For beginners and experienced alike, trying to comprehend how the algorithms in Google and other search engines work is not easy. When a user types in a search query with specific keywords, the search engines throw up results in order of relevance based on the algorithm employed. How and which method is employed to rank a page ahead of others is not quite open to many. With thousands of websites trying to assert their importance in the internet space under specific keywords, the search engines devise ways to rank them on the basis of their authority and credibility and, the methods used keep on changing.
Of the many SEO terms that bloggers and web developers encounter daily – Google PageRank, meta keywords, alt tags, internal links, backlinks, H1 header titles, etc. – one term that has been most puzzling is the “Domain Authority”. Venerated as the most definitive SEO factor for establishing the authority of a website, Domain Authority is a key performance metric people have been trying to decipher to understand the workings behind the whole ranking system of search engines.
So, what is Domain Authority (DA)?
Domain Authority or DA is a metric developed by Moz that is used to illustrate how Google’s algorithms rank your website on the basis your ‘authority’ or ‘respect’ on the web. This is a rating system on a scale of 1-100 (100 being considered the best) and is a composite index formulated by considering many SEO factors. The higher the DA of a website, the higher is the score and the higher is your website ranked in Google’s search pages. Moz’s DA would enable you understand how your website would perform in the face of stiff competition from other websites within your niche. So, DA is basically a competitive metric among websites. When a website’s DA score is high, it is likely to rank higher in search engines results. DA is based on a logarithmic scale, which means, it will be easier to jump from a 30 to 35 rank than from 80 to 85 rank.
A brief history of Domain Authority metric
Domain Authority was developed by online social metrics monitoring company Moz (formerly SEOmoz), founded by Rand Fishkin in 2004. It has now established for itself as thought leaders in SEO and people look up to its Domain Authority as a benchmark for a site’s strength and its propensity to rank well. Moz has developed MozRank, an alternative to Google’s PageRank. Later on, MozTrust was developed, and it along with MozRank combined became the two primary factors (besides other ranking signals) deciding the Domain Authority.
Popularity of Domain Authority
When most of our SEO efforts are aimed at Google and when its ranking algorithms are shrouded in mystery and beyond the public domain, the DA model created by Moz is a welcome step. With SEO experts trying to up the game every time, Google’s machinery comes up with new updates almost on a daily basis (announcements happen only with big updates) to maintain a step ahead. The intricate formulation of the DA gives a fairly accurate predictive measure of how a website would fare when pitted against other websites in the niche. DA is a good way to get a quick assessment of the overall health of a website in terms of its SEO campaigns. Its wide out-of-hundred score range is also an important factor in its popularity.
What influences DA?
While there are many factors that influence the DA, Moz uses MozRank, MozTrust, and the inbound/outbound links calculated with their Mozscape web index while assigning its DA score to a website. This means we have one major factor pretty much within our control to have a favourable DA – the linkings. Inbound links from authoritative websites/blogs coming to your website would be a favourable influencing factor. However, trying to game the system with too many backlinks could actually do more harm than helping you. A unique thing about DA is that there are not much we could tweak around to influence their metric. The age of the website is another influencing factor which only goes to say that site needs time to grow in authority and trust. And we cannot tweak the age! Hence, a domain which has been active for a long time with regular updates in its content stands a better chance for scoring better. Unlike other SEO metrics, DA is difficult to influence directly from outside.
Can we improve DA?
Like mentioned earlier, DA is difficult to influence directly. But there are ways we can improve our website’s DA score.
- Create quality content that is relevant. Content and relevant content at that is one of the most important factors that helps a website in getting ranked under different keywords. Hence, the quality of your website’s content is a primary factor in determining the domain strength or authority. Yes, content is still the king and it remains the best bet for improving your Domain Authority. A good informative content is most likely to engage the readers and to be shared.
READ MORE: “12 Tips For Creating Relevant Content”.
- Create relevant internal linking. Yes, try to create internal links deep within your own website. A fresh content could be linked to your older ages if they are relevant and if the old page to which it is linked is authoritative and already ranked, it could have a favourable trickle-down effect. It could help the newly published content to have better chances of getting ranked faster. However, this does not mean you should be linking your pages everywhere within your site. Make the linkings relevant, natural and diverse. Overdoing it could bring more harm than benefits. So, create linkable content.
- Build backlinks but diversify them. Having backlinks from reputed websites or blogs are helpful in generating a good DA score. But having multiple backlinks from a single or a few domains is not advisable. If you have backlinks on your website, make sure that you have them from diverse sources. DA values a diversity of these backlinks. One way to get backlinks from authority websites and blogs is by writing guest posts and getting them published. You can link the post you write in these domains to your own website.
- Filter the harmful backlinks. If in our effort at improving DA, we get backlinks from everywhere including the spammy ones, we could get easily penalised by Google. It is common to get notifications for backlinks and comments from suspicious-looking websites. One should be watchful of these and remove them immediately.
- Increase social visibility. Google uses social signals to identify a good quality content. When the social share is more and there is increased engagement with the audience through comments, they are good indicators of valuable content. A post that is liked, commented upon or shared widely sends out favourable signals to Google and other search engines. Moz also uses these signals for calculating its DA score.
- Do SEO. Optimise your on-page content because SEO is important for both Google rankings and your DA. Optimise all elements on your page – H1 header title, meta description (for better relevance), alt tags in images.
- Make your website search-engine-friendly. Over and above the usual SEO efforts, you should be making your website user-friendly with good structuring and designs. Your website should be easy to navigate with minimum or no crawl errors. Design or coding flaws will make it difficult for Google to crawl and index your website. This will have a negative impact on your DA score as well.
- Choose a good domain name. Choose a domain name that is brandable and relevant to your niche. It need not always be related to your niche but if it’s brandable, easily pronounceable, can be easily remembered, they are considered good indicators of a good domain name.
- Get your pages indexed. Use the webmaster tools of the search engines to get your pages indexed as soon as they are published. You need to get them indexed before you could think of them getting ranked.
- Diversify your content. Think of diversifying your post with the use of videos, pictures and pictographs other than the text content. This will go long way in asserting your Domain Authority.
- Stay within the niche. If you want to gain Domain Authority, it is important not to stray away from the niche. You cannot be posting everything and anything under the sun and expect people not to get confused when they land on your site. Staying within the niche improves your authority in the industry you are in.
- Create content regularly. It must be said that the quality and not the quantity is important. But if you can maintain a good publishing frequency and write, say 2-3 quality posts in a week, then you are already on your way to becoming an authoritative source in your niche. Regularly updating your site with new content makes your audience trust you more, which directly impacts on your overall search engine rankings. This parameter is one that Moz looks for in assigning authority.
- Make your website load faster. Since Google had made load speed time of websites in their ranking factor, you cannot remain unaffected when the site speed is sluggish. Other than the HTML code used, the design of your website, the plugins load, one factor that people usually ignore is the hosting company of your website. Pick a reliable company with a good reputation for having fast servers.
Why is DA relevant?
With Google constantly updating its algorithm, it is becoming increasingly difficult to game the system. You cannot be expecting to get your sub-par content ranked every time with all the SEO tricks. This is the reason why the DA metric is getting acknowledged as a good performance indicator of your website and one could say that it is as important as the Google itself. And as mentioned earlier, it is hard to influence the DA metric as it considers many other factors to arrive at the composite score. It is the definitive metric to gauge a website’s overall quality and strength. Although similar to Google’s working, Moz’s Domain Authority is gaining its place of importance for many website owners all over the world. A domain takes time to gain authority. The key to achieving Domain Authority or having a good DA score is to keep publishing good, informative articles for your readers. DA provides an up to date metric to rank your site characterised by high level of granularity. Hence, investing in Domain Authority makes sense in the long run and it deserves all your attention and priority.