Measuring Website effectiveness: DA (domain authority) vs PR (page rank)
The effectiveness of your website isn’t measured by how many bells and whistles your web designers have put into it. If that were the case, all it would take to be the most popular site in your domain would be great website design! But that isn’t the case.
Truer measures of website popularity come in the form of two metrics that are used today. One is called the PageRank (PR), and the other is known as Domain Authority (DA). Let’s take a closer look at these two.
PageRank (PR) Demystified
Google’s co-founder Larry Page came up with a highly effective way to rank websites, and then developed an algorithm to rank them. The metrics was named “PageRank” in honor of its creator. The concept of page ranking is simple:
- If a web site is truly useful to its readers an visitors, then it should appear higher up in Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
- For that to happen, the site should receive higher Page rankings than its peers in a similar niche
And the best way to measure “popularity” is to see how many other sites link to a particular website. That will be the true test of a sites’ value to its readers/visitors. However, in order to prevent abuse of the metric (such as by using Link Farms), there are two important elements of this requirement that Google’s PageRank system evaluate:
- How many sites link to a particular website?
- What is the authority or credibility of those sites?
By incorporating various permutations and combinations into the PageRank algorithm to test for these (and many other) criteria, Google is able to measure the effectiveness of a particular page.
While PageRank has served website raters well for a long time, its use has gradually declined. Google no longer publishes PageRank’s as frequently as before, reducing their public update cycle to just twice a year, with less frequent updates to come. However, PageRank is still used as part of Google’s internal evaluation of website effectiveness.
You can quickly check your website’s Page Rank by using third-party tools.
Domain Authority (DA) Demystified
Domain Authority (DA) is a third-party website measurement metric that was developed by Moz.Com to more accurately reflect what the true effectiveness/value of a website is. The algorithm-based metric ranks websites on a scale of 0 to 100, with the ideal DA being 100, and a site with no authority being rated a DA of 0.
Additionally, while DA uses its algorithm to focus on the entire site, a related metric, Page Authority (PA) uses similar calculations to compute the authority of each page within the site. DA leverages those metrics when building its final ranking of the overall domain.
DA is calculated using a number of sub-metrics, including the following key measurements:
- Number and quality of in-bound and out-bound links
- Age of the Domain
- Diversity of links
- Google’s PageRank for the site
- Patterns of website traffic (e.g. number of returning visitors, stickiness of visitors, bounce rates etc.)
- Value of pages within the site. For instance, the more pages that are linked to (by external sites) in a site, the greater value proposition is assigned to it
- Other metrics, including response time, uptime, broken links and other errors
The algorithm is designed to make it progressively harder for sites with higher-ranked DAs to move up the rating scale. For instance, it is easier for a site to graduate from a rating of 40 to 45, than it is for a site with a DA of 75 to get to a DA of 80. That’s because DA rankings hold high-rated sites to a much higher standard than those with lower DAs.
You may use Moz Tools for checking your DA.
SO, WHICH IS BETTER?
When deciding which of these two metrics ate the better one to use, one must consider the following:
- The use of PageRank has been actively downplayed by Google itself
- Google has reduced the number of PR updates
- Domain Authority uses individual Page Authority (PA) ratings when calculating its final score, while PageRank is associated with the overall site
- DA is not associated or aligned with Google, and therefore serves as a more respected independent rating system
- PR is heavily influenced by the weight of links, while DA uses many other broadly regarded signals to compute its final score
- With a ranking system from 0 to10, PR is less effective than the 0-100 rating scale of DA
- According to vibes sent out by Google, PR may not be enhanced or improved in the coming years. Moz.Com on the other hand is committed to expanding and investing in its DA service
PageRank is just one of over 200 signals that Google’s indexing uses when measuring a website. Over the years, Google has been openly publicising the fact that Webmasters should not assign undue importance to just this one metric to improve the rating of their site. Goggle has therefore been less forthcoming with its PageRank updates.
On the other hand, Domain Authority is fast becoming ever more popular as a website/page evaluation metric. That’s because of not only the broad-based nature of its composition, but also because of more frequent updates available.
Even though PR is waning in its use, it is not entirely dead yet. Webmasters should therefore make effective use of its when building their website ranking strategy. Additionally, since both DA and PR identify and use key website rating signals, it makes sense to incorporate metrics from both ranking systems as part of best practices to improve website ranking.
Anyone that still values their SERP results on Google should value PR, because it can still have some impact on how Google looks at their site, even though DA may directly not do so. But as Google starts withdrawing the importance it places on PR, it may become necessary for webmasters to review their website ranking strategy to lean more heavily towards DA and PA ratings.