Domain authority is a metric used to determine both the quantity and quality of the backlinks that are pointing to your website. It’s a hot topic in the SEO industry, as it’s such an integral part of competitor research and backlink analysis.
You might find yourself searching “How do I increase my domain authority” in Google, which we’ll answer in this article. However, we’ll also explore the reasons why this might not be the best approach for your SEO strategy…
Put simply, domain authority is a third-party metric produced by SEO tools such as SEMrush or Moz, in order to determine the overall backlink quantity and quality that a domain has. If you’re more familiar with Ahrefs then you may instead recognise this measurement as ‘Domain Rating’ (DR). Both Domain Rating and Domain Authority are built on the same concept and principles of one another, it’s just that the algorithms used in order to calculate each one is slightly different.
So, you will often find that the DR and DA for a particular domain vary between each tool, despite them both being a score out of 100. Typically, DR is higher than DA, although this isn’t always the case.
Generally speaking, DR and DA can be useful when looking at multiple websites, to quickly see which ones have more or less authority, based on the quantity and quality of backlinks that they have. It’s useful in this sense because you can quickly get a feel for how competitive a keyword might be to rank for. If all the top 10 results on page one are above a DA of 70, then it’s pretty unlikely that your DA 3 website can join the ranks, however, this isn’t always the case.
So, with this in mind, why is there such an emphasis on increasing the domain authority of your site?
Well, there’s a common belief that the higher your domain authority, the higher your rankings will be and the more traffic you’ll receive as a result. This is somewhat true, but it’s important to understand that in this instance, a correlation between higher domain ratings and higher traffic doesn’t always equate to a causation effect.
Put simply, one of the most effective ways to increase your domain authority is by building backlinks to your website that have a higher domain rating than your own. The interesting part though is if you’re trying to increase your score by building links from other sites that have a high score, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll benefit from higher rankings.
There are a few services which have the sole purpose of increasing your DA, but it’s worth considering why these services are so cheap.
In your search for increasing domain authority, you may find that there are a number of cheap ways to increase your domain authority. A quick search on Fiverr.com will reveal a torrent of gigs which promise to increase your domain authority to 40+, 50+ or even 60+.
The fact of the matter is, the way in which these services increase your score is in fact done by creating hundreds of low-quality links that manipulate the perceived authority of your site, which is shown as an increase in the scores across the various SEO tools.
This can, in many cases, do more harm than good for your site. Typically, spammy link-building techniques will lead to extremely short-term wins and eventual losses in rankings and traffic so it should be avoided.
So, what can you do instead?
Instead of focusing on domain authority, you can instead look at increasing the quality, quantity and relevancy of the links that point to your domain. This may, in turn, increase your domain authority as a side-effect. However, instead of aiming to increase an arbitrary score that is unrelated to the Google algorithm, you’ll instead be focusing on the advice from Google for increasing your authority and organic traffic.
At the end of the day, you could have a website with a DA score of 95/100, but what does it really mean if your website doesn’t bring in any traffic?
If you earn a backlink from a high DA site that generates no organic traffic, then it’s unlikely that you’re going to see a positive impact on your own organic traffic. Instead, you should try to earn backlinks from other websites in your industry that rank high for topically-related keywords in the search results.
This has the indirect effect of associating your website with those same keywords, so try to earn links from websites already ranking well for your terms. This is particularly true at the page level, so if you earn a link from a relevant site, on a relevant page, to the page that you’re trying to rank then it enhances the keyword ranking association between their page and your own.
It’s also important to consider that backlinks are only half of the battle when it comes to SEO. Your keywords also need to be incorporated throughout the content on your site in a well-structured, informative way that answers the user query. If all your competitors have more backlinks than you, with much more relevance and are of higher quality, then you’ll need to out-pace them with your content quality to have any chances of out-competing them in the SERP.
As a digital PR agency ourselves, we’ve seen first-hand the ongoing effects that digital PR can have on a business. The combination of increased referral traffic, increased brand exposure and increased backlink quality/quantity can turbo-charge their SEO efforts.
Sign up now and get our free monthly email. It’s filled with our favourite pieces of the news from the industry, SEO, PPC, Social Media and more. And, don’t forget - it’s free, so why haven’t you signed up already?