domain authority meaning

If you’ve been doing some research on search engine optimization (SEO), you may have come across a metric known as Domain Authority (DA). However, not every source provides a clear domain authority meaning, and you may be looking for a more comprehensive guide.

💡 By understanding what DA is and how it works, you’ll be able to monitor your site’s performance more effectively. For instance, you’ll also be able to predict whether your latest content is likely to outrank the competition.

In this post, we’ll discuss what DA is and show you how to check your score. We’ll then share six easy ways to improve this number. Let’s get started!

An introduction to Domain Authority

So, just what is the meaning of Domain Authority (DA)? In a nutshell, it is a metric developed by Moz that website owners can use to evaluate how likely their content is to appear in search engines for relevant queries compared to their closest competitors.

Moz calculates DA on a score of 1-100. When determining your website’s score, Moz takes various factors into consideration. However, it places a particular emphasis on the number, quality, and relevance of your backlinks.

As a general rule, the higher your site’s DA score, the better your chances of appearing in relevant SERPs. However, it’s important to highlight that Google doesn’t use DA as a ranking factor.

Instead, DA provides a way to assess your search engine performance in relation to your competitors. If you have a high DA, chances are you’re ranking well – but DA doesn’t contribute towards your position in the search results.

By continuously evaluating your DA, you can monitor how you’re performing compared to other websites in your niche. You can then make adjustments to try and outrank these competing businesses.

DA is often mentioned in the same context as Page Authority (PA). However, PA measures the strength of individual pages. By contrast, DA measures the predictive ranking of entire domains and subdomains. For the greatest insight into your search engine performance, you may want to consider monitoring both of these metrics.

How to check your DA (and what your Domain Authority means)

You can check your website’s DA score using Moz’s Link Explorer. Simply enter your URL, and the checker will then display some information about your site, including its DA:

Moz's Link Explorer tool originating the domain authority meaning

A “good” DA score will vary depending on your industry and target audience. The goal is to outrank your competitors so that your content appears above theirs in relevant SERPs. This means that you’ll need to know the scores of your closest competitors in order to properly evaluate your DA.

The good news is that Link Explorer can evaluate any website. Simply enter your competitor’s URL into this tool, and it will display their score. You can then see exactly how you compare to the competition.

Since DA is a comparative metric, there are no set rules about what constitutes a good or a bad DA. However, it’s generally accepted that scores above 60 are excellent.

Meanwhile, DA scores between 50 and 60 are considered good, while anything between 40 and 50 is deemed average. If your site is scoring below 40, then you’ll almost certainly want to spend some time improving your DA.

How to boost your website’s DA (6 ways)

Now that we’ve covered the meaning of Domain Authority, let’s see how you can stay one step ahead of your competitors by boosting your DA. Here are six effective ways to improve your score.

  1. Acquire high-quality backlinks from trusted sites
  2. Publish frequent content
  3. Audit your site for unwanted third-party links
  4. Create a sitemap
  5. Improve your site’s security
  6. Don’t forget about internal links

When determining DA, Moz takes into account both the quantity and quality of your backlinks. If lots of respected third-party sites link to your content, then this can help increase your DA score.

To attract high-quality backlinks, it might be helpful to perform a link gap analysis. This is where you identify websites that are linking to your competitors, but not to you.

A third party who is interested in your competition may also be interested in your website. Therefore, a link gap analysis can help you identify potential backlink opportunities.

You can perform a link gap analysis using Link Explorer’s Link Intersect:

Moz's Link Intersect tool

After identifying some potential partners, you can check their DA using Link Explorer. You can then prioritize the sites that have the highest scores.

For example, you might produce articles that are similar to the content that these sites have previously linked to. Alternatively, you might want to build a relationship with these websites by connecting with them on social media, or commenting on their content.

2. Publish frequent content

The best way to earn backlinks is to produce engaging content. To improve the quality of your posts, we recommend considering the visitor’s search intent. It’s the user’s primary goal when they enter your target keyword into a search engine.

For example, if you’re targeting the phrase best budget laptops, you’ll typically want to produce a listicle suggesting some relevant products. This content perfectly fulfills the search intent.

It also makes sense to monitor the most popular search terms. For this you can use a tool such as Google Trends:

The Google Trends dashboard.

By producing content that targets popular terms, you may be able to attract the attention of some well-respected sites. These websites may then link to your content, which is great for improving your DA score.

3. Audit your site for unwanted third-party links

Not all backlinks are positive. Links from low-authority or spammy websites can negatively impact your DA and your position in the SERPs. In the worst-case scenario, you may even receive link-based penalties. For instance, Google might remove your content from search results.

To preserve your DA score, it’s smart to regularly audit your site for unwanted backlinks. You can scan for these toxic URLs using SEMrush’s Backlink Audit tool:

The SEMrush Backlink Audit dashboard.

Once you’ve identified low-quality backlinks, you can disavow them. This is where you tell Google to ignore specific backlinks for ranking purposes:

Disavowing links to your site in Google

Just be aware that this tool can damage your SEO if used incorrectly. For this reason, you should only disavow links that are clearly low-quality, such as URLs that are associated with black hat tactics.

4. Create a sitemap

A sitemap lists all of your website’s content in XML format. This file can help search engines discover, understand, and index your content. Through that, a sitemap can increase your chances of appearing in relevant SERPs, and help improve your DA.

WordPress 5.5 introduced a basic XML sitemap feature that creates a default sitemap. However, you may want to review and optimize this automatically-generated sitemap. For example, you might exclude duplicate content, such as archive pages and tag pages. This ensures that the search engines don’t waste valuable time crawling duplicate pages.

You can adjust your sitemap using an SEO plugin, such as Yoast SEO:

After activating this plugin, navigate to SEO → General → Features. You can then exclude specific pages and posts, or even entire content types.

5. Improve your site’s security

Search engines want to keep their users safe. When determining your site’s ranking, most of the major search engines take security into consideration. By taking steps to harden your site’s defenses, you may notice an uptick in your DA score.

Therefore, you might want to install a security plugin, such as Sucuri Security. When you activate this plugin, it creates a “known good” for all your website’s content. If any of these directories, plugins, themes, or core files are compromised, Sucuri will inform you about the threat:

It’s also essential that you install an SSL certificate. This is an encryption protocol that secures all of the data exchanged between the visitor’s browser and your website. Google has confirmed that they use HTTPs as a ranking signal, so it’s vital that you use SSL.

Many hosting providers include an SSL certificate as part of their plans. If you’re unsure whether your site is protected, you can reach out to your provider for clarification. Alternatively, you can claim a free SSL certificate from a service such as Let’s Encrypt.

External links have a huge impact on your DA. However, you shouldn’t overlook the power of internal links.

Unlike third-party URLs, you’re in complete control over your internal links. This means you can choose exactly which pages you want to highlight.

A logical internal linking structure can help the search engine bots discover your content and then index it appropriately. If no links point to a particular webpage, then the search bots may struggle to index this content.

Links can also pass value and authority from one page to another. This is often referred to as link juice or link equity. If lots of URLs point to the same location, it indicates that this page is important. The search engines may then boost this content’s position in their rankings.

Start growing your Domain Authority

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of SEO. With so much at stake, you’ll need to regularly monitor your Domain Authority, meaning you’ll have to track your performance against the competition.

👉 By continuously checking your DA score, you’ll know exactly how you compare to other businesses in your niche. You can then take steps to improve your score, like securing valuable backlinks and publishing high-quality content.

Do you have any questions about the meaning of Domain Authority, and how to improve your DA score? Let us know in the comments section below!

Yay! 🎉 You made it to the end of the article!

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Or start the conversation in our Facebook group for WordPress professionals. Find answers, share tips, and get help from other WordPress experts. Join now (it’s free)!