How to Increase Domain Authority and Get to Page One of Google
When it comes to Google search, page one is the promised land, and digital marketers everywhere strive to get their website into one of those coveted high-ranking positions. In SEO terms, domain authority is a key ingredient to boosting search engine performance.
You may have heard the term bounced around in conversation or on discussion forums, but what exactly is domain authority? And how do you increase it? Our Brainy team of marketers have put together our skills and industry expertise to compile a definitive guide to domain authority. We’ll walk you through what it is and how it’s measured, why it matters, and the steps you can take to increase your own website’s domain authority score.
What is Domain Authority?
Domain authority, often referred to simply as DA, is a ranking metric used to predict how high your site will appear on search engine results pages (SERP). Domain authority was first developed by Moz, and has since been replicated by other SEO resources like Ahrefs and SEMrush, especially since 2019 when Moz took the decision to remove its DA calculator as a free, no-signup service. Different service providers have slightly different names for domain authority (domain rating, site authority, etc.), but they refer to the same concept.
Search engines like Google use hundreds of factors to determine their SERP rankings, but it’s important to note that Google doesn’t actually use DA as one of its ranking factors. Instead, consider DA to be a prediction for the ranking that Google will assign your site, including all of your subdomains. It’s a great way of understanding your SEO effectiveness, measuring your site against those of your competitors, and demonstrating your relevance within your industry niche.
Put at its simplest: high domain authority score = high search engine ranking = high web traffic. Your DA score will be between 0 and 100, with 100 being the highest. This score will be different from the similarly named page authority (PA), which is an indication of the effectiveness of a single web page.
How is Domain Authority Calculated?
Different providers use slightly different methods to arrive at a domain authority score, but the logic is broadly similar. Moz uses over 40 factors to determine DA. Some of the key notes it incorporates are:
- MozRank. This figure indicates the number of websites linking to your site. It also factors in the quality of those linking websites.
- MozTrust. This checks the validity or reputability of websites linking to a specific page. For example, links coming from a government website or higher academic institution will have a much higher score.
- Link profile. The link profile is essentially a map of inbound and outgoing links. As always, good quality links are much better for the score.
- Root domains. The root domain assesses the number of links coming from unique sources. In other words, if one site links to your site 50 times, that counts as one, rather than 50, linking root domains.
- Social performance. Content which is frequently liked, shared, and commented on increases its social reach, which contributes to the overall DA.
- Site structure. Whether or not a site is well-designed and easy to use is another determining factor. Ease of navigation improves the site crawlability for search engine providers.
A general rule of thumb for domain authority score is:
- Over 80 = exceptional
- 61-79 = positive
- 50-60 = average
- 31-49 = negative
- Less than 30 = poor
What Domain Authority Score Should I Be Aiming For?
Deciding what constitutes a ‘good’ domain authority score is a question of relativity. Massive, multinational companies like Microsoft or Apple have high authority websites, and domain authority scores to match: 90 or more, or even a perfect 100. New sites without optimisations will have a website domain authority closer to 20 or even below 10.
It’s important not to look at your own domain rating in isolation, but to compare it to the scores of your competitors.
For example: you’re running a gym, and your site has a domain authority of 54. OK, you’re somewhere in the ‘average’ zone. But how should you understand this?
Well, compared to the 90 scored by a company like Nike, this looks terrible. But Nike isn’t your competitor. That would be an unfair and unrealistic comparison. Instead, you should check around to see what the other gyms in your area are scoring. You may find that other websites typically achieve a DA score in the 40-50 range. Viewed from this perspective, your site is performing excellently.
Any changes you make to your site will not bear out on search engines immediately. DA is not a real-time metric; it takes Moz approximately 3-4 weeks to update the Mozscape Index, and that’s the kind of timeframe you should have in mind when you’re looking to make gains on your domain authority.
How to Increase Domain Authority
As a digital marketer, there are a number of best practices you should be utilising to boost your DA, as this will almost certainly improve your performance on Google and other search engines. That can mean the difference between success and failure online and it will have a massive impact on your ROI, so we’ve put together a guide of tried-and-tested techniques for you to maximise your DA score.
Collect high-value backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most important factors in determining domain authority. Research conducted by Ahrefs found that 90% of websites get no organic traffic from Google at all. The number-one reason why? Those sites don’t have any backlinks.
Numerous and high-quality backlinks are essential to boosting your DA. That means reputable, trusted sites need to repeatedly provide links to your site. In a way it’s like receiving an endorsement from a trustworthy website. They’re vouching for you.
You may want to scope out your competitor’s websites to see what kind of external links and referring domains they have – think about reaching out to those sources and building a relationship with them. Guest posting on other websites is another great way of building backlinks, as it allows you to inbuild links to your site using someone else’s platform.
Factoring backlinks into your link building strategy can be a difficult and time consuming process, and there are professional SEO link building services available to help guide you.
Level-up your internal links
It’s a great idea to pepper every web page with internal links directing users to other pages on your site. Internal links keep visitors engaged within the parameters of your website and, crucially, reduce bounce rate, a major red flag for Google and other search engines.
Moreover, including lots of internal links increases the efficiency of search engine crawling bots as they’re able to map out your site index more easily. You’ll also reap the added benefit of giving some free link juice to your other pages. Link juice is an industry term, meaning the number of quality links pointing to a page as an indicator of trustworthiness.
Audit your website and scrap bad links
While good-quality links are like gold dust for your domain authority, links coming from spammy or untrustworthy sites are poison seeds and will do more harm than good. Toxic links are definitely something to be avoided and you should eliminate them from your link profile. In some cases bad links can even lead to a penalty from Google, effectively shooting your SERP results in the foot. It’s possible to set up Google Search Console to ignore harmful or toxic links, so if this is something you’re worried about you might want to explore this possibility.
Equally, it’s important to make sure that your site isn’t linking out to toxic sites. If you’re serious about your domain authority, you’ll want to commit to periodic audits of your site to ensure you get rid of those bad links from spammy sites.
Put out consistent, high-quality content
While thinking about your link profile, it’s vital to maintain high standards in your own content output. That can mean your blog posts, videos, infographics, articles, or anything else you produce for users to consume. If people like what they see, they’re much more likely to share it, growing your engagement and expanding your profile.
Acquiring links from independent users boosts your root domain and means you stand a better chance of securing a high-quality backlink, from a much bigger organisation or internationally recognised group.
When approaching this, it’s a good idea to first look at your previous content and see which pieces performed the best. This can inform the shape and direction of your future content, and ensure you’re giving the people more of what they like!
The point is to put out content that is worth linking and to put it out regularly. The overall objective is becoming an authority and a thought leader in your industry – so focus on keeping your output relevant, original, beneficial, and well-executed. You can give your content a helping hand by promoting it on channels such as email or social media.
Optimise your user experience
The user-friendliness of a site is a major factor in determining DA. A good site structure helps the Google bots easily and efficiently crawl your site, evaluating its quality and relevance. Sitemaps are a great way of ensuring a good site structure; making it easier for the crawler bot to navigate your pages and create a site index.
Another aspect of user experience to be especially mindful of is site security. Ensure the security of your website by getting SSL certificates and moving it to HTTPS.
One key area you have to pay attention to is the mobile user experience. As of 2020, over half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, the majority of which are smartphones. Google has recently made mobile a priority, so you need to make sure your site is running smoothly on mobile devices.
Improve your site loading speed
Slow loading speeds are a huge turn-off for all users. In the crowded internet space, you can’t afford to make people wait before they gain access to your site; it causes your bounce rate to skyrocket, which will set Google’s alarm bells ringing and have a dramatically negative impact on your domain authority.
Domain Authority and Your SEO Strategy
When you begin the process of boosting your domain authority, you should remember that it’s not something you can control with your fingertips. It’s more about putting the right ingredients in place and letting the process unfold over time. It’s not going to be an overnight process, so you should manage your expectations and come up with a longer-term timeline to improve your DA.
Done correctly, learning how to increase your domain authority will give you a clear picture of your SERP performance and a valuable benchmark to compare your site against those of your competitors, making it one of your essential SEO tools. The Brains’ full-service digital marketing agency can provide you with the help you need to build a winning local SEO campaign.