SEO is incredibly complicated. The quality of your links, how your website is structured, the type of content you create, the speed at which your webpages load, and how often you update your site can all affect how well you rank – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If only there was a metric to tell you how optimized your site was – one that let you compare your website to your competitors.
Great news – there is. And, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s called Domain Authority (DA).
In this article, we’re going to explore what DA is, how to improve your score, alternatives to the DA metric, why you want your DA score to be higher than your competitors’, and much, much more. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s jump right in.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority (DA) is a metric created by Moz. Many of you may know Moz by name – for those that don’t, they’re something like the granddaddy of all SEO resources. They’ve been in the game for ages, they’ve compiled an astonishing amount of data, and they do it all with one goal in mind – improving the SEO industry (oh, and of course, making money).
They created DA to give SEO agencies and website owners alike an easy way to check how likely their page is to rank well. According to Moz, DA is:
“A search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a website is to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.”
Simple enough on paper – but pretty complex under the surface. DA is largely determined by the quality of your backlinks – the more well-reputed sites that link to you, the better your DA score is likely to be.
Alternatives to domain authority
Domain Authority (capital D, capital A) is a metric provided exclusively by Moz. Other SEO tool creators and knowledge hubs like Ahrefs have wanted to get in on the action and have created their own metrics.
Despite the fact that all of these metrics are basically measuring the same thing (the likelihood that your website will rank well on SERPs), you’ll find you may get drastically different scores on different websites. That’s because different companies use different calculations to determine your score.
These scores are all colloquially known as domain authority (small d, small a) scores or sometimes website authority scores. They all have different brand names, however – Ahrefs, for example, is called Domain Rating (DR).
What is the difference between domain authority and page authority?
While domain authority tells you how well your website as a whole (and pages therein) are likely to rank, page authority (PA) is a more narrow score – it tells you how well individual webpages are likely to rank.
PA and DA are, of course, linked – if every page on your domain or subdomain has a great PA, then your DA is likely to be very high, and a high DA means individual pages are more likely to rank well. You can work to optimize PA – and should, in certain circumstances – but the rest of this article will be focused on DA and DA optimization.
What’s a good domain authority score?
A good DA score is relative. You don’t need a DA of 100 – your DA just needs to be better than your competitors’. For example, if you have a DA of 40, but all of your competitors have DA scores ranging in the 20s and 30s, you’re more likely to rank well for a given keyword – especially if you create content focused on ranking for that keyword.
In other words, you don’t have to shoot for the highest possible score (100) – no one ever scores 100. Just aim to score higher than your competitors do.
Compare apples to apples
Want a better picture of the quality of your DA? Use multiple metrics – check your DA on Moz, your DR on Ahrefs, and check out any other sites that offer a similar metric. Just be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples – don’t compare your DA to your competitors’ DR, or you’ll get inaccurate results.
If you’re beating your competition on some metrics, but they’re beating you on others, it could be a sign that you still need to shore up your backlinks and improve your SEO overall if you want to have a better chance of outranking them.
How do you check domain authority?
That depends on which site you’re using for your DA metrics. There are plenty, and most of them simply ask you to punch in the URL for the homepage of your domain. You might also have to create a user account.
For the purposes of this article, let’s look at how you can check your DA with Moz – they are, after all, the originators of the term (and the original, “true” DA metric):
- Log in or sign up for a Moz account.
- Visit Moz’s Domain Analysis page.
- Type in the URL for your home page and hit enter.
- Enjoy all the data Moz gives you, including your DA score.
Checking PA follows a similar process. For Moz, all you have to do is:
- Log in or sign up for a Moz account.
- Visit Moz’s Link Explorer page.
- Type in the URL of the page you want to analyze.
- Enjoy all the data Moz gives you, including your PA score.
Why is domain authority controversial?
SEO is all about predicting how Google’s algorithm will rank your page and what you can do to improve those rankings. DA and similar scores aren’t developed by Google – they’re developed by people who want to sell you SEO tools.
That’s where the controversy stems from – some purists argue you should ignore scores like DA, and instead focus on SEO fundamentals. We’re somewhere in between, ourselves. We believe that DA and related scores give you an excellent snapshot of how your page is ranking and how likely you are to outrank your competitors for various keywords. That said, DA is not the be-all and end-all of SEO – it’s just another metric you can use to evaluate performance.
How to boost domain authority (or how I learned to stop worrying and hire an SEO agency)
Boosting DA is more or less synonymous with implementing SEO best practices – the better your SEO is, the better your DA should be. Telling you “Have great SEO!” is a bit of a cop-out, though, so let’s get into a little bit more detail.
Make sure you’ve got the SEO basics down pat
To boost your score, we’re going to get other websites with high DAs to link to you. But even sites with excellent links will fail to rank well if they’re being heavily penalized by Google or if Google can’t navigate to the pages that are ranking well. You’re also going to be left in the dust if you’re not using analytics to your advantage. Follow these 3 steps:
- Ensure that your website has a sound internal linking structure. That means that every page should link to another page on your website – your homepage is often a good bet. Keep a shallow site structure – every page should be two or three clicks away from your homepage. That’s not always possible for certain sites (e-commerce sites in particular) – but it’s a good principle to keep in mind.
- Make sure all of your pages are meeting Google’s most important criteria, like Web Core Vitals. In short, you want pages that load quickly, are mobile-friendly, are easy to interact with, and that don’t move around too much while they’re loading. In other words, make your pages fast and user-friendly!
- Measure how well your site and pages are performing using metrics like DA. That way, you’ll be able to tell how any changes you make affect your score. Keep a running tally of your score every week, as well as what changes you made to your site (and changes that may have been spurred by external factors, like Google algorithm updates).
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for success, we can start building backlinks.
Build better backlinks
We could write a hundred articles on how to build better backlinks – a lot of SEO is built on the premise that high-quality backlinks will help you rank better. We’ll keep things brief here, though.
- Create amazing, unique content. You can cover topics that have already been covered before, but you need to make your content unique. That means providing a better overview of the topic than your competitors or a more specific overview. Local companies can benefit from putting a local spin on any given topic and getting links from other, well-reputed local sites. Your content can be anything from blogs to videos – it just has to be better than anything else out there. Easier said than done, we know.
- Get people to read your content. Promote your content on social media, on your homepage, on your email list, to your in-person customers – however, you can get eyes on it. Consider promoting your high PA content in order to improve your overall DA.
- Get other websites to link to you. The best way of doing this is to simply ask – send out emails telling websites with a high DA score that you’ve created content you believe their users will be interested in. You can also use the skyscraper strategy – create content that’s a better version of what your competitors made, find out who is linking to your competitors, and tell them to link to your superior content instead.
- Guest post. Look for high DA score websites in your niche or location that are interested in blog posts from skilled writers. These websites will usually allow you to post a brief bio along with the work you submit – and this bio can include a link to your company’s website.
- Don’t break Google’s linking rules. That means no paid links and no tit-for-tat linking deals. Keep everything above board, or Google may stop listing your website on the SERPs altogether.
- Eliminate low-quality backlinks. Not every backlink is equal, and backlinks from very low-quality domains with low DA scores can actually hurt your site. Ask the owners of those websites to remove those links. If they won’t, you can use Google’s tool to disavow links. That tool is especially useful if unnatural links cause Google to flag your website.
Hire an SEO agency
As you can see, improving your DA score is a lot of work. That’s why hiring an agency to do it for you is such a good idea. SEO agencies are focused on one thing – improving your ranking (and, as a result, your DA score).
Looking for search engine optimization in San Antonio? Look no further than RAPTAP Marketing. We’ll handle all your SEO for you, improve your DA score, improve your ranking, and get eyes on your website.
We hope this article has helped you understand the value of domain authority – and the value of SEO agencies. Keep working to improve that ranking – you can do it!