Should you care about it?
Webmasters, website builders and tech-savvy online marketers will know by now that Google’s PageRank (PR) system of rating websites is probably on its last legs. While PRs will likely still figure prominently in Google’s “internal” ranking system, public updates will be fewer and further between.
More recently, the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) ranking system by SEOMoz has gained popularity as the de facto industry standards to measure authority and popularity of websites. The question however is: Is factoring a sites DA really important when developing a link-building strategy? Should you even care about it?
Let’s try to answer those questions for you today.
HOW DA IS CALCULATED MATTERS
To understand why a good link building strategy should take a sites DA into consideration, it is first necessary to briefly explain how DA is calculated. It is based on a 100-point rating that aggregates multiple other metrics, such as:
- Moz Trust
- Link Profile
- Age of the site etc.
All in all, there are over 40+ signals that go into producing a site’s DA.
Think of DA as being equivalent of your Credit Score. When someone wants to understand how good of a credit risk you are, they don’t have to call up your bank, insurance company, mortgage lender, credit card Company etc. Instead, they review your Credit Score and draw a conclusion about you. The Credit Score takes into consideration a number of factors to build your score, including:
- How many times your credit card has “bounced”
- How well you pay your bills (on-time or not)
- How much credit you currently have overdue, etc.
And like your Credit Score, a websites DA is a consolidation of several metrics that provide an indication of how one site matches up against another. Link builders therefore get a pretty good picture of the quality of a link from/to a site by studying it’s DA.
DA – GOOD, BUT NOT DEFINITIVE
So, now that you understand why the way DA is calculated matters to your link building strategy, the next question is: Should you really care?
The correct answer is: YES, but not entirely. If that sounds like a copout answer – it’s not! Let me explain.
Let’s say there is a new Blog launched last month by a very famous and knowledgeable individual in your particular niche. He has awesome content. He is well respected throughout the industry. And he has brand recognition in his favour. But because he just launched the blog, (let’s assume) his DA is in the low 30’s.
On the other hand, let’s say there’s a Blog in your niche that’s been around for a year, which doesn’t have such great content, but has accumulated a fairly large following of visitors and content contributors. Its DA sits in the high 60’s.
QUESTION: Given these two sites, which one would you rather have links from/to?
The answer is not a definitive one. Good link building strategists won’t pick one site over the other without going into further detailed analysis.
LINK “LIKING” DECISION
At first glance, I bet you’re more inclined to choose “The site with the higher DA!”. The key to liking one site over the other however is far more complex than what meets the eye. And here’s why:
- It’s true that, generally speaking, sites with higher DA ratings make for better link candidates (in/out-bound) than those with lower DA’s
- It’s also true that your own sites DA may be influenced by the quality of the DA of sites that you are associated with (link to, or receive links from)
- But it’s also true that the type of content and the overall credibility of sites matter too, which means those factors need to be considered as part of your “link liking” decision making process
So, the more “practical” response to the question about which of the two sites to link to/receive links from would probably be: Both. And here’s why:
Being relatively new, the site with a DA in the low 30’s in the example above is constrained by its back link profile. It doesn’t have as many back links as its other competitor that’s been around for a year. So that does impact its DA. However, since the content available is hugely authentic and credible, your readers will likely reward your own site if you host (or post) links to/from that site.
On the flip side, the site with a DA in the high 60’s is also a great link candidate, because it has an established pool of visitors and followers in the same niche as your own. That makes many cross-selling and cross-marketing opportunities available to you. So why wouldn’t you guest blog there (or host their link!) if you are asked to?
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s absolutely no denying that Domain Authority is extremely important when putting in place a sound link building strategy. And in years to come, as Google’s PR is phased out, DA will likely become the undisputed king of how websites are evaluated and rated. So you should care about DA. However, that’s not the only factor to consider when deciding on links.
In general, as we demonstrated with the hypothetical example above, you shouldn’t shy away from linking (or hosting links) to sites with low DA ratings. Having natural links from high-quality sites with DA of, say, 30-35 is much better than having unnatural links from sites that have DA in the high 60’s.
Also remember: There definitely are some sites out there that may have low DA that you should absolutely avoid at all cost!
But the decision to disavow a site shouldn’t be based solely and purely on its DA. Many other factors should be considered when deciding to link or not to link to a site, and DA is just one of them. If you develop your link building strategy simply on one metric, chances are that you and your visitors/readers/clients may be missing out on what some great sites have to offer.