What Is Domain Authority?
If you do enough research into the world of SEO, you are bound to come across the terms Domain Authority, or Site Authority. Many marketers use the terms interchangeably, and Search Engine Journal defines Site/Domain Authority as “a catch-all for all the quality signals that Google uses in its core algorithm.” You may also come across the phrase Page Authority. While Domain Authority is a predictive measure of an entire domain, the Page Authority is measuring the strength of a single page.
The phrase that I want to highlight here is quality signals. Remember, we have already touched on some of the signals that you can send to search engines. Domain Authority is the shorthand term for those signals. It is often cited as the most important thing for your website’s ranking and is a metric that some marketers live and die by.
Personally, I like to look at it like my website’s simulated “credit score” with Google. Domain Authority is like a simulated score to help a site owner determine how likely they might be to have their site rank for certain keywords in the same way that a simulated credit score would let you know how likely you are to be approved for a loan.
There are a couple of ways that Domain Authority might be relevant to you.
The first would be to measure the overall impact of your SEO efforts. The term Domain Authority was originally coined by software as a service (SaaS) company Moz, to help businesses and marketers understand their site’s relative “ranking strength,” just as companies like Credit Karma will try to simulate your credit score. For those curious to see their ranking simulation, Moz provides a free toolbar that is compatible with Chrome.
If you were working on building up your site’s visibility in the SERPs, and your site had a Domain Authority of 20 when you first began, if after six months it climbed to 30 you could assume that you were making progress. Moz has a proprietary algorithm that looks at many factors across your site, including inbound and outbound links, as well as proprietary data points around how popular and trustworthy links are. They use a logarithmic scale from 1-100. Because a logarithmic scale is non-linear, Moz points out that growing a site’s Domain Authority from 20-30 would be much easier than from 70-80.
Moz also mentions that their Domain Authority metric “is meant to approximate how competitive a given site is in Google search results” and that marketers should not focus expressly on growing their Domain Authority. Instead, by focusing on their overall SEO, their Domain Authority will grow as a result. And while the Domain Authority calculation from Moz is not meant to be an exact measurement of how a site will perform in a SERP, many marketers do believe that there is a strong correlation between Domain Authority and a site’s ability to rank for more competitive keywords.
The second way that Domain Authority could be useful for you is in your outreach efforts in your link building efforts. If you’re looking for blogs and other websites to let you guest blog, thereby creating inbound links to your site, you might look at an outlet’s Domain Authority. A site with a high Domain Authority could likely be a more valuable outlet for your guest blog than one with a lower Domain Authority.
Always keep in mind who your target audience is, what blogs they read and what outlets might be of value to them. Although HuffPost has a high Domain Authority, your ideal client might spend more time on a site with a lower Domain Authority. That latter site may be a better fit for your business, even if the former has the higher Domain Authority. On the other hand, if you are featured by a high Domain Authority site, it could bring valuable attention to your work while also granting you some good signals to Google.
Above all, as a photographer and a business owner you have a lot on your plate, and I don’t want you to get too caught up in Domain Authority. Google has never expressly stated that Site/Domain Authority is utilized as a ranking signal. For now, it’s important to know about Domain Authority because it helps us keep a pulse on the health of our website. The thing to remember is that is it not a be-all and end-all metric.
A search engine like Google wants to deliver the most relevant SERP to the end user, and therefore delivering a quality site with trusted information is of the utmost importance.The overall takeaway for a business owner working on their SEO would be that Domain Authority is a measure of how well you are doing in other areas of your SEO strategy that matter, such as creating quality engaging content that keeps your visitors on your site, and that other websites want to link to. It shouldn’t be looked at as a be-all and end-all, but rather an indicator that you’re on the right path with how you’re engaging in your digital sphere.
Site speed has long been a factor in how a page or site was ranked in search results, going back to 2010. However, that was really only focused on desktop searches. As we have moved more and more into a mobile-first world, Google announced in January 2018 that site speed would become a ranking factor in mobile searches as of July of the same year. As a caveat, they also stated that “a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
So how fast is fast enough? Well, research indicates that about half of your website visitors will leave if it takes more than three seconds for a page to load. Google’s research shows that as the page load time increases, so does the probability that a user will leave.