Have you ever felt that sad epiphany where you just read/watch/listened to something amazing and when you grab your phone to text someone about what’s unfolding in front of you, you realize you have no one to send it to? I’ve had this happened to me last week when I was listening to a really great song (Stella Donnelly’s Beware of the Dogs) that sadly, no one I know is interested in. I mean, can a song be great if no one is really listening to it? Or more relevant to this discussion, can a website be great if no one actually visits the website?
That final question is the kind of existential crisis that SEO services and marketers ask themselves at least a dozen times a day. Raising the visibility of a website has always been the ultimate goal of SEO, which is usually defined as how high a website ranks in a search engine for a given query, commonly referred to as keywords. What isn’t as commonly known however is the concept of domain authority (DA), which is a relatively more comprehensive metric that encompasses a whole website instead of page ranks that covers a single webpage.
The questionable authority of DA
Before we begin, I would like to note that the concept of DA itself shouldn’t be considered definitive and that this discussion acts more like a guideline instead of a definitive SEO score. This is because DA is a concept developed by an unaffiliated third-party, in this case Moz, which tries to predict the competitiveness of a website in a Google search results on a 100-point logarithmic scale. So while DA doesn’t directly correlate with the results from a search engine, it should theoretically provide a reliable and useful benchmark on the discoverability of a particular website.
Just like the algorithms used by search engines, DA takes into account dozens of different factors before coming up with the number but again, because it’s not definitive, it shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Normally, I’d advise using DA on a comparative basis. DA is more suitable when used as a benchmark to monitor how you’re doing when compared to other businesses in the same industry that are of a similar size to your own.
The reason why SEO services and marketers have to rely on an unofficial, third-party solution to measure our competitiveness is because search engine algorithms are a closely guarded trade secret and that even after 15 years of being around, there’s little of Google search that we actually know definitively. Knowing this, DA became the industry standard for competitiveness in the field of SEO and trying to raise your DA score should always be a priority.
Focus on quality content
A couple of days ago, a news story popped up on my news feed of the actress Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine ‘feuding’ with the ‘Ravishing Russian’, WWE’s superstar Lana, over a photo shoot the latter did in NYC. If you’ve ever been to any touristy spots across the world in the past few years of so, you must’ve seen instances of people being a nuisance by taking up more space and time than they’ll ever need in search of that perfect Instagram shot. I once sat in a very much Instagrammable coffee shop where two people brought along their own appliances for the sake of Instagram.
These kinds of people are really annoying to deal with but that’s just the kind of length people go to in pursuit of quality content and even if I don’t condone what they’re doing, at the very least I can respect what they’re trying to do here. The pursuit of quality content is the basis of everything SEO. If your website doesn’t have any interesting content to read, see or watch, there will be no reason why people would want to visit your website and as a result, you’d be given a relatively low DA score.
Evaluate the quality of your backlinks
Backlinks are like third-party endorsements for your website and just like how in the current climate you wouldn’t want to be endorsed by certain people, you would also need to evaluate your backlinks and disavow you deem unworthy. Donald Trump ran into trouble once (although technically, his presidency has never been short of trouble) when he refused to disavow an endorsement from noted KKK klansman David Duke. Pay attention to the kind of pages that links back to you and try to refrain from engaging in link schemes that could be seen as unsavory.
DA is a bit of a rising tide in that it tends to lift all boats. If you can get a website of a high authority to include a link to your website legitimately, the DA of that website is passed on to you because this can be seen as like an endorsement from someone like Pope Francis. As with content, it’s a case of quality over quantity so stop reaching for the low-hanging fruits and instead work on getting a high-profile endorsement.
Harness the power of social media
One alternative way is to leverage your social media following to increase the DA for your website. Search engines pay attention to what is referred to as social signals. In practice, if your social media is getting a huge amount of likes and/or followers and that your social media account includes a link to your website, that would act as an indicator of how well liked and/or respected your website is, which would be reflected in your DA score. This is especially useful for small businesses that have their start from social media, which is getting increasingly more common these days.
Make sure your website is updated regularly
If a search engine crawler takes one look at your website and see that it’s still using outdated technologies such as Flash and that the last published content was during the Howard government (that’s 6 PM’s ago), you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re given a low DA score. While it’s true that DA is positively affected by how long your website’s been active, it only works if your website is actually active. If it looks like your website hasn’t been touched in almost a decade, that’s not going to go well with search engines.