If you search for the most common queries for your niche, you’ll see that websites ranking on the first page of search results are pretty much the same every time.
Does it mean their content is inherently better than yours? Not necessarily.
The longer a company has been growing their website, the more likely they are to have earned trust from Google.
But you can also enter this competition. Building domain authority isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.
In this article, we’ll highlight six steps that will help you increase your domain authority by a few points every month.
What’s domain authority?
Domain authority is the term introduced by Moz. The company defines it as a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a website is to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Please note that even though we’ll be using the Domain Authority term throughout the article, we aren’t specifically referencing Moz’s Domain Authority score.
The score is calculated based on the number of websites linking to the analyzed domain and the domain authority of these websites. It’s important to note that the number is never an absolute indication of the site’s search rankings.
While domain authority metrics correlate significantly with rankings, it’s not causation.
Domain authority score is a comparative metric showing the improvement of your site’s link profile. The more quality link building you do and backlinks you get, the better the score is.
Backlinks are the most important ranking factor. To make Google see your content matches the search queries you’re trying to rank for, your links have to come from a variety of relevant, high authority websites that are in the same vertical as yours.
As domain authority directly depends on the number of quality resources pointing to a website, sites with a higher DA score correlate with higher rankings on the first page of Google.
There are many more equivalents to Moz’s domain authority developed by other SEO software, e.g. Domain Rating (DR) by Afrefs, Serpstat Domain Rank (SDR), and Authority Score (AS) by SEMrush.
However, if you look at your site’s Domain Authority score in Moz and then check the Authority Score in SEMrush or Ahrefs, you’ll see the numbers are slightly different across these tools.
This is due to the fact that they also include many other factors in their formulas.
Is domain rating a ranking factor?
Domain authority score is an indicator of the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. But it’s not a ranking factor.
It’s a third-party metric that measures factors Google puts importance on for determining rankings.
The metric predicts the impact of your link-building efforts but doesn’t determine the success.
For instance, you can artificially boost your authority metric by spamming bad PBN links to your site.
However, Google will easily detect this as malicious, and you likely won’t rank for any target keywords.
Why is domain authority important?
Even though domain authority is not a ranking factor, it’s still of great importance for your SEO strategy.
- It indicates how effective your SEO strategy is. As has been said your domain authority score reflects the state of your link profile, which in its turn has a huge impact on your search rankings.
- The Backlinko research also says that strong DA helps to boost rankings of URLs that don’t have a bunch of backlinks pointing to them. The higher your DA is, the less effort you need to take to build links to every new piece of content or landing page.
- It helps you to build partnerships with bigger companies and brands, pushing more trust and authority to your own.
- It helps you to attract guest authors who write quality content, increasing your keyword profile.
Where can you find your domain authority score?
As has been said, Moz isn’t the only tool displaying the website’s quality score. Here are top SEO tools that you can use as domain authority checkers:
- SEMrush (Authority Score)
- Ahrefs (Domain Rating)
- Ubersuggest (Domain Authority)
- Serpstat (Domain Rank)
If you use Serpstat, you’ll need to scroll to the bottom of the page to see the Domain Rank score.
How to improve domain authority
Although Google doesn’t use Moz’s (or anyone else’s) Domain Authority score to determine search rankings, it’s easier to reach the first page of search results with new content when your DA is higher than the score of other sites ranking for the keywords you picked.
That’s why building up website domain authority is worth the effort.
Below are six actionable tips for you to follow to grow your DA steadily.
Step 1: Create quality content
Quality content not only builds trust with your target audience but also increases domain authority as you passively acquire backlinks and attention.
With content marketing, you’ll get more opportunities to earn solid backlinks, which are key to improving your DA.
What’s actually quality content, though?
Quality content is any asset (article, podcast, video tutorial, etc.) that delivers value to a consumer. It’s optimized for search engines and readers alike, but it’s not stuffed with keywords.
It delivers on the promise contained in the headline. It’s backed by trustworthy resources, but there’s no place for plagiarism.
Here’s a great example of a solid piece by Ahrefs. The company has published the beginner’s guide to keyword research where every single step of the whole process is explained.
By offering unique, original articles, you’ll make the whole link-building process easier.
Pro tip: To come up with link-worthy content ideas, use SEOquake extension. After you activate it and connect with your SEMrush account, search Google for your content idea and check the number of referring domains to the top-ranking pages.
It’s hardly surprising that the post featuring marketing statistics for the past year has gained 260 times more links than the one about marketing for software companies.
It doesn’t mean that topics that don’t gain thousands of links aren’t worth your attention. But if you want to focus on content that boosts your website’s domain authority, you know what to do 😎
Step 2: Contribute guest columns
Everyone has expertise to share. Whether that’s something you’ve been doing for the better part of a decade, or whether it’s a brand new skill you just picked up on MasterClass, the point is the same: share that expertise with the world!
Guest posting or guest contributor columns is the practice of contributing articles to another company’s blog to earn backlinks, increase brand credibility, and attract traffic back to your site.
It’s a classic win-win:
- The site gets expert-level content for free
- Their audience learns how to level up
- You get the exposure and links you need
How do you find guest posting opportunities?
There are many approaches that can be used to find highly relevant blogs.
One of the easiest ones is to type questions relevant to your niche in the search bar and pick websites ranking on the first and second pages of Google.
To collect a list of these queries without spending an entire day brainstorming new search questions, you can go with the tool called Answer The Public.
After you enter your main keyword into the search bar, you’ll see a list of related questions searchers usually ask on Google.
Now search for these questions on Google to find blogs that write on the relevant topics.
Although most of the pages ranking on the first page of search results do have strong domain authority, there are usually a few sites that haven’t earned much trust yet.
That’s why we recommend that you have a look at the site’s DA score before contributing to it.
Once you visit a blog that might be relevant, check out links in the header and footer to see whether the company offers a guest post program.
If there are no guidelines, there’s still a great chance they do accept submissions from guest authors. Look through the blog posts – are all of them written by a staff writer? If not, go find the company contact information and pitch your ideas.
Before suggesting content ideas, make sure similar articles haven’t been published on the website yet. Once you come up with a topic, do the site search. In case there’s nothing around the topic on the blog, you’re good to go with your pitch.
The fastest way to scale link building via guest posting is to focus on writing better content. Period.
Or, you can simply outsource to folks like uSERP 😁
Step 3: Use HARO to build brand mentions and authority
HARO is a sourcing service that connects journalists and bloggers. The platform is widely used by PR professionals and content marketers for building quality backlinks.
After you sign up and subscribe to the relevant topics, you’ll start receiving regular source requests in your inbox.
Typically, HARO sends emails filled with fresh queries three times a day, from Monday to Friday.
After you look through the requests and pick the most relevant ones, you need to craft your answer and send it to the email provided at the top of every topic.
Authors usually mention the website the topic will be published on, so you can also control the quality of domains your links appear on!
With this approach, you’ll build a lot of quality links to your homepage faster than you would do with guest posting or even traditional link building outreach.
Ideally, if your answer is accepted, you’ll get notified by HARO.
However, it often (almost always, to be honest) happens that authors don’t mark your response even if they decide to use it.
Many will tag you when sharing the article on LinkedIn, so it’s important for you to send your social handle along with every response.
Step 4: Be cautious with what you link to on your site
Along with inbound links (the ones that lead to your website from external sources) and internal links (the ones that go from one page on your domain to a different page within the same domain), there are outbound links.
These are links from your website to external domains.
Somehow, a myth about the importance of avoiding outbound links got spread incredibly fast in the SEO world. Not only do these links add credibility to your content in the eyes of your audience but also strengthen the topic signal to Google.
Linking to other trusted websites is GOOD, not bad. In fact, Google has specifically said not linking to any external sites is unwise.
Outbound links are additional signals of what your page is about. That’s why linking to contextually matching pages is good for both your website and the linked one, and referring to completely irrelevant content is harmful to your authority and rankings.
When your domain authority score reaches at least 20-30, you’ll start receiving messages from content marketers offering to pay you for adding their links to your site.
Avoid these like the plague 🤦♂️
Mind that adding irrelevant, low-quality links to your own site can also hurt your link profile.
✔ Link to relevant external sources
✔ Linking to external resources is suggested by Google
❌ Do not link to low quality external sources
❌ Do not add low-quality paid links
Step 5: Don’t ignore sites with a lower authority score
It’s important to team up with quality websites.
However, there are tons of sites that haven’t earned a high DA score yet. Does it mean earning a link from one of these sites is worthless?
No. In fact, not at all.
The truth is that it’s not only a DA score that matters but also the relevance of the source.
The main aim of all the Google algorithms is to deliver search results that are useful for a user. That’s why relevant links that add to context are always better from Google’s perspective.
So, if you ever need to choose between a link from a DA 60 website that has nothing to do with your niche and the one from a highly relevant DA 40 site, pick the latter.
In addition, as the site grows its own domain authority, yours grows too.
Domain Rating is a metric that measures the strength of a website’s backlink profile, in both quality and quantity.
It’s ranked on a 1-100 logarithmic scale, with 100 being the best. Logarithmic = as you increase your DR, it becomes tougher to continually increase it.
The good news? With a logarithmic scale, if you acquire a DR40 backlink, but that site grows from DR40 to DR80, that backlink value has now doubled, without any effort from you!
📈 Get links from high DR sites that don’t link to many people
🌟 Prioritize unique root domains + followed links
🚀 Don’t ignore up and coming sites with a lower DR
Keep track of your link profile
Domain Authority is just a number that helps you to compare your site’s strength against your competitors.
We don’t recommend that you focus on this metric solely.
Instead, publish high-quality content, work on improving your link profile, and use the DA score as an early indicator of the potential effect of your efforts.
Get PR and Links That Increase Rankings.
Show up in content your ideal customers actually read, on sites you actually recognize.