Want Higher Domain Authority? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

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Last updated on March 4, 2024

Here’s the thing about domain authority:

You have to work for it. But at least you know how to get it in most contexts.

If you want authority in your workplace, you get promoted. If you want more authority as an expert in something, you get a degree or get published. And so on.

But what about your website? How do you increase your domain authority?

It’s hard to increase your domain authority (DA), too. And sometimes, the path to doing so is a lot less clear than it is in other areas.

Let’s clear that up today. Here’s everything you need to know about how to increase your domain authority.

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Want Higher Domain Authority? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

WTF Are DA and DR?

In the world of websites, authority is measurable. That’s because domain authority (DA) and domain rating (DR) are metrics that major SEO tools invented.

They’re just numbers. They go from 0 to 100, with 0 being the lowest authority and 100 being the highest.

Those numbers are calculated based on a number of factors. But in most cases, they boil down to your backlink profile.

(We’ll dive deeper into the calculation later on in this article.)

Why Should You Care?

Trust me on this:

No one at Google HQ is talking about the DA or DR of your website. Or any website.

That’s because Moz invented DA and Ahrefs invented DR. These aren’t Google products or metrics.

So, we should just ignore website authority metrics altogether, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Here’s why:

The fact that these are invented metrics doesn’t invalidate their usefulness.

More specifically, these website authority metrics are a GREAT way to assess how well your website is going to perform from an SEO standpoint.

Higher domain authority means a higher chance of ranking well for the keywords you want to rank for.

It’s not a guarantee. There are no guarantees in SEO. But it’s as close as you can get.

That’s why you should care about DA and DR.

How SEO Tools Calculate Website Authority

But really, how is it that you can plug pretty much any website into Moz, Ahrefs or Semrush and instantaneously get a DA or DR number?

It’s not simple, but the basic idea is this:

These tools use their own bots (much like Google’s bots or spiders) to crawl the web. They follow links, and when they follow a link from one site to yours, they record that.

In fact, they record a lot of stuff surrounding each backlink your site has. They do it for pretty much all sites.

Then, they feed all that raw data into their own algorithms. Those algorithms spit out a website authority number.

Now, let’s look more closely at some of the key factors those algorithms take into account:

The Authority of Sites Linking to Yours

To calculate your domain authority, SEO tools look at the authority of domains that link to yours.

Each backlink adds to your score. But a backlink from a domain with an authority score of 100 is moving the needle A LOT more than a backlink from a domain with an authority of 1.

This is one of the reasons why DA and DR are central considerations when you’re building backlinks.

Backlinks from domains with higher domain authority are more valuable.

If you’re paying from them, you’ll pay more. And if you’re building them through other means, you’ll work harder.

It’s pretty much guaranteed to work this way. That’s because website owners know what they have.

They’re well aware that they have high domain authority and what that means for the backlinks they provide.

Other Outbound Links on Your Referring Domains

Two links from two virtually identical sites (in terms of domain authority) won’t be exactly equal in value.

That’s because the two sites linking to you are likely linking to a different number of OTHER sites. And the link from the domain linking to more sites will increase your authority less.

Remember: Each backlink passes link juice (authority) from its source to its destination.

More links on a page means more places for that link juice to go. And that splits up the link juice across multiple sites.

So, if you get a link from a page that has 10,000 links to other sites on it, it’s not exactly useless. But it’s definitely not as good as a link from a similar page with only your link on it.

The Total Number of Referring Domains You Have

When it comes to how domain authority is calculated, the easiest factor to understand is referring domains.

This is just a basic number. It’s the number of separate websites you have linking to your website.

Don’t get it twisted:

Getting 1,000 backlinks from different pages on the same site will still only count as one referring domain. We’re talking about the websites themselves — not the individual pages.

While there’s nothing wrong with getting multiple links from the same site, it’s just not as impactful as adding a referring domain to your backlink profile.

Each referring domain represents a decision by a website owner to link to your website. It’s a vote of confidence.

We know Google sees that and factors it into rankings. And SEO tools see it and factor it into domain authority calculations.

How to Increase Your Domain Authority

As you can see from the points above, domain authority is pretty much all about backlinks.

So, the simplest way to increase your domain authority is to get more backlinks.

But there are dozens of ways to do that. And some are MUCH better than others.

Build More Backlinks

Backlinks are a numbers game. The more you have, the better.

(As long as they’re relevant and not spammy or toxic.)

So, if you want to increase your domain authority, you need to build more backlinks.

How do you do that? There are a few ways:

Guest Posting

Guest posting is the process of writing a blog post for another website. In that blog post, you include a link to your website.

When the other site publishes your guest post, you get a backlink. Simple.

Many websites will charge you for this. (Not all will, but the best ones always do.)

So, consider guest posting to be a part of your SEO budget. It’s a semi-guaranteed and efficient way to increase the total number of backlinks you have.

As an added bonus, you’re usually given some degree of control over the anchor text you use within guest posts.

That’s going to be hugely helpful in building your backlink profile over the long term.

How do you find websites relevant to yours that are accepting guest posts? You can always use a link building service like mine, but if you want to try your hand at it, do this:

Google your industry followed by “write for us” (note the quotation marks). If you’re a personal injury attorney, you would Google this:

Personal injury law “write for us”

And here’s what you’d see:
how to get guest post opportunities

Go through each of those results and add them to a spreadsheet. Then, contact them one by one with your guest post pitch.

When one accepts, start writing. And soon you’ll have your first DIY guest post backlink.

Link Gap Analysis

If you have access to an SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush, you’re in possession of an incredibly powerful link building resource.

They all call it something different, but here’s the basic idea:

You look at the backlinks your competitors have. And compare them to yours.

You note the ones they have and you don’t. And then you pursue links on those domains missing from your backlink profile.

Here’s how it works in Semrush (and it’s really similar in other SEO tools):

  • Go to Backlink Gap.
  • Add your domain in the top row.
  • Add your competitors’ domains in the subsequent rows.
  • Click Find Prospects.
  • Review the results. You should see a complete list of referring domains your competitors have that you don’t.



You probably won’t have to go looking for directories to sign up for. Most of them like to charge a monthly or annual fee, so their salespeople are coming to you.

Don’t ignore them. Hear them out.

Business directories often provide relevant backlinks. This is a quick and easy (although sometimes costly) way to get more backlinks.

Don’t get me wrong:

Directory links aren’t going to send your rankings skyrocketing (probably).

But they WILL help. And they’re almost certainly going to be present in your competitors’ backlink profiles.

Build Better Backlinks

What makes one backlink better than the other for increasing your own domain authority?

Domain authority. The DA of the website you’re trying to get a link from matters.

So, when possible, aim for sites with higher domain authority. Their backlinks will increase your website’s authority faster.

To understand the authority of any site you might get a link from, just plug the site into your SEO tool of choice.

Here’s what that looks like in Semrush:

Go to Domain Overview. Paste the domain into the search bar.

And check out the authority score:
DA example SEMrush

Create Incredible Content

Great content gets backlinks.

It’s not a guarantee that every blog post you publish is going to generate 1,000 links. But over time, creating unique, helpful content will increase your domain authority.

That’s because it will generate backlinks.

So, what’s great content?

It needs to be:

  • Well-written
  • Actually useful
  • Original

Proprietary data, studies, expert opinions, online tools and statistics are all great examples of content that generates links.

But use your imagination: What kind of content are you uniquely qualified to create? What kind of value will it add for those who might want to link to you?

Where DA and DR Fall Short

You know how to increase your domain authority. That’s great. But you haven’t solved SEO.

Here’s why:

DA and DR are just metrics. They can be gamed and manipulated. In fact, that happens all the time.

So, use DA and DR. Measure them for your own site and for sites you’re seeking backlinks from.

But also check traffic. And conversions. And the website itself. Is it ACTUALLY good? And relevant to your website?

Here’s a thought exercise for to bring this into focus:

If I create a website today, it has a domain authority of 0. But I have big plans. In a year, I’m going to have that DA over 50.

You can see my site has potential. Do you want a backlink from it? Of course you do. Because eventually, you’ll have a backlink from a DA 50 site (even if it’s DA 0 right now).

In other words:

Domain authority isn’t everything.

Let domain authority be a tool in your toolbox — not your only guiding light.

Build Links, Build Authority, Build Your Business

Want the simple answer to how to build domain authority?

Build backlinks.

That’s how you increase your domain authority.

And higher domain authority helps you rank for more keywords and in better positions.

That’s the ultimate goal of SEO. And it’s how you build your traffic, leads and, ultimately, business.

Further reading: Think Google PageRank Is Dead? Think Again

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