There are many metrics you can measure a website’s link equity. Most SEOs used to talk about PR or PageRank, which is one of Google’s measure of links.
After Google stopped updating the public PR metrics, people turned to third-party metrics, like Domain Authority.
The Rise in Popularity of Domain Authority (DA)
One such metric is Domain authority or DA. This is Moz’s metric and it has turned into a very popular link metric over the years.
You can check the DA of a website for free by using Moz’s chrome extension, or by going to opensiteexplorer.com:
It’s not the best idea to only use DA. Yet, I see many people relying pretty heavily on this one metric. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great metric to consider. We all look at it. But, there are also many other metrics you should be looking at in conjunction with DA/PA.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is an SEO metric developed by Moz. The Domain authority, often just referred to as DA, ranges from 0-100 and it predicts how likely a website will rank in Google.
Their other main metric is PA or Page Authority. This one looks at the links of an individual page, whereas Domain Authority looks at all links on your entire website (domain wide links).
Note that DA is based on a logarithmic scale. This means that it is much harder to get from DA 60 to DA 70 than it is to get from DA 20 to DA 30. It also means that the higher the DA the harder it is going to be to compete, holding all else equal.
Also, note that domain authority should be used as a relative score. So when Moz updates things on their end, it may change the DA of all sites. So don’t look at is as a yardstick that stays constant, with a constant measure, use it as a yardstick to use against other websites.
What does domain authority include?
So how is domain authority calculated? It uses a variety of factors and it uses machine learning to come up with a Domain Authority calculation. Some of the following are included in the domain authority calculation:
- Linking Root Domains
- Total number of links
- Many other (40 Total)
Can links with a lower DA harm your site?
The short answer is no.
Many people will question whether you should strive to get links from domains with a lower DA. They wonder if it’s a worthwhile link and they even question whether it will hurt their site.
This is a good question, with a pretty straightforward answer: It doesn’t matter what DA the website is that is linking to you.
DA doesn’t really take into account the quality of the links – at least it doesn’t do a very good job at that (in my opinion). It only accounts for the overall level of links.
So if your site has a DA of 15 and you acquire a link from a DA 10, it may be a great link! Obviously, a DA 30 is going to (theoretically) transfer more link equity to your site than a DA 10.
I say may, because there are other factors that decide whether a link is a high or low-quality link.
DA isn’t as good at taking into account link quality
One of the biggest flaws I see with people using DA alone is that it doesn’t take into account the quality of the link. Well, it does use MozTrust as a factor, but I don’t think the DA score accurately describes the quality of links.
I like to use trust ratio for that. The trust ratio uses majestic’s trust flow and citation flow to get the trust ratio. This gives us a quick view of how “trustworthy” the links are.
Remember how I was saying you should look at several metrics? That’s why I love Serped, as it combines the metrics of many tools to give me a quick overview of a website’s authority and trust.
Of course, you can’t rely on trust ratio or any other metric for that matter to decipher how good a link is or, said another way, how good a site’s link profile is.
You should use a variety of tools, and manual inspection. The trust ratio is great because it gives you a quick and dirty way to tell if the links are low quality, so this allows you to check the quality of many links at once.
Benefits of lower DA sites
Easier to acquire lower DA links
One benefit of getting links from lower DA sites is that they are usually easier to reach out to the site owners and acquire a link.
This is especially the case if you have a newer site or a site that is less well known.
If your site is new and has a lower DA and you are reaching out to the big dogs in your niche, they probably won’t link to you very much.
Otherwise, you will probably have much better luck networking and building relationships with other smaller sites. You can do this until you build authority and are more able to portray the trust needed for other bigger sites to want to link to you.
If your site also has a lower DA site and don’t have as much authority, you will probably earn few influencer links, compared to reaching out to fellow lower authority sites. You will probably be able to earn much more from fellow low authority sites.
Sadly that’s just the way it is. The exception is if you have really good content, that is valuable to their audience. Then, with good outreach or social media efforts, you may get a good amount of links.
In general, though, you’ll be able to score more links from similar authority stance that you have than you can get links from way bigger influencers. For instance what if you were able to acquire 5 DA 20 links in the same time it took you to acquire 1 DA 40 site.
This may not be the case and it all depends on your niche. It’s something worth considering.
Its an Investment from their growth
When you get a link from a site with lower domain authority, chances are they could be a newer site who is just getting started.
If they happen to start creating great content and attract good links over time, they will increase their Domain authority over time.
So what once was a meager DA 10 link could grow into a DA 30 link over time. This happens all the time, but it can take time for their site to grow.