Domain Authority: Is It A Google Ranking Element?

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Many business and online marketers think that Domain Authority is a huge offer.

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

But does a higher Domain Authority really lead to better rankings?

In this chapter, we will explore what Domain Authority is and the evidence 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 should understand what Domain Authority is.

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

As VentureSkies describes it, the basic meaning of domain authority is as follows:

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

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

Domain Authority by Moz is calculated using lots of factors, consisting of the variety of connecting root domains and the total variety of links. The score itself is shown on a 100-point scale.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Moz is not the only SEO platform that has established a metric for measuring site authority. You will likewise 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 shows 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 determines the general quality and SEO efficiency of a domain or website.
  • Majestic has Circulation Metric Scores that determine the variety of links a site has and the quality of the site’s content.

The Claim: Domain Authority As A Ranking Factor

Numerous short articles going over Domain Authority describe it as a search engine ranking score and recommend it is a good predictor of how well a website will carry out in SERPs for targeted keyword phrases.

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

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

But continue reading– the evidence ends up being clear.

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Aspect: The Proof

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

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

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

“We don’t have “authority”, but signals should hand down, yes.”

In 2016, Illyes responded to a question about whether including or eliminating pages from a site affected its domain authority.

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

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

“We do not actually have ‘overall domain authority’. A text link with anchor text is better though”

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

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

“Google does not utilize ‘domain authority'”

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

Mueller’s action acknowledged that:

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

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

“‘Domain Authority (DA) is an online search engine ranking score established by Moz’ so exists = yes. Online search engine do not use it.”

In 2019, when inquired about a site-wide metric similar to Domain Authority on Twitter, Mueller responded to:

“We do not utilize domain authority. We usually try to have our metrics as granular as possible, often that’s not so easy, in which case we take a look at things a bit more comprehensive (eg, we’ve spoken about this in concerns to some of the older quality updates).”

Later that year, a Twitter user asked if a drop in search engine traffic was due to a loss in Domain Authority. Mueller replied:

“We don’t use domain authority, that’s a metric from an SEO company. I ‘d advise beginning a thread in the help forum with the details, including the URLs & inquiries you’re seeing modifications in.”

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

“We don’t utilize domain authority at all in our algorithms.”

A few months later on, Mueller was asked how essential Domain Authority was to crawling webpages much faster on Twitter.

“Just to be clear, Google doesn’t use Domain Authority * at all * when it pertains to Search crawling, indexing, or ranking. This is pretty clear on their site.

We do, however, index tweets that discuss it.”

Up till that point, Google agents seem 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 before, this answer hints at a possible DA-like metric in Google’s algorithm.

“I don’t understand if I ‘d call it authority like that, however 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 question about Domain Authority on Reddit. The concern was how to increase a website with a Domain Authority of 31. Mueller responded to:

“I’m kinda torn. On the one hand, you do not require DA for Google Browse. Google does not utilize it * at all *. If you want to level your site up in search, you ‘d require 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 numerous SEOs. For context, I do not think I have actually ever looked up the DA for a site in the 14 years I’ve been doing this.”

He provided extra advice on how one might improve a domain’s authority by concentrating on a subject with low competitors and developing “… a sensible collection of fantastic content” about that subject.

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

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Signal: Our Decision

Domain Authority (DA) by Moz is similar to Domain Rank (DR) by Ahrefs, the Semrush Authority

Rating, and Flow Metric Ratings by Majestic. They are all authority metrics computed by third-party tools that have no real impact on online search engine rankings.

While Mueller when recommended that Google has metrics that map into similar things as Domain Authority, he has consistently denied the use of Domain Authority by Moz on Twitter and Reddit.

He also 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/SMM Panel