What Is Domain Authority Why Should I Care?

Domain Authority is in my opinion the single greatest indicator of a sites ability to compete organically for search traffic.  It is a great question and its simply complex.  Keep in mind Domain Authority or DA as we shall refer to it pretty much here on is the single best number to predict ranking ability and we know that the top 3 positions consume over half of all searches so it can be directly attached to traffic.

A few disclaimers: Domain Authority is not a Google creation it is from Moz.com and it is their educated guess at how Google see’s your authority.  But it is not Google’s so remember that.  Secondly I am going to go over this in a higher level and use some half truths for simplicity.  If you want the whole truth just read the articles or Google the topics discussed for greater detail.  Finally, most of what I will show you are other people’s guesses as to what goes into Moz’s Domain Authority which again is a guess about Google’s metric on a site.  Google doesn’t tell us exactly and they shouldn’t, Moz doesn’t tell us either because they want you to pay for it.  Moz isn’t the only one guessing, a lot of folks guess and some include Majestic’s Citation Factor and Trust FactorSEOProfiler has it’s LIS.  For simplicity and since I’m the one running this show we’ll focus for now on Domain Authority by Moz.

Now it’s a simple number from 1 to 100 but it isn’t like a ladder with even steps, as you climb the steps get bigger and it takes more to gain a level.  So from DA 1 lets say you gain 5 backlinks and two are from sites that have a decent DA 40 and Moz bumps your score up to a DA 3.  If you gain 5 more links to your site and they also have similar metrics as the last bunch you might assume you’re set to have a DA 6, but you get surprised when it is reported as a 4.  Another set of 5 and it stays a 4.  DA levels are harder to improve the higher you get your site.

What Determines Domain Authority?

Links?

Domain authority is the best metric because it provides us with a single number but its based on some rather key and diverse factors.  Yes, it is backlinks but its so much more than that…but it is largely backlinks or incoming links from other domains.  These serve as citations, they’re references from other entities that acknowledge publicly that this site they are link too, yours is authoritative.  Coupled with “anchor text” or the words that make up a link that aren’t the address they can define a site.  More on that towards the end.  This is anchor text it has a link but the anchor text serves as the vanity description of the content at the other end of the link.  The link comes from another site to yours and depending upon that site’s authority the link is more or less powerful than another.

domain-authorityWe’ll talk in greater depth about SEO Backlinks but for now let’s just understand that backlinks are votes from other sites.  Not all backlinks are created equal.  The more backlinks the more authority, and one vote per site.  So 800 links from another site you own are not worth 25 from 25 sites.

In the graphic to the left links are the blue AND red slices of the pie and together they make up 49%.  The next biggest element is SOCIAL MEDIA MENTIONS.  I do that in all caps because I’ve always included social media as an element of reports I offer in client proposals and I get told often they don’t care about all that.  I just sit back and scribble down that they don’t know what they don’t know yet.

Social Media Mentions

Sure you need an account and you need followers but to get those followers you need to post regularly.  Five or Six times randomly during the year isn’t regular.  Thats why so many people feel social media doesn’t matter because they were unable to tap into the great interest on Facebook in their widgets.   News flash no one is really going to be interested in your widget but you and a handful of individuals.  Thats why your messages need to have more than just “buy our widget.”  If you are a church for instance a weekly devotional or prayer list is better than telling people to come on Sunday week after week.  The biggest mistake is not including a link to your site in your post.  While there may be a link off of your profile page to your site your message can be repeated by others and each repeat or share is from their profile. It may mention you and likely link back to your profile but that is still one link to your site.  Include a link.

social media mention with link

Domain Age Matters And It Should

So you’re going out there and you found a domain name thats available and you want to outrank your competition in a month.  SEOs laugh out loud around the globe…Highly unlikely, it’s partly you lack street cred.  I’d love to rank number one in the keyword Louisville SEO but I don’t.  I’m the 89.8th result.  MatthewLeffler.com is 352 days old as I am writing this.  The top result for Louisville SEO is 9 years and 207 days old.  Indirectly they’ve got 9 years worth of content, returning traffic and backlinks than I have and so they are given a bonus for that longevity.  Partly to prevent searchers from getting a completely different result every time a new domain picks a keyword.   Its easier though as you age, the difference between 5 yrs and 9 years is trivial and the distance between 1 day and 1 year is a stretch.  Sometimes buying an existing domain thats relevant to your business will give you a way around this, but you’re at the mercy of what is for sale and like a foster kid you don’t know about it’s past.

Brand Search Volume

Nobody said SEO was fair

Sometimes in SEO it feels like you’re swimming with Joan Crawford.  This one I feel is a bit much … brand search volume is how often people are looking for you.  Well isn’t that impossible until they know about me and the reason they don’t know about me is because you have me on page 4?  Couldn’t brand search volume arguably be covered in social media mentions and backlinks?  We’ll now that we got those out of the way, nobody ever said life was fair, Tina.

I’ve decided that I’ll figure out a way to sneak a reference to a favorite movie of mine into every post from here on.

But I digress, so your brand search volume does make sense to be included because people searching for Coca Cola do not want to see Pepsi.  I’m from deep Coke territory and even Taco Bell has stopped asking if I want a Pepsi.  So has Google it appears.

Incidentally I would suspect that local plays into this heavily.  Google knows where the searches are coming from so they understand the foot print of your business.  Which is why Googling the best landscaper in town is different in each town.  Food for thought if you build a regional powerhouse and expand into a new city.

Domain Authority Case Study – Project No Wire Hangers

Sorry I wont make this all about that movie but we all know …. NO Wire Hangers.  For our purposes hangers are domains and they can be wire or wooden.  Depending on the hanger or domain your attempts to rank for a keyword will be affected, like the clothes you hang on them.  I’ll show you several domains stats that I have built completely alone over several months.  It hasn’t been a dedicated effort so these numbers could have been better but the effort has been the same.  Some are older than others some are the same age. We’ll dissect these domains and metrics extensively.

Matt’s Project Hangers

URL Moz DA Moz PA MozRank External Links
seandelahanty.com 29 / 100 27 / 100 2.70 112
cloud502.com 28 / 100 24 / 100 2.40 134
votelouisville.com 23 / 100 19 / 100 1.90 4
matthewleffler.com 23 / 100 23 / 100 2.30 112
data502.com 22 / 100 21 / 100 2.10 12
matt2.info 20 / 100 16 / 100 1.60 51
seandelahanty.org 18 / 100 19 / 100 1.90 36
forbrent.com 16 / 100 11 / 100 1.10 0
countyattorney.info 14 / 100 10 / 100 1.00 0
seodata.cloud 12 / 100 16 / 100 1.60 11
chriscoffman.rocks 8 / 100 6 / 100 0.60 4

Feel free to look into them and make some assumptions.  You may find tools that I have discussed previously useful in “auditing” the domains.  Much like a Sciencetologist audits a person with toys and wild claims so does your SEO and look we have just about as many acronyms.  Now go and let your Thetan figure out where the keywords were in the graph.  Spoiler … anchor text that you had no control over … officially.  Here is a further reading on the power of anchor text…in 2004 “Miserable Failure” was George W. Bush’s Whitehouse biography page and no one optimized it for that.

Miserable Failure

Related posts:

Web Site SEO Visualizations

Web Site SEO Visualizations
I’m a visual person as I believe most of us are which is why I am fascinated by these images of sites that I have visualized.  Green dots are working pages, blue dots are redirects and orange dots are pages that don’t exist or are forbidden.  The connecting lines represent link structure of a site.  The larger a dot the more traffic it receives.

[…]

Campaign, Candidate And Political SEO: Optimize Or Be Trumped

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Cloud502

I say be “Trumped” because for all that he did wrong in tarditional campaigning, he did Political SEO better than anyone had before.

I’ve always been a political guy.  I love using technology to those political ends.  Earlier this year I was able to leverage my experience in SEO, Adwords, cloud computing, data analysis and web design for a political candidate. It’s why these unique products are bundled into what I offer through Upwork.  Today there is no excuse for a candidate to neglect digital media needs.  Local candidates can easily benefit from a solid online presence for much less than they might think.  The past experience with Brent Ackerson’s campaign was very encouraging.

I’ve started to reposition satellite sites made in March for a new project I’ll mention below.  VoteLouisville.com for instance is intended to be a voter education site for anyone who wants to post I just so happen to post all of the stuff there.  I have some further plans for louisvilleelection.com but those are all in my head.

All of these sites are hosted by my Google and Amazon cloud accounts, so that stuff has come in handy.  I hope to attract additional campaign work if not in 2018 by 2020.  I figured this new niche deserved a site so I’m working on candidateseo.com with a handful of .net names also headed there just for ease of use.

Candidate SEO

I said at the a campaign meeting that I felt radio and TV ads were as effective as yelling out a window.  I still feel that way, even more so each day.  In these meetings people point out I’m tech savy but others still watch TV … then I think of my 88 and 92 yr old grandparents who recently decided Netflix, Amazon and Hulu were all they needed.

My Grandmother is the idea focus for a campaign, everyone knows older people vote much more regularly and reliably than younger people. She has 29 children, grand children and great grand children.  Living in half a dozen states I think now.  Guess what that means…she’s on Digital mediums 29 times the amount you’d probably expect.

I’ve also explained to candidates that it is a growing trend for a voter to arrive on election day with one or two races already decided.  This voter is now faced with several other races on the same ballot and will likely reach for their phone and decide who to vote for with only minutes of searching for the office or candidates.  The results of these searches will ultimately decide these votes.  Interestingly the money needed for Political SEO and Campaign Site Digital Marketing, creating content with the candidate amounts to a fraction of what campaigns will spend on radio.

I’ve added Candidate SEO to my domain family because I figured I needed a site as unique as this niche.

Position, Position, Position Its Up To Campaign SEO

Real estate brokers say location, location, location.  Did you know that first position in Google search results gets about 35% of users focus but 3rd gets some where around 7%?  If one candidate SEOs their site and a negative site against the other unprepared candidate that could be the election.

Sean Delahanty

I’ll be focused these next months on politics and SEO again.  I’m excited that Judge Sean Delahanty has signed on board with me to help him get out his digital message.  I’ve only had a couple weeks to put into this but check out his new campaign site. There is method to the madness, Ive also create a sister site that serves as a funnel or over flow thats officially the campaign committee‘s site.

I dont want to give away much during a race, but when we search Sean’s name its already number one on Bing and Yahoo.  Google of course is the goal, and we are climbing … as an army of pages are indexing daily.  Last search I found 73 pages indexed for the site each with their own distinct keywords all climbing in ranking.   UPDATE:  Its 146 pages now … on one domain mind you, that started less than a month ago.  The social media presence is expansive, Ive left off some sites from this social media collage.

Social Media – Candidate SEO – “You’re going to be popularrr”

 Sean Delahanty Social Media

Most of you will look at this wall of profiles and think to yourself who is ever going to go to these?  If you did and you’re running for office send me an email…you need me.  These sites aren’t REALLY there to be read by people.  All of these sites are visited by search engines and these sites frame an image of a candidate to Google. All of these social media accounts ultimately end up at the campaign site, there is value in reaching voters … but you’ll reach voters if you are at the top of their searches.

I’ll post shortly about the positioning the sites are reaching.  If you are running for office in Louisville Kentucky and looking for what you dont know you need reach out to me.  Not convinced you need me?  What would you say is the least important phrase for me to ranking these pages for on Google?  If you aren’t thinking the candidates name you should email me.  I’ll explain after the election or ya best ask in person.

Future post I’ll explain why IP based Digital Marketing is so 2001!  Don’t do it…its technically and human behaviorally flawed.

Just in case anyone was worried I have not disclosed anything that someone can learn within a little bit of research concerning my candidate’s sites. All the secret sauce is still in the bottle.

Campaign, Candidate And Political SEO: Optimize Or Be Trumped

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