If you have read anything about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you already know that increasing your domain authority is essential. But how do you do that? And what, exactly, in domain authority?
It all started with PageRank, a Google measurement, or metric, dating back to 1997. PageRank is based on the number of links to a page, and the quality of the pages making the link. That’s the thing that set Google apart from previous search engines, and for its time, it was revolutionary.
In 2000, Google introduced a toolbar for Internet Explorer that made it easier for Explorer users to search Google. The toolbar also displayed Google PageRank for every page you visited, which was fine until spammers started using it to decide which websites were the best places to drop link spam.
The explosion of link spam that forced Google to remove public PageRank scores and approve the “nofollow” tag. Using nofollow allowed website owners to negate the benefit of link spam. Apparently though, no one sent the memo to spammers, as you still see link spam in comments and blog forums.
Google’s PageRank is still part of their overall algorithm, but it is only one “signal” out of the hundreds used. It is not publicly displayed.
What has everything to do with the Domain Authority?
The truth is, a domain authority is a concept. But PageRank gave a mathematically calculated value, or score, to that concept.
When PageRank disappeared, SEO companies needed something they could highlight in order to show results. They needed a score. Many companies created rating tools, but Moz introduce a Domain Authority tool which has become standard.
No one knows all the ingredients of Google’s algorithm, so are domain authority tools predictors. They make estimates based on observation (which is the foundation of most SEO). But because they rate each site the same way, they are valuable comparison tools.
Before we go any further, I’d like to highlight a couple of things to remember.
Don’t Sweat Your Zone Authority Score
This is an article about domain authority, and you will learn how to find the domain authority score of your own website. But don’t put too much stock in that number.
Use it as a baseline to determine if your efforts to increase domain authority are paying off. But do not assume that a low or average domain authority rating means that your website will never be high.
Case in point: Here are the Moz Domain Authority results for one of my websites.
Look at that domain authority. He sits at 55, around the middle. Average. Not so great, is it?
But that site – with its mid-range 55 domain authority – is second (behind Wikipedia only) for a search season with 19 million results. For a related keyword with 24 million results, the site ranks third.
You do not need an unrealistically high domain authority rating to get your website on the first page of search results.
Wikipedia’s domain authority is 93, and I slipped my low 55 right after it. You can see many similar examples out there, and you can do the same.
The point is, don’t focus on the number. Use it as a general gauge when you’re making SEO changes.
The second thing I want you to remember may be even more important.
Don’t Optimize the Life Out of Your Website
There are many moving parts to SEO and the search for domain authority. Trying to implement every “best practice” you read about can quickly become confusing and complicate your pages.
Occasionally, I come across a website that seems to have received some questionable advice on how to build a domain authority. You know the kind of website I’m talking about.
It reads as if written by robots or aliens.
Each sentence is five words.
Each sentence is a new paragraph.
The KEY jump off the page at you.
Because the KEY are repeated more often than KEY should be (KEY) repetition.
It’s almost impossible to win anything from a site like that. Many of them are even impossible to understand. But that’s because they didn’t write for you or me, or humans. They are written for search engines.
You cannot blame the owners of those websites for making an effort. They try to do everything they can to make their website stand out. Something everyone reading this article (and the person writing it) is trying to do.
Ironically though, a page written for the sole purpose of ranking at Google is not what Google is looking for.
Google is looking for one basic thing above all else, relevance. Yes, it uses hundreds of indicators to determine relevance, and knowing some of those things can help you. But relevance in search results is their only goal.
Well, okay, that and selling ads.
Alright, let’s get to the realistic ways to boost your website authority. These are all things you can do yourself. I’m not going to lie, they’re not all easy to do, and getting a positive result can take time. But if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?
Where’s the trick in that?
1. Fine tune Your On-Page SEO
You control what is on your pages, so you can make any necessary changes. But what are those necessary changes?
2. Do everything you can to improve your off-page SEO
You do not control what is on the pages that link to your site, so making changes is a little more challenging. But the quality of the websites that link to you affects your domain authority, so it’s worth the effort.
It’s called your contact profile, and there are some ways to improve it.
A good link profile stems from incoming links from authoritative websites, preferably websites that cover topics similar to your site. Your link profile will also benefit if the links come from many unique domains. Good connections help, low quality contacts hurt.
You can identify low quality connections using tools like Semrush. Most SEO experts will tell you to talk to the owners of the websites from which the bad links come from to try to remove or tag them with “nofollow.”
In most cases, though, trying to reason with a spam site owner will be a frustrating waste of your time. When I find links from extremely spam or low quality websites, I’ll go straight to the nuclear option – otherwise known as Google disavow tool.
The tool removes bad links from your contact profile, which can improve your search results ranking. The disavow tool is part of Webmaster Tools, so you’ll have to log in there to use it.
Another way to improve your off-page SEO is to get links from high quality websites in your specific niche. You can wait for them to find your website, or you can reach out to them.
Of course, I don’t want to advise you to stay. Reach out to high profile websites in your niche and let them know you have quality articles. Be friendly, do your research, and politely suggest they could link to your article (s).
Make sure you go to websites that are related to what you do. And make sure you suggest articles from your site that are relevant to them. That’s the “research” part. It takes time, but a handful of links from high quality websites can do wonders for your authority.
3. Addressing SEO Technical Issues
Technical SEO tasks are basic configuration things that should be done when a website is launched. However, we don’t always check all the basics from our lists, so it’s good to review them from time to time.
4. Make Your Website Mobile-friendly
Websites have become full. We started on small computer screens, and gradually moved to larger monitors. Now we have to accommodate even smaller screens than we started with – mobile devices.
The odds are that at least half of your traffic is mobile devices, so a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever.
If you do not have a responsive or mobile friendly version of your site, Google will notice, and your domain authority will suffer. This is not the most effortless domain authority adjustment to make, but it is now among the most important.
5. Improve Your Page Load Speed
This is probably the method that will take the most time to work on, but the pay can be huge. One of the factors in Google’s algorithm is page loading speed.
Website pages can be slowed down by a million different things, some obviously, some not. The best way to analyze your website is with a Google tool. Lighthouse or PageSpeed Insights.
They are separate tools, but PageSpeed Insights uses parts of the Lighthouse, so you prefer. Get to know one of them, and take advantage of their reports to improve the performance of your website. Like having a mobile-friendly site, page speed has become a significant factor in your domain authority.
6. Check Your Website for Relevance
Your website started its life with a purpose. It is built around a topic that you are interested in or (even better) that has some expertise. But after a site has been around for a while, it can begin to stray from its mission. Think about the niche your site exists in and evaluate your content to make sure you’re still on track.
There are a few examples of great websites that started out as one thing and then settled into something else. Did you know that? Twitter was originally a podcast discovery app? Or that Instagram began its era as a check-in app?
But examples like those are rare. Take a close look at the original purpose of your website and make sure you haven’t strayed too far from the course.
Google likes relevancy; I may have mentioned that (and I may mention it again). An article about an amazing slow cooker recipe on your gaming site lacks relevance in the gaming niche.
7. Increase your Social Signs
Social media interactions are social signals. Someone tweet your URL or share one of your social media posts. Google has said that social signaling is not a factor in their algorithm. And yet the top sites in Google seem to have no shortage of shares, likes, Tweets, etc.
Those things could be, as Google suggests, disconnected. But the sites at the top in Google search obviously have strong social signals.
And even if using your social game does not boost domain authority, it will certainly help attract people to your site. If you do not have accounts for your site on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, start them now. And add social sharing buttons to your articles.
8. Moz Domain Authority tool
We’ve talked about how to increase domain ranking, now let’s see how we can measure the effectiveness of our work. We’re going to use the Moz Zone Authority tool. There is a quick, free tool on their website that will show your domain authority rating.
But their Associate Auditor gives you more details. You will be asked to create a Moz account to use, but it’s free for ten looks a month. If you find yourself using it more often, paid “Pro” scheme available. It’s a costly service, but it does much more than what we’re talking about here.
When you open a Moz account, you can also use the Chrome browser extension Moz toolbar. This will show the Moz Zone Authority rating for each site you visit. (Those scores don’t count against your ten Link Explorer looks each month.)
When you look at your website using the Associate Auditor, you will find lots of valuable information. We’re going to focus on the numbers at the top, Domain Authority, Domain Link, Inner Links, and Site Keywords.
Remember that this domain score is estimate of a website’s expected performance in Google’s search results. The more you can increase, the higher your expected performance should be. It is good to use as a baseline to measure the effectiveness of your domain authority’s efforts.
Please note that the Zone Authority score changes from time to time, even when you are not trying to make it change. It also a logarithmic scale. So it’s easier to raise the score from 10 to 20 than it is to raise it from 80 to 90. The higher the Domain Authority, the harder it is to change.
Here are the number of other domains with pages that link to your site. We talked about ways to increase the number of connection zones, and here’s where you can see those results.
This is the number of pages that link to your site. Multiple links of one page are counted as one Internal Link. One Contact Zone can contain several pages that link to your site. This is why this number is usually much larger than the Domain Contact number.
This is the number of keywords on your site that rank in the top 50 rankings on Google. Those are the first five pages of search results. It’s a great list to consult to strengthen your keyword game.
Grading for a keyword in the first 50 results is a good thing. It means you have a better chance of reaching the coveted first page of results for that particular keyword.
Using the Moz Domain Authority tool does not increase your domain authority. But without some way to measure the results of your SEO effort, you don’t know how well any part of it works. That makes it an essential part of your domain authority strategy.
The late Tom Petty sang, “waiting is the hardest part,” and that is a generally true statement. But patience is a particularly important ingredient in your efforts to boost your domain authority.
It is possible that some SEO enhancements you can make could increase domain authority in a matter of weeks. Others – most, if we’re honest with ourselves – take longer. Waiting to see results is not fun, but if we don’t, we’re in danger of undoing something that might have worked.
And there really is no way to decide if what we do is effective if we constantly change and rearrange. “Did that thing I changed cause this jump or it was before (or before)?”
So make your improvements and be patient.
I wish I could tell you exactly how long to wait for various changes to come to fruition, but I can’t. It took months once to recover the traffic I lost when I made a mistake while changing the theme for a WordPress site. It was a minor oversight, quickly captured and installed, but it took a long time to get that traffic back.
The Bottom Line
All the methods we have discussed are valid and realistic ways to increase domain authority. A website that takes no SEO steps is rarely addressed. So, of course, you should implement as many SEO tactics as you can.
I have written on more than one occasion about various ways to grow a successful blog. And many of those articles repeat the same advice. That is to create something of value.
Build a site that benefits a group of people.
If you can do that with sincere, but SEO-smart, content, domain. Because that’s what, above all, is what Google – and all other search engines – value.