What is Domain Authority and Why Should It Matter for Your Site?

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what is domain authority

Domain authority is a term very few are aware of except maybe the SEO specialists. Everyone though knows about SEO, especially if you are a business. Let’s put DA into perspective of SEO.

Say you have a beautiful Persian cat and you have started writing blogs about her. You have used all the right keywords in your blog. In short optimized it for search engines before you hit the ‘publish’ button and sent the blog out into the wide world of the internet. You are sure all those beautiful pictures you have added, along with ALT tags are going to draw in the readers. But then a few days later, you do a search for ‘Persian cats’ and your blog is nowhere on Google’s search result page 1 or even page 10. What went wrong? Instead, Vetstreet.com and cattime.com are in the top search results. Why is that?

Search Results on Google

Why is the domain authority (DA) of your website important?

Digging deeper into the top search results for my same example ‘Persian cats’. I took the websites which ranked at the top in Google Search  and ran their website address through a website DA checker such as MOZ DA checker and it gave me surprising insights. The top result, VetStreet, has a domain authority of 68 (have a look at the image below) and that is way higher then my blog site.

MOZ Domain Authority Checker

Domain authority or DA as it is more commonly known, is the metric that was first developed by MOZ  to predict how likely a domain or website will rank in SERP (search engine ranking page) compared to competitors. Domain authority score is ranked from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest score.

Let me right off the bat say that Google ranking factors does not use DA but Domain Authority is a good indication that your website is doing good with its SEO optimization efforts. Anyways, Google too looks at backlinks to decide on which website has a better authority and hence provide a more valuable answer to the user.

What is Domain Authority?

There are 2 main factors for Google ranking your website higher than others for a search term and these factors are Relevance and Authority. The first, relevance, is related to your web page itself – the content, the keywords and how relevant it is to the search term.

The second factor is a super important search ranking factor and that is the authority of your website. Is your website trusted by other websites? Have they shown their trust by linking back to your web page (and hence your domain)? This is called domain authority and it is measured by the number of links to your website from other sites – in short it is calculated based on the number of backlinks that your domain has aggregated. Quantity matters, so backlinks from other sites is a vote of confidence, it says that your webpage has information that is important and that is why my website is linking to it. If hundreds of webpages link to your webpage then that is a signal to Google that your website is trusted. So, backlinks build credibility and that is why it is important that other websites link back to you, the more the better. Once again back to my earlier example, vetstreet.com has over 1.1 million backlinks and no wonder it ranks high.

Domain authority is measured by the number of links to your website from other sites – in short it is calculated based on the number and quality of backlinks that your domain has aggregated

The term Domain authority was coined by MOZ but there are similar terms used by other website ranking sites. For instance, authority score by SEMRush, domain rating by AHREFS, and competitive power by Alexa. One thing that is common is that they all calculate website ranking by the number of backlinks and also the DA of the website that is providing the backlinks.

What is domain authority score and does your website need to have a high DA? 

Now that we are all clear on the importance of domain authority, here is what your domain authority score tells us about your website.

Domain authority scale

Websites like blogger.com, youtube.com and of course google.com have a perfect domain authority score of 100. Other sites like Facebook, amazon.com and washingtonpost.com have DA in the top nineties. Does this mean that every website has to strive for a high DA? Actually that is not true. Your website has to beat out your competitors in search ranking, so your DA score just needs to be better than theirs. If your closest competitor in Search Engine ranking has a DA of 25 then that is the score to better.

But are all backlinks of equal value? 

This is a black pit that website owners need to negotiate carefully. Steer clear from those promising to boost your DA in a short while. They usually use black hat seo methods and build a large number of backlinks to show you some progress but most of them will get delisted by DA rankers because of their quality. You might even get a manual penalty from Google. Building quality backlinks is never an overnight phenomenon, it takes time.

Differentiating the good from bad links will take some technical understanding but here is a quick method to know what is a valuable backlink:

  • The most valuable backlinks are those that are dofollow links from trusted sites with high domain authority.
  • If you get backlinks from websites in your own industry niche, they are very valuable
  • Never buy links from websites, Google comes down hard on sites with paid links and you could get the backlash.
  • Google uses anchor text as a ranking factor. So the backlink text should be descriptive of the content that it is linked to. For eg. ‘Click here’ as a backlink is a big no, instead text ‘get more info about DA’ when hyperlinked with an anchor text. So, watch out for this.

How to check your website domain authority score

There are numerous paid tools that will do a full SEO audit including providing you valuable insights. Most of these paid tools provides a free website DA checker which you can use to check your website domain authority . The best free versions to try out are  MOZ DA Checker or use the domain ranking free tool on AHREFS

If you need help perfecting your digital marketing strategy and boosting your domain authority, we are glad to help. Contact us and tell us about your project. We have run successful projects for businesses both in India and globally. We’d love to help you get to the top of the search results.