In this post, I’ll cover how to increase your domain authority, discuss exactly what it is, and whether it not it should be a main KPI.
What We’ll Cover:
- What it is
- How it’s calculated
- What’s a good domain authority?
- How to find your DA
- How to improve your DA:
What is Domain Authority, Anyway?
Domain authority (DA) is a term created by Moz to predict how well a site will rank.
In Moz’s own words:
“DA is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). Score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.”
So the higher your DA score, the higher your site is likely to rank. On the flip side, a low DA score will likely result in a low ranking in the SERPs, meaning less eyes on your site, less traffic, and fewer conversions.
With that in mind, you can begin to see that website authority is a pretty big factor when it comes to your overall SEO results.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at where these numbers come from.
How is Domain Authority Calculated?
Truth is, nailing down the specifics of DA scores is kind of like trying to figure out Google’s algorithm. Meaning that we’re only privy to the information Moz wants us to know.
Apparently, there are over 40 factors that go into the overall DA calculation. Unfortunately, we have access to very few of them.
But we’ll go with what we’ve got.
We know for sure that it is calculated using these factors:
- Link profile
- MozRank (Moz’s version of Google’s PageRank)
- MozTrust (measures the “trustworthiness” of a linking domain)
As of 2019, Google has released a few more hints about ranking factors. To rank on Google as an authoritative site, you should look at the following:
- External Link Anchor Text
- Strength of External Links
- On-Page SEO/Keywords
- Social Search
- Site Traffic
- Site Bounce-Rate
- And many more unknown factors
The bad news is this: with so many factors we aren’t aware of (and just so many factors in general), it can be hard to pin down the exact cause of a low DA. That means that it can be difficult to improve it fast.
But the good news is that we can discern a few things from the information given.
Clearly, your link profile is a big deal. Not only does Moz mention links specifically, but both tools (MozRank and MozTrust) are related to linking and link authority.
In fact, a lot of the factors take into consideration seem similar to the factors Google takes into consideration. More on that in just a moment.
What’s a Good Domain Authority?
It will depend on a lot of factors – how big your website is, how many links point to it, how long it’s been active, etc.
Bigger, better-established websites will naturally have a higher website authority, while those smaller or brand new websites will swing towards the lower end of the spectrum.
That being the case, if you’re a pretty new website with a DA of only 10, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing anything wrong.
Like most things SEO-related, the average DA score varies by industry. Media and publishing claim the highest with 86, while wellness is at the bottom with 58.
Also of note is that it works on a logarithmic scale. That means the higher your DA score gets, the harder it will be to improve it.
So if your score is 15, it will be much easier to improve your score than if you already have a high score of 90.
How Do I Find My Domain Authority?
Finding your specific DA is easy with the aid of the right tools.
The best place to start is Moz itself. You can find it using its Link Explorer, the SERP Analysis section of Keyword Explorer, or through MozBar.
For most, MozBar is the easiest. The free Chrome extension shows you for any site you enter, as well as of the Page Authority of the selected URL.
Users will also find information on external followed links, linking root domains, MozRank and MozTrust.
How to Improve Domain Authority
Though we don’t know all the factors that go into Moz’s algorithm, we do know that it seems to share a few factors in common with Google.
Moz itself recommends improving your overall SEO in order to improve DA.
Create High-Quality Engaging Content
1. How Google seeks to serve high quality content:
Quality content is king when it comes to DA. This, practically, means no spelling errors, topically comprehensive, grammatically correct, engaging, well written, and other important measures.
Creating content that is easy to read and makes the user experience as seamless as possible will directly lead to higher rankings and more traffic.
The key is to remember that your page needs to create a great user experience. This means it must be trustworthy, authoritative, and expert.
2. What engaging content gets more readers:
There are some guidelines that, when followed, will create content which attracts more readership.
- Having original content
- Actionable items
- Make sure the info you’re delivering is as accurate as possible
- Tell a compelling story
- Be visually appealing
- Stimulate your audiences brain
- Have a hook early to keep readers venturing further into the content
- Publish varied content
3. How diversity can help you attract a larger audience and more links:
Content can be served in different ways, including through prose, info-graphics, and video.
Don’t risk your audience getting bored with the same format and content. Mixing it up in terms of subject matter and visuals can be really helpful.
Increase On-Page SEO for Higher Domain Authority
It differs from Page Authority in that DA measures the predictive ranking of an entire domain, while Page Authority focuses on individual pages.
That said, it makes sense that by working to improve and optimize individual pages for Page Authority, it would also have a positive effect on the overall strength of the website as a whole..
Specifically, that means considering things like:
- Page titles – are they relevant to your audience?
- H1 and H2 tags – Do they contain the target keyword of the page?
- Images and Videos – are they frequent, and are they optimized?
- Image alt tags and descriptions – do they contain the target keyword? Do they accurately explain the image?
- Links – do you link to other relevant content in your website?
It also means taking a good, long look at the quality of your content.
If you’re thinking about how to increase page authority, you need to reevaluate what you’re putting on the pages.
It’s one of the major ranking factors when it comes to Google, and one of the simplest ways to quickly boost your position, credibility, and domain authority.
Still unsure about how to increase page authority?
First, focus on long-form content. This means anything over 1,500 words (the more, the better) tends to have a big advantage when it comes to the SERPs.
Google loves longform, and studies have shown that it ranks significantly higher than its shorter content.
It also has the benefit of attracting more backlinks overall. Longer, more in-depth content appears much more authoritative, which in turn attracts more links from quality sources.
And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that more quality links = higher domain authority.
Conduct a Link Audit to Improve Domain Authority
No surprise here: a site’s overall link authority has an extremely strong correlation to higher rankings.
It’s mentioned in almost every factor we know for sure has an effect on DA, and it’s a well-understood aspect of healthy SEO rankings.
But to understand how to improve it, you have to know where you are. That’s where a link audit comes in.
The thing about backlinks is that a lot of people don’t realize how much strategy goes into obtaining them. Without a proper backlink strategy, it’s all too easy to fall into bad link habits.
You may have heard this referred to as link schemes, a big part of black-hat SEO tactics. As the name implies, these are bad habits that may very well result in link penalties and poor domain authority.
According to Google, link schemes can include any of the following:
- Buying or selling links
- Excessive link exchanges
- Using automated services to create links
- Large scale marketing or guest-posting with keyword-rich anchor text titles
If you want to know how to increase it using backlinks, here’s what you can do.
An important thing to focus on is link diversity.
Having twelve links from the same domain won’t mean as much to Google as having twelve links from twelve different domains.
So ideally, you want to collect links from as many different domains as possible. In Google’s eyes, this means your site is more authoritative and trustworthy, which will help immensely.
Luckily, finding your own link profile is easy with the help of Google Search Console.
Once you’ve logged into your account, locate and click the “Search Traffic” section in the left-hand sidebar, and click “Links to Your Site.”
This will give you a brief rundown of:
- Your total number of backlinks
- Who links the most
- Most linked pages
While this is a great starting place, your next step is to analyze all of those links to get a diagnosis on the overall health of your link profile.
To do this, I like to use SEMRush’s Backlink Audit Tool.
If you already have an account, sign in and navigate to your dashboard. If you don’t have an account, you can easily sign up for a free trial.
Get started by creating a New Project, which is located in the “Projects” section of the left-hand menu.
Give your new project a title, and on the next screen find the Backlink Audit feature.
Next, define your campaign scope, click Start, and wait for SEMRush to work its magic.
This will take a few minutes, and when it’s done will return a report that lists the links it finds most hazardous to the site’s health.
Once you have this information on hand, it’s time to get work.
Evaluate each of the links deemed unhealthy and make a plan for removing them (this usually requires you to contact the site owner of the undesirable link). If that doesn’t work, you can disavow the link – but proceed with caution.
For more information on getting rid of bad links, check out my full guide.
Get More High-Quality Links to Improve Domain Authority
Whether your link audit reveals a few holes in your profile or not, your focus should always be on gaining as many high-quality links as possible.
And the easiest way to get more links? Create better content.
Even Google agrees:
“The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
When you’re trying to figure out how to build it up by getting higher-quality links, you should consider several other key elements.
We already went over the importance of long-form content. Beyond that, to make a truly linkable piece of content you need to tackle a subject in its entirety.
Want to learn how to increase DA?
Do your research – and include your findings. Cover every angle and offer unique insight. Chances are, there’s someone in your niche writing about the same thing, so make sure your take is unique enough to stand out. This is your point-of-view, so make sure you present it correctly.
When in doubt, make sure your content does at least one of the following:
- Offers expert opinions
- Includes original research or data
- Collaborates with bigger names or experts in your industry
- Includes unique images, videos or infographics
Content like complete guides, white papers, industry interviews, etc. are all great ways to capitalize on these kinds of content and improve DA.
Once you’ve created that killer, linkable content – promote the heck out of it.
Post it on your social media pages, include it in your email marketing messages, and reach out to popular bloggers and industry leaders who may include a link in their own content.
Domain Authority Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. 🦥 What is dwell-time?
Dwell-time is basically how much time a user spent on your site.
Essentially, it’s an on-page SEO metric that measures the visitor’s engagement, bounce rate, and click-through rate. The longer the dwell-time, the higher your domain authority will eventually be.
You can improve your website’s dwell-time by doing the following:
- Creating long-form blog posts
- Displaying related posts under every blog post
- Interlink regularly
- Have external links open in a new tab
2. 🔗 How can I get more backlinks?
There are three important backlink tactics that you should consider incorporating into your strategy.
- Guest Blogging – Writing for other popular blogs.
- Infographics – Interesting visual content that grabs your audience’s attention.
- Giveaways – Contests, production promotions, and coupon codes specifically created for your target audience.
3. ❗ Can Google penalties hurt my domain authority?
Yes, Google penalties are very important. There are two types of Google penalties.
- Algorithmic penalty – This happens automatically when Google makes changes to its algorithm.
- Manual review penalty – Trigger by an Algorithmic penalty, this one requires action.
You can check your site for any penalties by using the following resources:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Moz Rank Tracker
- Search Metrics
4. 📈 Should Domain Authority be one of my major key performance indicators (KPI)?
While Domain Authority is a highly valuable metric that can give you insight as to where you are relative to competitors, it’s not necessarily a good KPI to focus on for a number of reasons:
- Domain authority is based on an exponential function, meaning it’s easier to raise your DA from 1 to 2 than it is from 49 to 50. A focus on DA can create frustration if the metric doesn’t move, even if everything you’re doing is positively impacting rankings, traffic, and conversions.
- Relatedly, chasing DA may lead to making bad decisions when it comes to link acquisition. Not all links are made equal and not all high authority links are good. Trying to manipulate your link profile by buying links, for example, can lead to a Google penalty.
- Too much emphasis on DA can distract from where your focus should be, which is on the consumer. It can distract from the customer’s journey, their needs, and how they are interacting with your website.
While we don’t know everything we’d like to know about it, we know one thing for sure: a healthy link profile is a sure way to improve your DA score.
Just remember, patience pays off. Older sites have an obvious advantage here. They’ve been around longer, have more content, and therefore more opportunity for links.
And that’s okay. Backlinks aren’t built in a day. It’s a long-term strategy that when done correctly, produces long-term results.
Now that you have more information on how to increase it, you can get started on the right foot.