Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing mainstay, and rightfully so. With backlinks as its proverbial backbone, most SEO discussions will eventually address Domain Authority, the gift of Follow backlinks. But what exactly is this metric, and more importantly, how can one leverage it effectively? Let us explore this ever-prominent subject as we delve into essential tips for boosting Domain Authority.
What is Domain Authority?
Initially, let us demystify Domain Authority (DA). That is, explain exactly what is – and what it is not.
DA is a metric created by Moz, whose purpose is to gauge a domain’s authority. Authority in this context refers to a domain’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – the E.A.T. of SEO. To gauge it, DA scores take into account backlinks from other high-DA domains, the total number of backlinks, and more. It follows that a higher DA translates into a higher probability of ranking higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
DA scores will slightly vary across platforms; for example, Ahrefs tackles the same concept in Domain Rating (DR). In all cases, DA scores will be clearly visible in platforms’ dashboards, and will rank websites on a scale of 1 to 100:
However, DA is not an SEO factor per se. Moz definitively says as much on their DA score in the above article:
“Domain Authority is not a Google ranking factor and has no effect on the SERPs”.
We will return to the latter part of this disclaimer, but the former too bears noting. DA does inform your SEO, but it is not a literal ranking factor Google uses.
The value of Domain Authority for SEO
Then what is the value of DA, you may wonder. Despite not being a literal SEO ranking factor, it does offer three main, distinct benefits.
#1 Higher SEO ROI
First, DA sees widespread use by SEO professionals to help them gauge SEO ROI – as it is notoriously hard to measure properly. As a professional, you certainly need to know how much you can earn from your SEO endeavors. DA helps you do so by providing a solid metric that contextualizes your market position, which can inform potential returns. If your DA score is low, for example, you may find more value in link-building. If it is high, you may confidently budget for more content marketing as your DA backs it up.
#2 A better grasp of your competition
Second, on the subject of your market position, DA offers an excellent indicator. That is to say; you may analyze your competitors’ DA scores and get a firmer grasp on where they stand in relation to you.
This bears some significance on its own as a way of properly understanding DA as a metric. Moz itself advises this comparative use over absolutes:
“DA is best used as a comparative metric when investigating the sites within your target SERPs that may have more powerful link profiles than you do — your true competitors.”
It thus follows that your DA is primarily a competitor analysis tool. As they continue to assert, there are no DA absolutes; only “better” scores “within the context of a particular competitive landscape”.
#3 Higher SERPs rankings
Boosting Domain Authority most certainly increases your probability of ranking higher in SERPs. Neither Moz’s disclaimer nor Google’s official rejections should have one believe a solid DA doesn’t affect SERPs at all. It may not do so directly, but holistically catering to DA aligns with SEO practices and produces tangible results.
Ahrefs initially notes that Google has a sitewide score that “maps to similar things”, according to Google’s John Mueller. Second, and most notably, their research that follows also echoes the findings of many SEO professionals:
So, even if its benefits are indirect or sums of a greater whole, DA definitely warrants attention.
Boosting Domain Authority
So, how exactly can you boost your DA? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best way to do so lies in link-building and proper SEO. At the heart of DA stands backlink quantity and quality, after all, and SEO agrees.
In order, then, you may consider the following practices.
#1 Audit your links
As a starting point, you should ideally begin by conducting a thorough website link audit. This will allow you to deduce if your DA score is needlessly suffering from link oversights, bad links, and more.
As you do, you may examine different metrics and engage in corresponding practices, such as:
- The number of backlinks; you may begin by gauging your overall number of external backlinks. Especially if your website is newer, working toward a great DA score will take time and require its backlink fuel.
- Backlink quality; backlink numbers only tell half the story, however. Next, you may examine your backlink quality – the DA of websites that link to yours. Many low-DA backlinks may produce traffic, but they will not secure conversions or help your DA score.
- Bad links; moreover, some backlinks may actively harm your DA score. Examine your backlinks to determine if spammy or otherwise dubious websites link to yours, and promptly remove them.
- Broken links; next, you may examine links both internal and external to identify any broken links. Restoring ones of either type will only benefit your website on the whole, including its DA. For broken external links specifically, you will need to reach out to other webmasters to resolve the issue.
- Unbranded mentions; conversely, you may identify mentions of your brand or content that don’t accompany a backlink. In those cases, you have effectively already earned other outlets’ backlinks, so you may simply contact them and request them.
- Poor internal links; finally, you may examine if your internal links are in order. This includes proper, descriptive anchor texts, the absence of orphaned pages, and more, as we’ll cover next.
#2 Solidify your internal links
Notably, boosting Domain Authority is not exclusively a matter for external links. Domain Authority also relies on Page Authority (PA); to simplify this factor, your DA will largely reflect your average PA. PA, however, hinges on both external links and proper internal links to ensure “juice transfers”. So before delving into such practices, you may begin by solidifying your internal links.
As you address this factor, you may also tackle common SEO concerns, further solidifying your website. You may do so through such practices as:
- Ensuring all pages are being linked to; first, all your pages should be linked to by other pages. User-wise, this solidifies your website’s structure and helps produce a better User Experience (UX). SEO-wise, this allows crawlers to index your pages more quickly.
- Linking to relevant, quality pages; linking indiscriminately pleases neither users nor Google, however. As you ensure your internal links are in order, you may also examine your links’ relevance. As a rule of thumb, you may align your links with your sales funnel, nudging your users along your desired customer journey.
- Using relevant anchor text; finally, your anchor texts also help Google contextualize your content’s subject. Conversely, irrelevant anchor texts may often have adverse effects. If possible, try to ensure your anchor texts contain the essence of your linked pages’ topics.
#3 Engage in high-DA link-building
With your foundations in order, you may now safely look outward toward high-DA link-building. This process certainly takes time and requires considerable effort, but it is by far the best way to boost your DA.
There are multiple ways to do so, and thoroughly covering this subject would require an array of articles. Here, for text economy, we may discuss the most prominent and arguably most effective among them; the skyscraper technique. Coined by Backlinko’s Brian Dean, Hubspot visualizes this technique as the following checklist:
The essence of this technique is fairly simple, and offers a very natural way to acquire high-DA backlinks. Backlinko simplifies it down to three steps, which we may cover in order:
- “Find link-worthy content”. First, with your keyword insights and competitor analyses in hand, you may identify link-worthy content within your industry. Such content will typically address your keywords of choice and the usual search intent that follows them.
- “Make something even better”. Then, you may work toward expanding on what said content offers. Perhaps that is depth, requiring that you go deeper or cite more reputable sources. Perhaps it’s visuals, instructing you to use more visually pleasing images or more informative graphs. In all cases, you should strive to surpass the content you’ve identified to earn your backlinks over it.
- “Reach out to the right people”. Finally, you may contact high-DA websites that host or link back to said content and offer them your own. You may identify such websites through your backlink analysis tools, professional circles, and more. In all cases, a friendly email offering tangible value will most often be well-received.
Following this process, you should also begin to craft more link-worthy content on the whole over time. Doing so consistently does depend on your resources, time, and other factors, but it should allow your content to organically earn its backlinks without your direct assistance. Should you achieve this, your SEO and DA will both thank you.
To summarize, boosting Domain Authority is certainly not an easy endeavor. It spans across internal and external links and hinges on link quality, quantity, and a wealth of other factors. It is well worth your time, however, as research continues to show. While far from exhaustive, hopefully, this article helped steer you in the right direction toward an excellent DA.