Domain Authority: Is It A Google Ranking Element?

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Numerous companies and marketers believe that Domain Authority is a big deal.

There are guides everywhere about how you can enhance your site’s Domain Authority for much better rankings in search results.

However does a higher Domain Authority really result in better rankings?

In this chapter, we will explore what Domain Authority is and the evidence regarding whether it is a Google ranking element.

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What Is Domain Authority?

To understand whether Domain Authority belongs of the Google algorithm, initially, we should understand what Domain Authority is.

First, there is domain authority– the concept– and Domain Authority (DA), the metric by Moz.

As VentureSkies explains it, the basic definition of domain authority is as follows:

“The domain authority of a site describes how important the website is for a particular targeted subject area [and] significance with respect to … search words.”

Then, there’s Moz’s Domain Authority or DA score, which specifies the metric as “… a search engine ranking rating developed by Moz that anticipates how most likely a website is to rank in online search engine result pages (SERPs).”

Domain Authority by Moz is computed utilizing dozens of aspects, including the variety of connecting root domains and the total variety of links. The score itself is displayed on a 100-point scale.

It deserves noting that Moz is not the only SEO platform that has actually developed a metric for measuring website authority. You will likewise discover that:

  • Ahrefs has an Ahrefs Rank and Domain Score. AR ranks sites in the Ahrefs database by the size and quality of their backlinks, while Domain Score reveals the strength of a website’s backlink profile compared to others in the Ahrefs database on a 100-point scale.
  • Semrush has an Authority Rating that determines the overall quality and SEO efficiency of a domain or web page.
  • Majestic has Flow Metric Scores that determine the number of links a website has and the quality of the site’s material.

The Claim: Domain Authority As A Ranking Element

Many short articles discussing Domain Authority describe it as an online search engine ranking rating and recommend it is an excellent predictor of how well a site will carry out in SERPs for targeted keyword expressions.

This can lead some to believe that Domain Authority is a ranking element for search engines like Google.

There is even an interesting Buy Twitter Verification thread in 2020 from the co-founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin, showing internal files from Google, suggesting Google does have a domain authority-like metric.

But continue reading– the evidence becomes clear.

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Factor: The Evidence

Moz’s website states its Domain Authority rating does not effect Google search results.

“Domain Authority is not a Google ranking aspect and has no impact on the SERPs.”

In 2015, Gary Illyes, Chief of Sunlight and Happiness at Google, was inquired about authority passing from HTTP to HTTPS. His action:

“We do not have “authority”, but signals need to hand down, yes.”

In 2016, Illyes addressed a question about whether adding or getting rid of pages from a website affected its domain authority.

“so, my problem is that I do not know of anything in ranking that would equate to “domain authority”, so can’t address”

A couple of weeks later on, throughout a conversation about connecting to image files or webpages for an influence on domain authority, Illyes responded:

“We don’t really have ‘general domain authority’. A text relate to anchor text is much better though”

From there, you will find lots of verifications from John Mueller, Browse Advocate at Google, that Domain Authority exists however that Google doesn’t use it.

In December 2016, Mueller responded to a remark about a desktop domain having greater authority.

“Google does not use ‘domain authority'”

In 2018, someone asked if Domain Authority existed on a Reddit AMA with Mueller.

Mueller’s response acknowledged that:

“Of course it exists, it’s a tool by Moz.”

Later on that year, when asked on Buy Twitter Verification if Domain Authority existed– again– Mueller reacted:

“‘Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking rating established by Moz’ so exists = yes. Search engines don’t utilize it.”

In 2019, when asked about a site-wide metric comparable to Domain Authority on Buy Twitter Verification, Mueller addressed:

“We don’t use domain authority. We typically try to have our metrics as granular as possible, sometimes that’s not so simple, in which case we take a look at things a bit wider (eg, we’ve spoken about this in regards to a few of the older quality updates).”

Later that year, a Buy Twitter Verification user asked if a drop in online search engine traffic was because of a loss in Domain Authority. Mueller responded:

“We don’t utilize domain authority, that’s a metric from an SEO business. I ‘d advise starting a thread in the help online forum with the information, including the URLs & questions you’re seeing changes in.”

In 2020, Mueller received another concern about domain authority. This time, someone asked if backlinks from high domain authority websites matter in website rankings. His reaction:

“We do not utilize domain authority at all in our algorithms.”

A few months later, Mueller was asked how important Domain Authority was to crawling websites quicker on Buy Twitter Verification.

“Just to be clear, Google doesn’t utilize Domain Authority * at all * when it concerns Browse crawling, indexing, or ranking. This is pretty clear on their website.

We do, however, index tweets that talk about it.”

Up till that point, Google agents appear clear that there is no usage of Domain Authority. Nevertheless, in a late 2020 interview with SearchLove, Mueller was quizzed on whether Google had a domain authority-like metric.

Unlike the ones before, this answer hints at a possible DA-like metric in Google’s algorithm.

“I don’t know if I ‘d call it authority like that, but we do have some metrics that are more on a website level, some metrics that are more on a page level, and a few of those site-wide level metrics might kind of map into similar things.”

In 2022, Mueller answered another concern about Domain Authority on Reddit. The concern was how to increase a site with a Domain Authority of 31. Mueller responded to:

“I’m kinda torn. On the one hand, you do not require DA for Google Search. Google does not utilize it * at all *. If you ‘d like to level your website up in search, you ‘d require to focus on something else, or at least use other metrics for it. This is mostly why DA as a metric is discredited by many SEOs. For context, I don’t believe I’ve ever searched for the DA for a website in the 14 years I’ve been doing this.”

He used additional advice on how one could improve a domain’s authority by concentrating on a subject with low competition and creating “… an affordable collection of great content” about that subject.

He stressed that user signals, not any kind of authority rating, would be what moves the needle.

[Advised Read:] Google Ranking Aspects: Truth or Fiction

Domain Authority As A Ranking Signal: Our Verdict

Domain Authority (DA) by Moz is similar to Domain Rank (DR) by Ahrefs, the Semrush Authority Rating, and Flow Metric Scores by Majestic. They are all authority metrics computed by third-party tools that have no actual result on online search engine rankings.

While Mueller when suggested that Google has metrics that map into comparable things as Domain Authority, he has actually repeatedly denied the use of Domain Authority by Moz on Buy Twitter Verification and Reddit.

He also kept in mind that they do not call anything they do internally “domain authority.”

Therefore, we can conclude that Domain Authority is certainly not a ranking factor.

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