If you’re new to the world of SEO (search engine optimization) it can seem like getting your website to show up on Google and other search engines is simply a case of luck, but the more you read up about the subject and test, the more you understand that search engines simply want to know that if they are going to lead someone to your site, it needs to be a source that offers them accurate information related to their exact search query. 

However, the difficulty is being able to predict how well your website is going to rank, before it actually ranks in the search engines. There are a number of companies that have come up with metrics that help give you an understanding of how well your site might rank, by considering a number of things including the quality of your on-page content, and your off-page optimization, which includes the quality of other web pages that link back to your content. One of these companies is Moz, a SEO software company created by Rand Fishkin back in 2004. Moz’s ranking score is called Domain Authority. 

What is Domain Authority? 

Domain authority is a score between 1 and 100 for every website (you can find out more about this metric by clicking this link). The score predicts how likely that site is to show up on search engine results pages. The closer to 100, the more likely your site is to rank. 

What does the domain authority score take into account? 

The domain authority score analyzes 40 factors that Moz believes indicates a likelihood of ranking. 

What are the biggest factor that improve authority score?

Websites that have a lot of inbound links (other sites that link to yours) from ‘high-quality’ sites have the highest domain authority score, likely because it indicates to Moz that your website is authoritative in a particular subject area. 

But what about ranking individual pages? For that, there is page authority. 

What is page authority?

Page authority is another score created by Moz that ranks individual pages on their likelihood of appearing in search results. Again, this score is from 1 – 100, and the higher the score the more likely your page is to appear high in the rankings. This score will fluctuate as Moz and search engines alter what they believe is important. 

Do domain authority and page authority scores affect search engine rankings? 

Not directly, no. Search engines aren’t using Moz’s tool to decide whether or not a website should rank – instead, domain authority and page authority scores give you, the website owner, an idea of how likely your website is to rank. It can also be a good way of spying on your closest competition to see how easily you can outrank them. This link analysis also won’t tell you how to improve or outrank them, but you will be able to track your progress over time. 

Why should I pay attention to domain authority and page authority? 

Well, you don’t have to – it’s just a helpful indicator and way to measure your current standing with search engines. If you do absolutely everything right, your site and pages will have a high authority score whether or not you pay attention to those scores. 

What’s the best way to improve my domain authority and page authority scores? 

The first thing you should be doing, regardless of your efforts to improve your authority scores, is to make sure you are creating content for your audience that is as helpful as possible. 

Once you’ve done that, on top of doing other SEO best practices such as including keywords in a natural way and linking out to high authority sites (called external links) using anchor text in your website copy and blog posts (anchor text looks like this and is simply the text inside a web page that people click to get to your website). You should do what you can to build your link profile. 

Does Domain Authority and Page Authority Matter to Google?

Image courtesy of Moz.com

What’s a link profile?

A link profile includes all the sites and pages that direct back to your site or page. As mentioned above, Google loves to see sites and pages that are linked to frequently from other high quality sites that are related to your topic, because it shows you have something to offer their searchers and are more likely to offer them the best information on the subject. 

Of course, getting inbound links from other websites is much easier said than done, and that’s why many people turn to buying or renting links. This is something that you want to avoid at all costs because if search engines believe that these links have been put in place purely to manipulate the ranking then your site is likely to be penalized. Buying and renting links means you are at the mercy of the site owner when it comes to your link looking legitimate or not.

How do I do link building if I’m not allowed to pay for it? 

Most businesses enroll the services of a SEO company to help them build backlinks. No SEO companies advertise that they’re buying or renting backlinks or linking out from sites they own themselves – but this doesn’t mean they don’t follow this practice – a lot of them do! So you have to be very careful when you hire a company to build your backlinks for you. If they buy or rent links that point back to your website, the search engines aren’t going to cut your site a break when they find out you’ve gone against their terms. The penalties you might suffer will be the same as if you bought or rented those backlinks yourself.

So the most legitimate way of building backlinks (in the eyes of those who believe there is such a thing as pure White Hat SEO) is to build a site that offers unique and true value to your audience – the thought is that when you do this, you’ll naturally build backlinks as your resources are discussed and shared in other websites. This probably is the only natural way of building backlinks, but the reality is, even if you do this, if you are not well known, your site is not well known or you don’t have the right contacts, the likelihood of other high authority sites linking back to yours are very slim.

Another recommended way of building backlinks is to reference or recommend (with genuinely good intentions) another authority in your industry, or a sister industry, and tell that site that you mentioned them. The thought here is that there is the potential that site will link back to you in the future, or at least share your information with their audience, which will, in turn, provide you with a backlink and help your rankings improve. Neil Patel’s YouTube channel has some great videos on strategies for building backlinks. 

But what is it like in the real world, where most of us practicing SEO cannot rely on our name or brand to get us links. Or how does it work when trying to rank a local client’s website. How can you build links in a natural way? The reality is that it is very hard, and to some, impossible! If a client is paying you to rank their website in the search engines, the likelihood is that their patience is only going to last for so long. And if they don’t see their websites ranking fairly quickly, and/or see a difference in their bottom line because they have hired you, then you are likely to be fired. Those are just the cold, hard facts.

So a lot of the smarter SEO’s, who don’t want to resort to buying or renting links, build out something that is called a Private Blog Network (also known as a PBN). Mention this word to a lot of SEOs and they lose their minds. In the eyes of Google, PBNs are definitely Black Hat and if you’re caught using them then the sites you link to will more than likely get penalized. But do PBNs work and can they help your websites rank? Here’s what Neil Patel has to say about the subject.

The reality is that PBNs can and do work, which is why so many SEOs continue with the practice. If you are guest blogging, there’s a good chance that you are publishing on someone else’s PBN. The main reason why people tend to get caught using PBNs is because they really don’t cover all their bases when using them. They tend to link out from PBN sites that scream “I am a PBN website”, and the owners of those types of PBN sites usually take as much care in managing those sites as they do in building them. A ‘good’ PBN needs to be built out as a high-quality website that you cannot tell the difference between that and a legitimate website that has been built for a business or to inform. It’s not just about how the sites are built, but also how they’re managed and how they perform. A good PBN should rank for certain search phrases and attract organic traffic, or traffic from other sources such as social media or even paid for ads such as Google AdWords.

 When anyone lands on your site they need to see content that is readable, interesting and informative, so much so they click from page to page to find other information that is helpful to them. If the search engines have one of their people manually review the site there should be nothing that immediately stands out to them to tell them the website isn’t legitimate. (There are some other things that we will discuss in another post). If your PBN site meets all of these criteria, and is relevant to your topic and links to your site, then the chances are the link won’t cause any concern and will benefit from the backlink. 

In Summary

Although Domain and Page Authority doesn’t really matter to Google and the other search engines, it is still worth your while keeping an eye on these metrics so you can use them as an indicator on whether you are doing the right things to rank your website in the search engines. High Domain and Page Authority is no guarantee that you will rank for the keywords that you rank for, but if you carry out your on-page optimization correctly and link from the right type of websites, there’s a good chance you’ll see your rankings start to rise quickly in the search engine results pages.