Domain Authority: Is It A Google Ranking Aspect?

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Lots of companies and marketers believe that Domain Authority is a big deal.

There are guides all over about how you can increase your site’s Domain Authority for better rankings in search results page.

But does a higher Domain Authority in fact result in much better rankings?

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

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What Is Domain Authority?

To understand whether Domain Authority is a part of the Google algorithm, initially, we should understand what Domain Authority is.

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

As VentureSkies explains it, the basic definition of domain authority is as follows:

“The domain authority of a website describes how essential the site is for a specific targeted subject area [and] relevance with regard to … search words.”

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

Domain Authority by Moz is calculated using dozens of aspects, including the variety of connecting root domains and the total variety of links. Ball game itself is displayed 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 also 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 Ranking 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 Rating that measures the general quality and SEO performance of a domain or website.
  • Majestic has Circulation Metric Ratings that measure the variety of links a website has and the quality of the website’s material.

The Claim: Domain Authority As A Ranking Element

Lots of posts going over Domain Authority describe it as a search engine ranking rating and suggest it is an excellent predictor of how well a site will carry out in SERPs for targeted keyword phrases.

This can lead some to believe that Domain Authority is a ranking factor for online search engine like Google.

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

But continue reading– the proof becomes clear.

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Element: The Evidence

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

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

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

“We do not have “authority”, but signals need to 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 don’t understand of anything in ranking that would translate to “domain authority”, so can’t address”

A couple of weeks later on, throughout a conversation about connecting to image files or webpages for an impact on domain authority, Illyes replied:

“We don’t really have ‘total domain authority’. A text link with anchor text is better though”

From there, you will discover numerous confirmations from John Mueller, Browse Supporter at Google, that Domain Authority exists but that Google does not use it.

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

“Google doesn’t use ‘domain authority'”

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

Mueller’s response acknowledged that:

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

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

“‘Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed 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 answered:

“We do not use domain authority. We usually attempt to have our metrics as granular as possible, in some cases that’s not so easy, in which case we take a look at things a bit wider (eg, we’ve discussed 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 responded:

“We don’t use domain authority, that’s a metric from an SEO company. I ‘d recommend beginning a thread in the assistance forum with the information, including the URLs & inquiries you’re seeing modifications 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 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 websites quicker on Twitter.

“Just to be clear, Google does not utilize Domain Authority * at all * when it concerns Browse crawling, indexing, or ranking. This is pretty clear on their site.

We do, however, index tweets that speak about it.”

Up until that point, Google representatives seem 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 prior to, 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, however we do have some metrics that are more on a site level, some metrics that are more on a page level, and a few of those site-wide level metrics may type of map into similar things.”

In 2022, Mueller responded to another question about Domain Authority on Reddit. The concern 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 require DA for Google Browse. Google does not use it * at all *. If you ‘d like to level your site up in search, you ‘d require to focus on something else, or at least utilize other metrics for it. This is mostly why DA as a metric is frowned upon by numerous SEOs. For context, I don’t believe I have actually ever searched for the DA for a website in the 14 years I’ve been doing this.”

He used extra suggestions on how one could improve a domain’s authority by focusing on a subject with low competition and creating “… an affordable collection of fantastic material” about that subject.

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

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Signal: Our Verdict

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

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

While Mueller once suggested that Google has metrics that map into comparable things as Domain Authority, he has consistently rejected making use of Domain Authority by Moz on Twitter and Reddit.

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

Therefore, we can conclude that Domain Authority is absolutely not a ranking factor.

Included Image: Paulo Bobita/SMM Panel