Domain Authority: Is It A Google Ranking Factor?

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

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

But does a greater Domain Authority actually lead to better rankings?

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

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What Is Domain Authority?

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

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

As VentureSkies explains it, the general meaning of domain authority is as follows:

“The domain authority of a website describes how crucial the website is for a particular targeted discipline [and] importance with respect to … search words.”

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

Domain Authority by Moz is determined using lots of aspects, consisting of the number of linking root domains and the total number of links. Ball game 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 determining site authority. You will likewise find that:

  • Ahrefs has an Ahrefs Rank and Domain Ranking. AR ranks sites in the Ahrefs database by the size and quality of their backlinks, while Domain Rating 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 total quality and SEO performance of a domain or webpage.
  • Majestic has Flow Metric Ratings that measure the number of links a site has and the quality of the website’s material.

The Claim: Domain Authority As A Ranking Element

Many articles going over Domain Authority describe it as a search engine ranking score and recommend it is a great predictor of how well a site will perform in SERPs for targeted keyword expressions.

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

There is even a fascinating Twitter 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.

However continue reading– the proof becomes clear.

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Factor: The Evidence

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

“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 asked about authority passing from HTTP to HTTPS. His reaction:

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

In 2016, Illyes answered a question about whether including or getting rid of pages from a site affected its domain authority.

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

A few weeks later, during a conversation about linking to image files or websites for an effect on domain authority, Illyes replied:

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

From there, you will find many verifications from John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google, that Domain Authority exists however that Google does not utilize it.

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

“Google doesn’t use ‘domain authority'”

In 2018, somebody 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 Twitter if Domain Authority existed– once again– Mueller responded:

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

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

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

Later on that year, a Twitter user asked if a drop in online 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 recommend starting a thread in the help forum with the information, consisting of the URLs & questions you’re seeing changes in.”

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

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

A couple of months later, Mueller was asked how important Domain Authority was to crawling websites much faster on Twitter.

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

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

Up till that point, Google representatives 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 do not 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 sort of map into comparable things.”

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

“I’m kinda torn. On the one hand, you do not need DA for Google Browse. Google doesn’t use it * at all *. If you wish to level your site up in search, you ‘d require to focus on something else, or a minimum of utilize other metrics for it. This is primarily why DA as a metric is discredited by many SEOs. For context, I do not think I’ve ever looked up the DA for a site in the 14 years I’ve been doing this.”

He used extra suggestions on how one might improve a domain’s authority by focusing on a topic with low competitors and producing “… an affordable collection of wonderful content” about that topic.

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 resembles Domain Rank (DR) by Ahrefs, the Semrush Authority

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

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

He also noted that they do not call anything they do internally “domain authority.”

For that reason, we can conclude that Domain Authority is definitely not a ranking factor.

Included Image: Paulo Bobita/SMM Panel