How can you increase your Domain Authority, and how long will it take?

Want to improve your ranking on Google? Find out why your Domain Authority is important, how it is measured and how to increase yours.

If you are working on your SEO, one of the things you’ll be looking at is how your website ranks on Google. And the way that SEO professionals measure how likely a website is to rank is by checking its Domain Authority.

What is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric used to assess the quality and reliability of a website, and its ability to rank in search engines. Domain authority was originally developed by SEO software company Moz. Today other companies, like Ahref have developed their own ranking system for a website’s authority and search rating strength.

The higher a website’s DA score, the more likely it is to rank highly on search engines like Google. A backlink from a website with a high Domain Authority is more valuable than a link from a website with a lower DA.

In this article we look at Moz’s Domain Authority and Ahrefs’ Domain Rating.

How important is a website’s Domain Authority?

Google denies that it uses a websites Domain Authority as a ranking factor. However, John Mueller, Google’s Search Advocate has said they do have a sitewide score that “maps to similar things.”

Ahrefs also note that when they studied the correlation between Domain Rating (DR) and keyword rankings for 218,713 domains, they found that “the two correlate well”.

So while Google doesn’t specifically use Domain Authority or Domain Rating to rank a website, they are both good indicators of the SEO strength of your website.

How is a website’s Domain Authority or Domain Rating measured?

So how is the strength of your website’s authority measured? In this article we’ll look at two of the most common ways a website’s authority is ranked – Moz and Ahrefs.

How Moz measure a website’s Domain Authority

Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) scores the authority of websites on a scale from one to 100. The higher a website’s score the greater Moz consider the likelihood of it ranking.

Domain Authority is based on data from Moz’s Link Explorer web index, and it uses dozens of different factors in its calculations. Moz’s machine learning model predicts what it calls a “best fit” algorithm that most closely correlates their link data with rankings across thousands of actual search results that they use as standards to scale against.

One of the thing Moz’s DA learning algorithm looks at is how often Google uses a domain in its search results. So if one domain is likely to appear in a Google search engine results page (SERP) than another, then its Domain Authority is likely to be higher. You can check your Domain Authority for free on Moz here.

To give you an idea of what Moz Domain Authority results look like, here’s ours:

As you can see, the results highlight how many domains link to our site, how many ranking keywords we have, and our spam score. (1%-30% is a Low Spam Score, 31%-60% is a Medium Spam Score, and 61%-100% is a High Spam Score.) This indicates these are all important factors.

It’s important to note that, as your Domain Authority is based on machine learning calculations, it will fluctuate over time as different data points are used in calculations.

How Ahrefs measure a website’s Domain Rating

Ahrefs’ website authority metric is called Domain Rating (DR), and it runs on a scale from zero to a hundred. The higher a website’s DR, the stronger and more authoritative Ahrefs believe it is. You can measure a website’s DR using Ahref’s free Website “Authority” Checker tool here.

Here’s our Ahrefs Domain Rating result:

So how does Ahrefs measure a website’s Domain Rating? As you can see from our results, they look at external backlinks to a website, and specifically, the quantity and quality of those backlinks.

Here’s what they use to calculate a Domain Rating:

  • How many unique domains link to the website
  • The “authority” of those linking domains
  • How many unique domains each of those sites link to

They then use math and coding to calculate “raw” DR scores, and plot these scores on a 100-point scale.

So, in simple terms, the more backlinks you have from websites, and the higher the authority of those websites, the higher your own Domain Rating will be.

What Ahrefs don’t take into account when measuring your Domain Rating are variables like link spam, traffic, the age of the domain age, etc.

What is a good Domain Authority score?

So what is considered a ‘good’ score for a website’s Domain Authority or Domain Rating? The first thing to note is that, realistically, your authority only matters in respect to your SEO competition.

In simple terms, you just need to beat other websites trying to rank for the same search terms as you. So a good ranking for your website will be relative to your industry generally.

Neither Moz nor Ahrefs share what a ‘good’ Domain Authority or Domain Rating score is. Ahrefs say:

“…it’s important not to judge Domain Rating in absolute terms. That’s because Domain Rating is a relative metric by definition. It’s not possible to say that a Domain Rating of 30 is good, or 50, or 60, or 70. It’s all relative.”

However, it is generally considered that:

  • Between 40 and 50 are average scores
  • Between 50 and 60 are good scores
  • Scores above 60 are excellent

How can you increase your Domain Authority?

Don’t be disheartened if you have a low Domain Authority or Domain Rating. The good news is that it is much easier to grow your score from 20 to 30 than it is to grow it from 70 to 80.

The main way to increase your website’s authority is to grow your backlinks. The more backlinks you have from relevant websites with a high Domain Authority or Domain Rating, the higher your chances of increasing your own score.

So when finding websites to get links from, check their authority. It’s also a good idea to look at other indicators of a quality website (and therefore more helpful in terms of SEO value). Here are some of the things to look for:

  • If they have high-quality backlinks
  • How many pages they have (unless they are a content site, fewer is usually better)
  • How many websites they link out to (again, fewer tends to be better)
  • If they publish high-quality content
  • If their website topic is relevant to yours
  • If they get much organic traffic
  • If their site looks like it will still be around in a year or two

How long will it take to increase your Domain Authority?

So how long will it take for your website’s Domain Authority or Domain Rating to increase?

According to Moz’s forum, it can take up to nine months (sometimes even longer) until you see any improvement in your Domain Authority. In that time you need to “establish backlinks and create valuable content”. As you gain momentum, the extra traffic your site attracts can organically lead to more backlinks.

And in a blog, Neil Patel explores how long it takes to see a difference in your Ahrefs Domain Rating. He says:

“In regards to how much time it takes to grow your domain rating, using Netlify as our example, it takes about 34 referring domains to hit a score of 25. It took Netlify 1 year to grow from a 25 to a 71 with 304 referring domains. Still, for Digital Ocean, it took them one year to grow from an 87 to an 89.”

The consensus seems to be that the amount of time it takes you to grow your Domain Authority or Domain Rating depends on how many high quality links you add, and what your current score is (the lower your score is now, the easier it is to increase it).

But there’s no quick fix – one or two links alone won’t shift your score, and it can take several months to see a change, even with consistent effort.

But it IS worth the effort; you won’t just increase your Domain Authority or Domain Rating, but you’ll improve the general SEO health of your website and increase your chances of being ranked more highly on Google.

Why has your Domain Authority changed?

Sometimes you may find that your Domain Authority has changed – and not for the better! Moz say it is normal for your Domain Authority to fluctuate, and because their rating uses multiple metrics and calculations, identifying the exact cause of a change can be tricky.

Some influencing factors to look at include:

  • Other sites have had substantial link growth, which has skewed the scaling.
  • You’ve earned links from websites that don’t contribute to Google rankings.
  • Moz have crawled and indexed more or fewer of your linking domains.
  • Your Domain Authority is low, so is more impacted by scaling fluctuations.
  • Your site has been affected by a significant algorithm change.

Six ways you can grow your Domain Authority or Domain Rating

So how can you get those precious external backlinks needed to grow your Domain Authority or Domain Rating? Here are six suggestions.

1) Write guest blogs

Getting a guest blog published on a relevant, high authority website is a great way to earn a quality backlink to your website. You can read our eight-step strategy to successful guest blogging here.

2) Get PR coverage

Another less time consuming suggestion than writing a blog is to get PR coverage. This can be by writing your own press releases and submitting them to publications and blogs you wish to be featured or quoted on, or searching #journorequest on Twitter for opportunities to add your expertise or experience to a media story. Always remember to ask for a backlink!

3) Create great content people want to link to

One of the ways we have most successfully grown our own website authority is by creating quality content that other websites and social media accounts have wanted to link to and share. Invest the time to create quality content that has genuine value and you’ll organically attract those valuable backlinks.

4) Share on social media

If no one finds your content, they can’t link to it, however valuable it may be. So when you create quality content, make sure you share it on social media and use hashtags to help the right people find it.

5) Publish content with contributions

A really simple way to generate useful content that is pretty much guaranteed to gain you backlinks is to ask experts for contributions. You can easily do ‘X tips from the experts on [subject]’ approaching experts and companies directly, or doing call outs on social media for tips or insights.

Then write your content (remember to link to contributors’ websites and/or social media accounts) and share it with everyone who contributed. They will want to share it with their own networks and link to it on their own website, giving you valuable backlinks.

6) Add a listing to online directories

Another quick and easy way to grow your backlinks is to add your listing to online directories. Just make sure the directories are relevant to what you do, and themselves have a reasonable Domain Authority or Domain Rating.

As a bonus, if a directory ranks well for one of your target keywords, you may find your listing at the top of Google, winning you extra business.

Keep growing your Domain Authority

Hopefully this article has inspired you to start working on increasing your own Domain Authority or Domain Rating. And remember to keep consistently building it – maintaining and growing your website authority, and as a result your SEO, should be an ongoing, lifetime goal.