Have you ever heard of domain authority? If not, don’t worry; I hadn’t heard of it either until not that long ago. I think the first time I heard of it (or at least paid attention) was when I read a post by Jenny in Neverland.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority (DA) is a scoring system that was developed by Moz, a major search engine optimization (SEO) company. You can read more on their page What Is Domain Authority? It’s meant to reflect how well each website is likely to do in search engine rankings.
DA scores range from 1-100. They use a logarithmic scale, which means that the difference between 80 and 90 is way, way bigger than the difference between 0 and 10. Moz bases the score on a number of different factors, but from what I can tell a really important factor is links, both links that you’ve built within your site, and links from other sites pointing back to your site (backlinks).
Backlinks seem to be the biggest factor. Getting backlinks from other sites that themselves have a high DA score is even more valuable. The number of sites seems to matter more than the number of links, so 10 different sites that each have one link to your site would be more valuable than one site with 10 different links to your blog scattered throughout the site.
A DA score matters less on its own than it does in comparison to other sites doing similar kinds of things to yours, because those are the kind of sites that (at least in theory) you want to outrank in search engine results. Blogs that have been around longer will probably have a higher DA score, but it would depend on how much work they’ve put into SEO.
How to find DA scores
First thing, to have a DA score, you have to have your own domain name. If you have the free WordPress plan and your site address takes the form of yourblogname.wordpress.com, it’s considered just a part of the overall WordPress.com domain.
You can sign up for a free account with Moz to find out your site’s domain authority and assorted other stats. You can also get the MozBar plugin for Google Chrome, which will tell you the domain authority of any site you happen to visit. Yes, that means you can DA-stalk your fellow bloggers (unless their URL is in the form of yourblogname.wordpress.com, in which case the DA score displayed would just be the DA score for the WordPress domain as a whole, which is 92). Moz isn’t stealing private information from your site for this; they’re using the same information that’s already available to Google and other search engines.
To give a few examples of sites’ DA scores:
- ultra-high ranking (90+): Google, Wikipedia, major social media sites
- Beauty Beyond Bones (35): Caralyn has a well-established, highly interactive blog with over 40K WordPress followers
- Mental Health @ Home (24): I think this is because I’ve consistently put a lot of effort into link building. I’m also established on various online platforms and have had articles published on a number of different websites, which gives me high-DA backlinks to my site
- Beckie’s Mental Mess (13): Beckie’s been doing this for quite a while and is highly active and interactive, but I know she doesn’t work on SEO. I gave this as an example (I hope you don’t mind, Beckie) because I think our blogs are pretty comparable in terms of our positioning in the WordPress community, so the difference in our scores shows really clearly how the DA metric is focused on very specific things, and the score doesn’t directly reflect blog quality or interactiveness.
- Brand new blogs would start with a score of 1
Does DA matter?
If your blogging experience is focused on the WordPress world, your DA score doesn’t mean much of anything. It’s not going to be a reflection of how good your blog is or how many people are interacting with your blog, and there’s no reason why a low DA score would in any way, shape, or form hamper your WordPress experience.
Where it can come into play is if you’re wanting to grow your blog by drawing people in from search engine results, or if you want to monetize your blog and you’re looking at things like brand partnerships.
My DA has decreased recently from 26 to 23 and then back up to 24. From what I can tell, this has nothing to do with what’s actually happening on my site, and everything to do with a change in backlinks. I’ve written on a number of different Vocal Media platforms, each of which used to have their own domain, all of which had high DA scores. Vocal has begun consolidating them all onto the vocal.media domain, which means that instead of having 10 or more sources high-DA backlinks like I did before, now it just counts as 1 linking domain. That change alone seems to have cost me 3 DA points, but it’s something that’s obviously totally out of my control.
The highest DA score sites that have backlinks to my site are:
- Medium.com (96): this is one of the sites I write on
- Mix.com (81): a social bookmarking site
- Contently (76): lets you create a portfolio of your work
- List.ly (66): a list-making site, and a good way to spread the backlinking love by creating lists of things like your favourite indie authors
- Vocal.media (63): another site I write on
- Influence.co (50): an influencer-brand partnership site; I’ve done nothing but set up a profile here
- Authorsdb.com (43): if you’re an author, this site is a good way to grow your online presence
- Ontoplist.com (42): a blog directory site
I think probably the only really relevant take-away message from all of this for most bloggers is that if you’re going to mention another blogger in one of your posts, including a link to their site might do them a favour. And if you’re trying to boost your own DA, all of the sites I just mentioned were places where I was able to create my own backlinks to my site.
As a side note, it’s also worth mentioning that any links that show up in your post comments section are “nofollow” by default, which means that when Moz/Google/etc. look at your page, any assorted spammy links that might happen to have been left there don’t “count”.
What really matters, though, way more than any of this mumbo jumbo, is to approach your blog in a way that’s consistent with your purpose. If you just want to blog for the sake of blogging, none of this is important. Don’t let any shoulds get in the way of doing your blog your way.