What is Domain Authority?

Domain authority is a measure of a website’s relevance to a topic of interest or an industry.

The domain authority of a website is a significant indicator of a given website’s ability to rank well on a search engine results page.

The popular internet marketing analytics company Moz has their own domain authority score, which they give a range of zero to one hundred.

While Moz’s score is not used directly by any search engines to determine ranking strength, it can give a meaningful prediction of a website’s ranking performance and a meaningful comparison between competing websites within a given topic.

Any given domain authority metric is typically derived from four factors:

  1. The reputation of a website and its contributing authors.
  2. Quality of the information on the website
  3. Centrality of a website (quality and quantity of inbound links)
  4. How competitive a particular subject is in terms of the number of sites competing for search ranking

How much weight each of these factors plays in calculating a domain authority score can be different depending on the ranking body.

Specific to the score provided by Moz, the scale is logarithmic meaning it becomes significantly harder to increase your score the higher your score is.


How To Utilize Domain Authority

The sites with the highest domain authority are sites with high quantities of quality inbound links (backlinks) such as Google, YouTube & Facebook.

Websites with a small number of inbound links will have a low domain authority score, with brand new websites having the lowest score.

At the end of the day, domain authority is meant to predict a website’s ranking ability.

It’s good to keep in mind that a “good” domain authority score is relative, meaning what you should consider a “good” score to aim for is based on the score of your competitors’ websites.

Rather than aiming for the highest score you can manage, it makes more sense to simply aim to be higher than your competitors.

It’s important to note the distinction between domain authority and page authority. Domain authority predicts the ranking strength of an entire domain or subdomain, where as page authority is a similar measure but only for a single webpage. 

Many SEO and internet marketing platforms have built in metrics for measuring domain authority, most prominently Moz offers several tools with domain authority measures incorporated.


How Can You Increase Your Domain Authority?

It’s difficult to affect your domain authority score directly, as the score is derived from several different metrics and link data. This makes sense as the score is meant to mirror competitive performance in search results, and search engines take many factors into account.

The best way to positively affect your domain authority score is to focus your efforts on improving your website’s SEO and in particular work on your link profile by acquiring links from sites with a high domain authority.


What Could Cause Your Domain Authority Score To Fluctuate?

Determining the exact reason for your score’s change can be difficult due to the multitude of metrics that go into its calculation.

If the website’s at the top end of the scale experience significant increase in their link profile, this can affect the measure of all sites under them as domain authority is a comparative measure.

Websites on the lower end of the scale are also more prone to fluctuation due to some domain authority scores being logarithmic, such as the one provided by Moz.

Changes in your sites link profile might be from places that don’t contribute to search result ranking or your link profile may not be sufficiently traversed by a given domain authority ranking body’s indexing.

It’s always important to keep in mind domain authority is a comparative metric

It’s always important to keep in mind domain authority is a comparative metric and is best used to compare yourself to the competition rather than appreciated as an absolute measure.

Even if you improve your site’s SEO and link profile, if all your competitors improve to a much greater degree your domain authority score will decrease. 

To give you a relatable analogy, imagine you won a 5 kilometer race. The next race you are able to complete the race 10 seconds faster, however all your competitors improve by a full minute and now you’ve placed 8th.

You’ve improved, but your competition has improved to a higher degree and thus your relative performance is worse. This mirrors how domain authority works as a scaled 100 point comparative system.


In Summary

Domain authority can be a very helpful tool for understanding and improving your website’s search ranking performance among your competition.

While it’s difficult to affect your score in the short term, striving to improve your link profile and publishing quality content will assuredly raise your domain authority over time.

As your domain authority rises above your competition, you will outperform them in search rankings and receive more organic traffic to boost your business!

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