Domain Authority 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Ranking

12.18.2017 | Hattie Schafhausen

When conducting a search on Google, how many o’s in the Gooooooooooooooogle do you actually go through? If you’re anything like me, probably two or three tops. Have you ever noticed how the most reputable websites are listed on the top of the page? Have you ever wondered why the top result of your search for “chocolate chip cookie recipe” is and not some random undiscovered food blog? The answer all has to do with Domain Authority.

So, what exactly is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority, by definition, is “a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.” Moz combines over 40 elements including the number of links to the site, links from the site to other reputable sites, age of the site and other factors to produce a single score. This score determines how well a website will perform on a Google search, aka, how high up on the results page a website will appear.

How do you improve a website’s Domain Authority score?

Unfortunately, Domain Authority is rather difficult to influence. Because Google uses more than 200 major ranking factors in its algorithm, a metric that combines all of these factors into a single score is complicated to manipulate. This being said, it is still possible to change it over time. The No. 1 priority for improving a website’s Domain Authority should be to increase the number of quality links back to the website. If there are numerous links back to the website on other sites, it tells Google that the website has valuable information worth linking back to and therefore should be located high up on the results page.

To provide some context, a top-tier publication like the New York Times has a Domain Authority score of 100/100, while a travel blog like the GeekyExplorer has a score of 35/100. Judging from the information presented above, this makes sense. The New York Times has thousands of websites linking back to it on a daily basis and is proven to produce content that is worthy of being shared and referenced. While the GeekyExplorer also has fantastic content, it is relatively unknown compared to the New York Times and does not have many other websites backlinking to it. If the New York Times were to reference the GeekyExplorer in an article, this would be a step in the right direction toward improving the 35/100 score. While Domain Authority cannot change overnight, monitoring of the score constantly, publishing consistently good content, and most importantly, patience will help your website’s Domain Authority to grow. 

Why does Domain Authority matter for public relations?

Domain Authority can be the key to understanding which publications to target when trying to place content or drive links back to the client’s website. The average Domain Authority score is around 40/100-50/100 with scores of 60/100 or above considered fairly good. Naturally, PR pros will want to target outlets with a high score because a higher score is quantifiable evidence to support the apparent quality of an internet site. The outlets that have a high score will rank highly in a Google search and therefore will receive the most web traffic. What’s the use of placing an amazing article if no one will be able to find it?

Where can you find Domain Authority scores?

Moz, the creators of Domain Authority has made it incredibly easy to find any website’s Domain Authority. Simply go Moz’s website and use the Open Site Explorer tool to insert the URL of the website you want to know the Domain Authority of, press calculate and voila! A score of x/100 will appear. Another free option is the MozBar which is a Google Chrome extension that gives you a website’s Domain Authority score in the upper right corner of the webpage automatically, without pressing a button or inserting a URL. If you choose to pay for a premium account with Moz, you will get more detailed information about how that score was calculated and recommendations on how to generally improve your website’s SEO.










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Filed under: Branding, COMMUNIQUÉ PR, Monitor and Measure, PR trends, Strategy

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