Domain authority is one of the many factors that determine how a site ranks in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.? Domain authority is actually one of the most important factors in SERPs, and should NOT be ignored.

This is a bit of lengthy read, so we’ve outlined some of the topics we’ll be covering.

  • What is Domain Authority?
  • Domain Authority vs PageRank
  • The importance of domain authority score
  • Why is domain authority important?
  • What’s a good domain authority score?
  • How can I check my Domain Authority?
  • Is it better to have a higher or lower domain authority?
  • What is domain authority with example?
  • What does authority mean in SEO?
  • How can I improve Domain Authority to rank my website?
  • A real world domain authority analysis

What is Domain Authority?

Domain authority is a search engine ranking indicator that measures the authority of websites in search engines.

Moz search engine metrics help predict how well your site ranks in search results. The range is between 0 and 100.

In Ahrefs, another SEO measurement tools, domain Authority is referred to as Domain Ranking. The higher the scores the higher the web page’s ranking is anticipated.

So how exactly is domain authority measured? Well, it’s a combination of the following factors:

  • The number of external links to a website or webpage.
  • The quantity and quality of links to a website or webpage from other authoritative websites or webpages.
  • The Age of your domain
What is Domain Authority - graphic

Domain Authority vs Page Authority

Domain Authority vs Page Authority - graphic

Domain authority and page authority are often looked at as the same metric, when in reality, they are not.

Domain authority (DA)

Domain authority is the overall measurement of a domain’s authority, and not any specific pages on that website. DA takes into account ALL of the links pointing towards your domain, regardless of the page they’re linking to.

Page Authority (PA)

Page authority, on the other hand, is how well an individual page ranks. Page authority is calculated by looking at how many external website links are pointing to that one page, when the content was published, and how many internal links are pointing to that page. Although this is a separate metric, DA still plays a factor into how well an individual page ranks.

The importance of domain authority (DA)

Domain authority is extremely important. Without a good domain authority score, your chances of outranking your competition is minimal.

Let’s assume that you’ve created amazing content for your website that is better than everything else in the search results, you should rank #1, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Anyone can create a piece of “quality content” and spam the search results to get a large volume of traffic to their websites. Domain authority is how search engines determine if you are a a trusted source. The higher the authority, the more likely you are trusted source.

What’s a good domain authority score?

What's a good domain authority score? - graphic

Moz has ranked Domain Authority search rankings among 0-100 with higher values mean a better chance of a higher ranking in SERP.

A good domain authority is relevant to your specific niche. If you’re a local business, you won’t need a DA of 90 to outrank your competition as they likely have DAs closer to 20 or 30. When it comes to local SEO, you’re competing in a much smaller space. On the other hand, if you’re trying to compete nationally, or internationally, you’ll need a much higher DA to even be considered for the first page of Google.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO

Sites like The New York Times, CNN, and Vice all have domain authority scores above 90, which is extremely difficult (and unlikely) to achieve without decades of creating quality content that is referenced elsewhere online.

Search engines consider both quantity of links received and quality of links. If a page includes backlinks from a site which is highly respected, e.g. Wikipedia, Google, government websites or reputable newspaper or magazine, this will lead to score a better domain authority score.

How can I check my Domain Authority?

How can I check my Domain Authority - website graphic

There are many websites that you can use to check your domain authority.

WebsiteSEOChecker.com has a free domain authority checker that will provide you with the most important information pertaining to your DA. You can use their domain authority checker here.

Moz, gives users the opportunity to find out the domain authority of a site by using their Domain Analysis tool. Their Domain Analysis tool provides you with the following information in an easy to understand format:

  • Domain Authority
  • Linking Root Domains
  • Ranking Keywords
  • Spam Score
  • Top Pages by Links (pages with the most incoming links)
  • Top Linking Domains
  • Discovered and Lost Linking Domains
  • Keywords by Estimated Clicks
  • Top Ranking Keywords
  • Top Featured Snippets
  • Branded Keywords
  • Keyword Ranking Distribution
  • Top Search Competitors
  • Top Questions

Ahrefs has a free, albeit limited, tool to check your Domain Rating (also known as Domain Authority). They provide you with the following information:

  • Domain Rating
  • Linking websites
  • Number of Backlinks

We highly recommend using Moz to check your domain authority (DA) as it provides you with the most information for free.

If you’d like more information on your domain authority, we highly recommend upgrading to the paid version of MOZ, or signing up for other SEO tools like SEMRush and/or Ahrefs.

Why is domain authority important?

As previously stated, a greater DA typically means a higher rank, resulting in more organic traffic. It is important that your DA is similar or higher than your competitor’s DA.

What are some examples of domain authority?

Here are some examples of websites with great domain authority:

examples of domain authority - website screenshot
  • Google (100 DA)
  • YouTube (100 DA)
  • NYTimes (95 DA)
  • CNN (95 DA)
  • Vice (93 DA)

Sites like these have lower domain authority that the ones we just mentioned, but they can be considered good relative to their niches.

local seo domain authority website screenshot
  • Willow Dental (21 DA)
  • Lee Collins (14 DA)
  • Shoreline Counselling (21 DA)

Typically sites with lower DA scores under 10 are newer domains that haven’t produced any content worth referencing. This can quickly change by creating high quality content, and providing reputable sites with guest blog posts, among other techniques.

Is it better to have a higher or lower domain authority?

When it comes to SEO, assessing your Domain Authority score vs your competitors’ DA should be the first place you start when trying to improve your search engine ranking score. When your level is higher, your content is likely to rank higher. When it is lower, your chances of outranking anyone is diminished.

What does Domain Authority mean in SEO?

When it crafting your SEO strategy, domain authority is one of the biggest factors when it comes to increasing your search engine results. By increasing your domain, and page authority, you’re telling search engines that you’re a trusted source of information.

Think of it this way, who would you want to tell you about a highly niche topic you were interested in? A trustworthy professor who has been referenced in white papers and journals, or someone with no credibility who has limited knowledge on the topic?

This is Google’s way of preventing search engine optimization spammers from making their search engine useless. If you never found the information you were looking for, would you still use Google? Exactly.

Related: Does your website need to be mobile friendly?

How can I improve Domain Authority to rank my website?

Improving your domain authority is a great way to increase your search engine rankings, generate more website traffic, and increase revenue. In this section we’ll take a look at 3 ways to improve your domain authority, and a couple things that will hurt your DA.

Publishing Quality Content

The number one way to improve your domain authority to rank higher on search engines is to publish quality content. By publishing quality content, you’re providing useful and organized information to readers, which they will be able to reference when writing their own articles, giving you a backlink to reference your work.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a great way to build backlinks by providing reputable publications with quality content. Typically they will allow you to include a link to your website or a relevant post on your own website, but not always.

The only downfall with this strategy is that you’ll sink a lot of time into finding reputable publications that allow guest posting. Once you find some publications, you’ll likely spend a lot of time writing your article and revising it to comply with their editorial mandate.

Directories

Having your website listed in directories is a credible way to build out some backlinks, however this strategy is limited due to the low volume of reputable directories. See our “real world DA analysis below for more information!”

This strategy works best for local business who can be listed in directories such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, Yelp, Instagram, Bing, etc.

Participating in Forums

I know what you’re thinking.. does anyone still use forums?

Yes, they do!

Depending on the niche, there are very active forums where you can become a member and contribute to the conversation.

You should not spam your own links. This strategy involves becoming a part of a community and gaining the trust and respect of other community members. If you’re kind and helpful, you will be able to share some links to your website as long as they provide useful information relating to the topic of discussion.

DA strategies to AVOID

These are often referred to as “black-hat” backlink building strategies, and should be avoided at all costs.

Buying Links

Do not buy links. Period. This is where you pay a site (or sites) to link to your domain. These sites are often spammy and low quality, and Google will know if you’re doing this as your backlink breakdown will look very similar to other sites that have bought links.

Link Trading

Link trading is when two websites link to each other… and Google can tell when you’re doing this. If most of your links are coming from sites that you’re also linking out to, this will not help your DA.

Okay, so link trading isn’t completely bad, but it shouldn’t be done excessively. An example of when “link trading” is okay would be if you had a parent company that linked out to the sub companies, and vice versa. I’m not saying to do this on every page, but you won’t be pushed for having a few mentions.

A real world domain authority analysis

Let’s say HeyTony wanted to outrank the competition in their local market. We would start by finding out who the competition is (in terms of search engine results and DA). For this domain authority/ backlink analysis, we’ll be using the SEO tool, SEMRush.

Competitor 1 (Balla Media) DA analysis

Balla Media, who claims to be “the #1 Digital Marketing Agency in Hamilton“, has a DA of 23 with 2,000 backlinks from 128 domains.

Referring Domain analysis:

You can quickly see from the screenshot below that Balla Media has over 1,300 backlinks from only 2 domains. These backlinks are from directory sites, which don’t typically hold high value when it comes to increasing your domain authority.

If you compare Balla Media to the websites in the rest of this analysis, they have the lowest DA out of everyone.

Balla Media - Domain Authority Analysis

Realistically, Balla Media likely only has about 500 backlinks.

Competitor 2 (Socially Infused) DA analysis

Socially Infused, a Digital Marketing Agency Hamilton, has a DA of 44 with 9,900 backlinks from 1,300 referring domains.

Referring Domain analysis:

Upon further inspection, it looks like almost 4k of their backlinks are coming from one site (not great). The other domains on this page also look like similar sites to the first one, which appears to be a directory anyone can have their site listed on. The other top domains here look to be similar to the first one as well.

Socially Infused - Domain Authority Analysis

In reality, they likely have 3,000 – 4,000 backlinks to their site.

Competitor 3 (EB Media) DA analysis

EB Media, a Hamilton Web Design, SEO and Digital Marketing Agency, has a DA of 30 with 164,000 backlinks from 167 referring domains.

Referring Domain analysis:

At first glance, you might think “Wow, these guys are killing it! Look at all those backlinks!” However, if we take a look at where all those links are coming from (in the screenshot below), it looks like most of them (162k) are coming from only ONE site.

Uh oh. That’s not good. This is likely an error on their end by pushing one of their client sites live before cleaning things up.

EB Media - Domain Authority Analysis

With that in mind, they really only have about 2,000 backlinks from 167 domains.

HeyTony’s DA analysis

At the time of publication, HeyTony has a DA of 35 with 2,900 backlinks from 105 referring domains.

Referring Domain analysis:

Taking a look at our own backlink profile reveals that we’re getting backlinks from reputable sites and not mostly directories. Out of our 2,900 backlinks, most of them are likely helping us rank.

HeyTony - Domain Authority Analysis

Conclusion:

The only site that has a higher DA than HeyTony in this study is Socially Infused. HeyTony would likely need to increase the amount of referring domains we have from 105 to 1,000 (ish) referring domains.

However, HeyTony will likely be able to increase their website domain authority without building so many links by receiving links from high DA sites and publishing high quality content, like this post!

Related: 87 SEO Tools You Can Use To Climb The Ranks

Still have questions?

Feel free to reach out to our team of digital marketing experts at HeyTony!

Originally published . Last updated .

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