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What Is a Domain Authority and How to Improve Yours

Site owners who have only started their SEO journey often come across a mysterious metric called Domain Authority. This index is surrounded by plenty of misapprehension and the way it’s calculated isn’t fully disclosed to the public. However, it can serve as a useful indicator of your SEO effort success.

In this guide, we’ll explain what Domain Authority is and how it is calculated. Additionally, we’ll share the best tips for improving your site’s SEO. Scroll down to immerse yourself in the unexplored world of search engine algorithms.

What Is a Domain Authority?

Domain Authority (DA) is an SEO metric evaluating the chances of a website ranking in search engine results (SERP). The rating ranges from 0 to 100, with higher marks indicating a higher likelihood of ranking first in the results.

A common misconception is that DA is Google’s metric. But it’s actually an artificial third-party indicator initially developed by Moz. Currently, DA is used by most industry-leading companies to keep track of website performance and analyze SEO efforts. However, a high DA doesn’t guarantee a high ranking in search results. The truth is, search engines change their ranking algorithms faster than professionals develop an understanding of how they work. Thus, relying solely on DA when estimating your site’s chances of appearing in SERP is reckless.

Don’t hurry to close this page, though. DA isn’t useless. It helps you evaluate whether a site is good enough to partner with and provides you with a general idea of how good your site SEO is. Another reason for using DA is competitor analysis. The core factor to keep in mind here is that site analytics aren’t black and white like many SEO experts try to portray them. They don’t consist of rough figures alone, either.

Often, sites with a DA <30 appear on the first page of Google’s results, or those with excellent DA don’t appear at all. That’s because search engine result ranking comprises many factors which aren’t known to the general public. And yet, DA remains one of the most trustworthy SEO metrics, showing a high correlation with actual page rankings observed.

How Is Domain Authority Calculated?

Now that you know what a DA is and how reliable it can be, let’s take a look at how it’s calculated. Perhaps, we should establish right away that there’s no universal formula, and every SEO tool uses different factors in calculations. Moz, the initial DA creator, uses 40 factors to evaluate the DA.

In this section, we’ll share the site elements used to provide you with a single figure indicating the effectiveness of your SEO actions. That’s only a small part of all site components SEO experts speculate to impact the DA. We’ve gathered ones that are proven by studies or confirmed by Google.

Backlinks

Backlinks are also known as incoming or inbound links. These are site mentions found on other sites. Studies found that Google considers pages that are often linked to other sites trustworthy and authoritative, typically ranking them higher. However, the number of referring domains isn’t the core metric here. Instead, you should strive to get mentions from high-DA sites. Backlinks from low-DA sites are called “no-follow” links and can reduce your own DA. Links from ads may also hurt your page.

SEO experts claim that links from competitor domains are more valuable for a site’s SERP than those from irrelevant domains. In contrast, links from guest posts may be ignored by Google if they can be recognized as an advertisement. A large number of links coming from the same source may be considered spam and be a bad sign for search engines. Finally, the best practice is to embed the links within page content rather than place them outside of context.

Site Structure and Optimization

Your site’s back end is one of the crucial DA factors, invisible to everyone except search engines and site developers. Your site must have HTTPS security protocol, proper silo structure, and high loading speeds. Breadcrumb navigation is a front-end navigation structure that also helps to improve the DA. Additionally, your site should be optimized for mobile devices and have “Terms of Service” and “Terms of Privacy” pages. Duplicate meta descriptions, even if they’re lightly modified, lower the site’s DA. Finally, the server location may increase your site’s visibility in certain regions

Content and Other Page-Level Factors

Content is key to high DA. Pages containing more words typically rank higher in Google results. Long articles are more convenient to read when a table of contents is present, and it can also improve your DA. Plus, your content must be regularly updated, as Google tends to hide outdated information. Naturally, your site content must feature excellent grammar and spelling and be original. Relevant multimedia, especially infographics, are another thing that may help you improve the SERP position.

The most important thing to consider with keywords is their density and placement. Don’t mention the same keyword too often, as Google may see it as spammy behavior. Sometimes, you may even get penalized for overusing the same keywords. The best practice is to place keywords in the H1 tag, subheadings, the opening and closing paragraph, and a few times throughout the content.

Domain Factors

Matt Cutt, a software engineer for Google, states that the company considers a domain’s age in ranking, though it doesn’t have a significant effect. Still, an established domain will have a higher DA than a new one. Domain registration time frame, in fact, has a larger impact on the DA. Google’s opinion is that valuable domains are often paid for years in advance. So, if your site’s domain is close to expiring, it may not rank as high in the search results.

Most SEO experts agree that a keyword appearing in a domain’s name can boost the search result ranking. What you should be aware of when purchasing a domain is its history. Previous penalties may affect the site’s ranking long after they have been lifted.

Competitor DA

SEO tools utilize scaling to calculate DA, otherwise, the first pages of Google results would be filled with sites with a 100-point DA. For this reason, your site’s DA may drop or grow due to external factors, such as a change in competitor DA.

Tips for Improving Your Domain Authority

Some tips for improving the site’s DA are apparent from the previous section. However, in the section below, we’ll provide a list of the steps you should undertake right now to improve your site ranking.

Tips for Improving Your Domain Authority

  1. Conduct a site SEO audit. It will provide you with an insight into the issues with your site’s back and front end, the quantity and quality of backlinks, and the overall DA. An audit is the first and most important step that helps to understand how your site can be improved.
  2. Create high-quality content that brings value to site visitors. Site ranking is important, though you shouldn’t disregard users focusing solely on search engine algorithms. Google rewards sites that produce original, engaging, and informative content that explores the main topic in-depth. Ensure your content is free from grammatical errors and don’t forget to link to trustworthy sources when mentioning facts and stats.
  3. Earn backlinks. That’s the hardest step, as convincing authoritative sites to mention your site isn’t easy and Google is well aware of backlink speculations. The best way to convince someone to mention your site is to create linkable assets, such as pieces of software, quizzes, and infographics. In other words, your content should be worth linking to. Alternatively, you may write to large site owners directly asking for a mention or suggest your readers share your articles and hope for luck. What you shouldn’t do is buy backlinks or engage in any sketchy activity that may lead to a penalty.
  4. Optimize your site for mobile. As of today, mobile search share accounts for 55.4% of all searches globally. No wonder Google places special importance on how responsive the site interface is and on mobile loading times. You can test whether your site complies with the requirements in a few seconds’ time using Google’s new tool.

Opt for Quality, See Results

Hopefully, our guide has given you a brief understanding about the nature of a DA. If you still have questions that remain unanswered, that’s only natural. After all, Google isn’t very transparent about their algorithm and SEO experts have to theorize about how it works for the most part. However, there’s no doubt high-quality, user-friendly, and mobile-optimized sites with valuable content have a higher chance of ranking on the first pages.

Industry professionals can tailor your site to search engine requirements and help create content that’s worth linking to it. Our experts are dedicated to assisting site owners in reaching top SERPs and providing the best experience to the site users.

By interactivated • on October 20, 2021

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