Remember the Pagerank metric – that all important 1-10 number that determined Google’s degree of devotion towards your site? That past barometer is now dead, and it appears that MOZ domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) are the all-important measures that seem to forecast how well your site ranks in the search engines, siphoning off traffic. The purpose of this article is to provide insight on concrete steps one can take to increase domain authority in the midst of these current, 2016 algorithmic conditions.
Before I provide 10 methods on increasing DA – knowledge gleaned from experience (primarily what not to do) and from research – I’ll quickly review some particulars about this metric.
Domain Authority Spike – Clout With Google in 2016
Developed by MOZ, where credit should primarily be bestowed upon founder Rand Fishkin, the domain authority provides a snapshot of a domain’s ranking power in the search engines. It’s based on a myriad of factors – some within your control and perhaps other components beyond your control. It seems to reverse engineer Google, combining relevant analytics to determine a domain’s ranking value.
DA can either increase or decrease, and may be used to predict whether a given site is climbing up the ranks, or tanking. The score is conveniently set using a 100-point scale, and the higher the score, the more likelihood your site appears on Google’s page 1 for desired keyword phrases.
Grandpa always reminded me that there is no one to envy but it’s difficult not to feel a little jealous about the entities with a 100 domain authority score, such as Facebook.com, Yahoo.com, and of course, Google.com.
But remember, you don’t have to compare yourself with these types of DA powerhouse sites. You just want to ensure that your scores are higher than your competitors.
But regardless of where you stand in the pecking order, your site will only remain perched on the same ranking branch for so long. While MOZ ranking can be a little inconsistent in terms of frequency – remember, they’re responsible for grading all sites on the World Wide Web – DA scores typically change every month or so. Some links may take longer to credit (or discredit, as the case may be), but typically DA will fluctuate.
The goal is to always try to increase the authority of your site so your DA can go on an upward spiral.
Domain Authority Myths – What You Think You Know Can Hurt You
I’ve compiled this blog entry on how to increase domain authority because there appears to be some contradictory information about this parameter. Here are several myths that need to be put to rest.
- It can take an inordinate amount of time for DA to change – As mentioned earlier, DA is not necessarily a stagnant number (although it can remain unchanged over some time). Within a month or two, the number can either inflate or deflate – directly proportional with our emotional response to the new figure.
- A poor DA takes you out of any favorable ranking position – Remember, this number is just a prognostication, foretelling how your site is going to perform. But if your site’s DA is lower than a competitor’s site’s DA metric, you may still outrank the other guy’s or gal’s site on any given page. (In this way, page authority – the average clout of all your individual pages – is an important ranking determinant.) But offering compelling, thorough, and linkable content can even be the key to outranking a competitor’s page, and I’ll get to this point later.
- It’s just as difficult to go from domain authority ranking of 10 to 20 as it is to go from 70 to 80 – From all the research that I’ve conducted, it gets progressively harder to increase the score. In other words, it’s more challenging to go up 10 points when your score is 70 than when your score is 10. This should give hope to new site web masters or those who are struggling to get their sites to DA double figures.
- You need a DA score of 65 to pass and be taken seriously – Only well-established, popular sites with lots of Google trust can reach that 65 threshold. (This is not like school where 65 is typically the benchmark grade to pass.) But if your domain score is above 30, there’s still lots of hope for it to appear prominently on Google for targeted keyword phrases.
- DA is only Google-driven – You’re not like a leaf in the wind where you can exert little influence on your domain authority score. You need not throw your hands up in despair, believing there is nothing that you can do. I’ll now demonstrate how you can take a proactive role and increase the authority of your domain in 2016.
How to Increase Domain Authority Over Time – 10 SEO-Friendly Ways
Here are 10 ways to bump up DA. I can’t tell how much positive impact each factor yields, but I can write with confidence that implementing a combination of these components will propel your site higher over time:
1) Embrace the ‘Content is king’ mantra – Some may assert that writing compelling content will not necessarily move Google towards favorable action. And while I believe that some of my brilliant content has not been optimally rewarded by the powers that be, it’s still clear that sub par or thin content will not inflate your reputation or ranking with Google.
The goal should be to write thorough, well-written articles to suitably cover a given topic. There is dispute about the length each article should be, but I’m in the camp that prefers to look at a blog entry’s quality and RELEVANCE. The content should be well-structured with ample header tags, formatted properly, and with all the necessary meta tags included.
Content that is all-encompassing and reveals many facets of a topic has a good chance to be ranked favorably, although much depends on the level of competition pertaining to a targeted keyword phrase.
But just write to the best of your ability (or hire a talented outsourcer) and post with frequency. Two or three articles per week is advantageous.
2) Look for ‘Copy cats’ – Pilfered content is still a major problem on the wild, wild web. Personally, I’ve found scores of my articles peppered on other sites. Other thieves may not post an entire article but prefer to take a few paragraphs.
This can easily hurt your web ranking in the form of a duplicate content penalty. I know my site has suffered the slings and arrows of such thievery, and to compound matters, I’ve even seen Google reward the plagiarists with a page one ranking.
I’ve taken the higher road and not reported such offenses to Google but it appears that I have to if my domain authority is ever going to rise.
If you’re also in this unenviable position where others are ‘borrowing’ your work without permission, log into your Gmail account, and visit this page to report copyright infringement.
3) Get rid of links – Here again, less is more, and I’m referring to removing only so-called ‘bad links.’ Your link profile can easily undermine your DA score. And lurking beneath the underworld of the Internet may be a host of sites, pointing towards your site, strangling its potential ranking growth.
This is why it’s probably best to perform your own backlinking. Hiring the wrong backlinking team, and you may see a host of link farm sites, International sites, or just plain old taboo sites that are counter-productively aligning themselves with your once pristine site.
Adopt the SEO expert’s hippocratic oath version, ‘First, do no harm.’ If it’s too late, and you know that less than desirable links are pointing to your site, you can try to contact the webmasters of those sites, and ask them to remove the questionable links. If that does not work, you can go to your WebMaster Tools, and remove them.
Please note that there is dispute among SEO experts whether or not it helps or hurts domain authority to disavow links. I’m in the bandwagon to report toxic links because even one can jeopardize your site’s ranking.
You should perform a link audit on a consistent basis.
4) Make certain that you’re building your site in an SEO-favorable way – I am becoming a proponent of SILO architecture although this website does not use it. Basically, this is a way of structuring a site, making use of relevancy and internal links.
There can be an authority topic page, say 2,000 words. On this page, you introduce related second-tier category subjects, which in turn introduce their respective, related third-tier posts.
For example, let’s say that I create a site for a plumber in my area. I can write a comprehensive 2,000 word article about the company and plumbing in general, and introduce on that page my second tier service categories: plumbing, electrical, heating, and air conditioning.
Each category then interlinks with articles that pertain to it, and may include, for instance, discussion about options, case studies, equipment used, etc. These posts can link to its distinct category silo.
Just structuring in this way can spread link juice around the site and lead to vast improvement in your domain authority score.
5) Check whether your website is responsive and mobile-friendly – As more and more people visit websites using mobile devices, it’s essential to ensure that your site accommodates these users’ needs.
A responsive design is one that changes according to how the user is viewing the site. Typical 3-column sites, for instance, may shift to one. Text, images, and the menu may adjust to the new smaller dimensions, compared to the standard size of a computer or laptop.
You can test your site’s responsiveness by just checking it out on Google Chrome, and reducing the browser window. If your site is responsive, the content and images should shift accordingly.
All responsive sites are mobile-friendly. (The converse is not necessarily true). A mobile-friendly site should display properly on mobile devices, such as smart phones, iPads, and tablets. Your site should work the same, independent of the mobile platform used.
You can check whether your site is mobile-friendly via this mobile testing link.
Responsive, mobile-friendly sites win the SEO game over those sites that are less malleable.
6) Increase your website’s speed – User experience counts. A slow-opening site on a desktop computer or mobile platform device is problematic to the user, and thus problematic to Google.
It’s a factor in search engine optimization standing, and can impact the domain authority score in a positive or negative way. You can check your website’s speed using GTMetrix.com, Pingdom.com or Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
The objective is to maximize speed which, in turn, will maximize, domain authority. If you’re using WordPress, you may avail yourself to certain plugins, such as W3 Total Cache, to increase the site’s loading speed.
You can always outsource this task (i.e, to optimize loading speed).
7) Build a diversity of worthwhile backlinks – The number of banklinks should grow naturally, primarily by writing epic content. Those on social platforms, such as Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter, are inclined to share insightful information. (I’m hoping that you’ll share this content on your social networks.)
You can also branch out by showcasing inspiring images and quotes, or compiling thoughtful infographics. Again, they should galvanize interest among your audience, and hopefully, they’ll then make their way around the web, helping your site to become more visible.
You may also be inclined to comment on various related forums, develop 2.0 web properties, such as Blogger and WordPress, submit your site to important directories (no spammy directories!), build up social profiles, etc.
Remember, you want to be associated with sites that are well-regarded by Google. You are the company that you keep.
As you expand link building efforts, remember that it’s crucial to vary your anchor text – the text used that links back to your primary site. It should not just be the same desired keyword phrase, but contain a multitude of related terms.
Also, consider the fact that it’s not the quantity of links that necessarily inflates the domain authority. Less links of high quality is much better than more links of suspect quality.
8) Construct a network of deep internal links and well-respected external links – If I had written about some aspect of increasing domain authority before on this site, I should link to it here. After all, connecting similar posts together on your site with internal links is another ‘silo-like method’ to spread link juice.
As posts interconnect, it becomes easier for Google spiders to index the information. Moreover, tying related information together benefits the user, which in turn, appeases Google.
Think of the posts on your site as community members. When they connect and communicate, the community thrives, Disconnected and separate, the community’s appeal withers.
Still, a ton of internal links on a given page is not necessarily better than a couple of them. In fact, too many internal links may seem contrived and unnatural, and may even penalize you. From my research, SEO experts recommend using a “reasonable amount” of internal links per page, although your guess is as good as mine as to what reasonable constitutes (about 3 or 4?). Remember to vary anchor text of internal links as well.
In a similar fashion, don’t be averse to linking to other reputable sites, such as Wikipedia. It’s even beneficial to link to related niche sites, as long as you determine those sites are above board with Google.
Remind yourself that you’re building a (domain) authority site, and a host of internal and external links, with varied anchor text, are expected and respected.
9) Become an Expert – The death of guest blogging seems very premature. It may not hold the key to increased Google ranking, but at the very least, can increase your domain authority score, if only indirectly.
You’re building a brand. As your articles appear on related, well-regarded sites in your niche, your site’s gaining increased visibility and traffic. Hopefully, new visitors will want to visit your site, and stay on your site. (By decreasing your bounce rate, you’re improving your DA score, and enhancing your image in the eyes of Google, in general.)
You’re also becoming an authority on a given topic. It then becomes easier to get links naturally as folks are inclined to share information from an expert. Getting yourself and your domain known, you’re setting the wheels in motion for an eventual spike in domain authority.
10) Develop a strong social presence – Yes, introverts that means you, too. You need to send strong social signals in cyberspace and that starts with developing popular social platforms.
You can start a Facebook Fan Page. You can set up Twitter, PInterest, Instagram, Linked In, Google Plus accounts … and well, the sky’s the limit. But it’s better to set up one platform extensively where you actively post and interact with others, than open a multitude of social accounts where you’re missing in action.
So get those Facebook shares, those re-tweets, and those +1’s. They add up to increased domain authority.
Here, is a final bonus method to magnify your DA score:
10+) Practice patience – Google seems to trust sites that have been in existence longer. New sites are always looked upon with a healthy degree of skepticism.
If you just launched a new site at the beginning of 2016, it may take at least 4 months or so to make any inroads when it comes to domain authority. While you can’t control the age of a site, you can control your obsession with domain authority. Focus on content and natural, white hat SEO link building methods, and in time, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
The age of a site may have little, if any, bearing on the DA score, but I just wanted to remind you that anything of value takes time to build. And so it goes with a website’s expansion and development. Eventually, your site can be the apple of Google’s eyes.
Elevating Domain Authority in 2016
Those of you who are consumed with your domain authority (and I’m one of them) need to recognize that DA is only one metric. There are a plethora of input factors, used by the popular search engines, that influence site supremacy.
Of course, DA is an important criterion, but far from the only one. Keep an eye on your page authority, MOZ rank (which looks at your link popularity via the number of quality linking root domains), MOZ trust (which looks at the trust or quality of those links), and other factors.
But try not to be like me and continuously look at the domain authority checkers, such as the free one offered by MOZ Site Explorer. For one, it may take weeks, or even months, for any given score to change. And secondly, it takes focus away from building your site, or even may discourage you from expanding it.
Case in point, and full disclosure, my domain authority is pitiful, and is perched at the lowly figure of 15. (My authority page score is higher at 26.)
I see where I have erred with this site, but it’s never too late to increase domain authority. Now that I know many of the parameters used in its calculation, I can go about remediation efforts.
But this site proves that stellar content is far from the only criterion in comprising a DA score. The other components, mentioned above, have to be in place.
And until Google rewards this site with a much higher DA, I’ll take solace in the fact that my content is helping others, and deemed enlightening and informative.
Readers come before search engines, and counter-intuitively by embracing this view, you will still increase your domain authority in 2016.
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