Domain Authority: Is It A Google Ranking Element?

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

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

However does a higher Domain Authority in fact lead to much better rankings?

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

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What Is Domain Authority?

To understand whether Domain Authority is a part of the Google algorithm, first, we need to understand what Domain Authority is.

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

As VentureSkies describes it, the general meaning 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] relevance with regard to … search words.”

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

Domain Authority by Moz is determined using lots of elements, including the number of linking root domains and the total number of links. The score itself is shown on a 100-point scale.

It’s worth noting that Moz is not the only SEO platform that has developed a metric for determining website authority. You will also find that:

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

The Claim: Domain Authority As A Ranking Aspect

Numerous articles discussing Domain Authority refer to it as an online search engine ranking score and suggest it is an excellent predictor of how well a website will perform in SERPs for targeted keyword phrases.

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

There is even a fascinating Buy Twitter Verified thread in 2020 from the co-founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin, revealing internal files from Google, recommending Google does have a domain authority-like metric.

However continue reading– the proof becomes clear.

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Element: The Proof

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

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

In 2015, Gary Illyes, Chief of Sunshine and Happiness at Google, was asked about authority passing from HTTP to HTTPS. His reaction:

“We don’t have “authority”, however signals must pass on, yes.”

In 2016, Illyes answered a concern about whether including or removing pages from a website impacted its domain authority.

“so, my problem is that I don’t know of anything in ranking that would translate to “domain authority”, so can’t respond to”

A couple of weeks later on, during a discussion about linking to image files or web pages for an impact on domain authority, Illyes replied:

“We don’t truly have ‘total domain authority’. A text link with anchor text is better though”

From there, you will discover lots of confirmations from John Mueller, Browse Supporter at Google, that Domain Authority exists but that Google does not 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 reaction acknowledged that:

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

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

“‘Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking rating established by Moz’ so exists = yes. Online search engine do not utilize it.”

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

“We do not utilize domain authority. We typically attempt to have our metrics as granular as possible, in some cases that’s not so easy, in which case we look at things a bit broader (eg, we’ve talked about this in regards to a few of the older quality updates).”

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

“We don’t use domain authority, that’s a metric from an SEO business. I ‘d suggest beginning a thread in the assistance online forum with the details, consisting of the URLs & questions you’re seeing changes in.”

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

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

A few months later on, Mueller was asked how important Domain Authority was to crawling websites much faster on Buy Twitter Verified.

“Simply to be clear, Google does not utilize Domain Authority * at all * when it pertains to Search crawling, indexing, or ranking. This is quite clear on their website.

We do, nevertheless, index tweets that speak about it.”

Up up until that point, Google representatives appear clear that there is no use 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 prior to, 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 type of map into similar things.”

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

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

He offered additional suggestions on how one might improve a domain’s authority by concentrating on a topic with low competition and producing “… an affordable collection of fantastic content” about that topic.

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

[Advised Read:] Google Ranking Factors: Fact 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 Circulation Metric Ratings by Majestic. They are all authority metrics calculated by third-party tools that have no real result on search engine rankings.

While Mueller once recommended that Google has metrics that map into similar things as Domain Authority, he has actually repeatedly rejected using Domain Authority by Moz on Buy Twitter Verified and Reddit.

He likewise noted that they don’t call anything they do internally “domain authority.”

For that reason, we can conclude that Domain Authority is certainly not a ranking element.

Included Image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel

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