Domain Authority (or DA) is a statistical measurement score created by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). The Domain Authority score ranges from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best.
There are a variety of factors Moz uses in calculating a websites DA score. Some include:
- The number of linking root domains.
- The total number of backlinks.
- Quality (or DA) of backlinks and linking root domains.
- Quality of anchor text from linking websites.
Having new links appear in your link profile can take weeks and sometimes months. Which is why you hear many say that SEO takes time to be effective. On average, a new domain with no history, will not see results from their SEO efforts for at least 6 months. When in hyper-competitive verticals this could be upwards to a year or longer. Add to that, the thousands of dollars spent on these efforts and you can see why finding an aged domain is often the smartest decision for new businesses.
While Domain Authority is not perfect, it’s one of the most effective scoring models to assess how likely your website will rank. As a result, Moz’s Domain Authority is one of the most trusted and reliable prediction models you can use.
If you are curious to learn more about what Moz has to say about Domain Authority, check out this video.
Introducing, DA 2.0
If you are not aware, Moz released a much-needed update to the DA rating algorithm on March 5th, 2019. And this is big news too. It marks the first time Moz updated their scoring methodology since its initial release in 2011.
Considering the sheer amount of Google algorithm changes, one can easily see how needed this update was.
So what is changing?
If you are the studious type, you can visit Moz’s website and read their comprehensive analysis of DA 2.0. For those of you TLDR types, here is our summary.
- Improved: Predictability scoring for keyword ranking. For obvious reasons, Moz will not go into much detail on how they improved their predictability for keyword ranking. What we do know is, they have steered away from the industry standard on keyword ranking predictability models. As a result, Moz’s new Domain Authority is better at understanding which sites don’t rank for any keywords at all.
- Improved: Spam links manipulation detection. In simple terms, they have improved their ability to detect spam links. Black hat SEO’ers beware!
- NEW: Link profile measurement. Moz is placing more value on a domains complete link profile. Link profiles are measured based on their quality and traffic, along with other factors not shared publicly.
- NEW: Spam Score now weighted in DA score. With the improvement in their link detection ability and link profile measurement, this is no real surprise. DA 2.0 will now factor in spam score this is pretty cool stuff.
An unexpected change with the update is the shift in Page Authority (PA) to DA scores. Historically, a websites DA was always higher than any pages PA score. But not anymore. (If you are wondering what the heck is PA, don’t worry, there is a section further down that explains the difference for you.)
Under the new DA 2.0, each page seems to be scoring itself better and then rolling the score up to the overall DA score. The better individual scoring can be tied back to the link profile scoring Moz now how. Keep in mind that DA 2.0 was just released minor updates could change this.
Does DA influence SERP ranking?
Ask your friendly neighborhood SEO expert this question, and you are guaranteed to get different answers. Some will say yes, absolutely it does, while others say no, it will not. More confusing, both can show you actual search results that support their answers.
So, what gives?
Well, it’s complicated. But the short answer is, Moz has created a score based on their findings from web pages ranked. Search Engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo!, do not use or reference Moz in their ranking models.
Therefore, DA does not influence the rankings of a website, it simply provides us with a prediction of how likely it is to rank.
Sure, you occasionally will find a website with a lower DA than others on page 1 for a competitive search term. But those are rare. In truth, building up DA and keeping it takes time and effective planning.
Often, those web pages with a lower DA than others on page 1 could be benefiting from factors you cannot see easily. Such as a large number of links from educational websites (.edu), government websites (.gov) or sites very high in trust and authority like Forbes, Time, etc. (Take note of this I will explain later why this matters.)
And even with the links I mentioned above, domains with a DA less than 10 have no chance of competing for search rankings.
How to increase Domain Authority?
Before you set out to increase your DA remember, it takes time and needs to be properly planned out. Hiring the right SEO Expert is highly recommended.
Do this correctly, and you build DA and retain it for a long time. Do it wrong, and while you MAY benefit from short term success, this can lead to the dreaded Google penalty. Trust us you do not want that.
With that in mind, here are the top actions to take to improve your Domain Authority:
- Increase Number of Referring Domains: Focus building links from sites that also have a high DA (65+).
- Increase Total Number of Backlinks: SERP ranking success is a lot like running for class president, the more popular you are, the better chance you have to win. So, get as many links as possible from quality sites – follow or no follow. Check out our blog that explains what are backlinks.
- Anchor text: Mix in Keywords you are targeting, but balance this out. Too many links with the same keywords not only looks spammy, it is.
- Social Signals: This factors into the total number of backlinks, however usually the method to gain these links is separated by digital marketers.
- CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT: Did I mention content? The more quality content you add, the more trust your website builds. Thus, the higher your DA.
Is Page Authority and Domain Authority the same?
Page Authority (PA) is like Domain Authority but with a few differences. PA predicts how well a particular web page will rank (e.g. website.com/internet).
Page Authority does get a bump in score based on the sites overall DA. However, without any external links pointing to a web page on a domain, the score will increase very slowly. And only if the DA score is consistently improving. The rest of the scoring methodology for PA is the exact same as DA.
I referenced earlier that occasionally you will see a web page with a lower DA ranked above competitors with a much higher DA. No, this is not a case of Google showing favorites, or proof that the DA/PA score from Moz is wrong. What this shows us is that David can beat Goliath in the SERPs. It’s hard, but possible if you do it right and find the right keyword.
To set the stage, first and foremost you will never see a low DA website rank on the first page for hyper-competitive terms. We just won’t, sorry.
And here is why; websites with high DA and PA typically have a lot of resources. And you can bet they have put their resources to work to rank for those keywords. The only way to outrank anyone in SERPs is to become more popular. It is that simple. That means better content, more social signals and, of course, more links both in quality and quantity.
In simple terms, a website with a DA of 30 that wants to rank for a search term where all the top players are DA65-90, requires better content and more high-quality links. And the keyword has to have low overall competition.
Want in on a secret the pros are using?
Pros that want to outrank high DA websites and have newer domains find popular search terms on topics with outdated content. Use keyword analyzers to measure search volume and search competition, then create engaging content, add high-quality links to that page and you have a winning formula.
In closing, DA matters. Yes, the score can be manipulated, just like most everything in both the digital and real world. But when assessing the quality of a website, Domain Authority is a metric that has proven its usefulness for years.
Aged Domains with high DA, low spam and a great backlink profile will always beat out starting from ground zero. Your new online presence instantly gains the past trust and work the previous domain owner started. For many, this is how they can be David and take out Goliath.