Brands noticing low traffic to their website are likely to turn to SEO for the answer – but what if the usual tactics of updating your content and refining your keyword strategy don’t work this time? The answer may require you to consider your Domain Authority (DA) - an important, if sometimes overlooked, metric that can help you understand where you fit in the current search landscape and how you can improve.
Having strong DA is vital in supporting your website’s growth and performance – but just what does domain authority mean and what is a good domain authority score? This complete guide will take you through everything from definitions and how to check domain authority to the factors that will help you increase domain authority and win in search.
What is Domain Authority?
Domain authority (DA) is a metric used to predict how well a site will rank on search engines. It’s mostly calculated by AI algorithms, which don’t disclose the exact factors being measured.
Is Domain Authority Important?
If you’re focused on improving (and maintaining) how well your site ranks, then DA is very important.
This is heavily linked to the concept of E-A-T: expertise, authority, trustworthiness. E-A-T is an essential part of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. While E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, Google has said that assessing your content on the basis of E-A-T can help improve the quality of your content and thus improve search rankings.
Having high authority and high search rankings allow your site to generate more impressions and higher clicks – bringing more people to your site and closing the gap to conversion. This has been shown in previous Kantar work, in which we delivered 155% improvements in search performance* on a program focused on improving page authority.
Given the influence it has on search ranking, you should monitor and take actions to increase domain authority if needed.
How to Check Domain Authority
DA used to be easily measured through PageRank (PR) - a score given to sites by Google based on the quantity and quality of inbound links. However, though PR remains a ranking factor used by Google’s algorithms, it is no-longer disclosed.
This has led SEO providers such as MOZ to develop metrics like Domain Authority and Page Authority, which allow users to review the authority of their sites. These are calculated in a similar way to Google’s PR and are based on machine-learning calculations.
What is a Good Domain Authority Score?
DA is measured on a scale of 0-100 but that doesn’t mean you should automatically start trying to build your way to the perfect 100 score. DA isn’t an absolute metric. There are lots of factors in play so it is best to compare sites within the same niche or industry as you to understand what the average DA is, and therefore what your target DA should be.
For example, a ‘low’ score may seem like a bad thing, but if your competitors are even lower, then you are already well-placed to rank above them for relevant terms.
How to Increase Domain Authority
While there isn’t a straightforward answer to how to increase domain authority (as it is influenced by many factors external to your content, such as Google’s algorithm), there are a few things we can do to help:
1. Conducting regular site audits
Regularly auditing, building, and managing links to your website, from both external and internal sources, builds your authority and helps to accelerate search performance. It also identifies any damaging, toxic, or broken links holding the site back.
Through an audit, Kantar Digital Content take an x-ray of your site’s link health. This can identify if your site isn’t taking full advantage of its inbound link potential because they send users to broken or redirected pages. It might even highlight toxic links from poor authority pages outside of your website that are harming your reputation. Broken links give a poor user experience while toxic links undermine the quality and authority of your own content: neither are good for your site.
Once we’ve identified these potential barriers to your website performance, we work with you to fix them. Replacing or disavowing toxic links stops them passing negative link equity to your site while fixing broken links restores the equity you’d stopped receiving and offers your users a better website experience.
2. Adding internal linking
As mentioned above, link audits don’t just look at the links you receive from external sources. It also looks at the links you include in your own content.
Links between your webpages improve navigation and help users explore related themes, products, and knowledge. This heightens user engagement and passes on authority as well as making your site more crawlable to search engines. Links to external sources provide evidence and proof that your words can be trusted. Brands have achieved growth in organic traffic and average search rankings through internal linking activities with Kantar Digital Content:
“65% of the content saw improvements in organic sessions”
“85% of the pages that received additional internal links saw an increase in internal traffic"
Of course, it’s not just the presence of links that is important – the words they used, where they are placed, and how frequently they appear also has an influence. In Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, when giving examples of the highest quality pages, Google lists “links to other parts of the website with additional information” as reasoning for the highest rating. Working with Kantar Digital Content to identify where, and how, to link your pages is therefore highly important.
3. Building high-authority backlinks
There is a distinct correlation between high-quality and high-authority backlinks and domain authority, but simply paying people to link to your site or using traditional PR methods will not give you the right results on their own.
Instead, you need to try a holistic link building approach which establishes content partnerships with trusted website owners who publish content relevant to your area of expertise. Links from high-authority sites which meet these criteria contribute to authority: Google sees them as a signal of trust in the content or website they link to. On the other hand, links from sites with low authority cast doubt on your site and can limit performance in search.
The benefit of high-authority backlinks goes back to E-A-T: when a site has lots of other, good quality, sites linking to it, this suggests that it is a site with expertise, that it is an authority on this topic, and that it is trustworthy.
Kantar Digital Content has a tried-and-tested holistic link building approach proven to deliver improved search rankings and website performance – with as much as 160% increases in first page rankings recorded in their work with a global consumer tissue brand:
4. Focusing on quality content
While quality internal and external linking is important, links on their own are not enough. Your site content needs to offer the right user experience, and the platform needs to allow for content to be easily indexed by Google.
There are certain ways Kantar Digital Content can address this, including ensuring your site is optimised for Core Web Vitals and that your tone of voice actually reads in a way that is engaging for your target consumers.
Kantar’s Digital Content team can plan and execute content strategies for your brand that will help to increase domain authority and improve organic sessions. Get in touch to find out more.
*Links generated in authority building program delivered between June and August 2019; increases in first page rankings and organic website sessions noted between May and November 2019; target market = Czech Republic.