What is Domain Authority and why does it matter to your business? Basically every website on the internet is given a position ranking. Yes, even this one. Here’s a free tool for you to check yours. A website’s ranking or Domain Authority is determined by how valuable SERPS see it to be. SERPS are “search engine results pages” – what we formerly referred to ubiquitously as “Google”. Of course, there are many search engines now, including Yahoo, Bing and Baidu in China. Google is no longer the be all and end all of search.
A high Domain Authority (DA) helps people find your website & content organically
Think of how people find information these days. They type words into a search engine bar and they hope something relevant comes up. Websites that serve relevant content (as determined by number of users and user behaviour) will rank highly (get a high Domain Authority or DA) and those that serve up less relevant content will be ranked below more relevant sites.
If many websites link to one site (for example, a government website, The New York Times or Wikipedia) that site is seen to be trusted, and therefore valuable, despite what you as a reader (an individual) might think. DAs are constantly reassessed as well, so your site will go up and down in the rankings based on relevancy and how your competitors are performing.
How is Domain Authority (or “value”) ascribed to a website?
Of course, search engines can’t read. They use an algorithm to “read” content and content “signals”. Only humans can read. SERPS determine what site is valuable against what site is not via a number of factors.
- Ranking growth
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on page
Let’s imagine a search for something simple. “How do I give my dog a worming tablet?” I have no idea why I thought of that, as I have no dog but a quick search shows that this search term is popular with 3600 competitive searches per month according to Google Analytics Keyword Planner.
Let’s imagine for the sake of discussion that there are only 2 websites with information on this topic (of course there are thousands). One site contains lots of good information in a format that users like to engage with, perhaps a video, a checklist or a step-by-step infographic. The other website has the same information but it’s not organised well. The text isn’t broken up with headings, there are no images, and users have to navigate off the page to find out more.
Which website will rank more highly in SERPs?
The answer is that either could, but based on the descriptions above, the first website would have better engagement because of the videos and tools, it would get more traffic because it used more keywords which ranked more (at greater volume) and highly organically.
After a while; days, weeks, months; this “better content” and these “superior content signals” demonstrate to the algorithm that Website A is a better website (with better content and data) than Website B. Over time, the users allow SERPS to generate data, based on what users do on that website. The longer they stay and the more they click, the better.
There’s more to great rankings and gaining a high Domain Authority than just great content. Your website needs to be optimised for mobile, it needs to build natural links, it needs to rank for keywords relevant to your core theme, subject, business or offering. In short – it needs to be valuable to your audience – more valuable than your competitors.
Tools to check your website’s DA, performance and speed
Check out this Google Mobile Page Speed Tool. Plug in your website (or the site of your competitor or client) and see how it performs. Google says:
- People are 5 times more likely to leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly.
- Users spend 177 minutes on their mobile phones per day.
Therefore, your Domain Authority will be affected if your site is not mobile-friendly, or if it’s badly laid out or provides a poor User Experience (UX) or User Interface (UI). This means that if you are trying to raise your DA and gain rankings and authority, you need to concentrate on several factors:
Use to Google Page Speed Tool to check the performance of your site. This may include things such as improving font sizes, minifying HTML, leverage browser caching and reducing your website’s server response time. The tool and report are free.
Make sure content is organised well. Use categories, tags and menus to organise your data. Make use of keywords in headings and text. Do not “keyword stuff” and most of all, make sure your content is appealing, well written original and fresh.
Linkbuild by outreaching and guest blogging. A quality website will normally build links up over time as other websites link to valuable content. For example, I might be a blogger or commercial pet food website who has an article that mentions dog worming tablets. Rather than create the content myself, I might link to your video on the subject. You can also contact websites and ask to contribute content to build your authority.
Alyce Vayle is a Content Strategist in Sydney with a passion for SEO. If you’d like to get in touch or to work with Alyce head to this contact page.