If you’re knee deep in the world of SEO, you will likely see a lot of references to domain authority (DA). This metric designed by MOZ to measure the potential page ranking of a website based on a number of factors like backlinks is very hyped. But is it actually useful to you the digital marketer?
Actually, I’m here to say that the importance of DA is very, VERY, overstated.
“But, getting your DA up means you’ll rank better in Google”, I hear you say.
OK. I’m gonna offer my opinion about domain authority, and then I’ll explain how you can rank better on Google.
Is domain authority important?
Although domain authority is a useful metric to see how well your site is indexed and linked, when it comes to actually getting search results the answer here is a pretty solid NO.
Here is why.
Anyone can increase the domain ranking of their website by simply going to Fiverr and paying, well, a fiver. I shit you not.
So you can easily end up with a site that is about a month old but has a DA of over 50.
And it’ll only cost you about $10 (or less) to do it.
So do these sites rank at the top of Google? Actually, no. Find a new site with a high DA and I’ll bet if you run it through Ahrefs, SEMrush or Moz that it has zero page one rankings.
That’s because domain authority on it’s own is a useless metric.
And if you’re focusing on DA as the cornerstone of your SEO strategy, you’re gonna fail in the long term.
How to use domain authority
For me, domain authority has become less and less important as I’ve realised that it’s pretty much pointless. Yes, there are useful things about it and you can use DA for some purposes.
For example, if you’re looking for a quality backlink from a website and you see it has a high DA, you can then check other aspects such as:
- Organic traffic
- Number of organic keywords
- Total backlinks
And here is the critical information in this blog post….
Those are all WAYYYYY more important than the domain authority of a site.
But people will still put a high value on a site with a DA over, whatever, 30 or 50. But the truth is the site with DA55 might have less content ranking anywhere near the first page of Google than a site with DA10 or DA15.
High domain authority is not an indicator of site quality, relevance to your industry or even that the backlink will be useful for you. I even wrote a piece on my Medium page about the shady world of sites made for backlinks…
Anyways, lets look at some examples of how domain authority is not as important as you think it is.
I run a number of websites. One of them has a DA that flucuates between 12-18. I’ve never paid to inflate the domain authority ever because it’s just a site that I think has genuine organic potential. This site ranks on page one for a number of competitive and high traffic search terms because….
…Here comes some more critical information…
…The content is well written, useful and optimised for search!
This site has a Ahrefs DR of 14 and a fairly healthy organic traffic volume between 2,000 to 3,000 per month.
Another website of mine was a TOTAL failure, despite paying to inflate the DA. Granted, I might have done a few other things wrong, but this site now serves as the failure benchmark for me. It’s everything you should not do to build a successful website.
I bought the domain, and within a month paid to boost the DA to over 50.
I created a stack of content, some of it pretty low grade (I just wanted to get the volume of content up), accepted some guest posts and then started running Google Adsense on it.
Guess what happened.
This site grew to a peak of around 1000 visitors a month and then crashed and burned during Google’s 2021 algorithm update. Zero traffic per month. Owch.
The lesson? Focus on quality content and quality backlinks FIRST. Domain authority will follow…
My SEO lesson for you…
Want to rank on page one of Google? Want to get traffic flowing in? Looking to get AdSense or whatever on your site?
Play the long game.
Read my SEO cheat sheet for starters. But here is a TL;DR for all aspiring search engine pros:
- Research your keywords and find high traffic low difficulty search terms
- Write quality and useful information
- Optimise it for SEO (read my guide above)
- Build links back to it from reputable and relevant websites (don’t pay for crappy sites with high DA, they’re useless)
- Update your content regularly
And there it is. That’s why DA is not an important metric, and what you should do instead….
Want someone to manage your SEO? Well, I’m good at it (and I made lots of mistakes already so I know what DOES work). Gimme a shout!