People often ask us, “How do I increase my website’s domain-level authority?”
and I often avoid this question because the score itself shouldn’t be your focus.
What you should focus on is what causes that score to rise.
And that’s high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites
So today, we are going to talk about the three core factors that will improve your website’s link authority in a meaningful way.
So of you are new to the concept of website authority, it’s actually a made-up metric from SEO tool companies.
Now, whether you call it Domain Rating, Domain Authority, Website Authority, or whatever, they all serve the same general purpose.
they try to measure the relative “Strength” of a website’s backlink profile compared to other sites in their index.
Now, while some tools claim that their website authority metric can predict a website’s ranking potential, I’d take that with a gain of salt.
Yes, I think SEOs generally agree that website authority does play somewhat of a factor in rankings.
In fact, we have found a clear correlation between Domain Rating and the number of keywords a website ranks for.
but correlation doesn’t prove causation, Google ranks pages and not websites.
So having a goal to improve Domain rating is too broad and could actually make you lose focus from your true goal which is to rank in Google and get more organic traffic.
so by putting the focus at the website level instead of the page level is like painting your whole house just to make your bathroom look good, it might work to a certain extent, but 90% of your efforts actually have no effect on the end goal.
Now, the things that cause an increase in your website’s authority can help you rank higher in Google.
And it all comes down to the main thing responsible for calculating this metric.
and that’s links.
Now. I can’t speak on behalf of other tool providers because I don’t know how they calculate heir website authority metric.
But I can expand a bit on Ahrefs’ websitee authority metric called Domain Rating.
so again, Domain rating represents the overall strenght of a website’s backlink profile.
And when I say strenght, it isn’t just a pure numbers game.
we look at both quantity and quality of the links pointing at a website.
Now, Domain rating isn’t Linear, it’s plotted on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100.
to understand this scale a bit better, think of it like gaining status in a video game.
You might start off as a “Scout”.
and to gain your Ranger badge, it might only take a few hours.
but jumping to the next level could take you months!.
Then only the truly elite players will get to Epic status, and don’t even get me started on Legendary.
This is reserved only for the “Chosen Ones”.
in the same way, increasing a website’s domain rating from 79 to 80 would be a much bigger jump than going from 3 to 4, or even from 3 to 10.
in short, you can’t say that a website with a DR 40 is twice as authoritative as a website with a DR 20.
it’ll be more than that.
Although improving Domain rating shouldn’t be your aim, let’s talk about the three main things that impact the score.
First are the number of unique websites that link to you.
At Ahrefs, we call these referring domains.
and in our calculations, we only account for followed links.
Meaning Links with nofollow, UGC, or sponsored values won’t improve a websites’ DR score.
Now, since we count referring domains here and not backlinks, subsequent links from the same website won’t improve a website’s DR either.
The second thing we look at is the Domain Ratings of the linking domains.
and this is one of the ways we keep DR reliable and tougher to manipulate.
for example, if a website has 1000 followed referring domains that all come from DR 0 websites, it’s unlikely that those links will do much for the linked page.
and we want to select that by not overinflating DR scores based on quantity alone.
This also means that a website’s DR can increase if the Domain rating of the linking websites go up.
For example, I bulit a link from a DR 15 site back in 2017, and today, that same website has a domain Rating of 58, the moral of the story is nor to judge a website by it’s DR alone.
if there are less authoritative sites, but you see them gringing and consistentl builing links to their pages, then the value of your lin can increase over time.
This is the reffering domains graph for the site I got a link from and this is around the day I got link from them.
the slow and steady increase in reffering domains plus the person’s content were good indicators that the site would continue to do well.
So I invested my time to get a link from a low-DR site and it paid off.
and the third thing we look at are the number of sites the reffering website links to with at least one Followed Link.
The more unique websites a site links to, the less so called ‘DR equity” it can pass.
for example, if you had a new website that got a link from the New York times, you might thins you’d get a nice pop in your domain rating.
Afterall, the new york time has a Domain Rating of 94 and it’s one of the most well-known sites in the world.
but because of the sheer number of external websites it links to with at least one followed link, it won’t have that much of an impact on DR.
as you see in the linked Domains report in Ahrefs’ Site Ecplorer, they link over 280,000 websites with a followed link.
So how much of an impact would a link from nytimes.com have on a website ?
well, it depends.
but to give you better picture, this website only has one link in total, and it’s from The New York Times.
and it has a DR score of just 2, and remember DR runs on a logarithmic scale.
So if you had a DR 70 site, that link may not visibly impact your domain rating.
Now, let’s compare that to a site like IMDB,
which has a DR of 93.
According to the linked Domain report in site explorer, they only link out to around 5,000 website with a followed lin.
Now, if we look at this domainwhich has just a single reffering domain from IMDB and no other websites, you’ll see the website has a DR score of 34.
so does that mean that the DR 34 site is more “Authoritative” than the DR 2 site ?
or that a link from IMDB is better then one from the New York Times ?
Definitely not !
And this is exactly why I don’t recommend using Domain Rating Scores as a standlone metric.
it’s not a good indicator of a website’s quality or legitimacy.
It’s merely a measure of “Link Popularity”.
Instead, it’s better if you combine DR with other metrics like domain-level traffic or URL rating, wich estimates the overall strength of a page’s backlink profile.
So what are the key takeaways here.
I’ll tell you as it is.
Don’t obsess over increasing your Domain Rating.
instead, focus on two things.
1. Build links to pages you want to wank.
Again, Google rank pages and not websites.
And if you want to rank your pages for popular or competitive topics, you are going to need links.
in fact, we found that the number of reffering domains to a page is the strongest correlating factor as far as rangkings are concerned.
so rahter than building them to every page across your site, focus on the ones you care about most.
2. try to get links from authoritative and high-quality websites.
at the end of the day, you want to rank your pages high in Google.
And the links that are going to move the needle are high-quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative pages.