Domain Authority is regarded as one of the most important factors in SEO by a lot of companies and marketers.
For better rankings in search results, there are many guides on how you can boost your website’s Domain Authority by using the tips that have been given in this article.
What is the actual effect of a higher Domain Authority on the ranking of your website?
The purpose of this chapter is to explore the definition of Domain Authority and the evidence that supports its existence as a ranking factor used by Google.
Domain Authority – What Is It?
The first step in understanding whether Domain Authority is a part of Google’s algorithm is to understand what Domain Authority is.
First, there is domain authority – an idea – and then there is Domain Authority (DA), a metric that Moz uses to estimate domain authority.
Generally, domain authority can be defined in the following way by VentureSkies, according to their definition:
According to Google, the domain authority of a website describes how important the site is in relation to a certain subject area [and] how relevant it is in regards to the keywords used in that particular search term.
It’s also worth mentioning that Moz uses the Domain Authority metric, of which it defines it as “…a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that determines how likely it is that a website will rank in search engine result pages (SERPs).”
In addition to the number of linking root domains and the total number of links, the Domain Authority is calculated by Moz by taking into account dozens of factors. Scores are shown on a 100-point scale with 0 being the lowest score and 100 being the highest score.
A metric for measuring website authority has not only been developed by Moz, but there are a number of SEO platforms that have also helped develop this metric. The following will also be found in the report:
- There are two Ahrefs Ranks and one Domain Rating that Ahrefs has. A website’s backlink profile in the Ahrefs database is ranked based on the size and quality of its backlinks, whereas Domain Rating measures a website’s backlink profile compared to others in the Ahrefs database and is rated out of 100.
- In SEO tools like Semrush, you can find an Authority Score that is used to measure the quality of a domain or a webpage as well as its SEO performance.
- The Flow Metric Scores provided by Majestic measure the number of links that a website has and the quality of its content in addition to its links.
Domain Authority As A Ranking Factor
A vast majority of articles discussing Domain Authority refer to it as a search engine ranking score and suggest that it is a good indicator of how well a website will perform in SERPs for keywords and phrases that have been targeted.
In this sense, some may be misled into believing that Domain Authority is a ranking factor for search engines such as Google and the like.
In fact, there is even an interesting Twitter thread in 2020 from the co-founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin, who has shown internal documents from Google, suggesting that Google does indeed have a domain authority-based ranking metric which is similar to that of Moz.
As you read on, the evidence becomes clearer and clearer.
The Evidence For The Use Of Domain Authority As A Ranking Factor
In Moz’s website, it states that its Domain Authority score does not affect the search results of Google.
“Domain authority is not a ranking factor that is used by Google to determine search engine results pages (SERPS).”
A question about authority passing from HTTP to HTTPS was asked to Gary Illyes, Chief of Sunshine and Happiness at Google back in 2015. In his response, he said:
As far as authority is concerned, we do not have it, but there is no doubt that signals should be passed on.
The most recent question Illyes answered in 2016 concerned whether the adding or removing of pages would affect the domain authority of a website.
“So, my problem is that I don’t know any ranking metric that would act as a proxy to title authority, so I am unable to provide a solution.”
Illyes replied in response to a discussion about linking to images or webpages for the purpose of increasing the domain authority of a website:
“There is no such thing as ‘overall domain authority’ for us. In spite of this, a text link with anchor text is better.”
There you will find a number of confirmations from John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google, to the effect that Domain Authority exists, but that Google does not use it in its search engines.
In December of 2016, Mueller responded to a comment about a desktop domain having a higher authority than a mobile domain.
According to Google, ‘domain authority’ does not play a role in search engine rankings”
A Reddit AMA with Mueller took place in 2018 during which someone asked about Domain Authority.
It was acknowledged in Mueller’s response that:
Of course it does exist, it’s a tool created by Moz that you can use.”
On Twitter, Mueller responded to a question about Domain Authority shortly after being asked about it – again – later that year.
There is a Google ranking score known as Domain Authority (DA), created by Moz, which states that ‘Domain Authority (DA) exists = yes. In search engines, it isn’t used at all.”
The question Mueller was asked in 2019 regarding a site-wide metric similar to Twitter’s Domain Authority was answered as follows:
“We do not use domain authority as a ranking factor. As a general rule, we try to have our metrics as granular as possible, but sometimes that’s not possible, so we look at things a bit broader (e.g., we’ve talked about this in regards to some of the older quality updates),” she added.
One of the users of Twitter asked, later that year, if the drop in search engine traffic could be attributed to a loss of Domain Authority, and the answer was yes. In response, Mueller replied as follows:
There is a metric called domain authority that an SEO company uses. We do not use that metric. I would recommend starting a thread in the help forum with the details, including the URLs and queries you are seeing changes to.”
There was another question related to domain authority that Mueller received in 2020. Someone asked this time if backlinks from high domain authority websites matter at all to the ranking of a website. In response to his question, he replied:
As far as our algorithms are concerned, we don’t use any sort of domain authority at all.”
In a few months time, Mueller was asked on Twitter about the importance of Domain Authority when crawling webpages faster.
I just want to make it very clear that when it comes to Search crawling, indexing, or ranking, Google does not use Domain Authority at all. Their website makes it pretty clear that this is what they are doing.
While we do not index tweets directly related to it, we do index tweets about it.
Google representatives seemed to be clear up until that point in time that Domain Authority was not being used. Mueller was asked about whether Google had a domain authority metric similar to Google’s in a late 2020 interview with SearchLove.
In contrast to the other answers, this one indicates that Google’s algorithm may be taking into account a DA-like metric in the future.
I don’t know if I’d call it authority like that, but there are some metrics that are more at the site level, some metrics that are more at the page level, and some of these site-wide level metrics might be mapped into something similar in a way.”
The same year, Mueller answered another question on Reddit about Domain Authority. In the question, it was asked how to increase the Domain Authority of a website with a score of 31. In response to Mueller’s question:
As far as I’m concerned, I’m kinda torn. In one sense, it is not necessary to have DA in order to rank well in Google Search. There is no mention of it in any of Google’s search results. The key to levelling your site up in search is to give it a focus on something else, or at least to use other metrics to do that, if you wish to level it up. The main reason why DA as a metric is regarded with such suspicion by many SEOs is because of this. For context, I don’t think I have ever looked up the DA for a site in the 14 years I have been doing this as part of my job.”
Further advice was offered by him on how to improve a domain’s authority by focusing on a topic with a low level of competition, then creating a reasonable collection of awesome content on that topic in order to increase its authority.
The emphasis was on the fact that what would move the needle would be the user signals, not any type of authority score.
Our Verdict on Domain Authority As A Ranking Signal: How Does It Work?
The Moz Domain Authority (DA) is a similar concept to Ahrefs Domain Rank (DR) and Semrush Authority Scores. In addition, Majestic’s Flow Metric Score is also similar to Domain Authority (DA).
The metrics in question are all authority metrics that have been calculated by third-party tools and have no effect on the rankings of a website in search engines.
In spite of Mueller once suggesting that Google has a set of metrics that map to similar things to the Domain Authority, he has repeatedly denied the use of the Domain Authority by Moz on Twitter and Reddit.
Furthermore, he noted that the company does not refer to any of their internal activities as “domain authority.”
We can therefore conclude that Domain Authority is definitely not a ranking factor in terms of search engine results.