Domain Authority, Domain Ranking, Page Authority – What’s It All Mean?  

If you’ve dipped a toe in the world of website development and SEO marketing, chances are you’ve heard these terms before. And for very good reason. Because domain authority, domain ranking, and page authority are all ways you can get your company’s site onto the first page of Google – the most dominant search engines in the world. Without spending a single dime on Google Ads. So, now that we’ve got your attention, let’s unpack some of these terms. First, domain authority.  

What is Domain Authority? 

There are actually two definitions for domain authority. One deals with the concept, the other with the metric.  

Domain Authority: The Concept 

Conceptually, domain authority measures the trustworthiness of your website’s domain based on your site’s age, content quality, popularity, and relevance. 

  • Age. Domains that have been well-maintained for years are more likely to rank than sites that are less than six months old. After all, they’ve had more time to establish high-quality backlinks, craft excellent content, and refine the keywords on their web pages.  
  • Popularity. High-quality backlinks, excellent content, and top-notch keywords are all factors that contribute to the popularity of your website – but for different reasons. 
  • Specific keyword phrases that match popular search terms draw people into your site. 
  • Having multiple, reputable sites – industry magazines, government pages, etc. – link to your site is another excellent way to increase your popularity.  
  • Providing visitors with relevant, authentic content will increase the likelihood that they’ll stick around once they’ve clicked through. And will encourage them to return for more information in the future! 
  • Relevance. As content ages, it’ll slowly rank less and less. So, it’s important to keep it up-to-date. Establish regular audits of your website content so you know what’s working, what isn’t, and adjust accordingly 

The better your domain authority, the more likely your domain will rank well in search results! 

Domain Authority: The Metric 

Now for the domain authority metric developed by MOZ – one of the leading SEO companies. It’s a score that predicts the likelihood that your website will rank “based on data from [their] Link Explorer web index and uses dozens of factors.” Your site is scored on a scale of 1 to 100 and the higher your site’s DA score, the more likely your site is to rank on search engine result pages. Better rankings mean more views and more views means more clicks! 

But how’s a DA score calculated? MOZ’s machine learning program analyzes linking root domains, the age of your site, the amount of incoming and outgoing links, their quality, and more. They compare these factors to other domains and then run the results through a proprietary algorithm that produces a single DA score. This score gives you an idea of how well your domain ranks compared to your competition and if you should take steps to improve it.  

It is important to note that your DA score was designed to be a comparative metric. It gives you an idea of how you stack up against your competition. It does not have any influence on how Google ranks websites. 

Interested in seeing your score? Use MOZ’s free tool. 

Domain Authority vs. Domain Ranking: What’s the Difference? 

When it comes to SEO strategy, domain authority and domain ranking are often used interchangeably. And domain ranking can mean two different things depending on what context it’s in. 

Domain Ranking: The Concept 

On a conceptual level, domain ranking is how well your website ranks overall – not just individual pages. This term can be applied to whether or not your site’s on the front page of Google or how much engagement your site’s getting in a given time period. 

Domain Ranking: The Metric 

Domain authority determines how well your domain will rank on search engines while domain ranking (DR) (often called “rating”) is a metric by a company called Ahrefs that rates how strong your domain’s backlink profile from 1 to 100.  

What’s a backlink profile? It’s a complete list of all the other sites and pages that include a link back (hence the term backlink) to your site or to a specific page.  

Or, to put it more simply, DR is completely link based, DA is not. 

According to Ahref, your domain rating is calculated like this: 

  • Step One: All domains that have at least one followed link to your site are found. 
  • Step Two: These domains are then analyzed to see how many other sites those domains link to. 
  • Step Three: Ahref passes some amount of “DR juice” from those domains to your site via that link. The more links to your site a domain has, the more juice you receive and the stronger your backlink profile becomes. 

Much like your DA score, your DR ranking doesn’t have any influence on how Google ranks you. But it does give you insight into what kind of sites are referencing your content, how to best utilize those links, and if any of those links should be removed. 

PLEASE NOTE: Though both DA and DR help you optimize your overall domain ranking, both Ahref and MOZ advise not to hyperfocus on growing either of these metrics. Why? Because Google doesn’t rank websites, it ranks pages. So making sure your web pages are presenting the right information clearly and concisely – and building backlinks specifically to that content – will have a better impact on your search traffic than obsessing over DAs and DRs. 

What is Page Authority? 

To start with, page authority (PA) is remarkably similar to domain authority. MOZ even uses the same scoring methodology for both. But instead of predicting how your entire website will rank, MOZ’s page authority predicts how well specific pages within your website will rank. The higher the PA score, the better the page will rank. 

PA is “based off a 100-point logarithmic scale [and] data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts and dozens of other factors (more than 40 in total).” It’s worth noting that these do not include on-page elements like optimized content or targeted keywords. 

Much like the other aspects of SEO marketing mentioned, PA is best used comparatively. To show you how to improve your pages to remain competitive in your industry.  

PRO TIP: While MOZ’s page authority doesn’t measure keywords, they’re still a vital part of getting specific pages to rank on Google specifically. So be sure you pick the best keyword phrases for each page. 

Now You Know! Now What? 

Now that you’ve gotten a good handle on what domain authority, domain ranking, and page authority are, what do you do with that knowledge? Here are a few of our suggested starting points: 

  • When it comes to backlink, prioritize quality over quantity. 
  • Generate consumable, high-quality content that will encourage sites to link to it. 
  • Be sure your audience is the main focus for all your web content. 
  • Update, update, update – especially when it comes to your content. 
  • Use your DA, DR, and PA to get a leg up on your competition.  
  • Share your content yourself via email campaigns and social media, encouraging others to link to your site. 

Looking for More SEO Advice? 

The experts at GreenStar Marketing are ready and willing to help! From generating a custom SEO strategy, to optimizing your current web content and picking the right keyword phrases, we can put you on track to the front page of Google. So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to us today for a no-pressure consultation

Stephanie Benzik

Stephanie Benzik

Stephanie is the Senior Director of Marketing at GreenStar Marketing. She started out studying Interior Architecture and Design, but found her true passion in Marketing. Stephanie has been working in the Telecommunications industry since 2013. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, spending time with her family and dogs, and binge-watching Netflix.
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