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Domain Authority: What Is It & How To Improve It

Graphic showing the relationship between Domain Authority and search engine results.

Author: Shenole Latimer

Domain Authority is a score that ranges from 1 to 100. It was created by a company called Moz to predict how well a website will rank on search engine result pages, which are also referred to as SERPs.

Scores for the Domain Authority (DA) of a website are based upon a logarithmic scale that is influenced by a collection of factors.

These factors evolve over time due to machine learning algorithms that Moz utilizes to reflect updates Google makes to its search engine.

I realize that all sounded pretty technical, but there are really just two important points being made:

  1. The lower your score, the easier it is to improve it

  2. The way DAs are calculated changes over time

The following table I created provides a visual representation that I hope will give you a better idea of how the logarithmic scale used to determine DA score works.

Domain Authority Score Ease of Raising DA Score
91-100 Flirting With Impossible
81-90 Insanely Hard
71-80 Extremely Hard
61-70 Very Hard
51-60 Hard
41-50 Somewhat Hard
31-40 not too Easy
21-30 Somewhat Easy
11-20 Easy
1-10 Very Easy

One other point for me to make that is very important is, by Moz's own admission, "Domain Authority is not a metric used by Google in determining search rankings and has no effect on the SERPs."

The thought that Google uses a website's DA score to determine its ranking is a widely held misconception, even by some professional SEOs!

An Easy Way To Understand DA

I'd like to give you an analogy as an easy way to understand DA. We can use the theme of my analogy throughout the rest of this article. The analogy isn't perfect, but I believe you will get the point!

You can think of a DA score as sort of being like a Credit score that financial institutions use when you are trying to get a credit card, loan, etc.

Domain Authority score can be thought of as being similar to a FICO credit score.

The reason my analogy isn't perfect is because Google does not use your DA score to determine your search rankings, but financial institutions do use your credit score as a determining factor for giving you a credit card or loan.

With that little technicality out of the way, I think it's easy to draw the conclusion that, just as it is more likely for you to receive a loan if you have a higher credit score, a website with a higher DA score will be more likely to rank better in SERPs than a competing website with a lower DA score.

Why is Domain Authority Important

Even though DA is not actually a metric that Google uses to determine your position on a search engine results page, it does provide a point of comparison that you can use.

In other words, Domain Authority provides you with a means of tracking an aspect of your website's performance.

Furthermore, going back to the theme of my credit score analogy, if you have a credit score that is less than favorable and you know it may hinder you from getting a loan that you may need, likewise will having a low DA score hinder you from surpassing the SERP rankings of any competitors with a higher DA than you.

And so, you have an indication that there are some things you need to work on in order to improve your chances.

What things do you need to improve for a higher DA? I will get to that shortly!

How To Check Your Website's DA For Free

Before I can offer you ways of improving your Domain Authority score, it would be nice to know how you can find out what yours is, wouldn't you say?

Fortunately, there are free tools on the internet that will tell you what your website's DA is. I like to tell people about a DA checker that is part of a suite called SmallSEOTools.

Using the DA checker is super easy! Let's say you are a building supply company from my home region of Long Island, NY. For the purposes of this demonstration, let's pretend you are the owner of Riverhead Building Supply. The URL is https://www.rbscorp.com.

If you wanted to see what your DA is, all you have to do is:

Step 1

Visit the free Domain Authority Checker at smallseotools.com/domain-authority-checker.

Domain Authority Checker by SEO Small Tools.

Step 2

Once you arrive at the DA Checker, put the https://www.rbscorp.com URL in the field that is marked "Enter URL".

Example URL has been placed in the Small SEO Tools Domain Authority Checker.

Step 3

Click on the blue button marked "Check Authority" and allow the results to load. This will only take a few moments.

Indicator shown to click on the Check Authority button.

Step 4

When the results are displayed, you will see your DA score as the value all the way to the left that is marked in red.

Domain Authority score being displayed.

You will also see your Page Authority metric and your Moz Rank score, but these are topics for another blog post.

Now that you see how easy it is to get a DA score, let's do a real-world comparison. Let's pretend that you want to compete with Home Depot on the SERP rankings. In order to do so, you need to see what you are up against.

Well, now that you have your Domain Authority score, a 38, you will need to get Home Depot's DA score to see how yours compares to theirs.

Follow the steps I outlined previously regarding how to find out a DA score, but put in Home Depot's URL (https://homedepot.com) instead. You will probably end up with a score of 91 or something close to that.

And so these results tell us that we would definitely have our work cut out for us if we wanted to surpass Home Depot in the SERP rankings.

Because of various underlying factors and signals Home Depot's website is communicating to Google, it would get preferential treatment in the SERPs. This is in a similar way that a creditor would give preference towards you for a credit card if your credit score was higher than someone else looking to obtain a credit card.

How To Improve Domain Authority

Domain Authority score can be thought of as being similar to a FICO credit score.

We have accomplished quite a bit so far! First we learned what a DA score is, why it is important, and I shared how you can find out what the DA is for both your website and the websites of your competitors.

Now it's time to explore a few ways that you can improve your Domain Authority.

My next statement is one that people hate hearing. And here it is…

Improving your Domain Authority score takes time and should be a part of your long-term SEO strategy.

I know that may sound like a way to avoid giving a direct answer, but I actually will provide you with some specific methods of improving your DA. The simple fact of the matter is one important ingredient towards calculating your DA score that you can do nothing about except wait is the age of your website.

That said, If you want to improve your website's Domain Authority score…

Time Will Be Needed

How long your website has existed on the internet is an important determining factor because it helps to signal that your website is stable and not a fly-by-night. Also, some of the other factors towards improving your DA require some time to mature or obtain.

Acquire Quality Backlinks

Backlinks are links that originate from some other website and point to your website. It is widely agreed upon that backlinks are a significant component of the collection of signals used to calculate a Domain Authority score.

There are a number of ways to get quality backlinks, which I will cover in a future blog post. However, one source of backlinks comes from the citation listings you can place your company in.

Citation building is actually one of the things that we offer in our SEO package.

Get Rid of Spammy links

Over time, you will find that your website will acquire a number of backlinks organically. However, there will be a percentage of these organically obtained backlinks that will be low in authority, spammy, or just plain junk links.

Not only is it important to gain authoritative backlinks, it is equally important to get rid of (disavow) links that are harmful to your SEO and, by extension, your DA.

Foster More Engagement In Your Social Media

By using the term "engagement" I don't mean you should try and get more likes on Facebook. Likes on social media are essentially worthless. Engagement means getting people to write comments and gaining social media mentions.

Having your company appear in the comments of different people in social media is a strong signal that your website is providing value to visitors and therefore is authoritative.

Add Useful & High-Quality Content

Visitors to your website are looking for solutions to their problems. Today's consumers are more educated than ever! Providing your website's visitors with useful and quality information that doesn't contain fluff and filler is an excellent way to establish yourself as an authority on the topic. It also helps you to build trust within the online community.

How Long Does It Take To Improve Domain Authority

Time is one of the greatest factors when calculating a Domain Authority score.

Unfortunately, there is no absolute way of knowing exactly how long it takes to improve your DA score because there are so many factors involved...moving parts as it were.

The safe answer is it's possible that your score can be improved upon within a few weeks, if your score is relatively low (say between 1 to about 13), provided:

  • Your website has been built properly in the first place

  • The SEO health of your website is fundamentally strong

  • You are able to acquire a sufficient number of backlinks to reach whatever threshold the current algorithms decide is appropriate (don't forget that algorithms are constantly changing via machine learning)

  • Enough time has elapsed with your website's SEO and trustworthiness staying in high standings

One other factor to keep in mind is, as previously mentioned, that your Domain Authority score is logarithmically derived.

And so, if your DA score is a 10 and you want to raise it to a 15, you will have less of a challenge and less time will be needed than if your DA score is a 60 and you are looking to improve it to a 65.

When it comes to improving your DA, the overall point is that (and let's call up the credit score analogy I offered earlier), just like improving your credit score involves following certain best practices and maintenance tasks, the same thing applies to improving your DA.

They both take time. There are no shortcuts!

Get a consultation on SEO services by calling us today

I hope that my article has served to clear up some things pertaining to DA for you. If there is anything for you to take out of all of this, I'd say the important points are:

  • Domain Authority is not an actual metric used by Google to determine your rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs)

  • There are a number of different factors that go into determining your Domain Authority score

  • DA score is best used as a comparative metric to give you a relative sense of your ranking potential

  • Improving upon your Domain Authority score can definitely be done, but one of the most important elements to consider is that it takes time.

Domain Authority is just one aspect of your SEO strategy. Call us at (863) 877-4200 for a consultation on SEO services that are designed to have you rank more competitively in search engine result pages.

SEO Domain Authority

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