In this post, I’m going to cover domain authority – what it is, how to check yours and how to improve it.
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What is domain authority and why does it matter?
In simple terms, domain authority (DA) is one of the key factors which determines how your site performs in search engines. It is scored between 1 and 100, and every site starts at 1 when it is created. As your domain authority increases, so does the ranking in search engines, which means there is a better chance of your site being seen.
From a blogging point of view, some opportunities are dependent on having a higher domain authority. You may have seen requests which state DA20+ which means you need a DA over 20 to be considered.
If you want to check your domain authority, you can do so here.
“Help – my domain authority is 1!”
If your site is new, this is normal, and it’s nothing to worry about. You are just starting out and there are plenty of ways to increase this. If your site is a few months old, and still have a low score, it could be you haven’t given domain authority much thought and therefore wouldn’t have taken steps to improve it. You’re here now, and we’re going to do something about it!
You should also know that the number doesn’t matter in comparison to all sites, just to those you may be competing with. For example, your number is bound to be much lower than a site like Twitter. This doesn’t matter. You need to pay attention to how it compares to others in your field – in this case, other bloggers.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to give it a boost.
1. Create good content
It all starts from this point. If you are creating strong content that people enjoy, they will be more likely to share it. You will have the respect of the community. In turn, you are likely to receive more opportunities, for things like guest posts (more on this in a sec!) I covered a little bit of what I consider good content at the end of this post.
2. Put effort into SEO
The whole reason for the existence of SEO is to help you do better in search engines. If you’re doing this, it’s likely your domain authority will reflect it in some way. Due to part of a role in a previous job, I have a very basic understanding of this. However, thankfully for all of us, there are plugins to help.
The one I – and many other people – use is Yoast. It takes a lot of the stress and hard work out of optimising your posts, believe me. It can still seem quite overwhelming if you know nothing about SEO, so here is a beginner’s guide to using the plugin.
3. Check your speed
You can use this site to check how quickly your site loads. Alternatively, you can use PageSpeed Insights from Google. With PageSpeed Insights, it is logical that the higher the score, the better, but what matters is that you are in the green. You don’t need to get a perfect score.
If your site is slow to load, people won’t hang around to wait for it. A high bounce rate can have a negative impact on your score. I believe the optimum loading time is less than 3 seconds. If it takes longer than this, it’s time to take a look at ways to reduce your loading time.
Here are some stats for my blog:
As you can see, I’m not doing too badly! However, it hasn’t always been this way. I had to use a few tips and tricks to get to this stage.
There are several things which can affect your speed, from your choice of web host to the number of plugins you are using.
A few suggestions:
- Is your theme created with SEO in mind? I have a paid theme from Pipdig so it was part of the package for me. However, you might be able to find a free one you like here. These themes are usually mobile friendly, too, which is becoming increasingly important in optimising your site.
- Review your plugins. Do you need all of them? If there’s any you can get rid of, do so. Plugins can significantly reduce your loading time, so if they’re not essential, I’d suggest getting rid of them.
- Are there a lot of images on your homepage? The file sizes of your images can be much larger than you think which prevents your site loading as quickly as it could. I use the Smush plugin to reduce the file sizes while retaining their quality.
- In terms of hosting, it is much better to be self-hosted. For my blog, I use SiteGround* and I’m more than happy with them. They consistently came up as one of the better hosting services when I was doing my research and have lived up to their good reputation so far.
As you can see from the screenshot, GT Metrix offers WordPress Optimisation tips which are here. I followed these steps and it made a big difference to my loading time! If you are not using WordPress, it may offer something similar for your platform when it has assessed your site.
4. Do guest posts
One of the most influential factors on your DA is the number of links back to your site. So, when you guest post on another blog, they usually include a link back to your own blog and this helps your DA. It’s particularly helpful if this site has a higher domain authority than yours.
To do guest posts, you can ask other bloggers you know, or look on Twitter. There are sometimes requests shared under the #bloggerswanted hashtag. You can also use this hashtag to request to do a guest post. #bloggerrequest is another hashtag you could include. Here’s an example: “Mental health/lifestyle blogger looking for guest post opportunities. Please get in touch if you have any available. #bloggerswanted #bloggerrequest”
Another way is to consider what your speciality is and search it alongside “write for us” in Google. In my case, I am passionate about writing about mental health. I searched “mental health write for us” and discovered A Lust For Life. I submitted an article to them, which they featured on their site, including a link back to my blog. Their domain authority is 32, so it reflected positively on my site. My current domain authority is 15, but would have been much lower at the time of submission.
5. Interlink your posts
You have probably noticed bloggers will sometimes end a post with “if you enjoy this, you might like this” and link to another of their posts. Alternatively, they may link to different posts throughout where they are relevant. An example of this would be in the “create good content” section above where I linked to my post about boosting traffic. The reason for this is it strengthens the link profile of your site. This is another factor when scoring your DA.
If you don’t have a lot of content right now, this can be difficult to do. In my first few posts, I would include links to my contact me or about me page instead. When you have created more content, you can go back and edit your posts to add more appropriate links.
Bonus: Give it time
I know, it’s not what you want to hear, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a while to build up your domain authority. Yes, the first four points will help but it’s not going to suddenly shoot through the roof. As you get higher up the rating system, it becomes more difficult to improve your domain authority. So, it’s easier to go from 1-20 than it is to go from 40-50. However, if you remain aware of the things you need to do and consistently implement them, you should continue to do well.