Anybody who owns or manages a website will understand the importance of ranking high on search engines, especially Google.
Search engines provide websites with highly-qualified visitors (somebody who is looking for a specific resolution to a specific problem). Traffic like this is invaluable and as a site owner, you should be doing all you can to appear at the very top of a searchers results.
If you’ve been hunting for ways to do this, you may have come across the term ‘Domain Authority’ (DA) and seen articles that cite how important this score is to your ranking.
In this article, I’m going to translate this slightly-tricky concept into straightforward terms, explain how to measure your Domain Authority and discuss the single best way to improve it.
Let’s start this thing from the top…
What is Domain Authority?
DA is a score that shows how likely a website is to rank on search engines. The higher your domain authority, the higher you’re likely to rank. It’s that simple.
Scores are rated between 1-100, with 1 being the lowest and 100 being the highest.
Domain authority scores are compiled using a number of key metrics that are super-important to a search engines ranking algorithm (more on this in a minute).
How Can I Get a Domain Authority of 100?
The truth is, no matter how hard you work, you probably will never get a domain authority of 100…
…in fact, only six websites have ever actually achieved the feat, reckon you can guess them? I’ll give you the answer at the end of this article.
To put the difficulty of reaching a domain authority of 100 into perspective, Wikipedia, who appear on the first page of MILLIONS of Google searches, have a domain authority of 92.
So, What Does a Good Domain Authority Score Look Like?
There is absolutely no way that I can sit here and dictate to you what a good domain authority score is…
….because it all depends on your website, niche and competition.
Your domain authority shows how likely you are to rank, but that doesn’t mean you need a super-high score to land on the first page of a search engine.
Domain Authority scores are relative and for you to understand what a good score is, you need to do discover yours and compare it with your competitor’s (especially those who are ranking above you).
You might have some competitors in mind already, but these people probably aren’t who you think they are.
Competitors are websites who are targeting the same keywords in the same niche as you, and for you to find them, you need to search for the keyword you’d most like to rank for. When you’ve done this, take all the homepage URL’s from these sites and run them through a domain authority checker, and poof…
…you’ve found your benchmark. Make this your target.
How is Domain Authority Measured?
Domain authority measures the ranking strength of a site as a whole, including all of its pages and subdomains.
It’s measured based on a ton of different factors that are fundamental to a search engines algorithm.
Look at domain authority as the entirety of your SEO efforts, but be aware that there are some factors that are completely out of your control. A great example of this is domain age. There is a clear correlation between older sites having higher domain authority than newer ones. So, if you have a brand new website, don’t sweat it. Everyone has been in your position.
One of the most important domain authority measurements are backlinks (links to your site from an external one), particularly from websites with a higher domain authority than yours.
To understand this better, look at the internet like a big wide web (a literal one). The more silk strands that connect to your section of the web, the higher your DA will be. If those strands are particularly strong (sites with higher domain), your score will be even higher.
For example, if you have a relatively new website with a domain authority score of 12 and you gain a backlink from a website with a score of 23, you’re cooking on gas. And, if that same website gains backlinks from three websites with a domain authority of 10, it’s also cranked up the heat.
How Can You Improve Your Domain Authority?
If you’ve come through this entire guide (particularly the section above) you’re probably super-keen to boost your score. I don’t blame you, we all are.
But, before you open a new tab and start searching for the easiest way to gain a ton of backlinks in a short period of time, be warned, it might do harm than good.
Bad links will damage your DA and when you purchase them, they could come from anywhere.
That’s why the single best way to improve your domain authority is content marketing.
For those of you who don’t know, content marketing looks a little like this article. At its most basic level, it’s content that appeals to a specific audience…
…and when this valuable piece of content reaches somebody (in this audience) who has their own website and they want to reference it, guess what they do? They recommend it via a backlink anchored in their own content.
Content doesn’t just need to be written. You can also use images, audio or video.
Whatever you do, go above and beyond your audience’s needs. Try to make content that is an absolute must-have and your domain authority will grow.
For example, I created a piece of content called I Published 104 Blogs in 124 Days, Here’s How I Never Run Out Of Ideas, and because this content marketing guide was so in depth and thorough, it received a lot of backlinks.
What Should You Do Next?
Domain authority is the totality of your SEO efforts, do not ignore it.
The first thing you should do when leaving this article is to discover yours (don’t be disheartened if it’s low!), perform a Google search for the most appropriate keyword for your website and collect the domain authorities of your top keyword competitors.
When you have that number, add on 10 and make that your target. You won’t achieve it overnight, or a month, probably not even in two years, but if you keep pursuing the right strategy, you’ll get there (eventually)…
…and when you do, keep on widening the gap.
I suggest checking your domain authority once a month (I always do it on the 1st, alongside a few other important KPI’s) to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.
What do you think of domain authority? Is there anything you think I’ve missed? Or something you’d like to learn more about? Leave a comment.
BTW: The 6 sites that have achieved a score of 100 are, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest.
Thanks Josh. What are the other KPIs you check on the 1st of the month? That would be a great checklist to have.
Hey Graeme, thank you for the comment! The DA score is a KPI for the Einstein Marketer website (not any of our other activities). I use a glass wall in our office to write down all the measured KPI’s on the 1st of every month, so everybody can see them! These include:
-Alexa Traffic Rank
-Return Visitors (VERY IMPORTANT!!! If nobody is returning, you’ll have to work much harder to constantly attract new people)
-Average Session Duration (on site)
-Traffic from social source (via each social source)
-Impressions on Google (via Google search console)
-Device split percentage (mobile/desktop users)
Using this information, we’re able to do two things:
1. Learn more about the people who are visiting our site so we can improve their experience, target their needs and improve our performance.
2. Strengthen our weaknesses, or drop areas that we’ve seen little growth in.
By doing this once a month, I can accurately measure the growth and development of our website, but most importantly, it helps my productivity! If i had no order or set time to track these KPI’s I would regularly find myself distracted by chasing numbers!
At the start of every month, I look at 1. and 2. above, set a plan and work towards it. All the while, I’ll do everything in my power to avoid looking at the KPI’s.
I hope this answer helps!
Bit of a slow reply, but this was a fantastic response, thank you. Very much appreciated. I’m in the process of trying to set-up various checklists across the marketing and sales areas of the business to try and help keep us on top of things. This is a great contribution to that.
Not a problem Graeme. I hope it’s useful, and good luck!!!
Love this explanation. I was a bit confused about Domain Authority until now. Thank you for this Josh. I will return to this website again!
Thanks Sam! You’re welcome anytime!