What Is Domain Authority and Why It Matters for SEO

What Is Domain Authority and Why It Matters for SEO

Domain Authority (DA) has become one of the most important metrics in SEO. As search engines become more advanced, DA provides a way to evaluate the strength and trustworthiness of a website. Understanding what domain authority is and how it impacts search engine optimization can help inform strategic decisions to improve rankings and traffic. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down exactly what domain authority is, how it’s calculated, and ways to leverage it for better SEO.

What Is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority, developed by Moz, is a score predicting website ranking on search engines. It’s calculated on a logarithmic scale from 1-100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. DA is one of the most widely used ranking factors today and provides a benchmark for comparing the SEO strength of websites.

While search engines like Google use their own internal metrics for ranking, DA approximates this by considering the number and quality of external signals that link to a domain. Links remain one of the foremost signals of trust and authority. As such, DA estimates the authority of a website based on an analysis of linking domains and other correlation factors.

So in simple terms, DA scores estimate how well websites can rank against similar searches. The higher the DA, the better positioned the website is to rank against competitive keywords. This has tangible impacts on organic traffic and conversions.

Why Domain Authority Matters for SEO

Domain authority has become such an influential aspect of SEO for several reasons:

Correlates with Ranking Ability

Studies have shown a high correlation between DA and Google rankings. Moz’s research finds 75% + accuracy for predicting first page rankings for keywords based on DA. As DA improves for a website, its ability to rank for relevant keywords also increases.

Objective Benchmark for Compare SEO Progress

Unlike vague search engine scores, DA provides a concrete way to monitor SEO progress over time. SEOs can benchmark DA when beginning work on a website and track changes month-to-month. Growing DA indicates improving SEO strength.

Identifies SEO Opportunities

Websites with lower DA face more challenges ranking against competitors. However, significant opportunities exist to improve DA through strategic SEO. Focusing on boosting DA and closing gaps with competitors can translate into higher rankings.

Valuable for Monitoring Link Building Results

The main factors that influence DA are links from external websites, especially links from authoritative domains. This means DA shows the tangible SEO impact of link building and outreach efforts. DA displays link building results in a granular way no other metric can.

Impacts Organic Traffic Potential

Websites with higher DA attract more organic search traffic on average. A website with a DA of 50 may drive 5X+ more organic traffic than a site with a DA of 20 ranking for the same terms. Boosting DA expands organic search potential.

How Domain Authority is Calculated

Domain authority depends on a complex analysis of linking domains, anchor text, MozRank, page authority, and other correlation factors. But at a high level, the main components are:

Linking Root Domains

The number of unique root domains linking to a website is a key DA factor. Root domains are websites like example.com. More linking root domains generally mean a higher DA. However, not all links are equal, which is why other factors matter.

Quality of Linking Domains

The authority of the sites linking to a webpage also impacts DA. Links from high authority sites carry more weight compared to low quality links. The quality of links is evaluated based on metrics like MozRank and page authority.

Link Relevance

Links displaying anchor text keywords relevant to the target website tend to have a stronger influence on DA. For instance, links using a brand name as anchor text are weighted more heavily than generic links saying “click here”.

MozRank

MozRank helps determine the relative importance of pages on a domain. It flows link equity across pages to assign greater authority to prominent pages. This allows DA to incorporate page-level authority signals.

Ways to Improve Domain Authority

Growing domain authority should be an ongoing focus of SEO strategies. Here are proven tactics to build DA over time:

Increase Links from High Quality Websites

The most impactful way to build DA is by earning links from authoritative websites. Relevant links from domains with high DA pass more equity and strength. Focus on securing strategic links from industry hubs, recognized publications, and other powerful domains.

Expand Links from Root Domains

Growing the total number of referring root domains also contributes to higher DA. Diversity matters when it comes to link building. Pursue links from as many distinct domains as possible – not just different pages on the same site.

Build Internal Links to Important Pages

Creating links between relevant pages on your website strengthens the internal link structure. This allows equity to flow to key pages and consolidate authority signals. Optimizing internal links assists MozRank in identifying important pages.

Improve Technical SEO Factors

Elements like site speed, mobile optimization, schema markup, and SSL security influence DA. Having a technically sound website provides a better user experience and environment for ranking strength.

Produce High Quality Content

Unique, useful content that earns links organically will incrementally improve DA. Focus on building a library of content that solves searchers’ needs and earns authority through engagement.

Acquire Expired Domains

Domains with existing authority that have expired can be purchased and repurposed. Look for expired domains with strong DA and quality link profiles in relevant niches.

Monitor and Maintain Existing Links

It’s important to monitor existing linking domains and pages. Broken links or drops in authority can negatively impact DA. Keep building relationships with linking domains and giving them reasons to keep links active.

Typical Domain Authority Scores

DA scores exist on a spectrum. Here are some benchmarks for low, medium, and high domain authority:

DA ScoreLevel of Authority
1-24Low
25-49Medium
50-100High

However, DA scores vary significantly based on niche and competition. For instance, a DA score of 60 may be excellent in a competitive commercial sector but low for a narrow niche site. Evaluating domain authority is most useful when comparing within niche segments.

Here are typical DA scores for sites of different types and sizes:

Website TypeTypical DA Range
Small business1-40
National brand50-90
News publication60-90
University40-80
Blog15-60
Ecommerce site30-85

Again, these ranges are broad generalizations. Niche, competition, traffic size, and other factors create major variances. Use these benchmarks to orient expectations, but evaluate competitiveness based on your specific sector.

Measuring DA Progress Over Time

One of the key benefits of DA is quantifying SEO strength over periods of time. Set a baseline DA when beginning to work on a website. Identify competitor DA scores within the niche as well. Then track DA monthly or quarterly to assess growth.

Monitor DA gains from specific SEO activities like link building campaigns. This helps calculate SEO ROI and inform strategy. If DA is not moving up from campaigns, it may signal problems with link quality or other issues preventing results.

Ideally, DA should incrementally but steadily increase over time. Natural growth ranges between 1-5 points per month on average. Larger jumps likely stem from major link acquisitions or unnatural linking. Progress will not always be linear. Seasonal links, site changes, and other variables lead to DA fluctuations. But the overall trend should be positive.

Comparing rate of DA gains to competitors can indicate whether you are keeping pace or falling behind within the niche. Calibrating SEO efforts based on share of voice is key for outranking competitors. Evaluate DA trajectories over 6-12 months for the most meaningful insights.

Warning Signs of Low or Declining Domain Authority

Certain DA patterns can be red flags that require investigation and corrective action:

  • Sudden DA drop – A big single month decrease likely indicates lost or devalued links. Determine the cause and work to replace lost equity.
  • Consistent DA decline – Consecutive months of decrementing DA points to issues building/maintaining links or poor site health. An SEO audit helps identify problems.
  • Stalled DA growth – When DA plateaus over multiple months, it signals link building efforts are no longer growing domain authority. innovation is required.
  • Falling behind competitors – If competitors’ DA is increasing faster, search share of voice will suffer long term. Take urgent action to accelerate growth.
  • DA not matching rankings – Rankings decreasing while DA increases can mean the market is getting more competitive. More authoritative signals are required to maintain position.

FAQs About Domain Authority

Does Google use Domain Authority?

Google does not directly use Moz’s Domain Authority metric. DA analyzes many of the same signals Google looks at for ranking ability, but the scale and priorities likely differ. However, DA strongly correlates with Google results.

Can I increase DA quickly?

There are no instant shortcuts to improve DA. Quick DA gains often stem from artificial links that violate Google’s guidelines. Focus on slow, steady improvement through reputable SEO best practices vs. trying to hack up the score.

How much does 1 point of DA matter?

A single point change has little impact on its own. DA gains compound over time. Boosting DA 10+ points through consistent work often starts to shift search visibility and traffic noticeably. Think long term with DA growth.

How is DA different from PA (Page Authority)?

Page authority measures the ranking strength of individual pages, while domain authority assesses the site overall. Strong page authority contributes to higher domain authority. Key pages should have higher PA than broader domain DA.

Should I prioritize DA or PA?

Domain authority should be the overarching focus for improving search visibility. However, monitoring page authority helps optimize important landing pages. Make sure key entry pages receive equity and have sufficient authority relative to DA.

Conclusion

Domain authority has become a fundamental metric for evaluating SEO strength. As search algorithms evolve, DA provides reliable insights into how websites stack up. All SEO and content strategies should revolve around deliberately improving domain authority over time. DA provides linkage data, benchmarking, and competitive analysis to inform impactful SEO decisions. By mastering the factors that influence DA, websites can drive continuous growth in organic reach and conversions.

If you’re looking to increase your domain authority, contact 427 Digital today!