the higher the quality of your content the more likely it is for you to gain natural contacts from other domains referencing your content.
Audit your backlinks
Additionally you will want to periodically audit your backlinks to ensure that only high value links are being indexed. If you find you are receiving backlinks that may be negatively contributing to your overall score it may be wise to use tools such as Google Search Console to disallow these links from affecting the trust of your content and domain as a whole.
Keep an eye on your competitors
Lastly, be sure to audit your competitors backlinks, this can help you identify websites that have linked back to similar content in the past and may be more willing to link back to your content as well
It’s important to remember that Domain Authority is not a factor that Google uses in it’s ranking algorithm. Because of this achieving a higher Domain Authority should only be a factor of your overall SEO strategy.
That being said, Domain Authority can be used as a barometer of how your website’s rankability compares to your competitors as well as the quality and quantity of websites referencing your content and referring traffic back to your website.
Rider Gordon is the Lead Search and Paid Social Advertising Strategist at New Breed. In his free time, he likes to ski, fly fish and brew beer.
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