There are many metrics used to gauge the quality and trustworthiness of a site, the most common of which is Domain Authority.
Domain Authority or DA is a tool created by SEO software developers Moz. Since 2004, Moz has been at the forefront of SEO developments, including blog posts as well as the software they produce. In general, marketers are most likely to be familiar with the Moz toolbar.
Domain Authority, in Moz’s own words, “predicts the likelihood that one domain will outrank another”. Essentially, the higher the DA, the higher the probability the page will rank higher. It is important to mention Domain Authority can be used as a benchmark, but it isn’t a ranking factor and should not be treated as one.
Domain Authority is a logarithmic scale that considers numerous factors. Here are a few factors they take into consideration:
- Number of rooted domains
- Backlink profile
- Trustworthiness of inbound links
At the beginning of February, we shared news of a new DA about to be launched. As of the 5th of March, Moz updated the methodology behind Domain Authority, including the following changes:
- Previously, Domain Authority was weighted against a large number of results, and DA0 seems as if it will focus on more specific results data. The new metric will supposedly be better at understanding sites which only have historic rankings.
- Changes to the training algorithm has resulted in a system better equipped for sniffing out link manipulation.
- A site’s backlink portfolio has been a significant consideration in assessing its authority for quite some time. Moz’s update will streamline this by integrating a spam score as well as looking at the quality of the links and the traffic they attract.
- Moz has also introduced a new link index tool, which boasts ‘exceptional data’.
How does DA relate to SERP Rankings?
Moz researcher Russ Jones proved the strength of the relationship between SERP rankings and a site’s listed domain authority. The research took 16,000 keywords, looking only at the first page of results. Domain Authority, Citation and Trust Flow and Domain Rank were all collected, with each domain averaged using the Spearman correlation coefficient method. The results showed DA correlated 6% better with SERP rankings than its closest competitor’s metric. It can be noted, however, that each metric’s goals vary. DA, for example, aims to predict a domain’s ranking, whereas other metrics have other objectives.
Who has suffered the most under the new DA changes?
- Comment Spammers – The research showed a 34% drop in comment spamming domains.
- Link Sellers – Sites that charge for linking on their sites averaged a 56% decrease in domain authority. This could change the way people acquire links in the modern link building climate.
- Auction Domains – There was a hit for high-quality auction domains with a 61% decrease, mid-quality auction domains dropped by 95%, and the biggest drop of all were low-quality auction domains by 98%. This is probably due to link manipulation tactics that are now noticed in the change of scope.
- Link Networks – Link networks or link farms saw a 79% decrease.
- Private Blog Networks – PBN’s took a big drop with a 97% DA decrease. If a site has links from domains with very similar names, chances are it’s a PBN.
How will this affect me?
The change in the methodology that calculates domain authority has caused some drops for varying domain categories. This is not something to be alarmed by. The average drop is around 6%, a slight dip in score will keep the site within normal range.
The reality is if your score drops, so will your competitors. This, in turn, will likely mean high DA sites will be harder to come by. Securing quality links from good, trustworthy sites remains best practice, as these changes are likely to make it harder to succeed with PBN’s in place.
It is important to keep in mind that Google does not look at DA when ranking domains; it is a benchmark tool that can be used to predict rankings. For more info on how to use DA as a tool, check out this article.