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What is Domain Authority, anyway?

If you’ve spent much time looking at your website rankings and wonder how you can improve them, you’ve probably come across the term “domain authority,” and you may even have wondered what it was! Simply put, domain authority is a way to measure the strength of one page relative to others on the Internet.

The purpose is to determine which websites are more likely to be relevant to a searcher based on their history, i.e. the quality of the content they produce and the types of links they attract. There are several factors involved in calculating this score, and understanding why each is important is the first step toward improving your own.

How is a domain authority score calculated?

First of all, the domain authority score we use comes from Moz’s Open Site Explorer. You can use this tool to look at your own website to understand how well it scores currently. Domains are scored on a range of 1–100, the higher the score the better. Moz also calculates the scores logarithmically, meaning that it’s much easier to improve your score at the beginning than it is at the end.

All websites start at 1, and improve over time. While you can’t influence it directly, you can improve it indirectly. It takes time—and a lot of content, traffic, and links—to grow your domain authority. Achieving the highest ranks will take years of effort, and you may never need to get there. For instance, pages like the Washington Post or the New York Times have domain authority scores of 96 and 99 respectively. But unless you’re trying to compete with businesses of their caliber, this doesn’t really matter. Take a look at where others in your field rank, and use that as a benchmark.

How to increase domain authority on your website.

Now that you know a little more about domain authority, you’re probably wondering how to increase domain authority on your website. We touched on this earlier, but it’s important to reiterate: you can’t directly influence your domain authority. However, there are many things you can do to indirectly contribute to your domain authority score. Here’s how you can start.

1. Optimize your website.

Anything you can do to improve the SEO of your website will have an indirect impact on your domain authority. Improve your site speed. Make sure you employ user-friendly architecture. Check to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. All of these things will build your SEO, thereby influencing your domain authority.

2. Improve your internal and outbound links.

There are three basic types of links you should care about: internal links, outbound links, and inbound links. As far as the first two are concerned, you should always include links in your content to other content that can be interesting or valuable to your visitors. If you’re writing a blog post on a topic and there’s another relevant blog post on your site, link to it. If there’s a high-authority resource off your site, link to that, too. And make sure that the anchor text (the text that appears with your hyperlink) relates to the thing you’re linking to and reads naturally.

3. Create a link-building strategy

You don’t have as much control over inbound links (other people linking to your content), but there are things you can do to attract inbound links. Begin by making content people will want to link to organically. Having link-worthy content is basically synonymous with content that is user-friendly, readable, relevant, and engaging. So create that content, and then share it where it can be seen, and then hope people link to you. (It may take a while.)

You can do more to grow your inbound links—in fact, you may know of a few SEO folk who spend their entire day doing just that. You can begin by reaching out to relevant contacts to see if they would be willing to link back to your site, or you can offer to write a guest blog for someone on their site.

It’s also important where your inbound links are coming from. A link from a root domain with a high domain authority will be more valuable than one from a low domain authority. A variety of root domain links will also do more for you than a lot of links coming from just one or two root domains.

4. Remove bad links.

“Bad” in this context means both “broken” and “toxic.” Many links break for various reasons. It could be that the page you linked to has been taken down, or the owners changed the URL, either by updating the slug itself or by switching domains. However it happens, broken links signal two things: that you don’t maintain your site, and that you don’t care about user experience. Broken links are frustrating and confusing for visitors. A healthy site keeps theirs in check.

Toxic links are another matter entirely. You should never, under any circumstances, start spamming the comments sections on other websites with links back to your website. Nor should you employ someone to do this for you. This is black-hat SEO, and it you will incur a penalty from Google if you employ it. Unfortunately, there are still people out there who prey upon the unsuspecting by selling links. If someone comes to you offering to get several hundred links to your site in some unreasonable timeframe, run the other way. They can damage your site in a way that can cost you tons of money in time and effort to clean up and get back in Google’s good graces.

Are domain authority and page authority the same thing?

Domain authority and page authority are similar, but not the same thing. While domain authority refers to the relative strength of an entire website, page authority has to do with the strength of an individual page. That said, many of the strategies you would use to improve your domain authority apply to page authority as well.

Have any more questions on how to increase domain authority on your website? Send your questions our way, and we’ll be happy to get in touch with you.

Published 05/18/17 by Laura Lynch