Estimating keyword search volume is critical for SEO. But how accurate are commercially available tools? The answer is surprising.
Domain authority is one of the most commonly tracked search engine optimization metrics to evaluate the overall quality and authority of a website. In March 2019, Moz, the developers of the industry-standard metric, is rolling out an update to its algorithm, which means your DA score (and SEO) may fluctuate.
Here’s everything you need to know about Domain Authority 2.0.
Your Guide to Moz Domain Authority 2.0:
- What is Domain Authority?
- How DA is Calculated
- Why DA is Important
- Domain Authority 2.0: The Changes
- Action Items
Hold Up: What Is Domain Authority 2.0?
Before we dive into what Domain Authority 2.0 is all about, let’s first examine what the original concept means, how it has been calculated and why it’s important.
Domain authority is a search engine ranking metric that predicts how far up a site will appear in Google and Bing rankings. It’s a number between 1 and 100.
Domain authority provides insight into the strength of your website in terms of SEO and the probability that your site will rank for specific keywords as compared to other sites.
Essentially, the higher your score, the better ability you have to appear when someone searches for a related term.
This plays to the importance of appealing to the Google algorithm (the definition of SEO).
Google spiders crawl the internet, analyzing websites for understanding and plugging them into an index. When someone performs a search, Google tries to present the options in order from “the best that there is” to “the worst.”
Your Domain Authority (or “DA”) score is a peek behind the curtain. It’s a helpful guess at how you will perform in the SERP (though Google doesn’t necessarily incorporate the number itself in their own calculations).
How Domain Authority is Calculated
Domain authority is a snapshot of how effective your various SEO efforts have been.
This means that your DA score is calculated based on an aggregate of metrics and link data.
For example, a website like Google or Wikipedia with a large number of high-quality external links (hyperlinks that point to a domain other than the source domain of the link) have a much higher DA score than that of a brand new website with minimal links.
So, when another website links to yours (or you link out to another website), this improves the strength of your Domain Authority.
When you’re sourced by others, it shows you can answer questions better. Conversely, when you source your own work, you appear as a more trustworthy and accurate source of information.
The Domain Authority score is on a 100-point logarithmic scale. This means that it’s easier to grow your own score from 20 to 30 than it is to grow from 70 to 80.
Why Domain Authority is Important
Your Domain Authoirty score is your website’s reputation. With a higher DA, Google will boost your rankings because it knows you can provide high-quality content.
The better your Domain Authority, the better chance you have to rank for broader terms that more people search for.
A broad term with a ton of traffic, like “insurance,” requires a 75+ Domain Authority to rank for. But you can get into the top two for a long-tail keyword, like “policy administration software for inland marine” with a DA of just 28.
In other words, the tougher the keyword, the higher you need your DA to be to rank. It’s a comparative metric, not an absolute.
How to Check Your Domain Authority Score
Curious about your own score? Here are some tools to check your Domain Authority:
No matter what number you get back from any of the apps listed above, don’t fret.
Remember our example from before: Domain Authority is designed to predict a site’s ranking ability on a specific term, which means it’s actually more of a comparative metric. It’s not a concrete indicator.
Having a very high DA score shouldn’t be your primary focus. Let’s face it, nobody will ever be able to compete with Google’s near-perfect 100.
Google’s Domain Authority metrics:
What matters is that you have a higher score than the websites that you’re directly competing with. You want to appear in the rankings above your competition. That’s really all that matters.
Now that we’ve addressed the history and importance of the original Domain Authority, it’s time to explore how DA is changing and what you can expect on the impact of your own company’s authority.
How is Domain Authority Changing to Domain Authority 2.0?
Moz announced Domain Authority 2.0 with the preface that as search engine algorithms change, the DA algorithm should change, too. It needs to keep pace to be able to accurately gauge websites.
In DA 2.0, their model will incorporate new factors to improve the way it measures the strength of a site, aligning the metric more closely with that of the Google SERP. Here’s exactly what will change:
- The Training Set
Moz has made improvements to the data sets that the machine learning model bases its predictions on.
The data set is more reliable and can even understand websites that don’t rank for any keywords at all.
What This Means: With a new and improved training set, you can expect your DA score to more closely align with how your website actually performs in a Google SERP.
- The Training Algorithm
Moz has made the switch from a complex linear model to a neural network. A neural network is a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system. That’s right. The human brain.
What This Means: This brings a plethora of benefits, including the ability to detect link manipulation. DA scores will be more honest and accurate.
- The Model Factors
The factors that DA evaluates when calculating a ranking score have been improved. It now considers spam and link quality patterns.
What This Means: Again, this provides you with a more accurate idea of your website’s overall health and authority.
- The Link Index
Moz’s index of links now consists of over 35 trillion links. This gives the tool even more statistically significant information to evaluate.
What This Means: Domain Authority 2.0 has more link data, fresher link data and improved ways to measure said link data. Your DA score is now more accurate and reliable than ever.
Domain Authority 2.0: Action Items
It’s important to understand the background of Domain Authority and its relevance to your overall SEO efforts.
Now that you know all about DA 2.0, you don’t need to necessarily worry about any minor fluctuations in your own score. It’s all relative – so if your score changes, so will your competitors’.
However, here are some things you should do:
- Check Out Your Competitors’ Scores
As we discussed before, your Domain Authority score is a relative, comparative metric. The score by itself is not the end-all-be-all.
You shouldn’t categorize your score as “good” or “bad” when you’re looking at it by itself. So, if you notice that your DA score drops 3 points with this algorithm update, don’t worry. If your competitors’ DAs also decrease, you’re in good shape.
- Communicate Changes with Key Stakeholders
Even though DA 2.0 won’t necessarily drastically impact your DA, it’s always within best practices to communicate reasons for fluctuations.
Your client or other stakeholders may not know this update is even happening – so, if they happen to check for their score and notice a decrease, they might be confused.
Change – even positive change – is always disruptive. To avoid any hiccups, transparency and communication are key. Let your clients, webmasters and colleagues know, so they can make better decisions about SEO going forward.
- Track Your DA Progress
It’s also important to note that Moz is updating historical data, too. This means that you can still measure and visualize your progress over-time, without any disruptions.
So, just as you were before, continue to track your progress as an authoritative source.
- Expect Continuous Improvement
Algorithms are constantly changing and self-improving.
Google makes hundreds of changes to its algorithm every year. Moz expressed intent on being more responsive to Google’s changes, to keep the two in close alignment. While the Domain Authority score will remain relevant and useful, it will constantly evolve with the evolution of Google.
So, don’t be surprised if this is the first change of many. Set your expectations that metrics might continue to fluctuate until the dust settles.
However, there’s no need to worry about any of these changes, so long as you’re always making a concerted effort to source reliable links, pitch yourself as a reliable source and write the best content there can be on a specific subject.
Need support establishing yourself as a reputable, authoritative source? We employ data-driven digital marketing and SEO strategies to boost website traffic, drive new leads and raise brand visibility – and we’d love to help you out. Contact us online, or call 610-421-8601 x122 to get the ball rolling.