When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it can be difficult to know how well your site is ranking and how it measures up against similar sites. ‘Domain Authority’ (DA) is an SEO metric you can use to understand how your site is doing on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), and how it compares to competitors’ sites.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Domain Authority is and why you want to have it. Then we’ll share five strategies for improving your DA.
Let’s get to it!
An Introduction to Domain Authority (And Why It’s Important)
Domain Authority is an SEO ranking score developed by Moz, an SEO platform. It predicts how well a site will rank on SERPs by considering several indicators, including the number of backlinks to your site and the quality of the sites on which those backlinks are located.
Scores range from 1–100, with sites like Facebook, Amazon, and Wikipedia ranking in the high 80s and above. However, DA is meant to be used as a comparative tool, so the goal is to score better than sites similar to yours, rather than garner a high score.
For example, if you had an e-commerce site that sold mugs, comparing your DA with Facebook’s wouldn’t be an effective measure of how well your site was ranking. Instead, you would want to research the DA scores of other online stores selling drinkware, and look for ways to raise your score above theirs.
Improving DA so you can outscore your competitors will help your site appear ahead of theirs within SERPs. This means more visibility and more organic traffic for your site. The wider the gap between your DA and your competitors’, the more successful your site is likely to become.
Building and maintaining your DA can be tricky, since changes in search engine algorithms and internet updates can shift how Moz calculates the scores. This means your DA could increase or decrease through no effort on the part of you or your competitors.
How to Build Domain Authority (5 Solid Strategies)
As we mentioned earlier, there are several factors that contribute to Domain Authority, many of which relate to the quality of your ‘backlink profile‘. The following tips will help improve your profile, and by extension, your DA.
1. Conduct a ‘Backlink Audit’ to Find and Remove Unwanted Links
Backlinks are simply links to your site from other sites. Your ‘backlink profile’ is a summary of all of your site’s backlinks, and a backlink audit is the process by which you assess your backlink profile. When you conduct an audit, you want to look at the quality of the sites linking to your site.
Links posted in spam comments, on disreputable sites, and in some link directories are considered low-quality. Google’s algorithm penalizes sites for these kinds of links by lowering their rankings. Low-quality links will also decrease your DA, so it’s best to remove or disavow them after conducting a backlink audit.
To do so, you’ll first need to access your backlink profile through Google Search Console or another backlink analysis resource. Your profile will include a list of all your backlinks, as well as information such as the domains linking to your site and your backlinks’ anchor text.
Some red flags include links from disreputable or illegal sites, and anchor text that doesn’t match the link’s content. While it’s time consuming, following each link to make sure it works and isn’t spam may be worth the effort. You can use an automated backlink analysis tool instead, but they aren’t always accurate.
Once you have a list of your bad backlinks, contact the sites where they’re located and ask them to remove the links. If they don’t respond or refuse to do so, you can disavow the links so search engines will ignore them when determining rankings.
2. Build Quality Backlinks to Direct Users to Your Site
The inverse of removing your bad backlinks is building good ones. Just as having low-quality backlinks can decrease your SERP rankings, high-quality backlinks from sites with a better DA than yours can improve them.
There are several strategies for link building, but not all of them build high-quality backlinks. Buying and selling links or including them in low-quality directories will only lower your SEO and DA, so make sure to take the time to create good links.
Internal linking, or linking to your own content, is an easy way to build your link profile. Guest blogging on other sites and reaching out to influencers to review your products or services are also strong link building strategies.
Another factor to consider when link building is the difference between dofollow and nofollow links. Dofollow links will be taken into account by search engines when determining rankings, but nofollow links – like disavowed links – will not.
When you work with another site to build backlinks through guest blogging or collaborating with influencers, make sure they’re using dofollow links to your site. Otherwise, all your hard work will go to waste, since nofollow links can’t improve your SEO or your DA.
3. Create Engaging Content to Encourage Natural Link Building
The best way to build a strong backlink profile is through natural link building. This occurs when other sites link to yours through no effort of your own. Someone simply likes your content, and decides to link to it of their own volition.
In order for this to happen, you have to create high-quality content people want to link to, either as a reference or to share with others. High-quality content is a broad category, since tastes vary widely, but there are a few features that tend to produce more linkable content.
Firstly, consider creating long-form content such as blog posts about subjects relevant to your primary audience. Other bloggers can use well-written posts and articles as references, or readers may share them for their informational or entertainment value.
Including images in your posts breaks up large walls of text and provides visual interest for your site’s visitors. Optimizing your image files by compressing them and adding ‘alt’ text ensures they won’t slow your site down, and will be accessible to anyone who visits your site.
An engaging Call to Action (CTA) can draw visitors into your content and encourage them to do more on your site, such as post comments, make purchases, or subscribe to your email list. The more straightforward you can make the process, the more likely users are to follow through.
Finally, don’t forget the importance of on-page SEO. It may seem small in the face of all the behind-the-scenes SEO work you have to do, but factors such as keyword usage and page slugs still play a part in improving your rankings.
4. Make Sure Your Pages are Accessible to Avoid Missing Out on New Users
Sometimes backlinks become broken, meaning that when a user clicks the link they’re taken to a 404 error page instead. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including changes in the page’s name or URL, or if the page has been moved or deleted.
Broken links are bad news for your site. Each is a missed opportunity to direct traffic your way, so finding any broken links and replacing them with working ones is key. This can quickly improve your backlink profile and DA, and is usually easier than building new high-quality links.
You can find broken external links to your site by conducting a backlink audit just as we did in the first strategy. Google Search Console and most other link analysis tools will note any broken links to your site. Consider also looking at the internal links on your site, and updating any that are broken.
Once you’ve gathered a list of all your broken links, contact the sites where they’re located and ask them to replace the broken links with working ones you’ll provide. If you changed a URL, you can simply send the new one. On the other hand, if you deleted the page, offer to send a link to a related page that’s active.
Alternatively, you can redirect the broken links. This will send anyone who clicks on a broken link to the correct page, while also considering the broken link when determining your site’s DA. This means the broken link will still count as a good backlink.
5. Promote Your Brand on Social Media to Increase Your Site’s Visibility
Having a strong social media presence isn’t a ranking factor, so it can’t impact your SEO directly. Simply having a Facebook page, an Instagram profile, or a Twitter handle won’t boost your rankings or your DA. However, social media can improve your SEO in other ways.
Social media provides opportunities for link building, brand promotion, and expanding your audience. You can link back to your site in your profile’s About section, include relevant links in posts, and work with influencers to get links to your site on their profiles.
With a wider online presence, you have more chances to promote your brand. Not only can you do this work yourself, but loyal visitors to your site will often do it for you. Engaging with your users on social media improves your chances of attracting new visitors.
Increased traffic for your site means more natural links as new users share your content with others. Natural backlinks are almost always high-quality and improve your SEO. They’ll also refine your backlink profile, as well as your DA.
The simplest way to manage a social media presence is by scheduling your posts. Some platforms, including Facebook, enable you to do this from within your posts. Others require a social media management platform – such as Hootsuite or Later – to schedule posts.
Balancing all the components for building maximum SEO can be tricky. Monitoring your DA – and working to improve it – ensures your website is at its peak when it comes to its SERP ranking. Using DA as a comparative tool to track how your site measures up against your competitors can show you areas where your site has room for improvement.
In this article, we’ve discussed what DA is and why it’s useful. Then we explored five strategies for improving your site’s DA:
- Conduct a backlink audit and remove unwanted links.
- Build quality backlinks to direct users to your site.
- Create engaging content to encourage natural link building.
- Make sure your pages are accessible to avoid missing out on new users.
- Promote your brand on social media to improve your site’s visibility.
Do you have questions about Domain Authority or how to improve it? Ask them in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image: Sammby / shutterstock.com