You may have had your feathers ruffled by the news that Moz have been making some developmental amends to the metric they’re most renowned for in the SEO world: Domain Authority. The changes are set to roll out today (5th March 2019). And while they shouldn’t necessarily be anything to worry about, you definitely want to make yourself – and any clients of yours – aware of the changes.
We’ve much to be grateful to Moz for and the intention of this move is to ensure (further) that we’re getting the most out of the data they provide us with. Today (March 5th) they’re updating their Domain Authority model and the new model is expected to provide a more accurate idea of a site’s ranking potential.
Before we go on to settle a common misconception about Domain Authority and outline how we’re expecting the update to affect the SEO campaigns we work on, let’s go back to basics.
What is Domain Authority?
It’s a score developed by Moz.com that’s assigned to a domain (website address) based upon its ability to rank on search engines – specifically on the search engine results pages (SERPs). As a side note, if you don’t understand any of the terminology we use in our posts, be sure to check out our SEO Glossary for handy definitions.
Domain authority is a key metric for us SEO professionals. We use it to monitor the quality of natural links to our client’s websites, guide our link-building outreach and track the progress of our campaigns.
Often, clients ask the same questions: “what’s a good domain authority score or how much do you see our domain authority increasing by within [x] number of weeks?” In fact, I remember asking similar questions during my first few days working as an SEO Exec!
To give you a rough guide, it’s a score out of 100, with 100 being the best. However, while we understand the desire for an average or high domain authority to aim for, the truth is, it’s impossible to provide such as figure. Here’s why…
What is a good Domain Authority Score?
Domain authority is a relative metric – it’s meaningless when it’s not compared to others. What matters is how your domain authority compares to that of your competitors. Therefore when monitoring the success of an SEO campaign, DA increases are an important indicator of progress BUT don’t focus solely on how much your domain authority increases by. Focus on how much it increases (or decreases) relative to relevant websites who operate in a similar marketplace to you. Yes it is awarded out of 100 but don’t interpret it as a percentage, interpret it as a grade.
Think of it this way: when you were at school, while achieving an A grade was the ultimate goal, if you were in a class of 20 and 15 got Cs, four got Bs and only one got an A – you’d be proud of your B.
Now we’ve settled that common misconception about Moz’s SEO metric, back to the purpose of this post…
How is Domain Authority changing?
We understand what goes into calculating DA but as clued up as we Yellowball-ers pride ourselves on being, we can’t claim to understand the exact details as to how Moz uses these factors to calculate DA scores. What we can do is outline what DA currently reflects and what it is likely to from 5th March onwards.
How do Moz calculate Domain Authority?
Moz assign Domain Authority via a 100-point logarithmic scale (yup, nerdy stuff) which means it’s easier to grow your score from 20 to 30 than it is to grow from 70 to 80. It’s calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including:
- total number of linking root domains
- Moz Rank
- Moz Trust
Moz Rank can be thought of as a link popularity score that reflects the importance of a web page on the Internet in relation to others. It’s a term derived by Moz’s logarithmically scaled 10-point measurement of website linking authority (or popularity) of a given page on the internet.
Moz Trust is Moz’s global link trust score. It’s similar to MozRank, but doesn’t measure link popularity. Instead it measures link trust. Receiving links from sources with inherent trust – such as the homepages of major university websites or certain government web pages – is a strong trust endorsement.
- It’s good to note that it can take some time for results to reflect in Link Explorer. So, although Domain Authority is a useful tool for measuring ranking strength overtime, don’t expect changes overnight (or even weeks).
Following the update, this refinement will place more weight on quality of backlinks than ever before. Domain Authority will now factor in other Moz metrics such as Spam Score and link quality information to this new machine learning model.
In a nutshell, this update will better mimic how Google weights domains, so we’ll be better able to judge the value of our websites and their competitors even more accurately than before. Fab news all round: another step away from rewarding spammy practice such as running after any links you can get regardless of their quality and relevance.
What this means for us
Moz have advised that the update may cause fluctuations in our current and historical domain authority (DA) data. Client and personal DAs might rise, fall or stay the same. This isn’t something to be concerned about because your competitors will also be affected in the same ways as you. So, as before, DA should be used as a relative metric. It’s meaningless when viewed in isolation. Therefore, what matters isn’t whether your site drops or increases – it’s whether it drops or increases relative to your competitors.
As a metric, Domain Authority is useful for monitoring the quality of links to the websites we manage, guiding our link-building outreach as well as to tracking the progress of our campaigns, that is to say, as an indicator of ranking strength overtime. At Yellowball, we use it as a guide and indicator of progress in our SEO campaigns but there are plenty of other more valuable metrics to inform and track SEO campaigns.
- It’s a useful metric for reporting but I’ll reiterate, don’t judge the success or otherwise of a campaign solely on domain authority changes. There are so many factors that affect campaigns – more on this in our Director, Simon’s recent post on performance based campaigns.
Now that Moz have rolled out their new Domain Authority, we’ll be checking client competitors’ scores as well as our own, as they will likely fluctuate in a similar direction.
Moz were originally founded as a marketing consulting firm in 2004 but shifted to SEO software development in 2008. They work on regular updates to their metrics, to keep up with the hundreds of changes Google make to their algorithms every year. So, as averse to change as we humans may be, our fellow marketing nerds at Moz really are doing this for our own good. Developmental changes like this one are what enables Moz to provide us with the best, most accurate and useful data.
- You can view a website’s DA by using MozBar (a free Chrome-extension), Link Explorer (a backlink analysis tool), the SERP Analysis section of Keyword Explorer, and dozens of other SEO tools across the web.
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