Domain Authority: How to Increase Your Site’s Domain Authority

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As you apply search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to your website, you’ll find many of them are geared toward improving your domain authority. This metric is a helpful tool in planning for SEO success, but it is commonly misunderstood. Here’s how to increase your website’s domain authority.

What is domain authority?

Domain authority is a proprietary off-page SEO metric developed by Moz, an SEO technology company, to help predict how well your website is likely to rank for any given keyword. The domain authority metric primarily uses the quality and quantity of sources that link to your website to calculate the score. Websites are ranked from 0 to 100, with 0 being a site that will have a very difficult time ranking, and 100 being a site that will generally rank high among search engine results. Domain authority is a website-wide metric, associated with a domain as opposed to an individual page on a website. 

How is domain authority calculated?

Moz uses backlinks to calculate the domain authority of a website. If a website has a higher domain authority than yours, it’s probably because it has been linked to by more and higher-quality sources. Although Moz’s exact formula for calculating domain authority scores is proprietary, the company has released its scoring methodology in a whitepaper. Other SEO tools, like Ahrefs’ domain rating tool, now offer their own versions of domain authority calculators.

What influences your domain authority score?

Both quantity and quality of backlinks matter. A website could have a strong domain authority with fewer than 100 high-quality backlinks if many of them are from very credible sources such as government websites, scientific journals, and mainstream news reports. By contrast, if a site has thousands of links, but they’re of low quality or from potential spam sites, it may have a much lower domain authority.

Moz occasionally updates its algorithm for calculating domain authority, so scores can fluctuate even without changes in backlink profiles. For this reason, domain authority is best used as a comparative metric (“Have I moved closer to or further ahead of my competitors?”) instead of raw (“How many points have I increased?”).

Why does domain authority matter?

  1. Domain authority correlates with higher rankings
  2. Domain authority provides a quick insight into a site’s backlinks profile
  3. Domain authority can help assess your competition
  4. Domain authority can track your SEO progress and efforts over time

Domain authority is notprovided or endorsed by search engines like Google. It is not an official ranking factor, and a higher domain authority score does not automatically mean your site’s rankings will improve. According to Vanessa Bellanti, SEO lead at Shopify, “SEOs should still care about domain authority because it is a good indicator of a website's overall authority and trustworthiness in relation to providing information on a particular topic.” That’s right, domain authority does matter, for at least four reasons:

Domain authority correlates with higher rankings

Moz’s studies, as well as third-party research, show that sites with high domain authority tend to rank higher and receive more organic traffic. This lends domain authority credibility—you can be reasonably confident as a marketer that increasing your domain authority is good for SEO.

Domain authority provides a quick insight into a site’s backlinks profile

Backlinks (links to your website from other sites) are a Google ranking factor. Domain authority provides a great shorthand reference for the state of your site’s off-page SEO.

Domain authority can help assess your competition

When you’re trying to rank for a particular keyword, looking at the domain authority of the websites that currently rank for that keyword can help you understand how you stack up against your competitors. Websites with high domain authority are more difficult to rank against.

Domain authority can track your SEO progress and efforts over time

As you implement SEO optimizations and build a strong backlink profile, your domain authority should increase. So, tracking your domain authority over time is a good measure of how your SEO efforts are paying off.

What is a good domain authority score?

There is no one number that necessarily indicates a good domain authority score. If a site is brand new, it will have a domain authority of less than 10, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with the website. It just hasn’t built up a backlink profile yet. 

Domain authority scores also tend to vary by industry and content type. Some types of websites, such as those focused on recipes or software, have high traffic volume and many high-quality backlinks. On the other hand, websites focused on niche topics may face a less competitive search environment and thus require fewer backlinks to rank. To know what a good domain authority is for your website, use keyword research to determine which queries you want to rank for, then look up the domain authority of the websites already ranking for those terms. That will give you a rough answer.

Here is a rule-of-thumb reference for what different score ranges mean:

  • 0–10. This is probably a brand-new website and can likely only rank for very niche searches. If a website has been around for a while and has a low score, that may indicate it’s not deemed reliable and lacks backlinks with high page authority.
  • 11–25. This is a legitimate website in Google’s eyes, but one without a history of SEO performance. It has an opportunity to rank for targeted industry keywords but will need to accumulate more links.
  • 26–40. A site in this range is not yet top-tier, but it has an established brand and/or quality backlink profile. 
  • 41–60. A high-authority site. This site is well on its way to becoming a leader in its industry and likely has a successful SEO strategy.
  • 61–80. A top-tier backlink profile, a website with this score is able to rank for most terms in the industry, is trusted by others, and has content relevant to commonly searched keywords.
  • 81 and higher. This is generally reserved for very large brands and websites in the world, such as YouTube and Wikipedia.

How to increase domain authority

  1. Develop high-quality, research-driven content
  2. Find outlets for guest posts
  3. Focus on link building and repair broken links
  4. Promote your content on social media and other online channels
  5. Keep your website up-to-date with fresh content and new features

Follow these five steps to increase your site’s domain authority score and improve your backlink profile:

1. Develop high-quality, research-driven content

Most backlinks on the internet are a result of one website relying on another as a source of information. Good writers link back to what is referred to as source-of-truth content. If your content only repackages insights from other sources, it likely won’t get many backlinks, but if you share your business’s proprietary research and data, it’ll be much more likely to succeed in getting backlinks. An example of research-driven content is Shopify’s Commerce Trend report.

2. Find outlets for guest posts

Write guest articles for reputable websites in your industry. This exposes your content to a wider audience, and provides opportunities for quality backlinks. Make sure your content is unique and relevant to the website's audience. Avoid spammy tactics or low-quality guest posting opportunities. One way to identify websites that accept guest posts is to search for a keyword in your industry plus “guest article” or a similar phrase; that should surface websites that accept guest posts.

3. Focus on earning links and repair broken links

Use an SEO tool like Screaming Frog or Ahrefs to find non-functioning 404 errors on your website. If you redirect these 404s to live pages, you’ll regain the link equity of any site linking to those pages. To identify other websites that direct readers to broken links, use the Check My Links Chrome extension on high-ranking pages. If you see a broken link, contact the website and offer a piece of your content as a relevant alternative. It's win-win: They fix a bad user experience and may earn you a backlink.

4. Promote your content on social media and other online channels

When you use social media to promote your content, it drives traffic to your website. If your new visitors then share your content on their social channels or engage with your content in other ways (spend time on your website reading and click-through to your CTAs), it’ll increase your domain authority. 

5. Keep your website up-to-date with fresh content and new features

  • A robust posting schedule with content and features your readers will find interesting and shareable will signal to new and regular readers that they should come back again and again to check out your content. 
  • Browsers want to rank websites that provide readers with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with new features that enhance a reader’s experience. So, your new and updated content and features are likely to increase your domain authority.
  • If you post more valuable content, more blogs will link to your website and you’ll increase your backlinks.

How to increase domain authority FAQ

What types of websites have the highest domain authority?

Domain authority is based on backlinks, so the types of websites with the highest domain authority are the ones that receive a high volume of quality backlinks. These are typically news sites and well-established sites, like Wikipedia, that offer a wealth of information.

Does Google look at domain authority?

No, Google does not directly look at a site’s domain authority. Domain authority is a metric generated by Moz, an SEO technology company. However, since Google’s algorithm factors in the quality and quantity of backlinks when determining a site’s SERP ranking, domain authority can be a helpful proxy for analyzing how Google views your site.

How long does it take to see improvements in domain authority?

It typically takes at least one month to see improvements in a website domain authority score, though it may take a good deal longer, depending on the competitiveness of the keyword you want to rank for.