Your DA, or Domain Authority–also called “Domain Rating”--is a proprietary measurement developed by search engine analytics company MOZ that predicts how likely it is that a site will rank on the SERP. You’re here because you understand that DA is important and want to know “how to increase my domain authority”?
Distinguishing Domain Authority From Page Authority
First off, a clarification. Both Domain Authority and Page Authority are MOZ metrics, but there is a crucial difference between the two. Whereas Page Authority (PA) attempts to measure, in MOZ’s words, “the predictive ranking strength of a single page,” Domain Authority, on the other hand, measures the cumulative strength of an entire domain/subdomain.
What to Know About DA?
The answer to “how to increase my domain authority” is quite simple and it comes straight from the horse’s (Moz) mouth: build more and better links. Moz released a DA 2.0 Metrics Whitepaper in 2019 and in their section on “How DA is calculated” they say the following:
we know about a site, including what we know from the links pointing to it, (“backlinks” or “inbound links”) and feed that into a model that learns over time.
The important thing to know about DA and building it up, therefore, is that in order for MOZ to attribute a higher DA score to a site or page, the site needs to improve its link profile (both in quality and quantity). As it does this, MOZ’s machine learning algorithm makes predictions based on SERP results, comparing them to each page’s corresponding link profile, to determine where a page/site wil likely fall.
So, if you’re dying to know “how to increase my domain authority,” it’s really that straightforward: more and better quality links.
The Operative Word Here is “And”
Anyone, in theory, can get “more” links. But it is increasingly the quality of those links that Google bases its ranking decisions on. That is to say, who is linking back to your site? Are your links spammy and coming from link farms–i.e., websites that exist solely to sell links to other sites regardless of quality or intent? Or are they from reputable and trusted sites in your niche and industry that indicate you are a real authority and, therefore, worthy of a high ranking in the SERP?
There are plenty of sites and link building agencies out there that are either unaware of or don’t care about major changes to how Google views and rates certain kinds of links. Those sites continue to use broken link building tactics to build unimpressive link profiles, and they are not doing themselves or their clients any favours.
The Short and Painful Answer to “How to Increase My Domain Authority in a Way That’s Sustainable”: It’s Not Easy
If you’re a business owner, the objective of your SEO is to make regular and significant increases to your DA, thereby increasing your organic traffic and, if you do a plethora of other things right as well, converting more sales. In order to enjoy those DA boosts, however, you need to put in the work–maintain a high-functioning site that doesn’t irritate visitors, build great content, promote that content and, most importantly, actively look for link opportunities at the same time.
Your backlinks are how you show Google that your site is worth displaying high up on the search engine results page and MOZ’s proxy for this worthiness is what it refers to as your “domain authority” (DA). It takes time and effort to build up your DA and attempting it on your own, especially if you don’t have a full understanding of what Google does and doesn’t want to see from your link building efforts, can be slow and even counterproductive.
How to Increase My Domain Authority Step 1: Optimize Your On-Page SEO
Your on-page SEO are those aspects of search engine optimization that are within your control. They are the easiest things to manage, and any site can, in theory, ace them. They include:
- A good internal linking policy
- Page load time
A Good Internal Linking Policy
Having a good internal linking policy means using natural anchor text to link internal pages within your site (e.g., an info page that links to a commercial page, or an info page that links to a related info page). Doing this helps Google crawl your site easier and also makes it more navigable for visitors, which Google, in turn, interprets as an indicator of your site’s quality and ranking worthiness.
If you ask an experienced SEO to answer “how to increase my domain authority,” you will always be told to ensure your content features good internal linking.
The answer to “how to increase my domain authority” also includes a commitment to mobile-friendliness. The majority of web traffic is mobile, which means a site needs to be easy and intuitive to use on small screens and mobile browsers.
You can improve your site’s mobile-friendliness by ensuring your pages are built in ways that take into consideration the needs of users on smaller screens. Always review edits to pages and page templates in responsive mode before publishing so that you know what a page will look like on a phone or tablet.
Page Load Time
How long your page loads is another critical component of on-page SEO because slow pages increase bounce (i.e., how fast people leave your site out of frustration or boredom) and search engines see this as a mark of poor quality. You should run your pages through tools like PageSpeed Insights to ensure you aren’t failing in this area.
It’s important to bear in mind that the digital age has absolutely killed most people’s attention spans. People want to see what they are looking for within a couple of seconds and if they don’t get it from you, your competitors will give it to them.
How to Increase My Domain Authority Step 2: Backlinks
The other, and the most difficult, component of DA is your link profile. The long and short of the answer to “how to increase my domain authority” is that you need to build high-quality backlinks to your site.
Building links requires time, effort and often some money. It is generally done in three ways, and it’s a constant work in progress:
- Creating great content
- Promoting that content
- Proactively building links
Creating Great Content
If you look at the analytics of the sites that rank in the top 10 results of the SERP for any given keyword or string of keywords, they almost invariably have a lot of high-quality, authoritative sites linking to them. “Great” content is subjective, but most serious websites only link to content that they think will buttress and augment their own.
Ask any SEO “how to increase my domain authority?” and you will be told to spend time creating great written, and other multimedia content that is better than what already exists and you increase your odds of organic, natural links.
Promoting Your Content
Creating content isn’t enough, however. Google may eventually deem your content worthy of a top spot in the SERP and people may eventually stumble upon it and be impressed enough to link to it, but, like any product, the market very rarely comes to you. You have to put it in front of people. This is why link building and content marketing go hand in hand.
Once you’ve created a new piece of content (or significantly updated an existing piece), you need to get it in front of an audience via email lists and social media communities.
Ask any SEO how to increase my domain authority, and you will get a unanimous and resounding “promote your content!”
Proactively Building Links
This last facet of the answer to “how to increase my domain authority” is the most involved, most important and, therefore, requires the most detailed explanation.
Building backlinks is widely recognized as the most difficult part of SEO because it is completely out of your hands a lot of the time.
Much of what determines whether you do or don’t get a link from X or Y site is out of your control. They might decide your content, or your site isn’t what they’re looking for, even if you’ve got a great product/service and online presence.
Nevertheless, build links you must if you want to increase your domain authority. Not only that, however, you need to build links in a way that Google approves of and respects. You need to have a solid editorial policy underpinning your link building efforts.
The Methods of Proactively Building Quality Backlinks to Your Site and Its Pages
If you want to build links in ways that Google won’t penalize you for, there are only a few options available to you.
You can reach out to high-authority sites and make a case for why your content should be referenced and linked to in one of their articles. This is a great method for improving both page and domain authority because it allows you to select individual pages for promotion, taking into consideration your internal linking and traffic-driving strategy.
You can use services like HARO that connect you with journalists and bloggers looking for expert niche commentary and opinion. If they like what you have to say, you may be rewarded with publicity and a link back to your site’s homepage. These homepage links are very valuable when it comes to increasing domain authority because Google views them as highly organic.
Or, you offer to write for and contribute to other relevant high authority sites in your niche or industry (what are frequently referred to as guest posts). This involves reaching out to site owners and pitching them ideas for new content and then writing it for them based on their site’s writing guidelines.
Advanced Tactic: Disavowing Harmful Links
If you are an active site that is doing frequent content promotion and link building, you will almost always end up with links from sites that you don’t really want links from. 8.5 billion searches are performed on Google every day, and as your site and its pages move up the rankings, more people will see it.
Some of those people may represent spammy, low-quality, or otherwise dodgy sites and want to reference your content in their own for one reason or another. Google may erroneously penalize you for this, which of course isn’t fair, but you do have some recourse.
What you can do is known as “disavowing” the link. Google warns you when you navigate to the “disavow links” section of your Search Console that it’s an “advanced feature” and should be “used with caution.” Keep in mind that if the question is “how to increase my domain authority,” this tactic is useful, but not the most critical.
The idea is for you first to petition the offending site to have the link removed. If they don’t comply or don’t respond, then you can use Google’s tool to disassociate yourself from the site/link.
You Can Try to Increase Your DA on Your Own or Recruit an Expert
Most new sites without a digital marketing budget start out trying to increase their DA on their own. They grind it out for a couple of years and, through hard work and perseverance, they find themselves with a profitable site which now requires expert outside help to scale and take growth to the next level.
This is typically when such sites are willing to entrust their SEO, and particularly their link building, to experts who specialize in building high-quality, strategic links.
With that said, there really are two, not one, questions you need to ask when it comes to domain authority: “how to increase my domain authority” and “how to increase my domain authority constantly and at scale?”
You can chug along and do the bare minimum when it comes to SEO and link building and hope for the best over the long run. Or you can make a strategic investment in your link buiding and ensure that it happens.