Only websites that can stand out from the mass of search results are visible to their target audience. In this article we’ll explain why domain authority is an important ranking factor.
A quick recap: Targeted search engine optimization is based on four pillars. If all four are well maintained and optimized, the relevance of your content increases automatically. Google rewards this with a corresponding ranking.
- Step 1: Technical SEO
- Step 2: Domain Authority
- Step 3: Relevance
- Step 4: User Experience (UX) and Usability
This is the second article of our four-part series in learning how to get your content to the top of Google organic search. We’ll take a deeper look into an often underestimated ranking factor – Domain Authority.
Step 2: Domain Authority
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by a provider of SEO tools named “Moz”. It predicts how likely a website is to 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. Need an example? Wikipedia.org has a domain authority of 94, CNN has 96 and Facebook.com also 96.
Why domain authority is important
The authority of your website in the eyes of Google influences how well you can rank in search engine results. Google wants to provide its users with reliable information and results. This means that the more authority you have, the more customers you can attract through organic search.
If Google doesn’t consider your website important, you will rarely make it to the top of search engine results for any of your target keywords. Consequently, the authority of your website has a direct impact on your ability to reach customers online. This means that improving your reputation and building trust with search engines should be important factors in your SEO strategy.
How Google determines the authority of a website
How Google determines the authority of a website has long been a matter of debate. In the search engine world, authority depends primarily on how much credibility your website has built up online. This doesn’t mean that Google simply picks and chooses which websites it deems credible. According to sources, 21 percent of Google’s ranking algorithm depends on “link authority characteristics,” which is the number of links to a domain and the quality of those links. Additionally, 19 percent depends on page-level link characteristics, that is, the number of links to a particular page.
Essentially, the most important factor in your site’s authority is the quality and quantity of links it gets from other sites.
Search engine authority vs. user trust
Many marketers believe that the authority of their website is influenced by how trustworthy their visitors think it is. While it’s certainly valuable to have a website that users trust, their perception has nothing to do with Google’s evaluation of your authority.
A website’s authority is determined by the search engines themselves and essentially indicates how much weight they give to a particular website. A website can only reach users if it is “important” enough to rank well. Presenting a certain level of authority on a topic is what makes this possible.
Trust, on the other hand, is determined by individual users and refers to how much users can personally rely on a website’s information. Although user trust is important for your website, it does not directly affect your ranking.
Search engines and users trust your website according to different criteria:
Search engines determine how trustworthy your website is based on the following criteria:
- How many incoming links your website has. If your website has many links from other credible and reputable websites, search engines can determine that your website is also reputable.
- How established your website is. As a general rule, the older the website, the higher its authority.
Users determine how trustworthy your website is based on the following criteria:
- Your reputation. If you have been in business for a long time and have a good reputation, users may trust the information on your website.
- Your reviews. Lots of positive testimonials prove that your business has satisfied customers.
- Your posts. Lots of high-quality content shows that your company is an authority in your industry.
- Your reliability. How much visitors can rely on your site for quality and accurate information.
Five ways to improve domain authority
Bad news upfront: There is no shortcut to making your website authoritative. It won’t happen overnight, and it will take at least a few months before you get the results you want. But there are a few things you can do to help your site climb the ladder to high authority faster.
1. Write high quality content
Quality content shows your visitors and other influencers in your field that you have an authoritative website. It shows that you know what you’re doing in your field and that you can be trusted. However, there is more to quality content than just having accurate information. Your content should also be unique to your site and offer visitors new insights.
Google’s job is to give its users the best answer possible. Part of providing the best answer is shedding new light on a topic and not giving users the same tired information they’ve already heard.
The key to creating fresh quality content is to focus on topics that relate to your area of expertise. Not only will you know the background of the topic, but users will trust you to provide them with accurate information. You should also use as much detail as possible if you want your content to be considered high quality. Long-form content can help you get more traffic, page views and rankings. Therefore, it pays to go into as much detail as possible on topics where you are an authority.
Much of the content you create should be on “evergreen” topics, meaning topics that will still be relevant in the years to come. While there’s nothing wrong with writing content about your company’s newest feature that’s only relevant for now, evergreen content is much more likely to attract visitors for years to come – rather than just a month or two.
2. Provide a great user experience
If you have a website that is difficult to navigate, it will be difficult for Google to rank it as authoritative because it doesn’t provide a great user experience. You should use a clear navigation bar and a sitemap so that your users can easily find their way around your website.
Another user experience factor is page loading speed. It should be at the top of your website goals. Internet users live in a world where most of their requests are instantaneous. If your pages take more than 2 seconds to load, you should definitely work on improving your speed to ensure that users don’t bounce off your site.
3. Build links from authoritative sites
As we mentioned earlier, links are still the most important factor in determining authority. There are a few ways you can build them from quality sites.
The first is to cultivate relationships with leaders in your industry. When you reach out to bloggers, news editors, and other influential people in your industry, you can offer to write original articles or submit other content like infographics or research. When they publish this content on their websites, they will point to your company as a source, thus your authority will increase.
4. Link to credible sites
Since it would be nearly impossible to explain every topic in detail on your website, it is important to link to other credible sites that users can click on to get more information. A moderate number of links can help direct users to other resources that might help them. However, using too many links can make your text difficult to read.
You should avoid linking to another page if you have another page internally on your own site that you could link to. You should also avoid linking to the same place twice on a web page.
However, make sure you link to credible sites, as the sites you link to may also influence your authority. When you link to a site, you are saying that site has good information on the topic you’re covering. If you link to a site with low authority, the fact that you vouch for that information could be questionable to search engines like Google.
5. Use social media to generate traffic and establish your brand
Like many marketers, you may think that the more pages your website shares on social media, the more Google would consider your website authoritative. However, this is not entirely the case. Matt Cutts, the former leader of Google’s Webspam team, says that the main reason social media is not used as a ranking factor is because there is no way Google could crawl every tweet or Facebook post. Using incomplete data could skew rankings and Google obviously doesn’t want that.
This means that social media is not an important factor in your authority. But it can still help you achieve your other authority related goals. You can use social media to build relationships with industry leaders (e.g. win them as followers for your company). Later, you can use those relationships to build links that have a direct impact on your authority.
Social media is also a great place to build brand awareness and credibility. So, by building connections with industry leaders and promoting your brand, you can slowly get high authority sites to link to your site.
This is how long it takes to improve authority of your website
As we have already mentioned, it is impossible to increase the authority of your website overnight. After looking at the criteria that determine your site’s authority, you can get a sense of how long it takes to build your site’s authority.
Building relationships with high-profile people can take time, especially the kind of valuable relationships you need to get links from their websites. It also takes time to prove that you are providing trustworthy and accurate information that is worth linking to.
High authority sites don’t award links without careful thought and consideration, you should be prepared to invest a lot of time reaching out to editors and bloggers before any of them are willing to link to your site.
How to regain lost domain authority
There are certain signals that can have a negative impact on your website’s authority and thus affect its ability to rank high in SERPs (search engine results pages). If your rankings have dropped recently, this may be the explanation. Fortunately, it’s very unlikely that you have destroyed your website’s authority to the point of no return. If your website authority takes a plunge, there are several ways you can regain your previous rankings.
You should first start by removing all bad links that lead to 404 error pages. Remember that the pages you link to contain useful information. If you link to a bad page, it can speak volumes about how carefully you choose your sources – at least to search engines.
Make sure all your outbound links are high authority websites that provide valuable information to your visitors – and are not broken links.
Preview – Step 3: Relevance
Having dealt with technical SEO in part one and now with domain authority, in the next post we’ll describe how to write content for Google in such a way that it’s optimally picked up by their crawlers and rated with the highest relevance.
Keep reading the series for more great insights to help you achieve page 1 rankings.