Domain authority is an important measurement of your website’s SEO performance.
Whether you are pushing for major SEO changes or just want to optimize your existing search engine strategies, your domain authority score is a major part of achieving your long-term SEO goals.
While domain authority is not one of Google’s ranking factors, it still has a huge impact on search engine optimization tasks as a whole.
Understanding its meanings and the ways that it can be measured is important for chasing the best possible ranking options in every situation and for monitoring your own SEO performance in the long term.
But what is domain authority, and how does it work?
More importantly, what does it actually reflect in the context of SEO, and how are you meant to interpret it as a source of data when trying to improve your search rankings?
Table of Contents
Your domain authority, or DA, is a metric that predicts your site’s performance on search engines.
The “authority” refers to a combination of factors that indicate a good or high-ranking site and, as such, is trustworthy.
Created by Moz, the domain authority score ranges from 1-100, with higher numbers showing that a site is more likely to perform well in search engines.
Unlike other SEO metrics that focus on specific terms or niches, domain authority is about the site itself and its overall suitability for ranking high online.
In simple terms, domain authority shows your site’s overall quality in the eyes of most search platforms.
A higher DA means that your site will have an easier time ranking higher since it is already optimized and/or high-quality enough to fall within the standards of most search engines.
Another way of understanding domain authority score is to consider it a measurement of your SEO potential.
A higher domain authority score means that your site has more potential for overtaking other websites aiming for the same search terms.
What Influences Domain Authority Score?
The DA score comes primarily from your website’s backlink profile – the list of links and linking domains that point to your website.
This is the foundation of your SEO and has a massive impact on how search engines react to your site, so a better link profile is always important.
This means that domain authority score is based directly on something that influences your website’s rankings, meaning that it can be a good way to judge how well a site is going to perform on search platforms.
There are other factors that go into judging your total DA score, from your overall SEO performance to the quality of content on your site.
These all also have an impact on your SEO – again, making DA a fairly good way to get an at-a-glance breakdown of your total SEO performance.
While Google does not use the DA score as a ranking factor, it is still an important part of telling how well your site is performing overall.
Authority metrics are based on a set of very specific factors that relate to your site’s quality and overall “goodness,” which makes a useful comparison point.
While higher DA does not necessarily mean higher rankings or greater traffic, looking at your site’s domain authority does give you a score that represents your site’s total SEO potential – whether you are using it or not.
Thanks to this, your site’s domain authority can be a useful measurement of how high you would be able to rank under ideal circumstances.
It serves as a useful prediction of your site’s performance before you rush into a new SEO strategy and can also highlight whether or not you have major areas of improvement to focus on.
If used with a domain authority checker, it can even become a way to compare yourself to competitor sites.
While it is not an exact measurement, you can aim to push your domain authority score above those of your competitors to achieve greater success in search results.
Being able to check domain authority regularly can be important.
The MOZ Domain Authority (DA) system is a summary of your entire domain rating in the context of search rankings and quality.
Knowing your overall performance stats can make a huge difference in how you push forward with various SEO tasks.
As the original creators of the domain authority score, the MOZ Domain Authority (DA) tools allow you to quickly check any website’s domain authority with just a URL.
This gives you an incredibly easy way to understand how much domain authority different sites have, allowing for very easy comparisons.
Not only do these tools provide domain authority score information, but they can also offer reports such as the top links that influenced domain authority or the anchor text and metadata that was relevant to the end result.
This – combined with a backlink checking tool – can make for a powerful combination when trying to root out bad links from your site or identify high-quality backlinks sources that you can copy from competitors.
SEMrush is a very popular tool for all kinds of SEO work, and it can also be used to break down domain authority.
The Backlinks Analysis section lets you see the domain authority scores of a site, as well as the sites that some of the links are coming from. This can give you a solid understanding of why your domain authority score is at the level it is at.
Beyond domain authority, SEMrush is also a good general-purpose SEO tool, making it important for a range of other tasks.
Ahrefs is another highly popular tool, providing a Domain Rating (domain authority) score range within its data.
One thing to note is that Ahrefs uses its own special algorithm for domain authority score, meaning that the domain authority you see on Ahrefs might be different from the domain authority score under Moz.
Even so, this can be another metric to compare two sites by, and you can even use both to see if there are certain flaws that one platform overlooked while another did not.
Understanding how to increase domain authority is actually a lot easier than it sounds – as long as you know what you are doing.
Like any SEO-related technique, there are a lot of ways to slowly increase domain authority score and push yourself higher in search results.
However, making the wrong choices can actually damage your SEO in the long term, especially if you are using black-hat methods to increase domain authority in the short term.
Just like other SEO goals, boosting your website’s domain authority is best done ethically and carefully. But how can you boost your domain authority score, directly or indirectly?
1) Improve Your SEO
Overall SEO performance is still the heart of any online website.
While SEO and domain authority scores might not be directly linked, the domain authority metric is calculated through very similar factors to your search rankings, which means that most SEO techniques will benefit
both of them equally.
This makes DA a good representation of your overall SEO performance – and also means that improving SEO factors will make your DA score rise accordingly.
Basically, the better your SEO is, the better you are performing on search platforms.
Since DA is based around a similar concept, most things that boost your domain score will also have a positive impact on your SEO, so boosting one will boost the other alongside it.
Refining your SEO can be one of the most effective ways of placing your site in front of more users and gaining more traffic, leading to your site’s success snowballing into even more profits and a larger user base.
Off-page SEO refers mostly to link building, but it can also include things like creating social media accounts to get more attention focused on your main website.
Content marketing, guest posting, social media, and influencer marketing are all powerful ways of boosting website domain authority without doing anything internally.
However, these techniques can be tricky to work with and require some skill to pull off, meaning that they are often used alongside more conventional SEO techniques.
Link building is still the primary focus of off-page SEO since it has the biggest impact on your rankings and domain authority.
Off-page SEO strategies are not always amazing on their own, but they can still be very powerful when combined with other techniques and tools.
On-page SEO is all about optimizing your own site for search engines by making on-site changes, such as streamlining page loading times or updating metadata and tags to fit each page’s content property.
Search engines look at many different parts of a site when deciding how they should rank, and that does not just include the text and images that users see on-screen.
Between hidden metadata, internal linking structure details, and overall site performance, there can be a whole range of things that need to be tweaked and changed to get the maximum SEO benefits for your site.
For example, a slow page loading speed can damage your SEO, and poorly tagged images might go completely unnoticed by search engine crawlers.
If you want to make your site perform better online, then on-page SEO is an important way of improving the site itself and giving it an edge over your competitors.
Technical SEO is like on-page SEO but more focused on the code. While this covers site speed as well, it can also refer to the overall structure of the site.
For example, excessive code might bloat the site and make it run worse, while a lack of mobile functionality might stop mobile users from seeing the site as often.
Again, technical SEO is important for properly boosting your rankings. These factors might not influence how the site looks on Google search results, but they will make the site appear more often.
Keyword research focuses on finding keywords that your audience is using in searches.
All searches are done via keywords, meaning the specific words and phrases that a user types in. These are a major part of how sites appear in Google search results and on other search platforms.
A site is more likely to appear if a user searches for terms that are relevant to it, but relevancy is not the only factor.
If a site is using that term and has it featured prominently in its backlink profile, it becomes even more likely to appear.
In other words, you want to research the terms that your internet users are searching to find your business and then focus on the ones that will give you the best results.
Once you know the keywords that your audience tends to prefer using, you can insert them into your site’s content and incoming links to boost your chances of appearing for those terms.
This allows you to get a handle on what your audience is searching for and gives you a way to overtake other sites by being clever about the keywords you use.
These keywords can even be used in paid marketing if your business begins to use paid marketing, meaning that keyword research can future-proof your expansion into more marketing techniques further down the line.
2) Improve Your Backlink Profile
Getting higher-quality links from reliable or high-authority websites causes a natural boost in your own backlink profile, which means greater domain authority scores overall.
Backlinks are generally the biggest ranking factor in calculating domain authority, and sites with few to no backlinks often see barely any traffic until they start to build a proper link profile.
Good backlinks consist of three core things:
- They come from high-authority sites that are reliable and trustworthy.
- They are relevant to the target site, and both the target and source pages are relevant to one another.
- They are not created through black-hat methods or spam sites and will not collapse the next time a Google spider crawls that site.
This means that you want backlinks from reliable sites that have a lot of relevance to your content.
While you can get away with middling-quality links, you ideally want at least the majority of site backlinks to be worthwhile and high-value.
Getting high-quality backlinks is important, and that means looking for sources of inbound links that carry actual authority behind them.
There are a lot of ways to do this: spying on your competitors’ inbound links, arranging to get links from sites that you have worked with in the past, or even just creating profiles on social media accounts that send a link back to your main site.
The important thing is that your overall link profile becomes more worthwhile and valuable in the long term.
The more good links you have pointing to your site, the higher your website authority metrics will rise.
Audit Your Existing Links
While creating high-quality links is important, it is also sometimes helpful to do a link audit and remove any low-quality links that might be “poisoning the well.”
Links from spam sites or other low-quality websites often have a negative impact on your domain authority score and can even lead to you getting direct penalties from Google and other search engines.
Identifying these toxic links can be tricky, so it is important to use all of the right tools (such as Google Search Console) to identify links that might be harming your SEO more than they help.
In general, you do not want any low-quality links in your link profile if you can help it. Poor-quality, irrelevant links from sketchy sites can cause massive damage to your SEO in the long term.
Removing links can be done via the disavow system in Google Search Console or the equivalent tool on other platforms. This gives you an easy way to cull links that are not benefiting your site’s domain authority.
Identify Your SEO Niches
High-quality backlinks rely on relevancy between the root domains and the linking sites, as well as the relevancy of one piece of content to another.
This makes it vital to understand what your niche actually is and what kind of relevant topics you can use as a way of gathering links.
For example, a furniture brand will have natural relevance to other furniture sites or articles about buying furniture.
It might also mesh well with interior design blogs but would not necessarily be relevant to a post on that blog about painting walls.
This also matters quite a lot for identifying bad links within your backlink profile.
A link audit can show you links that seem great on paper, but site owners need to understand that a good link can still be irrelevant and cause problems for their brand in certain situations.
Remember that Moz chose to calculate domain authority with a heavy focus on relevancy. An excellent site that keeps getting links from completely irrelevant contacts might see their DA score drop.
3) Build More Links
If you want to boost your website’s domain authority properly, then link building is the way to go.
An effective link building strategy can allow you to capture a wide range of links from other reputable sites, giving your domain’s authority a major boost.
The more effective your link building strategy is, the greater the benefits, allowing you to improve your SEO by capturing links from high-authority sites and other reputable websites.
Link building is essentially the basis of all SEO work, which makes it important to focus on collecting worthwhile links as often as possible.
Not only do Google and other search engines use links as a core ranking factor, but a good set of links can also draw in more traffic while contributing to your SEO directly.
Of course, this means that you need to earn those links. Doing this can involve a range of different strategies, from permitted white-hat techniques to the incredibly risky black-hat techniques.
The best way to earn more useful links is to follow Google’s guidelines, work under their terms, and find ways of gathering up more links without having to take any major risks with your site’s domain or SEO performance.
Start Building Links
Even if a link is only moderately powerful, having more relevant inbound links pointing at your site will benefit your SEO and DA results.
One of the most effective ways to boost domain authority is to simply build links in general.
While there are some key strategies (mentioned below) that can really help, a good domain authority score usually comes from having a diverse range of good links backing up your site.
This kind of off-page SEO can take many forms, but it is almost always important to seek out new links as often as you can.
Sometimes, it can be a good idea to seek out average (but still relevant) links to pad out your backlinks.
There is not much reason to keep your link profile exclusively full of top-tier links, especially since even a basic link from a relevant blog can contribute to your SEO success.
Create Great Content to Gain Natural Links
Good content does not just influence your domain authority score but also provides a greater flow of natural links if you produce something worth reading.
By producing good content, you can create something that users will be likely to link to, which earns your site more links and higher traffic without needing you to do anything specific.
The more helpful and valuable your posts or content are, the more users will refer back to them, which naturally draws in more links and, therefore, boosts your domain authority ever so slightly.
While this might sound like it overlaps with the link building techniques mentioned above, creating content can also have a range of other benefits that make it incredibly effective.
For example, good content can attract more natural traffic and allow you to boost your on-page SEO in new ways, contributing to your overall site SEO performance.
Writing long-form content for your own website can also allow you to build a reputation as a reliable source in that niche. This can be a surprisingly powerful way to earn even more links from users who see you as a site that they can trust, especially if your content is written to inform.
Rebuild Broken Links
Broken links are any links that point to a now-gone page, whether the target site was deleted or simply changed enough for that target page to vanish.
Finding these – especially if they were previously pointing at your competitors – can give you an easy way to capture some high-quality backlinks.
Broken link building is all about approaching site owners with links pointing to dead pages and then offering them similar content if they point the link back to your site instead.
This effectively lets you replace the broken link with one of your own, reaping the benefits and stealing away a link that might have previously pointed at a competitor.
Of course, this also means that you need some similar content.
Whether it is a simple blog post or an in-depth, well-researched resource page, you can only capture a broken link if you are able to fill in the gap that the deleted page left behind.
Reclaim Lost Links
Sometimes, your own links break or are removed by the site owner who originally created them. If this happens, you usually want to get them back.
How you tackle link reclamation depends on the situation.
If the link was broken accidentally, you can talk to the webmaster to get it sorted out.
If it was removed intentionally or replaced with a different link from a competitor company, more negotiation may be needed.
Capture Unlinked Brand Mentions
If your brand has been mentioned online, you might be able to use that as an excuse to seek out links. If an article already exists about your brand, you can approach them and ask for a link placement.
Use some common sense here and consider whether or not this would be possible. For example, a negative article about your business obviously will not want to place a link.
Again, this might require some extra negotiation, especially if it is obvious that you want the link placement primarily for SEO reasons.
4) Improve Your Site Structure (For Robots)
The website structure you present to users can matter for domain authority reasons, even if it does not seem immediately obvious.
This is because Crawlers (the bots that search engines use to inspect sites) need to follow this structure, too.
Crawlers will explore as many pages as they can when judging a site, and that can include situations where they wander into unfinished pages or start crawling technical pages (like site templates) that are not meant
to be seen.
They might even start to flag up duplicate content on pages that are not meant to contribute to SEO, such as complaining about pages that are part of the site’s search system.
Using a Sitemap and/or a robots.txt file can give you far more control over these bots, letting you direct them to the pages that matter while keeping them away from pages that they do not need to crawl.
5) Improve Your Site Structure (For Humans)
While crawlers are a major factor to consider, you also want to be aware of the users that are exploring your site, too.
A poorly structured website can result in users leaving more often or ending up at irrelevant content that they do not want to see.
Not only does this damage SEO, but it can lower your DA in certain situations, too.
A good internal linking structure allows you to direct users around your site properly, which can both boost their user experience and help with your overall SEO results.
You want internal links to point to relevant pages based on their context and anchor text, just like links from outside sources.
While this might not lead to more organic traffic directly, it makes your site easier to use and can have some knock-on effects on your rankings.
6) Use Common Sense
Your website’s domain authority is based on its general quality and reliability – the higher domain authority score that you have, the more “rankable” your site is.
Domain authority scores range from 1 to 100, and that can make it a useful metric for understanding how far your site is from its maximum domain authority score.
A score of 20 can show that you have a lot of room for improvement, whereas 80 is close to perfect.
Ideally, you want to use domain authority as a benchmark for how much more you could improve, then use various other tools to break down the specifics behind where you are going wrong.
For example, if you find that you are lacking high-quality links, then you can turn to link building.
If your domain authority score is still low, then you might have bad links to cull or need to perform some technical SEO to make the site perform better for users.
While domain authority score has been explained earlier, you might also run into the concept of page authority.
These are not the same thing, but they are both creations of Moz, and both have value in SEO processes.
In simple terms, domain authority refers to the entire site.
Page authority, however, refers to the power of a single page.
This can be an important distinction to make because it can change how you handle linking and SEO tweaks.
Page authority is calculated on a logarithmic scale of 1 to 100, meaning that it is harder to improve than domain authority.
It relies mostly on backlinking and does not pay attention to SEO elements such as keywords.
For example, a page with high domain authority but low page authority is on a well-ranking site, but the page itself might be lacking worthwhile links.
Using page authority gives you a way to quickly see which pages are struggling for links the most.
You can also see which has the most (or best) linking root domains targeting them.
Domain authority is relevant to any web page, but a website’s DA can still be a confusing thing to deal with sometimes.
Site authority works in a different way from typical SEO metrics and acts as a representation of a site’s performance in search engine result pages rather than a factual measurement.
Here are some other things you may need to know if you are working with domain authority scores, especially if you are brand new to SEO and DA as a whole.
Do Internal Links Matter?
Internal links from one page on a site to another can boost DA and can sometimes influence SEO.
While they are not necessarily directly impacting your search rankings, they are still important for helping SEO spiders navigate.
A proper site structure can be important for both SEO reasons and to improve your overall user experience, something that can make a big difference to new customers.
Beyond that, they can also prevent users from bouncing off your site (leaving right after arriving), something that can influence your SEO performance.
A good internal link structure can help users get around properly, whether they are organic traffic or arrived via a paid ad.
How Does Domain Authority Work on Other Search Engines?
A domain authority score is not tied to a platform like Google since it is not even really relevant to a specific search algorithm.
It serves more as a general measurement of a site’s potential SEO performance, which means that it should be relevant to almost any site overall.
Most search engines use very similar algorithms for their SEO, so ranking high on Google search results usually means that you will rank high on most others.
Of course, this all depends on the search engine. Always make sure you gather data from search platforms, too.
How Exactly is Domain Authority Calculated?
The calculations for domain authority are based on a range of factors
It mostly revolves around root/referring domains, the total amount of links you have, and the quality of said links.
These factors are all things that also help you rank higher in search engine result pages. As such, sites that improve one are also improving the other.
This entire calculation is independent of any made by Google or other search platforms, so there are still differences in how they approach their ratings.
What is a Link Worthy Site?
A link worthy site web page is usually a very informative post hosted on a site with a good site speed range, great backlinks, and high relevance to the user’s search.
Relevancy, optimization, and content value matter a lot.
Higher-effort content tends to get more links, so creating content with actual value behind it is important.
A site that floods itself with low-quality content may still get links, but they will not be as valuable.
When sites link back to yours, they are either doing it as a point of reference or because you are a useful resource to them.
In either case, better content means better results.
Is Domain Authority Really That Important?
Domain authority matters as a measurement of website success and potential.
On its own, domain authority is simply a way to see if your site would theoretically rank well.
When used alongside other metrics and tools, domain authority becomes very useful for pushing your SEO forward.
Domain authority can tell you whether a site is meeting its proper potential or if there are issues that still need to be addressed.
While domain authority can’t identify these issues itself, it can be a good way to quickly see if a site is performing as well as it could be.
It also gives you a good comparison point for measuring your site up against a competitor’s, acting as a shorthand for which one of the sites is currently performing best.
Domain authority is a simple concept that can relate to a lot of different tasks.
While this article has broken down domain authority well, you usually still need some practical experience to understand it.
Using domain authority as a measuring stick is not hard, but it can take some time to fully adjust to.
It is important to remember that domain authority is not an SEO measurement but a general guideline.
Using domain authority as intended – to quickly compare sites and see how you are performing – can make a huge impact on your SEO efficiency and efforts.
Just remember that domain authority is not the only metric you have to work with. Domain authority should always be used alongside other forms of hard data and measurement to get the best results.
Scott Calland is a highly regarded content specialist with an English Degree. He has a passion for creating compelling content as a UK journalist that engages, informs, and entertains readers. With over 10 years of experience in creating news publications as a reporter, Scott has developed a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of how to craft content that resonates with audiences. Working closely with data analysts Scott’s research on topics is unrivalled for latest news updates.
Scott is also an investor in Searcharoo.