When we talk about search engine optimization (SEO), domain authority has become an industry standard. Originally developed by Moz, domain authority attempts to quantify how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Websites rank somewhere on a scale from one to 100, and the closer you are to 100, the higher you will rank and the more traffic your website could have.
Domain authority is a sort of proxy for the Google “PageRank” score, which indicates how credible your website is. Moz calculates your domain authority by combining all of their other link metrics — linking root domains, number of total links, MozRank, MozTrust, and others — into a single score. Essentially, they are looking at the number of other (credible) websites that link back to your site to determine whether you are producing quality content.
One important thing to remember about domain authority is that it’s a comparative metric. While increasing your score is important, it’s more important to look at the ranking of your competition to get an idea of how your website will place.
For example, a local florist shop (Florist A) might only have a domain authority score of 34, while a national company like 1-800-Flowers would have a much higher domain authority score of 70.
But, Florist A isn’t competing with 1-800-Flowers for the top spot in “local florist” searches. They are competing with Florist B two miles down the road, who only has a domain authority score of 8. In this case, Florist A would appear much higher on the SERP than Florist B.
Now, what if Florist B wanted to improve its rankings? Is there a way to increase domain authority and move up on the SERP?
How to Increase Your Domain Authority
A website with a high domain authority is much harder to outrank. So, while Florist B could relatively easily increase their domain authority to outrank Florist A, it would be difficult to outrank 1-800-Flowers. Still, there are some practical tips that can help you increase your authority and climb the SERP ranks.
What’s in a (domain) name? They say that wisdom comes with age — so the older your domain is, the better. Older domains are seen as more credible and have higher domain authority than newer ones, so every time you change your domain name it’s like starting from zero. That’s why it’s important to use a custom domain name from the beginning, especially if you are using a blogging platform like WordPress.com.
Build up your internal linking structure. You might have noticed that we often link back to past blog posts. That’s because internal linking is one of the factors affecting your domain authority that is easiest to control. A good rule of thumb is to add two to three links to content that exists on your own website to boost your authority. When you upload new content, it’s also important to go back through your old blog posts and add links to the new content, where it’s appropriate.
Focus on your inbound links. We’ve talked about the importance of “backlinks” in a previous post, but here’s a quick refresher. Backlinks are inbound links from another website to your content. It provides social proof that your website is credible, and it shows search engines that your content might be useful for searchers.
A few quality backlinks can be worth their weight in organic search traffic, so focus on gathering links from sources at different geo-locations, domain extensions, or sources that don’t link to each other. Essentially, you want to show that people around the world and in different information sharing circles all value your content.
It’s worth noting that a bad link can actively harm your domain authority, so you want to keep up with who is linking to your site. If you find a bad link, you can either request that the site owner remove the link or use the Google Disavow tool to ignore those links.
Produce great content. None of these link-building tips will work if you aren’t creating exceptional content. When you create something that adds value for your readers, they are more likely to share it with their friends, family, and social networks. It makes link building so much easier.
You can also leverage your great content to build links by:
- Guest blogging
- Contributing to round-up articles
- Providing testimonials for other businesses
- Pitching articles to the media
- Hosting a webinar
Remember, domain authority is important, but it isn’t the only thing affecting your ranking. Google isn’t that simple. With dozens of ranking factors to consider, you need to take a wholistic approach to SEO in order to land that coveted spot at the top of the first page of results on Google.