A Guide To Domain Authority And How To Boost It
7 months ago on August 08, 2023
Your domain authority (sometimes called “domain rating”) provides a quick snapshot of your website’s SEO health. When you first launch your website, you typically don’t have any domain authority, and when your site is as big as Wikipedia, it’s closer to 100, with all other websites landing somewhere on that 1-100 scale.
A domain authority (DA) score is an automated score developed by Moz that's produced by an algorithm that judges the strength of a website in terms of its ability to rank. For instance, a DA of 50 or higher is much more likely to rank for a competitive search term than a DA of 20.
Although Google’s PageRank doesn’t use DA as a ranking factor on its own, it’s still an important metric and digital marketing KPI that can help you quantify your website’s growth. As the owner of two digital marketing agencies, I’m often asked what DA means and how it can be improved. In this article, I’ll answer those questions and more.
How To Assess Your DA
Your DA is a relative score, meaning you should look at it in the context of the other websites that you compete with. Write down the websites that appear just above and below you on a search engine results page (SERP) for a search term you rank for. Then, look up their DA (or DR) using a keyword research tool. The main ones include:
Since all of these companies offer free or low-cost trials, you can find out your DA without spending a dime (as long as you cancel your trial afterward). Right now, Moz also allows you to check out your DA (among other KPIs) using their free SEO analysis tool.
How Is DA Calculated?
DA scores are a composite of several ranking signals that are balled up into one number on a 100-point scale. According to Moz, these ranking signals include the following:
- Root domains
- Number of referring links
- Number of authoritative backlinks
- Authoritativeness (i.e., quality and trustworthiness) of links
Based on years of observation, I believe that the prestige of content and authors and link diversification (i.e., whether they're directing from various reputable sites) also play a role.
Since DA scores are logarithmic, it’s unlikely that improving any one factor will increase your DA to the same degree as another solo factor. For example, boosting your organic traffic might bring your DA from 30 to 31, while improving in another area might bring it from 31 to 35.
What Is A Good DA Score?
Remember, DA scores are a relative metric that you should compare to other domains that yours competes with. Although a DA of 35 might be good enough to rank competitively in some industries or niches, it might not be enough in other niches.
Therefore, there is no objectively “good” DA score that we can use as a benchmark. In my professional opinion, however, anything north of 50 should be deemed competitive regardless of the niche or industry the company is in.
The list below exemplifies the logarithmic nature of DA score calculations. As you can see in the estimates from Ahrefs (via Search Engine Watch) below, there’s a considerable difference between the number of approximate referring domains that separate DA score tiers:
- DA 0-20: 20 referring domains
- DA 20-40: 603 referring domains
- DA 40-60: 4,212 referring domains
- DA 60-80: 25,638 referring domains
- DA 80-100: 335,717 referring domains
The figures listed above generally correspond to my own professional experience. Websites with medium-to-high DAs tend to have referring domains reaching into the thousands or tens of thousands. Therefore, if you want a competitive DA score, increasing the number of domains that refer to yours can help.
How To Improve Your DA Score
As a general rule, you can improve your SEO standing (and DA score) by producing excellent, well-researched content. But you can jump-start your DA score simply by conducting a link audit using a keyword research tool such as Moz, SEMrush or Ahrefs.
Once you’ve run a full link audit, you’ll be able to remove or disavow backlinks that come from low-authority sites, spam networks or untrustworthy sites that employ black hat SEO techniques. This should make an improvement.
Then, it’s on to the hard part: organic link-building and publishing stellar content. In a previous article, I wrote about how to develop and execute a link-building strategy. I still recommend this formula since it avoids black hat SEO tactics that can penalize your ranking while explaining the fundamentals of sourcing “link juice.” In short, the more link juice is going to your website, the higher your DA will typically be.
Along with link-building, another important factor in improving your DA is to post content more frequently and make sure its quality is superior to your competitors’ content. If you post well-formatted, error-free and thoroughly-cited content multiple times per week, you can be confident that you’ll see a DA improvement after a few months. The key is to provide value — if your content doesn’t provide anything of substance to the reader, you won’t score any links and, ergo, your DA won’t be positively affected.
How well your website ranks ultimately depends on how you choose to build it. In my experience, DA/DR scores are virtually always accurate and useful diagnostic tools for assessing a website’s reliability, strength and trustworthiness. To improve it, you should put a little elbow grease into your website and bolster those qualitative characteristics.
Start with your content and your links. If you can focus on creating or outsourcing top-notch content, referring links should naturally accrue with time. Then, it’s a matter of staying the course and allowing them to accumulate while your DA works its way up the ranks.
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