Have you ever wondered why a blog post or page on your website is ranking below another page for a given keyword, even when your page is better?
Your page may have more backlinks, better content, or similar on-page SEO as compared to the competitor page. But it may still fail to outrank that competitor page or blog post.
Why? What’s going on?
The answer probably lies with domain authority, a metric that refers to the overall reputation of your website (not just a single page).
So in this guide, I’ll help you understand the concept of domain authority and effective ways to increase domain authority.
What Is Domain Authority?
To better understand the concept of domain authority, let me tell you a story.
Around 1999, a search engine was getting really popular because it had found a way to provide super relevant results to its users.
Yes, no points for guessing. I am talking about Google.
Since its launch Google has had a secret algorithm – its special way of sorting the pages it shows you, ranked by relevance and importance.
During its early days, this importance was measured with a metric called PageRank. It was a 0-10 score unique to each webpage.
Though parts of the algorithm have always been secret, Google was pretty open about the PageRank. Anyone could see the PageRank for any page.
It was a time when SEO was in its infancy and relatively easy. People had an easy way of checking if their efforts are working, which means if they were resulting in a higher PageRank.
But good things don’t last forever.
Due to misuse and manipulation by the first generation of content marketers and SEOs, Google scrapped the whole PageRank deal and decided to become more secretive about their algorithm.
Without PageRank, marketers didn’t have a simple metric to rely on to measure the importance of a website or page.
That’s when Rank Fishkin (one of the SEO pioneers), along with his company Moz (then known as SEOMoz), took the mantle.
He came up with two metrics to measure the relative importance of a website or page in the eyes of search engines, one of which was domain authority.
Domain authority (DA) is a score (0-100) that signals your website’s reputation in the industry, or how well-known your overall brand is. It’s logarithmic, which means getting from 10 to 20 is easier than getting from 40 to 50, for example.
To calculate website authority, Moz considers over 40 different factors, including the number of inbound links.
In case you are curious, the second metric is page authority (PA). Like domain authority, this score falls between 0 and 100. It indicates the importance of a single page instead of the whole website.
How To Check Domain Authority?
You can check the domain authority of any website, including your own for free. All you need to do is install Mozbar, a browser extension.
Once installed, you can view DA of all the pages that appear in search results whenever you perform a Google search.
Moreover, a toolbar will appear at the top of your browser viewport, which will show you the domain authority for any website in your currently open tab.
What’s a good website domain authority?
Now that you know how to check the DA score for any website, you might be wondering: What’s a good domain authority score to have?
Good question. Domain authority isn’t an absolute metric. It’s relative and comparative.
A good domain authority score for you to have is determined by the extent of competition in your niche.
For instance, you can look at the domain authority of some of your competitor websites to identify what kind of range they are falling into.
A higher domain authority means Google trusts the website more than other websites. It assumes the information this website contains will be more appealing to users.
On the other hand, if you have a low domain authority score, it will lead to lower rankings across all of your target keywords.
That being said, domain authority alone doesn’t determine the ranking potential of pages on your website. Page authority is also taken into account.
So your goal should not be to have the highest possible domain authority score but to have a DA and PA score higher than competitors.
The good news is there are steps you can take to improve both domain authority and page authority. However, considering the scope of this article, let’s stick to improving your domain authority.
Steps To Increase Domain Authority
By implementing the following actionable strategies to increase website authority, you can improve search engine rankings for not just one article, but across all the pages on your website.
Improve Content Quality
If you’re like most content creators, chances are you publishing average content. Maybe your content is good, but not great. It doesn’t have any unique value that can’t be found on another website.
And that’s a huge mistake.
A big part of how Google ranks your content is based on engagement. Engagement metrics like time spent on the page and bounce rate inform Google about the usefulness of your page.
And for your content to be engaging in a way that contributes to your domain authority, it needs to be remarkable and it needs to cut through the noise.
So take an inventory of your current content and ask yourself, “Is it just a rehash of the same information easily available elsewhere on the web? Or are you actually adding value to the conversation with something unique?”
To help with gathering your content inventory and performing a content audit, you can use a tool like Screaming Frog.
For the purposes of doing a content audit, it can extract information including title tags, URLs, meta descriptions, subheadings, and word counts.
Once you have gone over all your content and identified the weak pieces, see how you can improve them. Here are some ways to differentiate your content and make it more engaging:
Make It Actionable: Never leave your readers hanging with generic advice. It’s not enough to just tell them things like “Go design a logo” or “Run an email marketing campaign.” Show them how, step by step.
Add Appealing Visuals: A reader’s mind is a fickle thing. They may get bored or tired after a few paragraphs. Having engaging and relevant graphics sprinkled throughout your content keeps them interested.
You do not need to be an expert designer. Tools like Canva make it easy for the non-designer to create stunning visuals. With some basic design principles and willingness to experiment, you will be on your way in no time.
Be Controversial: Cover your topic from a new, different angle that has not been explored before. It’s okay to disagree with common beliefs or practices if you have reasonable points to back up your perspectives.
In fact, taking the contrarian approach is one of the best ways to make your content stand out. However, don’t be contrarian for the sake of it. Do it only when you have an alternative opinion to the received wisdom.
Ramp Up Content Production
Website domain authority doesn’t increase overnight. It improves gradually month by month as you build a name for your business.
Just like a traditional business, it may take a couple of years to build a reputation for your online business. There are no shortcuts.
However, if you really want to minimize this waiting time as much as possible, the quality of content alone isn’t enough. Quantity is just as important.
For example, if you’re writing one blog post per week, it may take longer to increase your domain authority, than if you were writing, say, two or three every week.
In fact, according to a study by Hubspot, you need to be writing at least 3-4 blog posts a week. Only then can you move the needle when it comes to organic search traffic.
So if you have been writing all your content by yourself till now, you should seriously consider outsourcing your content and accepting guest posts.
Once you have built a content team, use a content calendar to scale and keep everything organized.
Expand Your Backlink Profile
Another factor that has a major impact on your website’s domain authority is the variety and quality of backlinks.
The more inbound links you have from different, high-authority websites, the higher your domain authority will be.
To gauge your link profile, you can use a tool like SEMrush Backlink Checker. Just enter your domain name and hit the “Check It” button.
You’ll get a full report with data on the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to your website.
To improve domain authority, check whether you have the following:
- A healthy mix of do-follow and no-follow links
- A good number of links from different referring domains
- Backlinks from high authority websites related to your niche
Then compare those same metrics with those of your competitors. Based on where you are lacking, you’ll need to put in some serious work earning backlinks.
For example, if one of the issues you identify is a low number of backlinks, here are some link building tactics you’d want to invest in.
To get even more out of SEMRush, you can sign up for either a free account, a premium account or take a 7-day trial.
The Skyscraper Method
This involves finding content that ranks well for your target keywords and has a ton of backlinks. Then you create something on the same topic which is 10X better.
Finally, you reach out to the websites which linked to the previous content and request that they link to your new, improved content.
Yes. If done right, guest posting still works, contrary to what others may have you believe. The higher the domain authority of that website you contribute to, the stronger link juice you can expect.
To do it right, find high authority websites in your niche. Don’t fall into the scam of buying guest posts from shady websites, even if they have good domain authority.
If the majority of traffic is direct or from social media, that’s a bad sign. In addition, also ensure that the majority of articles on the website are from its owner or staff. If all the posts seem like guest posts, stay away.
Help A Reporter Out is a service that connects bloggers, reporters, and influencers with experts who can provide a quote for their upcoming story.
If you’re running a business, you probably have more knowledge than a layman in the subject areas related to your business. That means you’re in a great position to sign up as an expert.
Once you do, you’ll start getting queries from journalists who want expert opinions on certain topics. Here’s an example:
To build links effectively, make sure to respond to only those queries where you can actually add value. Don’t dilute your efforts by responding to anything and everything.
When a journalist accepts your quote, he also gives you credit in his article for that quote, along with a backlink. As such, this is a great way to build links from high-authority publications.
Commit For The Long Haul
As I mentioned before, building your website’s domain authority is a long-term game. There are no tricks or hacks. It’s plain, old hard work.
The only trick to increase domain authority is the level of discipline and consistency you can keep up when creating content and building backlinks.
As I have experienced firsthand, it’s hard to motivate yourself without some kind of instant gratification.
But if you can keep implementing all the steps I mentioned diligently for months to come, I assure you that you’ll reap the rewards.
When all these tactics start working together in sync, you will have built a website authority that brings a continuous influx of qualified traffic, while being the envy of your competitors.