Increasing your Domain Authority can result in better Google rankings and more traffic coming to your website.
For many competitive industries, Google will only display results from highly authoritative domains.
But it’s important to remember that the Google Search algorithm doesn’t directly consider Domain Authority when ranking websites, since DA is subjective score that was invented by a third party company (Moz).
Why is DA (domain authority) important then?
The factors that increase Domain Authority coincide with those Google uses to rank websites, making it appear to have an impact.
These factors include:
- The number of domains that link to your site.
- In turn, the number of sites those domains link to.
- The authority of the domains that point to your site.
In this article, we’ll do a deep-dive into Domain Authority (DA) and similar metrics. We’ll also highlight some of the strategies we use at Linkbuilder to increase the DA of our clients’ websites.
What is Domain Authority?
DA is a metric created by SEO tool Moz that aims to calculate how authoritative a website is. It does this by analyzing the site’s backlink profile and giving it a score out of 100.
Backlinks are considered a good measure of a site’s authority because, in theory, websites only link to other sites when the content is worth linking to. If a site has a lot of backlinks, many different people have vouched for the quality of the content.
DA can predict how likely a website is to rank on Google for a particular term
If your site has a similar or higher Domain Authority to those at the top of SERPs, you may be able to rank alongside pages that are well-optimized for the keyword.
Moz isn’t the only company to provide a score based on backlinks. The Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) score is a popular alternative.
Like DA, DR also considers a website’s backlink profile and creates a score that estimates how authoritative a website is out of 100.
There are some differences in how the two scores are calculated, which we’ll explore later in this article.
How to Check Your Domain Authority?
The easiest way to check the Domain Authority of a website is to use the free Moz Domain Analysis tool.
Just enter the URL of the website you want to search for, and the tool will show you its Domain Authority score alongside other useful info. This includes top pages by links and the number of ranking keywords.
An option that is useful if you want to check the Domain Authority of many websites is the Moz Bar Google Chrome plugin. It provides real-time domain metrics as you browse the web.
The tool is free to use, although you must sign up for a Moz account.
With the Moz Bar, you can:
- See the Domain Authority score of any website you visit. Ensure the tool is turned on and that you’re logged in to your Moz account.
- See the Domain Authority, Page Authority (PA), and the number of links each page has in the Google search results. This is an easy way to gauge how difficult it will be to rank for a keyword.
Another option is to use Ubersuggest to search for a site’s Domain Authority. Just head to the tool’s homepage and then search for the site you want to learn more about. It shows you the Moz Domain Authority score alongside useful information like traffic and the top keywords a site ranks for.
If you want to know the Ahrefs DR of a site, you can find this easily too—even if you don’t have a subscription to the service.
Just head to this page on the Ahrefs website, then enter the URL of the website you want to search for. There is no limit on the number of searches you can make.
Why is it Important to Know My Domain Authority?
People commonly use domain authority for two reasons.
The first is to measure the success of their SEO and link building efforts. People think that if their site’s DA and DR are increasing, the strategy must be working.
In many cases, this is true. If your site is new or has a low Domain Authority, you will likely see results fairly quickly as you build backlinks.
But, as your Domain Authority score increases, so does the number (and quality) of the links you need to attract to see improvements. This means you could build a lot of links but not see much of a DA improvement.
Another issue is that as the scores are relative to other websites, you can end up in a situation where your DA or DR goes down despite significant link building. This happens when other sites build links faster than you do.
The above points mean you shouldn’t rely on DA to measure whether your SEO efforts are working. Be sure to keep an eye on multiple metrics.
Important – Keep an eye on these other important metrics!
- The number of links that point to your site.
- The number of referring domains.
- Your inbound traffic.
- Your Moz Spam Score.
- Your ranking for individual target keywords.
- Your average ranking.
Website owners also use Domain Authority when deciding which keywords to target.
If the sites that rank for a particular term have high domain metrics, it may be difficult to dislodge them in the SERPs. But if your site has a similar or higher domain authority to those already on the SERPs, you have a good chance of ranking with an optimized piece of content.
Of course, DA is just a guide. Many other factors influence whether a piece of content will rank. Some of the other things to consider include:
- Does your content match searcher intent?
- Is it optimized for its target keywords?
- Do you have internal links pointing to it?
- Have you built external links to the page?
- Is the length similar to other pages in the SERPs?
How is Domain Authority Calculated?
You need to know how Domain Authority is calculated if you want to increase your score. Neither Moz nor Ahrefs provides full clarity about how they work out their scores. But this is what we do know.
Moz Domain Authority
Moz calculates Domain Authority by combining all the data it has about a domain into a single score. This score is a logarithmic rating out of 100.
We know it considers:
- The total number of links pointing to a domain.
- Metrics about the linking root domain.
Ahrefs Domain Rating
Ahrefs’s Domain Rating has much in common with Moz’s Domain Authority. It is also a logarithmic score that is calculated out of 100 that is relevant to other sites in the database.
But Ahrefs provides more detail about the factors it uses in its calculations. These are the top three influencing factors:
- The number of websites that link to your domain. Nofollow links, which don’t impact search rankings, are discounted.
- The Domain Rating of the sites that link to your website. A high DR website link will typically have more impact than a link from a low DR one.
- The number of sites a domain links to. A link from a site that rarely links to other domains is worth more than one from a site with links pointing to many domains.
Beyond these three factors, Ahrefs also says that:
- You will only see a DR boost the first time a site links to you. Multiple links from a single domain will have the same impact as a single link.
- If a site’s DR increases after linking to you, the improvement will be reflected in your score.
What is a High DA?
100 is the highest DA possible. The biggest, most authoritative sites on the internet tend to have a Domain Authority of over 90, while top publications typically score above 70 or 80.
Here are some examples:
- The BBC has a DA of 95 and a DR of 92.
- Neil Patel has a DA of 86 and a DR of 91.
- Ahrefs has a DA of 78 and a DR of 90.
The good news is that you won’t be competing with the above sites for your rankings in many cases. So what you consider a high authority domain will depend on the websites that currently rank for terms you want to target.
If you are in a competitive niche like SEO software, then a DA score over 80 is a high DA.
Most of the top ranking pages all come from sites with Domain Authority above 70. It will be hard to rank at the top of the SERPs for this term if your site isn’t on a similar level.
In less competitive niches, a high DA site may have a lower score.
For example, the highest-ranking website for the search-term “dentist in Edinburgh" has a DA of 18. Therefore, a DA score of 20+ would be considered very high in this local industry.
The key is to look at the top ranking websites you compete with and decide for yourself what a high Domain Authority is.
Is a Low Domain Authority Score Bad?
Having a low Domain Authority isn’t bad. All sites start with a low DA before they have attracted any links. The only exception is when a site is built on an existing domain that already has links pointing to it.
There are plenty of low Domain Authority sites that rank for low competition keywords that bring in traffic. If you also want to rank low competition keywords, increasing your website’s DA might not be a priority.
For example, the site below has a DR of just 1.9 yet receives 1000s of visitors every month, according to Ahrefs.
There are also plenty of examples of high Domain Authority sites that are bad or spammy.
Websites built on expired domains or those that have suffered from a Google penalty can have high domain scores while being low-quality and having little traffic.
When assessing whether a website is good or bad, you should look at other factors as well as DA. Consider whether the site ranks on Google has much organic SEO traffic, a unique design, or publishes high-quality, unique content.
We looked at this issue in greater detail in a recent article.
Domain Authority vs. Page Authority
Page Authority (PA) is a similar score to domain authority. But instead of ranking the site as a whole, it looks at a single page.
Improving the Page Authority of an article compared to its competitors can help low Domain Authority sites outrank higher DA competitors.
In fact, Ahrefs found the number of links pointing to a page was a better indicator than DR of whether a page would rank on Google. Links pointing to a page is a factor Moz uses when considering PA.
As you build your Page Authority, your Domain Authority will also typically increase.
How Many Links Do I Need to Increase Domain Authority?
There is no definite answer to this question as both Ahrefs and Moz use more than just the number of linking domains to calculate their website authority rankings.
In this post, Ahrefs provides a useful table that shows how many linking domains the average website has at each DR level. You can use this to guide your efforts as you try to increase your domain authority.
This table highlights the challenge of continuing to increase your domain rating as you reach the upper limits.
Example of improving DR score
The average website with a DR of between 6 and 10 has 30 referring domains, while the average domain with a DR of between 11 and 15 has 44 referring domains. This suggests you need to attract links from around 14 more domains to move into the next bracket.
But the average site with a DR of between 41 and 45 has 263 linking domains compared to sites with a DR of between 46 and 50 which have 352 linking domains—an increase of 89.
At the top end of the scale, the difference in referring domains between a site with a DR of 91 to 95 and one with a DR of 96 to 100 is over 8 million.
Why is it Important to Increase Your Domain Authority?
We mentioned in the introduction that domain authority isn’t a ranking factor. If this is the case, why should you bother trying to increase your score?
The answer is that increasing domain metrics are typically a sign that you are building your website right.
Domain Authority is mainly influenced by the links that point to your site. If people are linking to you, it typically means that they like your content and find it useful.
Also, Ahrefs found that there is a correlation between having a high DR and ranking highly. Sites with high domain metrics dominate many competitive, profitable search terms.
Increasing your site’s DR to the level of your top competitors doesn’t mean you’ll rank for the terms you want to rank for. But when done in a way that complies with Google guidelines, it certainly won’t hurt.
This brings us to the final point of the article: How to increase Domain Authority?
How To Increase My Domain Authority?
Put simply, the way to improve your Domain Authority is to land high authority backlinks from authoritative sites. If you aren’t currently trying to build links, then putting in place a good link building strategy will help.
The following six points go into further detail about the exact strategies you can use to build your DA and DR.
Attract More Links
If your domain metrics are currently low, you should focus on attracting as many dofollow links as possible. While you should avoid links from spammy sites, those from quality low DA domains will still help at this point.
Create Better Content
Creating content that people want to link to is the first step to better link building.
People typically link to unique content. For example:
- Reports or studies.
- Breaking news in which you are a source.
- Unique and interesting opinions.
- Useful tools.
- Interesting long-form content.
- Statistics round ups.
Your content should be world-class: better than anything else out there on the topic. If it isn’t, people will simply link to competing sites.
The ideal scenario is that people will find your content naturally and link to it in their articles.
Unfortunately, this often doesn’t happen. Especially if you don’t have much traffic in the first place. In this case, you may have to promote your content via outreach.
Outreach to Other Websites
Once you have created great, linkable content, it’s time to reach out to others in your niche. Contact other websites and tell them about your site and content.
Below, we highlight the only possible ways you can realistically earn links.
You can find websites to contact using Ahrefs. Put your website or another in your niche into the “site explorer” and then click on “competing domains.”
This will bring up a list of similar sites.
It’s then just a case of finding out who runs the website you want to target and sending them a message or email introducing yourself and asking them to link to your content.
Remember that you aren’t the only site performing this kind of outreach. Many webmasters are inundated with outreach requests. You can try to make your message stand out by offering something in return. For example, by saying you’ll share one of their posts on your email list or your social following.
Check out the video below to see the blogger outreach strategy we used to generate over 30 free links in a month for one of our clients. We did this without paying for a single link.
This is a link building strategy whereby you spot when someone has mentioned your website but hasn’t added a link to your site. You then get in touch with the people running the publication and ask them to link to you.
The owner will often be happy to do so.
While it sounds like a lot of work, it’s easy to automate much of the process. Just set up a Google Alert for your brand name. When you receive an email or notification, head to the web page to see if it has also linked to you. If it hasn’t, send them an email asking for the link.
This strategy works best for established sites. If people don’t already know about your website, they are unlikely to mention you.
Niche Edits and Paid Links
Niche edits is when you ask a website owner to link your article to their existing content. When it works, it’s an easy way to get links to specific content on relevant sites.
The downside is that if a website owner agrees to do this, they will often ask you to pay for the link. While paying for links is against Google guidelines, it is common practice in many niches. And without doing so, it can be tough to see progress.
In this article, we go into the topic of niche edits in greater detail. We also share some tips about how to do it well.
Attract Better Links
Once your site is established, you won’t improve your Domain Authority as much from low DA sites. Although attracting links of all kinds can still be part of your strategy, you should focus more on achieving better quality links from sites with good domain authority. Getting press links from journalists is one way to achieve this, but it's incredibly hard.
Typical outreach-based link building strategies can be ineffective when targeting high-DA sites. Website owners get a high number of requests each day, and if yours doesn't add significant value, it is likely to be ignored.
But that doesn't mean trying to get links from high-DA sites is a dead end. In fact, at Linkbuilder, we frequently get high DA links for clients.
Here are two strategies we use:
Help a Reporter (HARO) is a link building goldmine. It is not only one of the most effective ways to get links from high authority websites, but it is also one of the most effective ways to get links full-stop.
The service is a set of daily email newsletters that contain requests from journalists for expert input into their stories. If you’re an expert in the relevant topic, you can attract a backlink by answering the request.
Here’s how it works:
- Head to the HARO homepage and sign up for the newsletter. Choose to receive the general email or one related to your field.
- HARO sends out the general newsletter three times a day. Each one contains requests from journalists for story input.
- Search for requests that you can provide an authoritative answer to.
- Follow the journalist’s instructions when replying to the story and include a link to your website. It can help to set up a bio and profile picture in advance that you can easily share.
- The journalist will choose the answers they like for the story.
- When the story goes live, you’ll get a backlink.
While HARO is easy to use, it is also very competitive and many people reply to each request.
To increase your chances of being chosen, you should reply quickly and in a way that makes it easy for the journalist to use your quote. Try to keep your answer short and to the point unless specifically asked for more detail.
You can read more about how we build HARO links for our clients in this post.
Guest Posting on High Authority Sites
Guest posting is a link building strategy that has been around for years. But it is still an effective way to get links from high DA sites if you follow some best practices.
First, you have to avoid spammy sites that accept any guest post in exchange for a fee. Instead, look for quality sites with a high DA, an engaged audience, and real traffic.
Sometimes these sites will have a “Write for Us” or “Contribute” section on their website, but they often won’t.
You then need to pitch quality articles that will genuinely add value for the website’s readers. Instead of looking at it as a form of link building, you should approach the website as if you are a writer pitching an article.
Here are two examples of high DA sites that accept quality articles.
Hubspot is a DA 92 site that is actively looking for guest posts for its marketing, sales, service, and website blogs. The company knows that getting input from experts in the field is an excellent way to generate interesting posts for its audience.
But, the site has very high requirements for the type of post it allows on its blog. Its marketing blog has a long list of requirements. These state that it typically only accepts:
- Original experiment or analysis posts.
- Canonical posts that go into great depth on a particular topic.
- Graphic posts.
Creating this type of content isn’t easy. But if you can meet these editorial standards, you will get a valuable link from a DA 92 site - we've managed it before.
Entrepreneur is a DA 92 site that accepts guest submissions in its Entrepreneur Leadership Network section. Like Hubspot, the company has stringent editorial standards about the type of article it will publish.
You can find out more about the site’s publishing guidelines here. Key things to note include:
- Articles should offer a fresh approach to the subject you want to cover.
- They should focus on a narrow area.
- They should be practical and instructive.
- They should not be overly promotional.
The above two examples are suitable for websites that operate in the business or marketing niche. Your article probably won’t be accepted if it’s on a different topic unless you can find a good angle.
When looking for opportunities of your own, think about the top publications that cover your industry and research whether they accept submissions.
Then think about story ideas that will resonate with the site’s audience and pitch them to the publication. If there are no specific guest post instructions, consider contacting the website editor or owner.
Get Links From Sites With Traffic
Moz’s DA score considers whether the links come from legitimate sites with real traffic. If it doesn’t, then the link will likely be discounted by the algorithm.
There are several easy ways to check if a site is legitimate or not.
First, use an SEO tool like Ahrefs or Moz to see whether a site has real traffic from search engines. Ubersuggest is another option that has a limited free plan you can use to search for websites.
These tools show approximately how much traffic a website gets each month. At Linkbuilder, we target sites that attract at least 1,000 organic visitors a month.
Sometimes a site on a downward spiral will still have some traffic, so look out for the general direction a site is heading in. If it has recently had a sudden reduction, it may have suffered a Google penalty. This can be a sign of a low-value site.
Also, look for the types of keywords a site ranks for. A spammy site may still get traffic from low-value keywords.
You can also check a site’s social media accounts to estimate whether it receives much traffic from these channels. Look for active accounts with posts people comment on, like, or share.
The final quality check is simply looking at the website itself. Spammy sites will typically have several signs that suggest it is low-quality.
- Articles on a large number of seemingly unrelated topics. These often include posts about casinos or gambling.
- Posts that are short or poorly written.
- Many articles are written by “Guest Author” or accounts with similar titles, but the site itself creates few.
- Articles that include unnaturally placed backlinks.
Get Links From Growing Websites
As the sites that link to you improve their DR, so does the benefit given by the link. It can be beneficial to gain links from sites that are in their early stages but growing.
If you get the chance to receive a link from a site that appears to be growing but still has a low DA, then it could be worth doing so rather than going for one with a slightly higher DA but less potential.
Of course, getting both will be most beneficial, but may not be possible on a limited budget.
Use a tool like Ahrefs to see how a website’s backlink profile is growing over time. If the site shows a growing trend, it could be a sign that it will continue increasing into the future.
Prioritize Links From Sites That Don’t Link Out Much
Ahrefs considers the number of sites a domain links to when calculating DR. Therefore, links from publications that don’t link out much are more valuable than those from sites with similar authority that link to lots of other domains.
You can use Ahrefs to see how many domains a site links too:
- Click on “Outgoing Links” then “Linked Domains.”
- This will show you how many different domains a website links to.
Build Links Faster
As mentioned above, Domain Authority is comparative and your score may decrease even after improving your link profile if other sites have built links faster.
But remember that DA considers all websites, not just those in your niche. If you have improved your backlink profile faster than your direct competitors, you may find that you still have a DA advantage even if your overall score has decreased.
If fact, you can run an excellent link building strategy but still not see much improvement in these metrics due to external factors.
Try not to get too obsessed with increasing your DA if your site seems to be moving in the right direction in other ways.
Link Building is Central to Increasing Your Website’s DA
If you want to increase your website’s DA, you need to be building links. This can be difficult to do naturally and you may benefit from a dedicated link building strategy.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to implement one on your own, then consider hiring experts like Linkbuilder to do the job. We specialize in building high quality-links at scale for businesses in a variety of niches.