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How to Measure Domain Authority and Improve it without PageRank

There are new ways to measure domain authority, but how are you using this metric to improve your rank in search engines?

Link-building. It seems like that term is as old as the marketable internet. Since publishers have been developing content, we have known that we need traffic to our websites, and that inbound links are the way to do it. As Google came along and trained us on their search optimization best practices, link-building became even more important because it affects how we rank in search engines and we were able to measure domain authority along the way.

But ironically, Google will no longer tell us that one number we used to gauge our search and link-building efforts: PageRank.

What we do know is that inbound links are a major factor in Google’s algorithm, but so is the quality of those links.

Back in 2005, digital publishers would be out there spamming every comment form with their URL. Then Google said “I see what you’re doing there, and I don’t like it. And if you keep doing it, you’ll be penalized.” And so that was stopped because Google recommended all publishers make comment links on their profile no-follow. So then some digital marketers would seek out sites that were still “follow friendly” but ultimately it became a black hat practice.

Fast-forward over a decade and digital marketers know that inbound links are most valuable when they have been generated unprovoked by a website with a higher ranking authority than you. But rather than rest on one’s laurels, they have come up with more organic ways to create inbound links, like guest publishing and syndication.

But if you’re putting all this work into link-building, as so many are, how can you measure domain authority and your efforts when Google won’t give you your page rank anymore?

We’re currently using Moz, who offers a 0-100 scale for domain authority which simulates Google’s 0-10 scale. So for example, a site that ranked 5 on Google’s scale would rank 50 on Moz.

And like Google, for every site they rank 100, it will give 10 of them a 90, 100 of them an 80, 1,000 of them a 70, 10,000 a 60, 100,000 a 50, and so on.

We’ve always known when we’d measure domain authority that Google’s score wasn’t truly 0-10. There were always 3.4’s and 5.7’s but Google wouldn’t tell you, they’d just round up. And so it could take you a year to jump from one whole number to the next with added effort. By adding another 0 to the scale Moz has offered us better interim feedback. Because the hardest thing to do, is to give a team of content marketers a task, and not provide them with the data that shows they’re making a difference. Data is a great reinforcer of the work you do.

According to Moz, “Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating linking root domains, number of total links, MozRankMozTrust, etc. — into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.”

More technically speaking, Moz explains how they calculate the data:

“Domain Authority is based on data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank and MozTrust scores, and dozens of other factors (more than 40 in total). The actual Domain Authority calculation itself uses a machine learning model to predictively find a “best fit” algorithm that most closely correlates Mozscape data with rankings across thousands of actual search results that we use as standards to scale against.

While specific metrics like MozRank can answer questions of raw link popularity (i.e. link equity), and link counts can show the raw quantities of linking pages/sites, Domain Authority (and Page Authority) metrics address the higher level question of a domain (or page’s) “rankability.”

Since Authority is based on machine learning calculations, your site’s score will often fluctuate as more, less, or different data points are used in the calculation — for instance, when a new Mozscape web index is released. For this reason, keep in mind that it’s best to use Domain Authority as a relative metric to compare against the link profiles of other sites as opposed to an absolute value “scoring” the efficacy of your internal SEO efforts.”

But beyond Moz’s tool, how can you measure domain authority and your success at link-building? Well, you can’t alone, but if your larger question is how 1+1=3, it’s online SEO + link-building, which equals domain authority.

To find out your website’s domain authority, you can use MozBar (a free Chrome-extension), Open Site Explorer (a backlink analysis tool), the SERP Analysis section of Keyword Explorer.

In our next post about link-building we’ll describe what we think are the three best link-building strategies for publishers. Not some overwhelming list of 100, or “50 ways to build links you’ll never believe work,” but the three. Just three. The only three you’ll actually need to get the domain authority results you want from link-building.

In the meantime, if you’re a publisher making $1 million or more in revenue per year and are  looking to build a more robust content-based website that is search-optimized from the bones up, please schedule a call with me to chat. 

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