Ah, that sought-after first page position. Everyone wants it – from the beginner blogger to the established multi-national business.
When it comes to search engine optimization, there is no greater victory than having your website or blog rank high in SERPs. This is why marketers, copywriters and developers alike put so much effort into optimizing their content and websites.
But, aside from keywords, backlinks and mobile-friendliness, there is one metric that is often overlooked: domain authority (DA).
Before we learn how to improve your DA, let’s see what this metric is and why you should care about it.
What is domain authority (DA)?
Domain authority is a term coined by Moz, the go-to authority in SEO. This website metric goes from 0 to 100. As you might have guessed, the higher your DA, the better, because you are most likely to get more quality traffic and a higher rank.
Your domain authority is a good way to assess the results of your SEO efforts. If your website is in its infancy, keep an eye on this metric and see how it evolves in time. You can check your DA using Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
Your DA is calculated by taking into account a lot of factors, like the backlinks that point to your website and their quality. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to influence this metric.
6 steps to increase your domain authority
First off, let’s make one thing clear: don’t set out to get a DA of 100. Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook are just three examples of websites that got there. Moz.com itself only has a DA of 91. Your odds of getting to 100 are slim at best. As Moz explains it, it is using a logarithmic scale and a proprietary algorithm to come up with DA scores. So, it’s important to have realistic expectations.
If your DA is below 20 right now, you can easily boost it. If it’s already higher, you will need a lot of work to keep increasing it.
Let’s look at the six steps in detail:
1. Get technical about your SEO
No matter how much Google algorithms change, the technical aspects of SEO will always remain the cornerstone of SEO and of increasing domain authority. First, you need to map out your URL structure and optimize your robots.txt.
As soon as these look flawless, move to improving your navigability, site structure, meta tags, breadcrumbs, header tags, keywords, alt tags and so on. Add to your blog posts’ word count as much as possible.
2. Create quality content
If you’re a regular here, you know I’ve been writing a lot about the importance of quality content. It’s your best strategy to attract visitors, gain new leads and turn readers into paying customers.
And, of course, it’s fundamental for improving your DA.
Here’s why: quality content is linkable content. If you write great pieces of content, people will link to them. And you will gain new backlinks – one of the most important factors for improving your DA.
In order to get quality content published on your website, you need to:
– Do thorough research and quote your sources – this adds credibility to everything you publish.
– Write long-form blog posts – try not to publish articles that are less than 1,000 words. Ideally, you should aim for more than 2,000 words per post.
– Pack your articles with examples and actionable items (like these).
– Use photos, infographics and video content – they are great for engaging audiences.
Most importantly, be honest with yourself: do you have the skills and the time to write quality content? If not, it’s better to hire SEO copywriters than to just wing it and publish low-quality articles whenever you have the time.
3. Assess the quality of your backlinks
Ask any SEO expert about backlinks and they’ll tell you they are a gold mine, but… (there’s always a but!). Much like Google, Moz’s algorithm also penalizes spammy, bad or untrustworthy backlinks.
Your link profile (the sum of the links that lead back to your website) needs to be as diverse as possible in order to get a good DA and PR. There are a lot of factors that can determine if a link is toxic or not. You can run an analysis of your link profile using SEMrush’s tool.
As a rule of thumb, avoid link exchanges (“If you link to me, I’ll link to you”) – no authority website will offer that and you’re looking for authority websites to link to you. Also, make sure you don’t spam forums and other blogs by adding irrelevant comments with your link.
4. Don’t forget about internal linking
Each Wikipedia article has tons of links to other Wikipedia articles and it has a DA of 100. Internal linking reduces your bounce rate by keeping users engaged and reading more of your content.
Most importantly, internal linking helps Google bots easily crawl your content and signals them that a certain article is relevant. Ideally, whenever you link to an article, you should use its keyword as text anchor.
And, if you want to make sure that your internal linking reaches its purpose, make every internal link a do-follow one.
5. Get quality links
Instead of scam links like the above-mentioned “If you link to me, I’ll link to you,” go legit and get well-deserved links. You can guest post on other blogs or platforms or use Q&A websites like Quora.
Q&A websites are great not just for boosting your DA score but for genuinely helping people. Even more, they are a goldmine for finding new content ideas, connecting with professionals in the same industry as you and even getting some leads.
6. Be patient
If you read Moz’ description of domain authority, you learn that all new websites start with a DA of one. It doesn’t matter if you have hundreds of long-form articles from the get-go. Your DA will still be one.
However, if your website is three to four years old and you keep on publishing fresh content, the Moz algorithm works in your favor and you will soon see your DA increase.
Keep an eye on how your domain authority changes
The best way to boost your DA and to gain relevant traffic from people you can eventually turn into paying customers is to add relevant, evergreen and quality content. Do that and monitor your DA to see how your content strategy affects it. Don’t expect major changes overnight, though.