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What is Domain Authority and How Should You Build It?   

Two trillion and over: That’s the number of searches conducted by people on Google. These are people who search with intent. This includes the intent to buy products or services and also others gain information on specific areas related to those products or services.

Naturally, many of these searches are going to be related to the industry that you are present in – are you tapping into them?

Google Search Statistics

Personally, when I started my startup, making my website search-friendly wasn’t my first priority. Fast forward a couple of years and it is one of my top goals for the year. I realized one important but obvious truth the hard way: people don’t like being sold.

Of course, sales continue to be a very important part of my organization as it is for most. But making the sale to a customer who has come to you vs. you going to them, has very different dynamics.

In this context, I would like to explore one of the most critical parameters that can help you adjudge how you will perform in search: Domain Authority.

What is Domain Authority Used For?

The process of ranking well on Google is not a simple one and, unfortunately, is a long journey. With Google not releasing any indicators on its views about your website’s reputation, you can often be lost whether your efforts are bearing any fruits.

Domain Authority, a numerical score released by Moz, plays an important role here by predicting how well your website would perform on Google.

Simply put, the higher the authority of your website, the more likely it is to do well on Google. But, at the very outset let’s embrace the fact that this is an estimate by a third-party and not by Google (or even endorsed by it).

The Mechanics Behind Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a score from 1 to 100 that is built accounting for over 40 parameters. Being a logarithmic scale, it is tougher to increase your DA from 80 to 85 vs. 10 to 15. All new websites start with a score of 1 which gradually increases as the website gains reputation.

Moz uses data on the many parameters from the Link Explorer web index to rank websites accordingly.

It is important to note that since DA is measured on a relative scale, your DA could decrease too. This would occur in cases when a highly reputed website, such as Twitter, suddenly gains truckloads of backlinks and improves its reputation further.

Pro-Tip: Moz has a Chrome bar which is a very useful and quick way to check the Domain Authority of any website.

MozBar

What are the Parameters that Drive Domain Authority?

As discussed, Moz uses over 40 parameters to calculated Domain Authority. However, since we cannot focus on such a large number, the most important ones are:

  1. Backlinks/ Inbound links: This is by far the most important parameter of the entire set. Basically, backlinks are the links that your website receives from others. The links received from these external websites are taken as an endorsement of the quality of your website. So, DA increases with:
  • Increase in the number of backlinks: As links to your website rise, your DA is likely to improve. However, keep in mind that to not resort to bad backlink building. Poor backlinks can also negatively affect your DA.
  • Backlinks from a high DA website: Not all backlinks are equal; i.e. one from a website with superior DA gives a bigger boost to your website than one with a poor DA.
  • Do-follow links: Websites can give you either a follow or a no follow link. While follow links help you increase your DA, no follow has no value. The above referenced, Moz bar allows you to spot follow and no follow links easily on any page.
  1. Website performance and experience: Your website’s loading speed, its performance across various devices is extremely critical. Ensure that you optimize the website such that it adheres to the best practices set forth by Google. Using Google’s tools such as PageSpeed and Lighthouse, you can assess your website’s performance and diagnose any problems that it might be facing.

Lighthouse

  1. Social Signals: The number of shares, likes and mentions that your brand and it’s content to receive reflects your social reach. Of course, the higher, the better. It is debatable whether Moz includes domain authority in its DA calculation.

However, it does have a significant impact on search rankings. Whatever moves your search rankings will ultimately impact your DA too.

How Do We Improve Domain Authority?

The natural steps to increase your domain authority would be to target these above three parameters. Let’s dive into how you can work each of these parameters to generate

1. Backlinks: To increase the number of quality backlinks to your website, you can employ many strategies. The ones that have worked well for me include:

a. Guest posting: To start improving your DA, guest posting works as the best method. This involves contributing a high-quality article to another website. In the process, many websites provide a link back to yours. A good Win-Win situation!

However, you need to recognize that this is an involved process that takes considerable effort in pitching to websites and ultimately writing a quality article for them. But at the beginning of your campaign with a low DA, this is your best bet.

So, follow a structured process for the same.  Reach out to a considerable number of people to account for responses that you wouldn’t receive from websites.

Search for keywords that are related to your industry and add terms like “write for us”, “submit a guest post”, “guest posting guidelines” to get the most relevant sites you can pitch your ideas to.

Pro-Tip: You could also use the ahrefs plugin that helps you export information about a large number of websites in one go.

Wikipedia

b. Broken links: A broken link is one that links back to a destination website that is removed or no longer exists. As you can expect, many blogs written earlier would likely be linking to pages that don’t exist anymore. This is a golden opportunity for you.

The process is essentially a give-and-take. Your search for websites that are linking to articles in your industry. For such websites, find broken links and notify them about the same, suggesting that they instead link to your content which is not only relevant but also more comprehensive and updated.

They will be happy, as you helped them find an error in their article. If they do find your content to be of good quality, this can earn you a link! 

c. Testimonials: Surely you subscribe to many products and services to run your company. Offering testimonials to these products is another great way to receive backlinks. No product refuses testimonials. In exchange, they could link back to your website at the end of your testimonial.

Please see the example below, where Clicky, a tool for monitoring and analyzing website traffic has a dedicated page for testimonials from all their happy customers.

Testimonials

d. Brand mentions: Sites like ahrefs help you gather information about any mentions of your brand on the internet. You could reach out to these websites and request them to convert these mentions to links so that the readers get more context.

Maybe, some might be kind of enough to do so – a simple and easy way to add further links to your website. 

e. Great content and distribution: Naturally, improving the content on your website and providing those who visit your site with valuable resources will ultimately help increase your domain authority.

More importantly, once you have worked on crafting well-written blogs, share them on various social media platforms so those who come across them, visit your website as well to know more. 

f. Monitoring your competitors: A constant lookout on what your competitors are doing in terms of their strategy for improving domain authority will give you an upper hand. The new links that they add or receive on a regular basis can give you new ideas on building backlinks for your website. 

2. Social Signals: Consistent activity on social media is extremely critical, especially on top social media platforms. This increases brand mentions and allows the quality content that you create to reach people.

A few simple ways to increase this includes having social media buttons on your blog pages so that they are easy to share.

Pro-Tip: You could also add a tweetable quotation feature in your blog. Often specific sentences might resonate more with readers than entire articles. Empowering them to tweet that as against entire blogs often increases the social shares you get.

tweetable quotation

3. Loading speed: To improve your loading speed as discussed, test your website on Google PageSpeed and start by sorting out errors & improvements prescribed. The usual areas of improvement include:

  • Images: While PageSpeed suggests the implementation of latest image formats such as JPEG2000, however, it isn’t supported by most browsers even now.It is best to optimize most images to jpeg wherever possible and to keep resolutions only as high as needed. Usage of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) can also speed the loading of a page). For WordPress users, several plugins exist to optimize images and for caching.
  • Minifying and removing unused CSS: As websites are revamped and extended many CSS rules can become redundant and unnecessarily slow down your loading speed. You can use unused CSS detectors to identify and remove such code.
  • Lazy loading: Not all the assets on your web page are needed at the time of loading. Adding the lazy loading feature to your web page ensures that such assets are served only when required, improving the overall speed.

For WordPress again plugins exist and for another website, good JavaScript libraries support this functionality.

4. Internal links: This deserves a special mention. Links on your website that link to other pages of your website are called internal links. Especially on blog pages, since you can’t be sure which article your audience lands on, these links allow them to find other interesting and related articles. This also increases the amount of time spent by users on your website.

As in the example below, you can add internal links within the article itself and also have links to related or popular articles on the side to keep the reader engaged.

urther, some articles might perform better than others. Internal linking allows the top-performing pages to share the “link juice” with other articles thereby improving the authority of those pages as well.

Rank Well. Get Better Traffic. Generate Revenue

While Domain Authority doesn’t directly impact your search rankings it is a good industry standard to indicate your search performance on google. Improving your DA, therefore, will eventually lead to better rankings.

This sets off a virtuous cycle. With higher DA, you will begin receiving requests for guest posts on your website, which is a super inexpensive way to add quality content to your blog. Quality content drives more traffic and links back to your website. This will further improve your ranking and DA.

Start your work on improving the Domain Authority of your website today. This is a sure and robust way of increasing traffic and revenue for your website!

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Karthik Sridharan

Karthik Sridharan is the Co-founder & CEO at Flexiple, an exclusive network of the best freelance developers & designers. A big believer of remote working, he is building Remote.tools for the remote community.
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