We’re going to make a couple of educated guesses.
If you stumbled across this blog post, you want to improve your SERPs (search engine results pages) ranking.
You probably came across “domain authority” in your research.
And you probably realized how confusing its scoring system is. (You’re not alone.)
Today’s goal is to bring this concept down to Earth—so you can truly gain some insight from your score. In this article, we explain: what domain authority is, how to read your score in a way that benefits you, and three actions you can take to launch your SERPs ranking past your competitors.
Sound like a plan? Buckle in.
What is Domain Authority?
Developed by SEO software company Moz, domain authority (DA) is a score that reflects a website’s likelihood to rank high on SERPs. Domains are ranked from 0-100— and the rule of thumb is that higher scores suggest higher search rankings.
What Does your DA Score Mean?
DA scores should be taken with a grain of salt because you could have a low score yet rank high on SERPs, or have a high score and rank low on SERPs. Let us explain.
DA is more valuable to you as a relative metric because your SERPs ranking ultimately depends on your industry competitors’ performance. Let’s say you own a shoe store. If other local footwear companies score in the 30-40 range, you really don’t need to spend your time and budget on building it much higher. Even with a score of 45, you’d be in a great ranking position when local users search for “shoes near me.”
Your score could even fluctuate without doing anything to your website! For example, if another website gains a ton of backlinks all of a sudden, your score may shift—again, because it’s all relative to other domains. So don’t get attached to the number itself. Instead, focus on what your DA score reveals about the competitive landscape.
What are DA Ranking Factors?
To determine DA, Moz considers over 40 ranking factors. Although this is only a quarter of what Google considers when compiling SERPs (200+ factors!), exploring your DA score is a great starting point to understanding where your domain sits in the Internet’s abyss of over 1.5 billion websites—and more importantly, what YOU can do to get noticed! So to get started, below is a comprehensive list of all 40 ranking factors… we’re kidding.
As part of our SEO Series, we developed a condensed beginner’s guide to help you push your DA score, and more importantly, your SERPs ranking, above and beyond your competitors. Let’s get started.
3 Ways to Improve Your DA
Create quality content
At the crux of DA (and SEO in general) is quality content. If your website offers high-demand content, search engines will rank it favorably, and users are more likely to share it with others. However, what constitutes “quality content” can be subjective.
We recommend using keyword research to point you in the right direction, and if you need some guidance, here is our definitive guide. We’re not saying you should ignore your gut feeling that socks and sandals are making a comeback, but we suggest doing some keyword research to confirm that hunch.
It also doesn’t hurt to explore the keywords your competitors are targeting. If you enter their URL in Moz’s Keyword Explorer, you can see which ones bring them organic traffic. If “platform shoes” are doing the trick, create some content around that shoe trend. Remember, we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel.
Optimize the web experience
Google’s latest algorithm is pretty particular about the user experience. So if you want Google to recognize your latest blog post, explore ways to optimize your page using on-page SEO tactics. What we like about on-page SEO is that it’s entirely in your control. If you put in the work, you’ll be rewarded.
Here are three ways to make your content more accessible:
- Incorporating target keywords in the titles, headers, meta tags, anchor text, and URLs to reflect your content. However, keep it simple, and avoid “keyword stuffing.” People are more hesitant to click links when they’re unsure what it is, or if it seems untrustworthy. For example, there may be some red flags if you include “platform shoes” three times in your title.
- Compressing large files and optimizing images to speed up page load times. According to Google’s John Mueller, we should strive to keep our webpage load times under two seconds. With studies demonstrating that load time directly impacts bounce rate (this one shows that bounce rates soar to 38% by the time it hits five seconds), it’s something worth assessing. Try Google’s PageRank tool here to assess your page speed.
- Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly. Text, images, and links should be easily readable, viewable, and clickable on a small mobile screen. According to Statistica, by the end of 2019, organic mobile search traffic on Google reached 61%. Desktop use is dropping, yet only 13% of websites actually retain the same SERP across all devices! Curious if your website is up to standard? Try Google’s mobile-friendly test.
Improve your link profile
DA is heavily influenced by your link profile, which is a term to describe the makeup of links directing to your site. A strong link profile is made up of trustworthy, relevant backlinks from numerous unique domains. Here’s how you can get there:
- Build your network of industry partners: To build authority, your domain needs endorsement from a variety of credible and relevant sources. Fifty backlinks stemming from two root domains still only count as having two unique backlinks. So get out there and introduce yourself! A simple email or message showcasing your value to users is all it takes to open the doors to greater visibility.
If you’re struggling with identifying high-quality backlinks, don’t hesitate to see which ones are scoring your competitors some traffic. That’s a strategic place to start your outreach if we do say ourselves.
- Seek guest bloggers: Hiring guest bloggers is another great way to unlock new audiences and bring in more traffic to both your website and your social channels. Their work also gains more visibility, so it’s a win-win situation.
- Look for quality backlinks: Sometimes, we forget that our link profile can also be significantly affected by low-quality backlinks—so it’s best to remove them. SEO software can help you identify toxic links. From there, we recommend that you contact the website owner and ask them to remove the link. Or, as a publisher you can add the “no follow tag” to your website code. This tag tells search engines that you do not want to be affiliated with a particular backlink. In serious cases, you may want to look into disavowing links, which involves submitting a request to Google to ignore those links to your domain. You can read a detailed guide on how to disavow links here.
This article is originally posted on Galactic Fed.