Authority is an important concept, one that impacts nearly every aspect of modern society. A police officer can get away with pulling someone over on the road because they have the authority to do so. A doctor can prescribe medications that your run-of-the-mill ‘wellness coach’ couldn’t touch. And when we hear about new scientific breakthroughs, you better believe that we want our information coming from an authoritative source.
Google feels the same way.
When it comes time to rank a page on any given SERP, Google isn’t only interested in the content on the page or its relevance to the search query. Don’t get me wrong; those are still vitally important and help ensure that the results you get when you enter a search string match your intent, they just don’t give the search engine the whole picture. To fully understand the quality of the content, Google also needs to get a sense of its credibility.
That’s where domain authority (DA) backlinks come in.
To understand DA backlinks and how you can put them to work for you, it’s probably best to start with a definition of domain authority. So here we go:
Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by Moz (a leading company in SEO technology) to measure the overall authority or credibility of a website. DA is scored on a scale of 1 to 100, with higher scores indicating greater authority and the likelihood of higher search engine rankings. Domain authority refers to the authority of the entire site, while “page authority” focuses on the authority and credibility of individual web pages. The page authority of individual pages influences the overall domain authority of the site. That said, high-DA sites may still include some low-authority pages.
So, domain authority describes the elements that give Google an idea of whether the site knows what it’s talking about. A higher DA typically indicates credibility in the eyes of the search engine and thus helps ensure a higher ranking. But authority isn’t completely intrinsic; the credibility of a site can be difficult to judge just from the content or even the author. Instead, Google (and other search engines) focus on what I like to call ‘authority by association.’ Connections with other sites allow authority to spread and be shared. High-authority sites boost the DA of other sites, in essence, ‘vouching’ for their credibility through DA backlinks.
How Is Domain Authority Calculated?
One thing to be aware of when dealing with domain authority is that it all comes from Moz. They invented the metric, they calculate it, and we’re welcome to use it just so long as we accept the fact that some of the intricacies of the calculation haven’t been publicly disclosed. It’s also worth noting that DA doesn’t directly influence search engine rankings; Google doesn’t ‘look’ at the DA. Instead, SEOs and webmasters refer to DA as a useful comparative tool to evaluate the relative strength and potential visibility of different websites.
DA is important, but not in and of itself; it’s basically a lens through which businesses can get a better idea of how effective their site is in terms of meeting the expectations of the Google algorithm.
With that caveat, the key factors that go into domain authority are:
Linking Root Domains and Total Number of Links
Domain authority takes into account both the quantity and quality of links pointing to a website. Specifically, it considers the number of unique linking root domains as well as the total number of links. A root domain refers from the main domain of a website, and having links from a diverse set of high-quality root domains can positively impact domain authority.
Machine Learning Calculations
Moz employs a machine learning model to calculate domain authority. This model is trained on a vast amount of data and incorporates numerous factors beyond just the quantity of links. While the precise details of the algorithm remain proprietary (as in, Moz isn’t sharing them), it probably takes into account elements like link quality, relevance, the trustworthiness of linking sites, and other ranking factors.
Fluctuation of Domain Authority
Domain authority is not a static metric. The algorithm is periodically updated, and as a result, domain authority scores can change over time. It’s essential to monitor and adapt to these fluctuations as part of an ongoing SEO strategy.
Difficulty of Increasing Domain Authority
As domain authority is based on a logarithmic scale, it becomes progressively more challenging to increase the score as it gets higher. In other words, moving from 20 to 30 is generally easier than moving from 70 to 80. This logarithmic scale reflects the diminishing returns of acquiring new high-quality links as a website already gains authority.
What Is a High Domain Authority?
So what is high domain authority? Opinions may differ — and as I said, Google doesn’t exactly weigh in on the discussion — but a DA of 60 – 70 (or better) is widely recognized as above average. Websites with a DA in this range are perceived as more authoritative, trustworthy, and credible. A high DA indicates that the website has a strong online presence, often backed by a significant number of quality backlinks and a long-established reputation, which are all things that search engines take into account when handing out rankings.
Also, websites with high DA tend to have backlinks that have been around for a considerable period and have accumulated a large number of links pointing to them. These backlinks often come from reputable and authoritative sources, indicating that the website has earned the recognition and endorsement of other trusted websites within its niche. The quality and relevance of these backlinks are crucial factors in determining a website’s DA.
Why Are DA Links Important?
Just to reiterate: DA is important because it is a good indicator of how search engine viable a site may be. And, because authority is a shared commodity between websites, having high-quality, high-DA links to reputable sites tells Google that your pages are worth highlighting. High DA backlinks improve your site’s DA, which can help be a good indicator of SEO optimization.
Quality vs. Quantity
Links carry domain authority, but not every link carries the same amount of authority. A clever SEO may look at this and think to themself “Why spend the time and effort trying to secure a handful of high-DA links when I could just pull in an army of low-DA links and let their collective authority boost my site?” But let’s think about this for a second.
It’s a lot easier to secure low- or medium-DA links (to say nothing of spam links from domains that are straight-up malicious). If the quantity of links were just as effective as the quality, sites of all kinds could easily manipulate the search engine algorithm to achieve a higher rank, regardless of the relevance or credibility of the content. And, as anyone who tried to use search engines in the 90s can attest, that really undermines their effectiveness.
So, is having a lot of links a bad thing? Not at all; a high quantity of backlinks can positively impact your SEO and SERP ranking, but the emphasis shifts when it comes to domain authority. Search engines (like Google) consider the quality and relevance of the backlinks rather than simply the number of links. High-quality backlinks from authoritative and reputable sources hold more weight and contribute significantly to improving your DA. A ton of low-quality links barely move the needle, and may even net you some link penalties.
So, while a diverse backlink profile is great, the quality and relevance of the links you acquire should always be your top priority when aiming to increase your domain authority.
Clear? Great! But what about SEO and webmasters who have good content but are having trouble catching the attention of high-DA sites? Is there an ethical way to jumpstart this process?
How to (Ethically) Increase DA
A lot is riding on your domain authority, but that doesn’t mean you can get sloppy. Here are some tried-and-true strategies for improving your site’s DA and bringing in better backlinks without setting off any alarms with Google’s guidelines.
- Write High-Quality Content
Want to get some links from respected sites? You need to give them something worth linking to. Focus on creating relevant and valuable content that engages your target audience. Optimize your content with data-backed keywords, images, and internal/external links, and ensure that everything is well-structured, informative, and SEO optimized. And then you wait. High-quality content naturally attracts links from other websites, and the better the content, the more likely it will catch the eye of high-DA sites, but it takes time.
- Check Your Top Pages
Most sites are built on a handful of essential, high-value pages. Regularly review and maintain your top-performing pages to ensure they are active, accessible, and providing a positive user experience. If you find broken links, reach out to the websites linking to you and request corrections. By keeping your top pages in good shape, you can maintain the value and integrity of the backlinks pointing to your site, boosting your DA in the process.
- Analyze Competitors
There’s nothing wrong with checking out the competition. Conduct competitor research to understand what strategies are working well in your industry. Use a link gap analysis to identify what kinds of backlinks they have acquired that you might be missing. This analysis can help you discover opportunities to secure high-quality backlinks from relevant sources and improve your site’s domain authority.
- Optimize Your Link Profile
Review your existing link profile and ensure it consists mostly of high-quality, do-follow links. Identify and fix any broken or outdated links that may be negatively impacting your domain authority. Aim for a diverse and natural link profile, acquiring links from reputable and relevant sources within your industry.
- Write Guest Posts
Sometimes you just have to build those backlinks yourself. Work out partnerships with higher-DA sites and offer guest posting services where you agree to give them great content in exchange for a backlink. Essentially, you write the piece, you link back to your site, and then the high-DA site publishes it. Just be sure that when writing guest posts your content provides value and is not overly promotional. Include natural and relevant backlinks within the body of the text, as these are more likely to be valued by Google’s search algorithm.
- Focus on High Page Authority Links
Instead of solely targeting entire domains, focus on securing backlinks from specific high-authority pages. Starting small and building links from high-authority pages gradually can provide a boost to your domain authority over time. And, as you accumulate links from reputable sources, it becomes easier to secure backlinks from other high-DA websites.
- Hire a Link-Building Service
Link-building, particularly when you’re in the market for high-DA links, can be a full-time job. If you’ve got other things to do and you’d like to bring in some experts, hiring a white-hat link-building service can help you secure top-quality backlinks from high-DA sites, freeing up your time so you can focus on growing your business.
As always, it’s crucial to prioritize quality, relevance, and natural link-building practices over quick and easy solutions. Avoid engaging in manipulative tactics that violate Google’s guidelines, such as buying links or participating in link schemes. Focus on providing value, creating exceptional content, building relationships within your industry, and working with reputable link-building agencies to increase your site’s domain authority organically and sustainably.
Make Authority Your Priority
Authority plays a major role in most aspects of modern life, and that includes search engine optimization. By boosting your site’s domain authority, you not only increase your search engine visibility, you also enhance your online presence. But increasing your site’s DA may be easier said than done. Building a robust and respectable backlink profile takes time, and is tied directly to the quality of the content on your pages.
So why not trust the experts?
BASE Search Marketing provides the ethical link-building and content-creation services you need to pull in the high-DA links you depend on. Contact BASE today, and let the world see just how credible your site can be. BASE Search Marketing has the answers… we have it on good authority.