Let’s start with a basic outline of what domain authority is and how it functions. When someone refers to “domain authority,” it can be in reference to one of two things:
A cumulative score of trustworthiness for a given web domain
A metric developed by Moz to predict how likely a website’s pages are to display prominently in search results pages.
The first definition refers to an unconfirmed but widely assumed general set of criteria for how Google and other search engines order results in search results pages. Moz took the idea and gave it the official name “domain authority” which is often abbreviated as “DA.”
Search Engine Results Pages
When search engines formulate search engine results pages (SERPs) they usually look for two things: relevance, or how appropriate the content is for the given query, and trustworthiness, or how valuable and reputable the content is.
Google is highly protective of its algorithm and doesn’t reveal much about how its rankings are calculated, other than general advice about publishing quality content. SEO experts (like the smart folks over at AIM) have come up with their own estimated formulations for domain authority, which have been shown to highly correlate with actual observed search rankings. The DA scale runs from zero to 100, with zero generally being assigned to brand new sites with no authority, and 100 being the most trustworthy sites on the web.
We’ll get more into how domain authority is calculated and how to increase domain authority later. But for now, understand that Google takes into consideration a mixture of content quality, domain history, and inbound link profiles. Some DA formulas, on the other hand, rely mostly on inbound links.
Domain authority applies across your entire domain, so every page of your site shares the same domain authority rating!
Page Authority for SEO
You might also want to consider page authority, which is similarly calculated, except it applies at the page level. For example, you could have high domain authority, but if one piece of content you published has a significantly higher page authority than your other pages, it’s going to perform comparatively better in organic search results than the rest of the pages on your site.
Why is domain authority different from other SEO tactics?
It is all about content. Without content, Google and other search engines can not understand what your website is about. If they can not get an accurate picture of what products, services, or industry that your company falls into, how can they share your website when people are looking?
The first SEO strategy most webmasters learn is how to optimize for strategically relevant keywords. The basic principle idea here is to include important keywords (and other related keywords) within the body of your content, to increase their likelihood of ranking for queries with similar wording.
Website owners who follow this strategy while ignoring other SEO tactics are often perplexed to learn that their search rankings aren’t improving as expected.
Focusing on domain authority is distinct from keyword-based tactics for several important reasons:
The authority factor
Remember, search engines need to see both relevance and authority to regard you highly for SERPs. As the name suggests, improving your domain authority is critical for improving the “authority” side of the equation.
Without it, even the best keyword optimization strategies are going to fall short because search engines will have no way to measure whether or not that content is trustworthy.
Your domain authority applies to your entire site, including any subdomains you have and any and all pages of content you produce.
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