How powerful is your domain name? How well does it rank in those all-important search engines? The measure of your domain name’s power is called “domain authority,” and it depends on three general factors: size, age, and popularity.
Those three factors indicate how well your domain is likely to rank when a search engine pulls it up among other results. You can use a number of different tools to gauge your website’s domain authority, including the MozBar (a free SEO toolbar), WebsiteSEOchecker.com, or Open Site Explorer.
Of course, you want your web domain to have plenty of clout so that it ranks highly with search engines; but it’s tough to make that happen yourself. You need an effective tool to increase that domain authority number so you can get into the top ranks of Google’s search results pages or SERPs (search engine results pages).
How Google Uses Domain Authority in SERP Rankings
It has long been understood that Google’s ranking algorithm is complex (by design). One of the primary triggers in their algorithm is domain authority, which Google calculates based on a myriad of factors; in fact, the RankBrain system that Google uses employs more than 200 ranking signals. It scours your website to check for links, especially backlinks to reputable, authoritative sources. Even if you only have a few links to strong sources, you could have a better score that a page with lots of backlinks to questionable sources. It’s quality, not just quantity, that matters. Of course, Google hasn’t spilled all its secrets regarding how it gauges domain authority; but it’s reasonable to assume that authority is determined based on each individual page, not the entire site or domain as a whole.
How to Determine Your Domain Authority Score
Now you’re curious about the domain authority for your particular domain. Just go to Open Site Explorer and paste the URL for your page of interest into the provided blank space. Hit “Search” and view the results. On the left, you’ll immediately see your domain authority score out of a possible 100, closely followed by a page authority score, also out of 100. On the right, you’ll find information about page link metrics, including “just discovered” and established links. Check below these sections to find any inbound links, which are indicators of your website’s influence on other internet users.
By incorporating backlinks to reputable sources and optimizing your internal links, you can quickly raise your website’s domain authority from the teens to the forties or so. However, getting that domain authority number up beyond 50 takes real effort. Below are a few short and long term methods you can use to increase your domain authority.
Generate Plenty of Amazing Content
First, you’ll need to develop a content schedule and start sharing some quality information with the world. Write about the goods and services that your company provides, or share other information that is notable to your target audience. If you’re not great at writing, or you don’t have the time to come up with valuable content yourself, hire a content writer to handle it for you.
John Rampton, a contributor for Forbes.com, suggests that you develop tutorials, how-to guides, and “top 10” style posts full of handy information, presented in a conversational, easy-to-read format. Make sure that you include all the necessary buttons so your readers swiftly share your posts on social media.
Include Powerful and Popular Keywords
As you’re developing high-quality content, you’ll need to pay some attention to search engine optimization, or SEO. Your content needs to contain words and phrases that people might type into a search engine, such as “how to increase domain authority” or “how to improve Google rankings,” for example. Throw in keywords as often as you can without resorting to the dreaded “keyword-stuffing” habit. If you’re using WordPress for a blog, use the free Yoast plugin to get better SEO results, or find a similar tool that works for your online publishing method of choice.
Encourage Inbound Links
Another valuable way to improve your domain authority is by getting other people to link to your website and your content. That takes time, some strategic networking, and a little ingenuity. According to Google, natural links leading back to your site are definitely something to strive for. You’ll need a powerful social media network and a strategy that draws people back to your website or your blog to view your content. When they view it and share it, Google takes note and boosts your rankings a bit. Thanks to that boost, more people can find the same content through the search engine. Eventually, people with online influence and significant rankings will link back to your content — and you get a boost in domain authority!
Inbound links can come from your own website (linking from one page to another) or other web properties you control. However, getting high-quality links from outside websites is key — especially if you can find a way to get .edu links. Google sees inbound links coming from websites ending in .edu as especially trustworthy.
SEO expert, Casey Markee, was interviewed recently for a ClearVoice article and shared his thoughts on how inbound links can benefit domain authority: “Links are still the currency of the Internet. If the content isn’t generating much in the way of new incoming links to the site (which will help boost domain authority and give the site a lift in the rankings), why is that not happening?”
Make Your Website More Friendly to Search Engines
Make sure that your website is structured in a way that is friendly to search engines. If it’s tough for a search engine to crawl your site and index everything properly, you won’t get the SEO love that you deserve. Have a web design expert take a look at your website’s structure — not just the attractive photos and fonts, but the infrastructure underneath — to ensure that you’re making the most of the domain you have. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide are great places to start investigating this element of domain authority.
If you’re interested in learning more about domain authority and how to improve your score, check out additional resources on Moz.com.