Domain authority is a ranking metric developed by Moz to predict a website’s ability to rank on search engine results pages.

The process of assessing your website’s rankability on search engines might sound simple at first. But that’s until you encounter numerous questions, including:

  • Am I targeting the right keywords? 
  • Is my content answering the right questions? 
  • How’s my technical search engine optimization (SEO) performance? 
  • Do I have a good domain authority? 
  • If not, how can I improve my domain score?

Initially, we were overwhelmed by these questions, too, until we discovered how to increase domain authority through 7 proven steps. We’ve tested them out and can attest to their effectiveness. Now we’re ready to pass them along to you.

What Is Domain Authority?

Domain authority (DA) is a ranking metric developed by Moz to predict a website’s ability to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). DA scores range from 1-100, with the highest scores being the most desirable.

The higher the DA, the great likelihood your website will rank on the first page of SERPs for relevant keywords. Additionally, high DAs help indicate your website’s level of expertise, authority and trust (EAT) to users. And that isn’t the only attention your website will attract: it also will have a greater chance of attracting Google.

There are many traits that contribute to Google’s recognition and reward, including exceptional DA scores. It’s a key component toward sharply increasing your digital presence.

Elements of a High DA Website

We’ve touched upon some of the core elements of websites with high DAs. Let’s dig in a bit deeper:

Well-Known Platforms

It’s as simple as it sounds: Websites with high DAs are typically more well-known than websites with lower DAs. Think of .gov and .edu domains for example. If you’ve recently browsed a platform such as USA.gov, you probably noticed the 91 DA-rating. 

That’s no coincidence. Official websites like USA.gov are widely known and well-trusted, which attributes to their exceptional DAs and top-ranking positions on SERPs.

High Levels of EAT

Google’s most recent algorithm updates have proven EAT to be a game-changer for top ranking websites. Why? Because users trust them. 

Although EAT is important for every niche, it’s especially essential for “Your Money Your Life” (YMYL) websites. For instance, imagine you’re about to invest in a new car. 

Before you make a purchase, you’re going to conduct online research on the best cars available in 2020. 

You know buying a car is a high-involvement purchase that will impact the safety of you and your family. You must find the right information to make the best decision. You simply can’t afford to get it wrong.

Websites with high EAT are the ones users refer to the most when making crucial life decisions. In return, high EAT websites commonly possess notable DA scores.

High-Quality Backlink Profiles

Websites with impressive link profiles and high-quality DAs often go hand-in-hand. 

What’s the reason? Backlinks act as votes of confidence that signal to Google your website is valuable and credible. The more quality backlinks you have, the more likely your website also has notable EAT — all of which have the power to improve your DA and SERP rankings.

Note how we only mentioned high-quality backlinks. Backlinks created through dubious tactics as well as those with high spam scores or low-quality content won’t help your website or your DA. Rather, they could potentially harm both.

Well-Written Content

You might be wondering, how exactly can your website gain enough valuable backlinks to bolster your DA? How can you make your online presence known and drive more EAT? 

Creating original, high-quality and informative content is key. That’s why you’ll notice that plenty of high DA websites publish long-form, well-researched, original content. By creating exceptional content on a daily basis, you’ll have the ability to provide valuable answers to your reader’s questions while increasing your online reputation.

Benefits of a High DA

As we’ve discussed, there are several elements high DA websites often share. Now let’s talk about the benefits of having a high DA website.

Higher SERP Rankings

Top rankings on the first page of search results for targeted keywords: It’s one of the biggest SEO objectives. Although high DA websites don’t guarantee top spots on SERPs, they do increase the likelihood of higher rankings. 

Take The New York Times website, for instance. Not only is the Times an established, trusted news publication, but the website boasts an impressive 95 DA score. The top-notch domain authority score and EAT help the site rank for competitive keywords.

Check out their top ranking for the trending keyword “Debate Lineup.” With a search volume of 6,600 and a ranking difficulty of 91, according to Moz, it’s easy to confirm authoritative websites have greater opportunities to rank for competitive keywords. 

Higher Organic Traffic

Because of top SERP rankings for top-searched keywords, a high-ranking website with a powerful DA is bound to drive more traffic.

Websites with high traffic also can afford to lower their ad spending and stop funneling large buckets of money into methods such as pay-per-click advertising. 

Greater Conversions

High DA websites with top SERP rankings are more likely to receive site interactions, conversions and purchases. Not only can a high DA website reach a larger audience, but it can result in increased revenue, too.

Increased Collaborations

High authority websites enjoy the benefits of increased collaboration opportunities with other communities, websites and organizations.

This includes being featured on other authoritative platforms through podcasts, interviews and articles. These collaboration opportunities are an excellent way to drive more digital exposure to your website.

Positive Results From Google Updates

Simply put, websites that follow positive practices are better set to experience positive results from Google algorithm updates. With each update that transpires, we continue to see quality websites rise the ranks.

However, having high DAs alone isn’t enough to avoid the wrath of algorithms. Websites must ensure they follow white-hat SEO practices.

Low DA websites are generally inclined to be negatively impacted by Google algorithm updates.

Elements of a Low DA

Now that we’ve dissected the core benefits of high DAs, it’s important to uncover the pitfalls of having a low DA score. 

Low Brand Awareness

Although it isn’t guaranteed, websites with low DAs typically have less brand awareness. Low brand awareness poses an array of disadvantages, including lower rankings on search engines, less web traffic and fewer conversion opportunities.

Low EAT

It goes hand-in-hand: If users aren’t familiar with a brand, they’re less inclined to trust their expertise. Despite that domain authority scores don’t always correlate with EAT, low DA websites tend to have lesser chances of acquiring new customers.

Poor Backlink Profile

Low DA websites commonly have poor backlink profiles as well. It’s easy to determine why: If a website lacks credibility and overall brand awareness, why would a third-party site link to them? 

As a rule of thumb, websites link to credible, established and trustworthy sources. Therefore, low DA websites are more likely to have a lackluster backlink profile, which impacts SERP rankings, traffic and user engagement.

Low-Quality Content

Low DA websites typically contain low-quality, sparse content. Poor-quality content can include everything from short, thin articles, articles with incorrect or unoriginal content and articles that aren’t properly optimized. 

Pitfalls of a Low DA

As we’ve touched upon, there are a number of elements low DA websites share. Let’s review the main pitfalls of websites with low domain scores.

Lower SERP Rankings

While high DA websites have greater chances of ranking better, it’s more probable for low DA websites to rank worse on SERPs. Poor SERP rankings lead to an array of missed opportunities from ranking on the first page of SERPs to tripling relevant site traffic and conversions.

Lower Site Traffic

Consequently, poor SERP rankings make it even harder for prospective customers to find low DA websites. Low website traffic poses a variety of problems, from lost wages and revenue to falling behind competitors on the SEO ladder. 

Fewer Conversions

Like an ongoing domino effect, fewer website visitors result in fewer conversions and purchases. Although a low domain authority isn’t the sole reason for this, it’s certainly a contributing factor.

Fewer Collaborations

It’s a given: If prospective customers can’t find your website, how will other websites seek you out for collaborations? They won’t.

It isn’t uncommon for low DA websites to lack other forms of online exposure such as featured interviews, podcasts and guest appearances on third-party websites. Unfortunately, shortages of quality backlinks are also noticed by Google and not for good reasons.

Negative Results From Google Updates

Although this varies case by case, low DA websites are generally inclined to be negatively impacted by Google algorithm updates. If a website lacks quality content and EAT, the possibility of them losing even more ranks during an algorithm update is substantial.

Domain Authority vs. Page Authority

Page authority (PA) is an additional score invented by Moz. In contrast to domain authority, it’s used to predict the ranking ability of specific pages on SERPs, as opposed to rankings of entire domains and subdomains. PA has a score range of 1-100, with the highest score being the most desirable.

Although PA isn’t a specific ranking metric, it can be used to help estimate the ranking potential of individual pages on SERPs. Domain and page authorities are both determined by machine learning algorithms and are referred to widely throughout the SEO community.

How Is the Moz Domain Authority Score Calculated?

Moz, the original creator of domain authority, uses numerous factors to calculate domain authority scores. 

A few of the top key metrics include: 

Linked Root Domains

  • Multiple inbound links from the same domain pointing to a website.

Ranking Keywords

  • The number of keywords a website ranks for on SERPs.

Spam Score

  • The percentage of websites with similar traits to the sites Google penalizes. Spam scores should be used to keep tabs on the quality of your backlink profile in addition to areas of concern.

Recommended DA Checker

To learn how to increase domain authority, you’ll need to start with an accurate DA checker. Although there are various tools circulating the web, we especially recommend Moz Link Explorer.

Moz Link Explorer

An all-in-one link analysis and competitive research tool which:

  1. Reviews DA scores and spam scores
  2. Pulls link data from domains, subdomains and exact pages
  3. Displays inbound links
  4. Filters to uncover lost backlinks
  5. Compares competitor backlink profiles

If you’re interested in testing out additional link analysis and competitive research tools, you can also check out our latest SEO tools guide

Websites that follow positive practices are better set to experience positive results from Google algorithm updates.

How to Increase Domain Authority

Once you have the full scoop on what domain authority is and why it’s important, it’s time to learn how to increase domain authority once and for all. We’ve broken it down into 7 steps.

1. Create Stellar Content

When it comes down to achieving success in SEO, outstanding content holds the key to many doors. As time-consuming as publishing exceptional content may seem, it’s well worth the effort.

Define Your Target Audience

Start out by identifying your main customer base. Who’s visiting your website? What are their demographics? What’s their background?

Identify Their Questions

Next, uncover what their common struggles are. How can you provide valuable assistance to them through your content?

Do Your Research

Conduct competitor research to discover what competing articles already exist around your topic. How can you set your content apart? What unique insight can you provide to readers that the existing content doesn’t?

Showcase Author EAT

Ensure your authors are subject matter experts who can share valuable information from their own experiences. How can you use your content to showcase the authority and trustworthiness of your site?

2. Use Relevant Keywords

Without targeting the right keywords, your content will flop. Performing keyword research is an essential stepping stone in the process.

Know Which Search Terms to Target

It’s important to understand which keywords users search for as well as the common topics around them. This can be done through a variety of tools, such as AnswerThePublic. All you have to do is search a keyword to uncover all the related questions entered into search engines.

Identify User Search Intent

Another way to identify user search intent for keywords is to review SERPs themselves. Note: Are lots of buyer’s guides ranking for a specific search term? What about How-To articles?

 From there you’ll be able to craft content that accurately matches user intent.

Use Keywords Tastefully and Sparingly

While targeting the right keywords is vital, it’s also essential to not go overboard. This means refraining from keyword stuffing, high keyword densities and unnatural placements. If you have to force a keyword into a sentence, you’re probably better off leaving it out.

Select Your Keywords Wisely

When selecting keywords to incorporate in a piece, we recommend using moderate to low difficulty keywords with higher search volumes. We also recommend using semantic keywords to address various components of your topic on-hand.

For example, if you’d like to rank for the core keyword “SEO,” you can utilize that keyword in addition to incorporating the semantic keywords, “Keyword Research” and “Link Building.”

3. Build High-Quality Backlinks

Once you’ve published your content, the next step is to build backlinks from high-quality sources. As tempting as it is to maximize your backlinks, always prioritize quality over quantity.

Craft Your Strategy

To get started, you must brainstorm which link-building strategies you’d like to test out. Ask yourself: Will my content provide genuine value to the third-party website’s readers? How and why?

Find The Right Contacts

After you’ve selected your strategy it’ll be time to start choosing your contacts. While sourcing for contacts, it’s helpful to locate team members who work with content directly. For instance, a marketing manager or content writer will probably have more authority to update a piece of content over a team member in the human resources or finance departments.

Customize Your Email Pitches

Nothing’s worse than receiving spammy mass emails — the ones that don’t take the time to even address your name. To ensure you aren’t sending out those types of spammy emails yourself, always take the time to personalize your email pitches and provide the proper customizations.

Follow Up

If you send out an email and don’t receive a response back, it’s OK to follow up. However, be careful not to follow-up too soon. As a general rule of thumb, 5-7 business days allows adequate time for your contacts to respond to your initial pitch.

4. Clean Up Your Backlink Profile

As much as we all want a large backlink profile, identifying and removing poor quality links is essential for the health of your website. 

Conduct Regular Backlink Audits

To maintain a firm eye on your link profile, it’s key to conduct routine backlink audits. This will give you a clear view of every new inbound link you receive.

Identify Areas of Concern

Each time you conduct your backlink audits, you always should highlight any questionable links you come across. This should include both spammy links and suspicious links from websites following deceptive SEO tactics.

Contact Websites Directly

To follow best SEO practices, you must first email poor-quality websites directly and ask them to remove your link. Ensure all emails are composed kindly and cordially to maximize your response rates.

Disavow Poor-Quality Backlinks

If you follow the process and don’t receive a response back, you can move forward with the link disavow process. Link disavows can be made directly on Google Search Console.

5. Improve Internal Linking

Adding internal links throughout your website is a great way to improve your readers’ journey and make your content more easily findable.

Create Pillar Pages

Establish pillar pages to house related pieces of content throughout your website. This is extremely helpful for making your pages easier to navigate and improving your user’s experiences.

Use Natural Anchor Text

Avoid the overuse of exact-match anchor text, which can trigger spam filters. Alternatively, be sure to incorporate longer-tail anchor texts that appear naturally throughout your content.

Avoid Excessive Interlinking

As much as we love interlinking, it’s easy to get too carried away. Double-check your content to confirm your pages aren’t crammed with excessive and repetitive internal links.

6. Practice Excellent On-Page SEO and Technical SEO

On-page SEO and technical SEO, if done correctly, can bolster your domain authority tremendously. There are a variety of steps you can take to maximize your results.

Optimize for Targeted Keywords

Ensure your primary keywords are incorporated in your title, meta description, introduction, headings and naturally throughout the body of your content.

Use Correct Alt Image Tags

Utilize alt image tags to describe images on your pages in the most accurate, clear and descriptive way possible.

Crank Up the Site Speed

Let’s face it, nobody loves a slow site. This is why it’s essential to stay on top of your site speed and quicken your page load times. This must be prioritized for both desktop and mobile devices.

Prioritize User Experience

Optimizing your website for a better user experience (UX) poses endless benefits such as:

  • Longer time-on-page metrics and fewer bounce rates
  • An increased amount of returning customers
  • A larger quantity of purchases and conversions

First, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions: 

How many pages do users have to navigate through to check out an item? How simple is the check out process? Is it easy to locate every page on my website within just a few clicks or less?

If you haven’t been prioritizing UX as part of your DA-boosting strategy, it’s time to start.

7. Strengthen Your Social Media Presence

Although social media isn’t directly related to SEO, gaining the right exposure can still aid in increasing your site traffic and overall DA.

Choose Your Platforms Wisely

Prior to selecting your social media platforms, you must first understand your audience and where they’re most active online. For instance, a user base who prefers Instagram over Facebook will need to be targeted using a much different approach.

Encourage Conversations

Whichever social media handles you choose, use your platforms strategically to increase both customer interactions and conversions. To promote greater interactions, you can create contests, respond to users in your comments section and enable user reviews.

Foster Industry Relationships

With more companies on social media than ever before, there’s an endless amount of opportunities to connect with other companies in your niche. This can range anywhere from leaving thoughtful responses under their posts to collaborating with them through fundraisers and meaningful causes.

Use Your Platforms to Bolster Your EAT

Your website isn’t the only place you can bolster your EAT. On social media, you can display your EAT in a variety of facets. One great way to do this is by hosting webinars to intrigue your users, provide them with impactful insight and answer their questions.

Know the DA Score

Domain authority is an important factor to consider when assessing your website’s ability to rank on search engines. If your domain score is lower than you like it to be, there a few proven steps you can take right away:

  1. Create stellar content
  2. Use relevant keywords
  3. Build high-quality backlinks
  4. Clean up your backlink profile
  5. Improve internal linking
  6. Practice excellent on-page SEO and technical SEO
  7. Strengthen your social media presence

Although the thought of learning how to increase your DA score may seem intimidating at first, bolstering your DA is undoubtedly achievable. By following best SEO practices and providing value to your users, you’ll be climbing the ranks in no time.

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