Domain Authority Is A Good Investment of Time In SEO
For content creators, website owners, and webmasters the term Domain Authority carries a lot of weight. From the early days of SEO to the modern era of Google Search, high Domain Authority has served as a signal to the online ecosystem that a website is a quality source of information and a credible source of insights.
It’s most common that webmaster will monitor their Domain Authority using tools like the free Moz bar Chrome extension; since Google doesn’t outwardly share their formulas for Domain Authority (or similar concepts).
While Moz’s Domain Authority calculation might not be an exact measurement of how Google is defining site authority, there does seem to be a strong correlation between Domain Authority and a websites ability to rank for competitive keywords.
Below, I’ll show you how to increase your Domain Authority. I’ll also show you why it is a good investment of your time.
Does Domain Authority affect organic search rankings?
We can debate this for a while; since Google isn’t ever going to give us the clear answer to this information that we’re looking for (i.e. what determines a site’s authority and how is that weighted in Google’s overall algorithm).
However… we can look at real results and learn pretty quickly that there is an undeniable correlation between a competitive keyword’s top results and the corresponding website’s Domain Authority.
You can find your domain authority by downloading the MozBar for free and then simply pulling up your website in a Chrome browser.
So, is Domain Authority directly affecting search results as a ranking signal? No.
Is Domain Authority directly correlated to a sites ability to rank better for organic keywords? Yes.
How does Domain Authority work?
As stated above, we don’t know how it works for Google; however, Moz is a bit more transparent.
Domain Authority (also known as “DA”) is measured on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the score, the more traffic and better ranking you’ll typically see in areas where high volume keywords are more competitive.
Having a high Domain Authority in search results is like a runner walking into a race knowing that they get to start with a lead
What factors are in Domain Authority?
Since Moz is sort of the de facto driver of this topic, they have some tools that will allow you to see some of the factors they include in their calculations and monitor how you’re site is stacking up in those areas.
Unfortunately, Moz says that it’s “based on data from the Mozscape web index.”. Basically, they have a trade secret algorithm (sort of like Google)
- Link profile
In their own words, it works like this…
Generally speaking, sites with a very large number of high-quality external links (such as Wikipedia or Google.com) are at the top end of the Domain Authority scale, whereas small businesses and websites with fewer inbound links may have a much lower DA score. Brand new websites will always start with a Domain Authority score of one.
Because of how Domain Authority is calculated, it’s best used as a comparative metric (rather than an absolute, concrete score) when doing research in the search results and determining which sites may have more powerful/important link profiles than others. Because it’s a comparative tool, there isn’t necessarily a “good” or “bad” Domain Authority score.
They say that they use over 40 factors to figure out their Domain Authority score.
It’s my guess (a pretty good one given my position) that Google likely uses significantly more. However, many of those are likely safeguards built to keep bad actors from gaming the system; rather than parts of a system implemented to provide better results.
Domain Authority is largely driven by links and existing pages that rank as an authority on related topics. How those pages rank are largely based on user experience metrics like session duration — or more specifically —what Google calls “dwell time” (we call this engagement time).
What’s a good Domain Authority for a small website, or even a big site?
I’d say that most authoritative sites hover with a score between 30–60, if you forced me to pick a range.
That range is for sites that have spent some time — usually years — building quality content that ranks, backlinks, and traffic. Brand new sites will have a smaller DA. Sites with lower traffic and fewer backlinks will usually see a Domain Authority between 15-30.
Don’t freak out if your DA is low. It is not a flaw that can typically be improved quickly. On a positive note, it usually cannot be negatively impacted quickly either. This takes time, for reasons which you’ll soon understand.
Luckily, there are some ways to speed up these processes.
How to increase your Domain Authority
One way simple way to start impacting this quickly may be to focus on your pages that rank already. Discover what augmentations can be done to improve SEO.
Focus on measuring these efforts by seeing how things like engagement time, engaged pageviews per visit, and other advanced UX metrics are improved by these efforts.
Improving rankings on for search terms that are already higher volume keywords can serve as a decent page authority signal to improve overall Domain Authority. Not to mention, improving rankings is really what we’re trying to do anyway, right?
This is faster than a lot of over ways that are often viewed as a more long-term investment (i.e. link-building).
However, If you want a better Domain Authority ranking, you’re going to have to work on building a healthier link profile.
Your link profile is essentially all of the backlinks your site has earned.
But, be careful here. Google is very particular about any backlinks that could be earned through nefarious or unscrupulous means.
In fact, Google actually penalizes sites that use some practices that Google has deemed to be outside of their webmaster guidelines.
Google calls these “link schemes.” They’re “non-organic” methods of getting backlinks — which is really only defined by Google themselves inside the guidelines.
Here where you can read those guidelines:
So, now you know to stay away from link schemes.
How will you build a healthy link profile?
Using links to build Domain Authority
Before you get into building and accumulating more/better links, you probably need a better understanding of the links leading to your site today.
This is something I hate spending lots of time on; however, there is an opportunity here to better manage the links leading to your site and improve your overall traffic.
You can audit your current links using a number of different tools. BrokenLinkChecker is a really helpful free tool as well.is a fantastic choice.
Understanding where someone has linked to your site, but may have the wrong link — or where the link may be broken — can be helpful.
Reaching out and providing them with an updated link can help restore the lost benefit of that backlink. If you have a lot of broken links, you could see a nice keyword ranking boost from doing this on corresponding pages after only a months worth of work.
Ultimately, building high-quality backlinks usually involves a combination of setting up free online profiles, creating entries in forums, and A LOT of one-to-one outreach.
The outreach part is something I hate to do, so I try to be as targeted as possible with this method.
Backlinko did a really good job of summarizing these methods in their blog on backlink building.
Should you improve your Domain Authority and is it worth it?
Yes. It should be an overarching part of any work you do as a publisher.
Developing quality backlinks and better UX metrics on your site directly ties back to having valuable, high-quality content. This is the core of digital publishing.
People want to link to great content, and great content is engaging. Getting the word out is called marketing, and the methods described above are some of the necessary tactics that publishers might need to take to proactively market their content to more people.
The result will be a strong Domain Authority that should help position your site to win high volume, more competitive keywords. This will ultimately generate more traffic; which is something I think we are all probably looking for.
Questions, thoughts, opinions? Leave them below.
Tyler is an award-winning digital marketer, SEO veteran, successful start-up founder, and well-known publishing industry speaker. Tyler also serves as the host of Pubtelligence, a publishers-only event hosted at Google offices around the globe. Tyler describes his core competency as learning. He has composed content for some of the world’s top publications and has over a decade of experience building businesses in the digital space. Tyler is currently the Head of Marketing at Ezoic and serves as an SEO and marketing expert for start-up competitions across the U.S.