Whenever people are making major decisions about marketing their businesses and how to organize their websites, I tend to get a lot of questions at that point, and especially when it comes to questions about their domains.

  • Should I start a whole new website for my course or my podcast?
  • I just got an email that a domain that I’ve been waiting for is finally available, should I buy it? Should I redirect it or move my website?
  • I’m starting an online shop …should I put it on a new domain, a subdomain or a folder?

My answer to what you should do in those situations is dependent on one factor that’s easy to learn: Domain Authority.

What is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority is a scoring metric to make predictions about how high a website will rank.

It was developed by Moz & is not officially sanctioned by Google. It looks at factors in the Google algorithm to compare websites across an industry to determine which website will outrank others.

Every website on the internet has a domain authority between 0 and 100. The higher the score, the higher your chance of ranking in search results.

When you buy your domain, day one, it’s like zero or one. So the day you bought your website, it was a zero, and over time it’s crept upwards (the speed depends on your marketing activities and how competitive your industry is).

And really popular common websites with a lot of links and a lot of content tend to be much, much higher: Wikipedia, or CNN or New York Times or Facebook, those all have domain authorities in like the high 90s.

What is a “good” Domain Authority score?

It’s really hard to get to 100, that should not be your goal! 30 to 40 is average for a website that’s been around for a few years and has been building up their content & backlinks. Anything over 60 is excellent. This is not a school scale where anything under 65 is failing, almost all of us are under 65. So do not look at the score, and begin to panic that you’re not at 100!

Also, it’s much easier to grow your domain authority when you’re at the lower end of the spectrum. So it’s easier to get from 20 to 30, than it is to get from 30 to 40. And that jump from 90 to 100 is almost impossible. So it’s very much a weighted scale.

Your domain authority will fluctuate all the time, usually every three to four weeks. The tools that calculate Domain Authority (like Moz or SEMRush or Ahrefs) all have different algorithms they’re using to calculate and so they’ll change fairly frequently.

Sometimes my domain authority is in the 20s. Sometimes it’s in the 30s. It kind of just depends what other people in my industry are doing to be able to claim their SEO ranking. And if they’re doing a lot of work, then my domain authority might slide because theirs is going up.

How is Domain Authority calculated?

Every site calculates a little bit differently. When I looked up my score today on four different websites, they were anywhere between 21 and 28. So even on the same day, you can get different scores for the same website! (You don’t need to compare yourself on multiple sites; choose one of them and track your Domain Authority there.)

Recognize this is what I do for a living and I’m still in the 20s because I’m in an incredibly competitive industry! The big companies that are also talking about SEO are surprised really good at SEO. So it’s going to be harder for me as an SEO consultant to increase my Domain Authority than it would be if I were in a less competitive market where people aren’t necessarily thinking about their Domain Authority.

So if you’re in a less tech savvy, less competitive industry, your ability to raise your Domain Authority and outrank your competitors should be easier. So well done choosing something that’s not as competitive!

So what are the factors that go into this calculation of your Domain Authority score?

1. Your site content quality and virality

If lots of other websites are linking to a specific article on your blog that’s done really well, then that will boost your Domain Authority because other people are talking about what you’ve created.

2. Your social signals

If you have a lot of high quality content on your site and people are sharing, liking and commenting on social, then these metrics will be incorporated into your Domain Authority.

3. Your backlink profile of inbound links

The biggest Domain Authority factor is the quantity and quality of inbound links to your website.

A “backlink” is any time other people have linked to your website from their website. A list of all your backlinks is called your backlink profile. Here’s what they evaluate in your backlink profile:

  1. How many links do you have? The total number of links that are coming into your website, from all the places on the internet,.
  2. How many sites are linking? If you have 20 different links coming from 20 different websites, that’s going to look more authoritative than 20 links coming from just one website.
  3. What’s the Domain Authority of the linking sites? If you get a link from your next door neighbor who just started their website, that’s going to be a lot less valuable to you than if you get listed in Wikipedia, or the New York Times or The Guardian or CNN or something along those lines. Getting some of those big high authority websites to link to your website will do so much more good for you than getting a bunch of links from smaller websites.
  4. What’s the norm in your industry? If you’re trying to build a giant media conglomerate site, then you’re going to need to get tons and tons of high authority links. But if you are just running a boutique in your town, then it’s better actually to get links from other local businesses from the local newspaper or from the Chamber of Commerce, that’s gonna actually go a lot farther in terms of building up your local Domain Authority.
  5. How relevant are the linking sites? If your backlinks are coming from the same places that your competitors are getting backlinks from, that will show them that your peers. (But also, hopefully you’re better than your competitors, right?)

Finding your website’s Domain Authority

If you’re ready to go take a look at your domain authority number and all the factors that play into it, I suggest going straight to the source that created the domain authority metric, and that is Moz’s Link Explorer tool.

You’ll have to sign up for a free Moz.com account, but that will allow you to check up to 10 domains every month. (You can also grab the MozBar extension, which is one of my favorite free SEO tools.)

This report will give you tons of information about your DA score & backlink profile:

Moz Link Explorer screenshot displays Domain Authority score, number of inbound links and linking domains, and ranking keywords
Moz Link Explorer screenshot displays Domain Authority score, number of inbound links and linking domains, and ranking keywords

The Overview section shows you 4 metrics:

  1. Domain Authority score – the likelihood of that website of showing in top results
  2. Linking Domains – How many different websites are ranking for you?
  3. Inbound Links – how many total links point to your website
  4. Ranking keywords – How many keywords is your website displaying in the top 100 results?

Charts will also show you how your DA score has changed over time, which days you’ve gained & lost backlinks, and the relative DA of the sites linking to you.

Two of my favorite charts are Top followed links & Top pages on the site:

“Top Followed Links” will tell you what is the Domain Authority of the top sites that are linking to you. So you can get an idea of when you’ve gone on a podcast or when you’ve gotten some sort of shout out from another company, how helpful that will be to boosting your domain authority.

“Top Pages” shows you which pages have the most links from other websites, and also shows those top pages’ Page Authority score.

Difference between Domain Authority & Page Authority

Your Domain Authority is an umbrella score for every page on your domain. But also, every page on your site has a Page Authority score. The higher each of your Page Authority scores are, they can kind of bump up your overall Domain Authority.

Typically, your homepage has the highest Page Authority, because that’s the place most people will link to. If you have an opt in that you often mention on a podcast, or you have a course that you’re talking about a lot, or you have specific blog posts that have gone viral … those pages probably have higher Page Authority than many of the other pages on your site.

Ranking Competitors’ Domain Authority

You don’t have to get your Domain Authority up to 100; you just have to be better than your competitors. So take some time go through this tool and put in your competitors’ websites, their domains and see what their Domain Authority is to find a target that you want to hit. If your DA is 20, and theirs is 30, maybe you just want to try to get to 32. You don’t have to get to be the A+ student here, you just have to be better than the other people who are in the same search engine results as you!

And if you’re looking at your competitors pages here, too, you can see what’s working for them, what are the things that they’re getting links back to, and maybe you want to adopt some of those ideas into your content plan.

3 Quick ways to boost your Domain Authority

  1. Create great content. If you have a great piece of content that people just love, then they’re going to link to it organically. You don’t have to then do any outreach to encourage them to link to it. If they love it, they will talk about it. And that will bring in way more concentrated great quality traffic.
  2. Make sure that all of your pages are SEO optimized with content tags, alt text, etc. If you have your pages optimized for search, then Google will notice that and then you will rise up in rankings and then your Domain Authority will rise with it.
    And the biggest thing that you can do to improve your DA is to
  3. Create content for others. Here are some easy ways to do this …
  • Writing a guest post and getting a link back from that publication
  • Guesting on a podcast episode and getting a link to your website in the show notes
  • Being a guest expert where people are requesting information from you, and then you get a link back from that website

There are so so many ways to get links into your website without cold pitching bloggers! If you more tips on boosting your SEO, grab your free SEO Starter Kit 👇🏻