If you’ve been dabbling in SEO and link building long enough, you’ll no doubt have come across the term, domain authority. 

You may also be thinking about how you can increase it. After all, everyone keeps talking about how important it is, and the highest ranking sites have a higher DA score right? 

In this article, we’ll talk about how to increase domain authority, but we’ll also explain the fundamentals of what domain authority actually is, bust a few myths and give more context about how you should (and shouldn’t) use third party metrics like DA. 

Now, let’s start unraveling the secrets of boosting domain authority!

What is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority (DA) is an SEO metric developed by Moz, to predict the likelihood of a site ranking well on search engine result pages (SERPs). 

DA runs on a scale of 1 to 100, with a higher score being an indicator of an authoritative site that is more likely to rank well in search engines. 

DA is calculated by using a number of different signals, including linking root domains, total number of links, proprietary metrics like spam score and link quality patterns, amongst others. 

The DA metric was updated in 2019, to Domain Authority 2.0, using a new scoring model – with the aim of more closely resembling how search engines view websites. 

Page Authority (PA) is also developed by Moz, and measures the ranking ability of a specific webpage. 

Important note: The Domain Authority metric developed by Moz, is not used by search engines like Google in any way. It is a third party metric, and is merely a prediction model for the value a search engine would attribute to that website. 
Gary Illyes alluded to this in this tweet. 

John Mueller also discusses it briefly in this Google Webmaster call at around the 43 minute mark, where he says Google does not have a “website authority score https://youtu.be/gS4_JH-QqSg?t=2575
This makes sense, as it’s unlikely any search engine’s valuation of a website can be feasibly boiled down to a single usable metric. 
John also answered this question on Reddit, and brought a really good perspective. I’ve highlighted the main points. 

Moz coined the term “Domain Authority” and owns the trademark on that phrase. But, we could also look at domain authority as being the “true authority” of a website. 

Other tools like Semrush, Ahrefs and Majestic also have similar proprietary metrics used to measure sites at the domain and page level – and are also predictive models, to measure the ranking “strength” of that entity. 

These include:

  • Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) in combination – from Majestic
  • Authority Score – from Semrush
  • Domain Rating (DR) – from Ahrefs
  • Link Profile Strength (LPS) – from Mangools

Each of these metrics are calculated in different ways, as they are again, just third party predictions of quality and strength, rather than something used by Google. These metrics are essentially an attempt to replace “PageRank”, which was a numerical score that Google used to assign to websites, and that was removed back in 2016. So these are probably as close as we can get to such a metric again. 

What is a Good Domain Authority Score?

Domain authority is particularly impacted by the presence of inbound links, but there are many other factors used to calculate it as well, so it is often indicative of good overall SEO “health”.

As we’ve said, the more authoritative the site, generally speaking, the higher the DA. So top tier media sites will often have a DA of 90 plus. 

While a new, or very small blog can have a DA of 10 or less. 

Here’s a very general rule of thumb:

  • DA 10 or less is a very small site. 
  • DA 10 to 24 is a site building some authority but at early stage. 
  • DA 25 to 40 is average. 
  • DA 41 to 50 is just above average
  • DA 50 to 60 is a strong site. 
  • DA 60 to 70 is very good. 
  • DA 70 to 85 is excellent and you’d expect sites at this level to be very large and if not there, close to becoming one of the top sites in their niche. 
  • DA 86 plus will most likely be only top tier media and in the top few sites in their respective niche. 

This is not set in stone, as what is considered a high domain authority site, or a low domain authority score, may be different considering the niche. If the sector isn’t highly competitive and the audience is fairly small – you’d expect the top ranking sites to also be fairly moderate in terms of their DA score. In those cases, a high authority score may only be about 50 to 60. Whereas in something very competitive like Real Estate SaaS, you need to be on the higher end of the range, to be considered a site that is able to rank for keywords with ease. 

DA also follows a logarithmic scale, so to get further up the scale becomes exponentially more difficult. I.e. to go from DA 10 to 20, is significantly harder than trying to go from 60 to 70. 

Major limitations of Moz’s DA and other SEO metrics – even if a site gets traffic from other sources, has an audience and has good user experience and site structure – this is unlikely to directly reflect in the domain authority score. 

How is Domain Authority Calculated?

Domain Authority from Moz is calculated using a number of factors. The previous iteration of DA used over 40 factors to calculate the DA score, however, with the release of Domain Authority 2.0 in 2019, this may have changed considerably, as the model was made more advanced. 

Some of the factors it takes into account:

Link Profile

This includes the internal and external links from your website. If a website has links from reputable, high authority sites, and also links to reputable websites, then this impacts the score.  

MozTrust and MozRank (now obsolete) 

Moz’s link index was also upgraded in 2018, to become 35x larger and 30x fresher, meaning that MozTrust and MozRank were rendered obsolete, and removed from the scoring. 

Spam Score

This is a scoring system which analyzes 27 features, which determine the likelihood of a website being “spammy”, and operates on its own scale from 0% to 100%. A higher spam score means the website has increasingly similar features to websites that have been penalized or banned by Google. 

Unique Root Domains

Since link profiles are taken into account, having a sizable backlink profile, will impact the DA score. So a website will need to have enough unique, linking domains, to build the DA score. 

Site Structure and User Friendliness

Good SEO practice dictates that you should have good site structure and have a user friendly website that is easy to navigate. This also allows search engines like Google to crawl your website, but also allows bots from Moz to crawl your site as well, and that does affect your DA score. We can’t verify if Moz actually takes on-page factors into account (it’s probably unlikely). So it could be more correlative rather than causative. 

But what we can say is that the better your site is from a navigational and UX point of view –  the more likely you’ll build an audience, get links, and this indirectly impacts your link profile – which subsequently helps your DA score. 

Other than this, Moz hasn’t fully shared the full extent of how the calculation is done, and its likely there are many other factors that are taken into account and the final DA score is an aggregation of all of these. 

It’s important to note that DA is a comparative metric. No DA score is “good” or “bad” in of itself but you can compare it against your closest competitors. Between you and your competitors, the website with the highest domain authority score, will generally be ranking higher in the SERPs. 

Why is Domain Authority important?

The authority of your site definitely plays a part in determining how well you can rank in the SERPs. The higher your domain authority is, generally speaking, the better you can compete against other site’s in your niche on individual keywords – even if, let’s say, you haven’t built links directly to that page. 

That’s why you’ll often see a large, established competitor in your niche who can just publish a new article and rank relatively quickly without having any inbound links to that specific article. It’s as a result of them having built so many links over time, across the site, and having a higher overall authority. 

Again important to stress here, we are talking about your “true” domain authority here, and not necessarily your Domain Authority (DA) score. But, the DA score often correlates and you may find that larger authority sites are hard to shift off the top spots, for certain keywords. So in those scenarios, you’ll want to go for the easier keywords and where you’re dealing with competitors of a similar, or lower authority level than yours. 

Let’s take this example to illustrate, which is a fairly moderate difficulty keyword in the modular sector. 

We can see that BHG is a much larger authority, and has a DA of 80, while only having 39 Referring Domains going to that page. Compare that to the competing pages in positions 3 and 5. They have much more RDs going to their page, but have a much lower DA level. 

domain authority analysis

There are potentially other factors in play, like the intent of the content, topical authority and on-page factors – but it’s clear that the top competitor has a significant advantage due to their domain authority. 

Domain Authority vs. Page Authority

Fairly simple difference here. Domain Authority is the score assigned to the overall authority of a website, whereas Page Authority (PA) is the authority of a specific page on a website. 

The domain authority is essentially the aggregate score of the PA scores of all the crawled pages of that website. It also operates on a 100-point logarithmic scale. 

As you build more quality links to a page, this will impact the authority of the page, and subsequently, this may result in some change in the Page Authority score that Moz assigns it. 

Gary Illyes from Google was on a panel in Sydney some time back, and was asked about DA. His answer was interesting:

“We don’t use it, and it doesn’t align with anything we have at Google. [Moz’s] Page Authority has the right idea, but it is not exactly the same, obviously.”

This does make sense as Google’s original PageRank score was based on the value they assigned to a webpage, rather than its domain as a whole. 

So PA does come in useful when you want to assess the authority of a specific page, but that score still has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Just as with DA, it is not a metric used by Google, and is merely a third party measurement. 

How Do We Check Domain Authority?

There are different tools you can use for this, depending on your tool and metric of choice. 

Moz Link Explorer: Simply put your URL into this tool and it’ll give you the corresponding DA and PA score. 

Moz link explorer

Moz also has MozBar, which is a free Google Chrome extension. It displays the DA in the toolbar as you browse a website, and can also display the DA score of search results as you browse through Google. Really useful if you’re doing link prospecting and need to pick out sites between a certain DA range. 

Ahrefs: A popular SEO tool used especially for extracting backlink reports. They have their own logarithmic scale metric called Domain Rating, and an equivalent to Page Authority called URL Rating (UR). 

Ahrefs admit it is purely a link-based metric, and people have manipulated DR levels by simply pointing a lot of link spam at a site. 

etsy ahrefs site explorer analysis

Semrush: Fast becoming the SEO tool of choice, Semrush has its own measure of domain authority called Authority Score (AS). Just click on the Backlink Analytics feature, plug in your URL and it’ll bring up the SEO stats for that domain/URL and display the Authority Score. 

backlinks analysis on Semrush

Domain Authority: What You Really Need to Know

As we’ve discussed, Domain Authority has its limitations. It isn’t used by Google, and you can look at it merely as a barometer – not as an absolute number that should be taken as gospel. Unfortunately, there are many in the industry who are applying far too much importance to it, and are sometimes (deliberately) misleading others in order to profit from it. 

This tweet by Rand Fishkin paints an interesting picture, and just shows you how easy it is to manipulate DA. 

Rand Fishkin's  tweet on manipulating DA

We’ll cover this in more detail in another article, where we’ll compare DA vs DR and their limitations. But to summarize the problem with Domain Authority as a metric:

  • It’s too simplistic: Even after the improvement with DA 2.0, it just doesn’t correlate strongly enough with actual SERPs. As we’ve shown in the example above, there are situations where the top page has a mixture of DA and even PA levels. But this would be expected, as DA is not used by Google, and cannot act as a replacement for PageRank, as the amount of tech a company like Moz can invest into a ML model, is relatively miniscule compared to Google. 
  • It’s just a domain level metric: It has been stated by Google before that they don’t use a “domain authority”. A thread here from John Mueller where he discusses this. While John is being slightly vague as well, it’s probably true that they can’t simply rank a site based on a domain level metric, and they would have to look at page level metrics, and not even just backlinks of course. 
John Mueller's Twitter thread on domain authority
  • It’s not being used correctly: The intention of DA was merely a prediction tool. I.e. how likely is it that this website or webpage will rank in comparison to its competitors. The late Russ Jones, talks about this in more detail in his article where he says:

“Moz doesn’t claim to have a metric which mimics Google. Moz claims to have a metric which predicts with some degree of accuracy the likelihood a site will rank based solely on domain-level link metrics.  Domain Authority is a machine-learned metric trained on SERPs. We make no claim that there is a cause-effect relationship between increasing Domain Authority and increasing rankings” 

How Do You Integrate Your Domain Authority into Your SEO Strategy?

Maybe I’ve bashed on Moz’s metric a bit in this article, but it’s still something that has its uses. Let’s go through a few ways in which you should be using domain authority metrics. 

It helps to measure the relative strength of a website

Domain authority can give you some measurement of the overall SEO health/strength of a website. Yes, there may be cases where people have manipulated their DA and it becomes inflated. However, since you can also measure the traffic levels and assess the content quality of a website, this would quickly indicate that there’s a discrepancy.

Measuring the DA of a website, may help you arrive at decisions if for example, you are trying to acquire a website or domain and want to quickly gauge how authoritative the website is. By knowing the domain authority, you can then understand how easily it could rank in the SERPs if you start publishing more content, or you just want to see how easily you could push a website to beat its closest competition. I would never look at DA in isolation but it works as a rough gauge. 

It helps to compare multiple websites

Leading on from that, it does come in handy if you’re comparing websites in the SERPs and you’re trying to make a like for like comparison. There’s no point comparing a small pet food ecommerce store with Amazon for instance, as you’ll be unlikely to ever compete against such a large site in terms of backlink profile or authority level. But, you can look for competing sites with a similar domain authority score. If they are beating you for certain keywords, despite you matching their domain metrics, then that’s a sign you need to investigate further to find out why that may be. 

It helps with the link prospecting process

You may also want to use it during the prospecting process as well when you build links. This is useful if for instance, you’re doing the skyscraper technique and have a large pool of targets to sift through and do outreach to. If you don’t want to spend a lot of resources reaching out to everyone, or you want to segment the batch into different “tiers”. 

This has value because you can generally expect, the higher the authority of the site, the more they understand SEO and therefore the more value we can attribute to links going out from their site. For them, they need a good reason to link to someone, and you may have to approach the outreach really carefully, be super personalized, or just have an altogether different value proposition like a SEO-targeted guest article or data piece. 

Whereas with a lower domain authority site, you can expect that it’s easier to get a link from them, or it may even be too small to even bother spending time on. 

So, by cutting the large list into segmented batches, you can prioritize targets that come over a certain baseline domain authority or page authority level. 

Note: Caveat here is that you run the risk of cutting out a lot of good sites as well. And just because a site has a high DA, doesn’t automatically make it a “better” site. But, at TLG (at time of writing) we do use a baseline metric purely to cut out the smallest sites. There will always be some good sites being cut out of prospecting lists, but that is inevitable when doing things at scale! To minimize this loss, you should use DA/PA in combination with metrics like relevance and traffic. 

Helpful for marketers and entrepreneurs

As we explained, DA comes in useful if you’re buying domains or websites –  and domain authority metrics (in combination with other metrics) can help play a part in the decision process. 

Some marketers may also report long term domain authority growth, as one of the factors to show that they’ve helped improve a website. Again, in isolation it doesn’t mean anything, and I would recommend any marketer/SEO/agency person to also report other metrics like traffic, rankings and conversions. But if you’ve reported all of that, it can be helpful to look at the domain authority scores over a time period, and it can be interesting to see it grow over time. 

One client we worked with for example, we helped improve DA from about 66 to 69 in the space of a year, and we could see that they had started acquiring some of their most competitive keywords throughout that year. Not causative, but certainly was a correlation. 

7 Practical Steps to Increase Your Website’s Domain Authority

With domain authority metrics (be it DA, DR or Authority Score) being primarily link-based metrics, all the steps you can take to improve those third party scores are going to be based around link building. 

But what we’ll outline here are some steps you can take to increase your link profile and true domain authority. 

Create Great Content

This is a bit of a cheat answer as it won’t directly impact your domain authority score, but it will indirectly. Before we even think about link building, and even before you worry about what your domain authority is, you need to first look at why people should link to your website. 

Now there’s different value propositions you can use, and different techniques you can leverage to get links, but the best thing to start with, is to create truly useful content on your site. If you can produce the right content, you’ll rank for the right keywords, bring in some top of funnel traffic, and probably earn some natural backlinks as well. This is also useful for E-E-A-T reasons, and for building topical authority. 

Better content begets more links, begets better rankings and traffic. 

But, your definition of ‘useful’ content is important, especially since Google’s Helpful Content update. It needs to be good enough that people find it valuable and feel compelled to link to it – be it naturally, or if you reach out to them showing them that piece. 

The more valuable the content, the easier you’ll find it to earn or acquire links. 

Do Guest Posting

Guest posting is a great way to build links on relevant sites within your own niche, or crossover sectors. Not only do you get the link equity benefit, but also the brand awareness, potential referral traffic, and you get to spread your thought leadership message. 

This is particularly useful as not every site is open to just linking out to others, unless they get something else of benefit in return. Guest articles are a good value proposition, as a lot of sites are hungry for well-written content. It’s a win-win as you’ll be able to insert a link either within the body of the article, or the author bio. 

This technique has a bit of a bad rap, but its usually due to the low quality guest posting that is rife in the industry. So just make sure you vet all sites you’re guest posting on, and they are good quality sites that are actually relevant to your business. 

Optimize Your Website Structure and User Experience

This is probably unlikely to directly impact your domain authority scores, but having good site structure, navigation and overall user experience, will help you in the long run. 

Firstly, if people are finding your site and reading your content (either organically or from you reaching out and showing them your site), they will expect a certain standard. Arriving on a site and finding it broken in places, having annoying pop ups, or not being able to navigate between pages properly, will just leave a bad impression. 

Other areas include the site speed, if it’s mobile-friendly and even something as simple as ensuring you have an up-to-date SSL certificate. 

Take care of the basics, and people will enjoy being on your site and consuming the content, and will then be more likely to link to it and share with others. 

Acquire Relevant, Quality Links

In tandem with creating great content, the next step in acquiring links that will actually impact your authority, is making sure you have a very quality and niche-relevant approach to link building. 

We’ll discuss this in more detail in other articles, but low quality link building will not do much for you, other than simply artificially inflating domain authority scores – this looks good on paper as a vanity metric, but it won’t actually result in true authority increase, and subsequent ranking/traffic increases. 

Building links takes time, and therefore, so will increasing domain authority. So its important that you have the right process in place for vetting your targets, especially if you are buying links – or better yet, you can outsource it to an experienced agency like TLG, who can take care of the entire process for you. 

We use a multiple checkpoint system to vet sites, where we look at the following factors for websites we’re trying to secure links on: 

  • Traffic stats
  • Relevancy
  • Content Quality
  • Website legitimacy (i.e. is there an actual business purpose behind the website)
  • Signs of penalty 

This can’t all be done via tools, and this requires experienced human prospectors to exercise common sense when developing strategies and selecting websites for outreach. 

Now going to relevancy – this is definitely going to be an increasingly important factor going forward with establishing your site as an authority. If you’re securing links on completely irrelevant sites, or you’re just buying links off the same database as everyone else, it won’t create enough diversity. So you need a process to develop link strategies that will help you get links that are truly relevant – not just always at the page or paragraph level – but also domain level relevance. 

For example, in the analysis we did for a client below, we used a metric from Majestic called Topical Trust Flow. This categorizes the backlinks that a site has, and in this scenario, we can see one competitor has particularly gained a lot of links in the Recreation/Travel sector in comparison to us and other competitors. Since this was a fast-growing competitor where we had to close the link gap, this tells us that this is a potential category of website we need to look at further, and we may want to either leverage content that aligns with the travel sector, or do more guest post opportunities there. 

backlinks analysis for one of TLG's client

Acquire Links in High Authority Publications

Getting links in particularly high authority websites, will also have an impact on your own authority.

You can do this with techniques like HARO link building, reaching out to government sites or universities, or just conventional media outreach. 

The end goal being to secure links on top-tier websites. Not all media websites will give you a dofollow link (which is your ultimate goal with link building), but even nofollow links will have some impact. 

Now, not every link you build needs to be a very high authority, or higher than your own (this is another industry myth) – but being able to sprinkle in some big links here and there will have some impact, and will raise overall authority. 

That’s where media links come in useful, as due to the editorial processes involved, they tend to be homepage links, or they’ll only link to a linkable asset relevant to the story. But, even if the link isn’t targeted at a specific page, to raise the authority of that page, you’ll get the overall domain authority boost. 

Links on large organizations, government sites or universities can be a bit more conducive to getting very targeted links at specific pages, and they are less likely to be nofollow. 

Domain Authority- Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

As we’ve touched on, there are a few misconceptions about domain authority scores (regardless of what third party metric it is). Let’s tackle the main ones here.

It is only a predictive and relative measure

The domain authority score will just be their measure of “how well can this site rank” and is just a comparison against what the SEO tool believes is its closest competitors. The reality is, a site which has only a DA of 30, could be better for your site, than an irrelevant site with a DA of 60. And a DA of 50 may be low authority for one niche, but really high for another. 

Google has also said previously they don’t use a “domain authority” metric. Nobody really knows what they focus on, but it’s unlikely that we can make a blank statement that the perceived authority level of a site alone, trumps all other factors. 

So, just keep in mind that it is only there as a predictive score, and your own domain authority score may go up and down with time. However, as long as your other SEO metrics like traffic, rankings and conversions go up, that is really what matters. 

It does not directly correlate with link quality and relevance

Domain authority metrics in isolation, don’t mean anything. Some do make the mistake of focusing too much on metrics like DA and DR, when the focus should actually be on the relevance and quality of the site’s you’re building links on. 

Remember, sites can have a higher domain authority score but not necessarily have a lot of traffic, or even be relevant to your website. And this is especially important when you’re guest posting, doing link exchanges or paying for links. It is sometimes used as a bargaining chip by bloggers or link sellers, when the reality is, it’s only a vanity metric. 

Let’s take this example, Retail Supply Chain & Logistics Expo. 

Retail Supply Chain & Logistics Expo

According to Moz it only has a DA of 22. In many cases, an agency would cut out a site like this. However, this would be a mistake. 

DA for Retail Supply Chain & Logistics Expo's website

If you were in the supply chain & logistics sector and dealt with the UK market, this could be a really good site to have a link from. 

  • It is highly relevant. 
  • The site has quality content, and serves a legitimate business purpose. 
  • There is an actual company and team behind the website.
  • They have a social media presence. 

When I click through to their social accounts, I can see they have a decent following if you add it up. We may not know what their true monthly traffic levels are, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they get a lot more than is registered by an SEO tool – i.e. they may be getting direct, referral and social traffic as well. 

If you focus too much on SEO metrics, you may run the risk of cutting a lot of quality sites like this, especially if you’re in a fairly tight niche. 

Then compare it to the various link farms out there, and you can see the problem that occurs. 

Here is a site called BitRebels, which on paper, has a DA of 67. 

However, as soon as we browse the site we see it:

  • It serves no purpose other than selling links/sponsored posts.
  • It’s hard to determine exactly what niche it’s supposed to be. 
  • They do have social followings, although there is a real lack of engagement, and again, the actual niche of the site seems confusing. 
  • If we dig further into the traffic, the theme continues, and most of the traffic is coming from very random topics. 
Bit Rebels website

Essentially, this is a way of also inflating traffic metrics with easy to rank keywords. This equates to 5.5k visits a month for the term “air conditioned shoes” alone – which probably isn’t much use to us, if let’s say, we were in supply chain & logistics!

Bit Rebels top ranking keywords

So I’d recommend during the link building process, to only use DA as a barometer when measuring sites, but to not cut large swathes of targets, purely on the basis of DA. We’ve seen very relevant, legitimate websites, perfect for a clients niche – but with a fairly low DA. But we work with clients to help them understand that this is what Google is actually favoring, and not arbitrary third party metrics. 

This generally has to be done with manual, human checks, to determine if a site is relevant enough to get a valuable link from. However, you can also use Majestic’s Topical Trust Flow (TTF) metric, if you need to categorize the niches of links at scale.

It matters less than traffic and conversions

This almost goes without saying, but what’s the real end goal? It’s to bring in more organic traffic and ultimately, conversions. Domain authority scores may sometimes be an indicator of success, and it can work as a barometer to measure the strength of links – but it’s not going to drive success directly. 

As well as that, getting links from websites purely on the basis of the domain authority, will also not drive success. As shown, a bad site can even have a manipulated DA, or just be completely irrelevant. 

Domain Authority- Final Thoughts

Domain authority has its uses, but hopefully in this article, we’ve helped shed light on how domain authority metrics (be it DA, DR or others like it) can and should be used. 

Increasing your “true authority” will definitely pay off in dividends, and that can be achieved with a quality and relevance-focused approach to link building – but let’s not confuse that with a hyper-focus on metrics. 

SEO tools are their metrics really help with parts of the link building process, with extracting data and doing analysis at scale  – but it’s important to also not let it cloud our judgment, or introduce too much of a “numbers” approach to something, which is at its very essence, a creative and human-to-human endeavor. 

I’ll leave you here with a quote from the grandfather of link building, Eric Ward:

“these third-party tools do tend to focus on higher-quality sites, whereas Google crawls whatever it feels will help them improve the results for their end users. The little discussed issue here is that these tools have completely different goals and uses than Google. As an example, when Google comes across 70 million pages in a blog network in Russia, it’s in their best interest to crawl them to learn whatever they can from it. However, a third-party backlink tool is not going to crawl 70 million pages that ultimately don’t serve any value or surface any link targets for their paid users …………. The third-party linking tools however, have a different goal; they need to please paid subscribers by surfacing link targets. This is just one of the issues at play here, and I have spent hundreds of hours explaining to clients and others just how different do use tools work from Google, and just how careful one must be in how they utilize that data.”


How long does it take to increase domain authority?

How long is a piece of string? This is a bit of a cliche in SEO, but it truly does “depend” on a few factors. How many links are you acquiring, the velocity of that link growth and how that is in comparison to your niche competitors, will determine your domain authority. 

Now, when it comes to an SEO metric like domain authority and domain rating, this may increase rapidly, if you’re only trying to manipulate the score to get higher. But if you’re approaching this in terms of building up your true authority, it will be dependent on the links you’re acquiring, and the relevancy and authority of the sites on which you’re securing backlinks.

Neil Patel ran a study on 3 large sites ( Netlify, Digital Ocean, and Linode in the cloud software provider industry) and came to the following conclusion

“it takes about 23,000 – 25,000 referring domains to be in the mid to high 80 scores for domain rating”

However, there is a big caveat with this. It was necessary for those sites to get their authority levels that high, due to the size of the competition and the space they’re in. 

Here’s another study from Strategically, where they analyzed a set of 49 companies in the SaaS space over a 2 year period, to determine how many links they built, and how fast their traffic and DR metric grew. This graph illustrates some of that data. 

Data from Strategically's study

To summarize the conclusion of that extensive study, they determined that:

If you Increase your referring domains by 30% per quarter, you’ll experience a 9% increase in DR. 

Aside from this, If you’re in a relatively small niche, you may not even need to (or can even  feasibly reach) a very high authority level. In fact, you might reach in the 60s or 70s and find that you’ve dominated your market. After that point, you have to start expanding the pool of content and keywords you’re targeting to raise it further – in other words “niche up” and start competing with bigger players. 

What causes low domain authority?

Domain authority scores are mainly link-based, so low domain authority is generally caused by a relatively small, weak link profile. However, your definition of what you consider “low” is important here. 

If you are operating in a space which is very niche, and therefore, there isn’t really a large pool of potential sites where you can secure links, you may find that all your competitors have a low to moderate domain authority. Remember, domain authority metrics are relative. 

Here’s a graph from TrackMaven that illustrates the average domain authority, split by industry. It’s an old graph based on Domain Authority 1.0, but it’s likely it would be similar in recent years since DA 2.0 still is a relative metric. 

graph from TrackMaven illustrating domain authority split industry wise

So, your aim should be to aim for a higher domain authority than your SERP competitors, not necessarily to have an arbitrary number in mind or looking at sites like Hubspot and Mens Health – if that isn’t your niche. 

How often should I check my domain authority?

It’s good practice to check it at least every month, but some SEO tools do update their domain authority scores in almost real-time. Moz’s Link Index is constantly updating as it discovers new or lost links, and the changes in its database may affect your DA score as it adapts to the new data each day. 

However, keep in mind that the higher your domain authority goes, the longer it takes to increase, since DA is on a logarithmic scale, and it gets exponentially harder to raise domain authority. 

Does traffic increase domain authority?

Traffic increases in of itself does not directly increase domain authority. Domain authority scores from SEO tools especially, are link-based and while they can look at the authority scores of backlinks to determine your domain authority score – it doesn’t necessarily take the traffic quality and relevance of those links into account. Therefore, if you are doing really well with SEO and making large traffic gains, it may not necessarily translate into any significant change in domain authority. 

As well as that, it’s possible for a site within the same niche, to have a higher domain authority, but less traffic.