Understanding what Domain Authority is, how it’s calculated, and how to increase it can help you improve your SEO and traffic, which has a direct impact on your online business. It can mean more leads, more conversions, and more revenue.

If you listen to many of the self-proclaimed “SEO experts” you would think DA was the holy grail of search engine optimization. Back in the day PR (Page Rank) was the most trusted metric when it came to link building. If you got a link from a site that was a PR8 or PR9, for example, it was like winning the lottery — worthy of celebrating.


Because it was “Google Page Rank” — a metric from Google that directly impacted the SERPs. Google still uses PR internally, but it’s not public data any longer, so when PR became “hidden,” Domain Authority replaced it.

Not because Google said it was a reliable metric. Because SEOs needed something to reference for buying, selling, and trading links. Yes, the same SEO gurus that would tell you that “Content is King” and tell you with a straight face that you could rank simply by posting blogs, were scrambling to find a replacement to aid their link scheme activities.

Imagine that — links never stopped being the most important ranking signal. If only someone would have told you that back in the day. Oh wait, I did — and still do. Listen, I rag on DA a lot because of how people falsely proclaim it as being the most important SEO metric.

It’s not, but it can be a useful tool to help you evaluate link opportunities when you understand it. A lot of people set out with the goal of increasing their DA for the wrong reason. It has no direct impact on Google SERPs, but if you do SEO correctly your DA is going to naturally increase.

Yes, you want it to increase, but only because that’s a good indication that you are building the right kind of links — no other reason.

Let’s pull the curtain back and explain what DA is, the misconceptions surrounding Domain Authority, and what you can do to improve it.


Domain Authority (DA) Explained: What is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority (DA) is a number, between 0 and 100, that Moz’s algorithm assigns to your website, which takes the number of links you have and then analyzes them in terms of authority and relevance.

As mentioned above, it was designed to help website owners get a sense of where their site ranks in terms of authority and its likelihood to rank in the search results. For example, if you were comparing your website to a competitor’s website and you had a DA65 score and they had a DA12 score you would be confident that you could outrank them for any keyword you were going to target organically.

In simple terms, it measures how “strong” your domain is, and its simple score (0-100) makes it a metric that is easy for everyone to understand and grasp quickly — from experienced SEO veterans to business owners with little to no prior search marketing experience.

How does Moz determine DA for a website? While the exact formula isn’t public, they have mentioned the following:


  • Linking Domains: Links from authority websites, like the New York Post and Forbes, are going to give you a higher DA score than links from unknown blogs. Also, Moz’s formula considers no-follow and do-follow attributes.


  • Total Number of Links: The sheer number of links is part of the calculation, but the formula also knows how to identify spammy links and will assign a Spam Score to domains that have a lot of low-quality junk links.


  • Keywords Present on Website: It’s good SEO practice to include your keywords naturally on your website. This is how some of the most popular websites in the world always perform well without having to try.


Understand DA for what it is, and that’s an educated guess as to how strong a domain is and what kind of ranking potential it has. When it comes down to it, the more links you have from authority websites, the better your website will perform in the SERPs.

Do you need a DA score to figure that out? No, but it can be helpful to some, and there is no harm in using it as a guide so long you understand that it’s not directly related to Google’s algorithm nor does it have any impact or influence on it.



Why Domain Authority Matters and Why You Need to Pay Attention to This Metric

I know I said Domain Authority has no impact on Google’s algorithm, and while that is 100 percent true, that isn’t to say it can’t be a helpful tool to use. Truthfully, any tool or competitive advantage that can help you rank better and drive more traffic to your website should be explored.

Many independent studies have shown that there was a relationship between DA and Google’s search results. Ahrefs published some research back in the day that showed this in great detail and at scale across several niches.

That study has since been removed for their blog, as they now have their own metric, Domain Rank (DR) which is similar to DA in terms of what they are trying to measure. So, since they now have a competing metric they deleted that study as to not promote a metric that is now suddenly a competitor.

There isn’t denying it can be helpful, in not only identifying attractive targets for your link building efforts but also as a signal as to the impact your link building is having on your domain’s authority.

As your Domain Authority increases, your organic website traffic should follow suit. Understand that DA can take a while to build up, so don’t expect overnight results. I see so many Fiverr gigs that claim to make websites DA60+ in less than a month, and this is false as well as dangerous.

Sadly those gigs have thousands of sales, and these sellers use expired domain redirects to inflate it, then they disappear, leaving you with nothing.

Moz updates its index more frequently than it used to. I can remember when DA was updated every few months — sometimes it would be six months between updates. Then they moved to a monthly update, and now its index is so large that it’s being updated every one to three days.

Pay attention to your Domain Authority, because if you see steady growth it’s a fairly good indication that your SEO strategy is working.


How to Check Your Domain Authority

The easiest way to check your Domain Authority is to plug your URL into Moz’s Link Explorer tool. You can open a free account to check, but it limits you to only ten searches per month. There is a chance you will want to check it more than that — some check daily — and if you are managing multiple sites you will need more than the free option provides.

Moz runs $99 per month, and that cost drops to $79 per month when you pay annually. If you are going to use it often it’s worth it, but if you are set on finding free ways to check your DA, four options currently work.

Since these run off of Moz’s API, they sometimes go down for a day, but they tend to be fairly reliable. There are other options, but between these four options, you should always have a way to check DA in bulk if needed, as well as your own URL daily, without having to pay for the paid upgrade directly from Moz.

LinkGraph: This bulk domain authority checker tool allows you to check the authority of different domains, as well as your own daily.

Small SEO Tools: This free DA tool allows you to check the Domain Authority of any website. Paste your website’s URL into the search box and press the “Check Authority” button.

Website SEO Checker: You can check up to ten different URLs at a time using this tool. Don’t forget to check off the reCaptcha box as it won’t work without that.

SEO Review Tools: Another reliable bulk DA checker tool, this one also allows for up to ten URLs per search.

Bookmark these options — they have proven to be the most reliable free ways to check Domain Authority.



What is Considered Good DA for SEO?

Now that you have a solid understanding of what Domain Authority is and how it’s calculated, what is a good score in terms of SEO? What kind of DA should you strive to achieve to rank higher in the SERPs?

There is no right or wrong answer. The best advice I can give you is this: A good DA score is one that is always increasing, even if only slightly. It can sometimes take a lot of link building before you start to see your score increase, and know that websites with DA north of 40 have been around for a long time.

If you are starting with a new website, you might only see a DA of 10, and assume it’s low, but in the grand scheme of things, you have the most authoritative website in Google’s eyes. This just further emphasizes the importance of using Domain Authority as a guide.

Furthermore, Moz might include a domain in its index that Google has excluded or devalued. I’ll give you an example. You might earn a link from Entrepreneur — a DA92 — and Moz rewards you, increasing your DA. This leads you to believe your SERPs will improve and your organic traffic numbers will rise.

You might be left disappointed, as Google has severely devalued these links, giving much less value to them in its algorithm. This is an example of why a good DA score is one that increases consistently, although that alone isn’t a guarantee your SEO has truly improved.


How to Increase Your Domain Authority Quickly

This is one of the most frequently asked questions I see — from Twitter threads to blog comments — everyone wants to increase their DA and as quickly as possible. It’s not something that you can increase fast. It takes time to do it correctly.

You could purchase a bunch of Fiverr gigs, spend less than $100 in total, and achieve a high Domain Authority score, but the actual truth behind that number and its SEO-value makes it worthless.

Domain Authority is a byproduct of link building done correctly, so the same blueprint applies. You essentially do the same things you do to rank higher in the SERPs:


  • Audit Your Link Profile: Have you built questionable links in the past? Did you use a low-quality SEO agency? The sooner you can identify bad links, the quicker you can get them removed by reaching out and requesting their removal. Disavow files are great also for your rankings on Google, but just know that Moz doesn’t consider that — but that is nothing to worry about as they have zero direct impact on Google’s SERPs.


  • Build High Authority Links: This is something you should be doing regardless. I can’t stress enough how important authority links are.


  • Quality Over Quantity: I’ll take five authority links over two hundred low-quality blog comment links or sitewide sidebar links on blog networks. The DA algorithm also favors this approach. I’ve seen websites with 50 links have a much higher DA score than sites with thousands of forum and directory links.

If you are stuck on DA, just remain focused on building high-quality links. Your DA score will continue to rise as long as you are building strong links to your website.



How to Use Domain Authority in Your SEO Strategy for the Best Results

I’ve said it one hundred times throughout this blog, and I will say it again: DA is a tool, and when you use it correctly it can help positively guide your SEO effort. Some of the best ways to use Domain Authority in your SEO strategy includes:


  • Gauging Progress: If your DA increases each update, even by a single point, that signals progress and forward momentum. This can be highly encouraging and lead to more effort and better results.


  • Identify Link Targets: Look at the DA of potential link targets. If it’s low, pass for now and spend your effort going after links from websites with more authority.


  • Find Relevant Sites to Link to: If you link to relevant sites and they are tracking their inbound link acquisitions (as most are) they are going to feel inclined to link back to you. This is a great way to earn relevant links with minimal effort and no cost. Use DA to identify the best sites to link to based on who you want links from in return, although you need to understand this technique doesn’t guarantee they will return the favor.


  • Discover Attractive Guest Posting Opportunities: If you only had time to contribute to one blog a month would you want to write (and earn a link) for a website that was DA78 or DA12? Prioritize your guest blogging outreach based on DA to help earn the best possible links in terms of potential SEO value.


Just like any other SEO tool, whether it’s a Chrome extension or SaaS, use DA as a way to measure progress and look for new ways to make solid SERP gains. While it has no direct impact on Google, nor relationship, it can be used to help improve your website’s visibility on the number one search engine.


Final Thoughts

There is a lot of misinformation floating around regarding Domain Authority, mainly due to many people believing that it directly impacts the Google search results. It’s important to know that it’s a third-party metric and has nothing to do with Google.

Moz has created its algorithm to determine DA, and while it’s a good indication of a website’s authority, it’s not always correct. I’ve seen content ranking with low DA above sites with much higher DA.

When you understand that it’s simply a tool and guide, you can then use it to your benefit. You can find link opportunities with potential worth diving into deeper, and if your DA increases consistently it’s a good indication that your SEO effort is paying off.

What is your opinion of Domain Authority? Do you put a lot of weight on DA and do you base your SEO and link building strategy on DA? Let me know in the comments below. I’m curious as to what people think about DA.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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