Domain authority matters.
Higher domain authority will result in better rankings for all your pages.
In this post, I’ll cover how to increase your domain authority and discuss exactly what it is.
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:
“Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will 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.”
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 DA 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 DA is calculated using these factors:
- Link profile
- MozRank (Moz’s version of Google’s PageRank)
- MozTrust (measures the “trustworthiness” of a linking domain)
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.
But the good news is that we can discern a few things from the information given.
Clearly, 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 DA takes into consideration seem similar to the factors Google takes into consideration. More on that in just a moment.
What’s a Good Domain Authority?
If only it were that straightforward.
A “good” DA 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 DA, 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 DA works on a logarithmic scale. That means the higher your DA score gets, the higher 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 like 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 your DA using its Link Explorer, the SERP Analysis section of Keyword Explorer, or through MozBar.
For most, MozBar is the easiest. The free Chrome extension will return the DA of 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 in common with Google.
Moz itself recommends improving your overall SEO in order to improve DA.
Improve On-Page SEO
Domain Authority 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 domain.
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 the 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 your content.
It’s one of the major ranking factors when it comes to Google, and one of the simplest ways to quickly boost your position and credibility.
Specifically, focus on longform content. This is anything over 1,500 words (the more, the better), and 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 an understood aspect of healthy SEO rankings.
But to understand how to improve, 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. And without a proper 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. As the name implies, these are bad habits that may very well result in link penalties.
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
Here’s another thing to focus on: 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.
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, you can easily sign up for a free trial.
Get started by creating a New Project, located in the “Projects” section of the left-hand menu.
Give it 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 health of your site.
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
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.”
We already went over the importance of longform content. Beyond that, to make a truly linkable piece of content you need to tackle a subject in its entirety.
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 yours is unique enough to stand out. This is your take, so make sure you do it right.
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.
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.
Concluding Domain Authority
Simply put: domain authority is complicated.
While we don’t know everything we’d like to about it, we know one thing for sure: a healthy link profile is a sure way to improve your DA.
Just remember, when it comes to domain authority, 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.