Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let's start with the basics:
What Is Domain Authority?
Developed by Moz, a software company that builds tools to assist in SEO, link building, content marketing and inbound marketing, Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking metric "that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs)." DA ranges from one to 100, with a higher score representative of a higher potential to rank.
Why is it important?
Many marketers use DA to evaluate the health of their website relative to those of their competitors, relying on the metric to prioritize link building opportunities, keywords to go after, and other strategies.
Seems straight forward enough, right? Wrong.
The issue with DA that has left many SEOs with much to be desired was how they went about calculating the score: weighing heavily on the amount of links a website gets, but not necessarily the quality of 1) those links, or 2) the content on that site.
This basically meant that DA had a hard time distinguishing between spammy links, leaving seasoned SEOs to not rely on it as much as link sellers did to determine the price of links.
In fact, according to an article in Search Engine Journal, devaluing link sellers is one of the main goals for Domain Authority 2.0.
So why the change now?
Moz’s Principal Search Scientist Russ Jones explains the reasoning for this update in the following statement:
"Domain Authority has become the industry standard for measuring the strength of a domain relative to ranking. We recognize that stability plays an important role in making Domain Authority valuable to our customers, so we wanted to make sure that the new Domain Authority brought meaningful changes to the table."
So what exactly are the changes?
The training set
Moz relied on training the original Domain Authority against a large, unmanipulated set of search results. The new Domain Authority is better at understanding sites that don't rank for any keywords at all.
The training algorithm
Moz is changing, from a complex linear model to a neural network. This offers several benefits, including detecting link manipulation.
The model factors
In addition to looking at link counts, Moz is now able to integrate their proprietary Spam Score and complex distributions of links based on quality and traffic, along with other factors.
The link index
The new Moz Link Explorer has more than 35 trillion links, using much more data-driven information to model your site against.
What does this mean?
According to Jones: "These fundamental improvements to Domain Authority will deliver a better, more trustworthy metric than ever before. We can remove spam, improve correlations, and, most importantly, update Domain Authority relative to all the changes that Google makes."
How will this affect marketers?
The change is coming on March 5, so expect to see some fluctuations in your score.
"You will see some changes to Domain Authority when the launch occurs," says Jones. "We staked the model to our existing Domain Authority which minimizes changes, but with all the improvements there will no doubt be some fluctuation in Domain Authority scores across the board."
Make sure you check on your competitors and industry leaders, too.
These changes will enable marketers to make more informed strategic and data-driven decisions. Having a more concrete DA that isn't skewed toward black hat link practices should reveal your true ranking potential, now that link buyers and sellers are becoming devalued.
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