There is a secret number that every website has that helps decide if it should rank higher or lower than another website. This number is your Domain Authority. It is one of the most important numbers you should be monitoring but is often overlooked.
Domain Authority is like the Credit Score of your domain.
The Typical Situation
You want to rank higher in Google for your niche. You sell leather horse saddles and you think you should be the #1 result in Google. You sell the best product and you’re committed to making the best content.
You do all the keyword research and find perfect content to write to get you that top spot. You create 3 beautiful landing pages with detailed content on buying leather saddles and how to maintain leather saddles.
You publish your content and wait anxiously to get that precious top spot. You check-in 3 weeks later. You don’t seem to be anywhere on the front page of Google. You finally find your content. It’s on page 6 of Google, 8th spot down.
What happened? Why didn’t this content take the top spot? If your content was superior to the other sites listed, you probably didn’t rank because of a lower domain authority.
What is Domain Authority
Domain Authority is a number from 0 to 100 that scores how trustworthy your website should be. The higher the number the better chances of ranking for your topic.
You can check your domain authority online using tools from Ahrefs. Moz and others also provide DR checkers, but we have found the results vary and that Ahrefs seems to be more consistent.
Your Domain Authority or DR for short is built up over time with other sites linking to yours. The higher the Domain Authority of the site linking to you, the more your Domain Authority will increase.
Your Domain Authority is not limited to the authority of the sites linking to you. While having sites with a high authority linking to yours will help you boost your authority quicker, it is not mandatory.
Example: clickninjas.com has a DR of 34 as of this writing. There are currently no sites that are linking to us that have a DR of 50 or higher. We have a lot of links in the 20 – 30 authority range, giving us the DR of 51.
Domain Authority increases with exponential difficulty. For example; it may take little effort to go from a Domain Authority of 10 to a Domain Authority of 20. However, it may take 10x the links to go from a Domain Authority of 60 to a Domain Authority of 70.
How to Increase Your Domain Authority
Increasing your authority is not just a matter of getting a bunch of websites to link to you. You want to be strategic and spend your time getting the most authoritative links.
Each website is categorized to belong to sets of topics and niches. For example, Boating Scout is categorized as Outdoors and Recreation, while CNN would be news and information. A link between those two sites would do little good as the topics would not be relevant.
Now if Nike was to link to The Outside Store, that would carry a lot of weight as they are both into recreation. Likewise, if Caterpillar was to link to Mine Connect, it would pass on a lot of authority.
Think of links like “the currency for the web”.
You want to be receiving more links than you are handing out. There is no magic ratio of how many links you should have incoming vs. outgoing. Like any good financial plan, you want to be making more than you’re spending.
Business Memberships and Chambers
You probably belong to your local Chamber of Commerce and a few other business memberships. Most of these organizations have member directories online.
Check to make sure your business is listed in the directory and linking to your website. These are usually the easiest links to pick up because you’ve already paid for them.
Local and National News Sources
If your company has ever been mentioned in the news you need to see if they will link back to your website. News sites offer great authority as they are seen as “trusted” sources.
When you are sending out press releases, make sure you have plenty of links within the release that link back to content on your website. Chances are the journalist will leave those links in the piece for context.
Government and Educational Institutions
Government websites (.gov) or educational websites powered by .edu domains, are the highest value links you can get. These sites are thought of as so authoritative and rarely link out to external sites. Links from these sites are gold!
If you’ve done any work for a University, reach out to them to see if they would be interested in writing a piece about it and linking to you for credit. Government sites may link to you if you are offering an information service that is for the public good.
Get creative and try to land these gold mines.
Avoid Artificially Gaining Links
People inevitably try to gain the system in many ways. They buy links from other sites. Some create their own sites and have them link to each other. These are all techniques that are going to get you in trouble.
Google is smart. They have teams of people and automated algorithms dedicated to finding unnatural link growth.
Your link growth needs to look organic. If you had only 10 links over the last 5 years, then next month you have 100 links, that is going to look suspicious.
Spend your time creating great content that people want to share and link to. If you spend 5 hours getting a single backlink for a 70DR site, that’s going to have better results than 3 hours spent getting 8 different 20DR links.
Understanding your website’s Domain Authority is a vital part of your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. Knowing what publishers to target is half the battle.
Create great content that others will want to share. Beat your competitors in the Google Search Results and watch your traffic soar!