You’re probably familiar with that enticing phrase, “Organically rank at the top of Google.” It’s the holy grail of digital marketing!
Services offering SEO, link-building campaigns, and web design all insist they can take your brand to that #1 spot. And it’s true – kind of. These are all critical elements for improving your brand’s SERP performance. The issue is that no “one” solution will get you to that spot and keep you there. It takes a combined effort.
Domain authority is one of the most challenging parts of search ranking to obtain, but it offers longer-lasting benefits than any other metric. And that’s our topic for discussion today – how can you improve your domain authority, and how can a reputation management company help?
Let’s dive in.
What is Domain Authority?
Any SERP-related term immediately makes you think of the Google algorithm, but “domain authority” isn’t strictly a Google term. It’s a convenient phrase to describe something a search engine algorithm measures. The term was coined by the search experts at Moz.com.
It’s scored out of 100, where:
- Below 30 indicates an untrustworthy or pointless site
- 30-40 is mediocre
- 40-50 is average – almost all small brands rank between 30-50
- 50-60 indicates a trusted website
- 60-70 is great. This indicates a well-established page that is frequently referenced by others
- 70-80 is likely front-page material
- 80+ is usually reserved for academic publishers, government websites, and household names
These scores aren’t absolute measures of SERP performance. They’re just Moz’s helpful metric for understanding how Google perceives your website.
Domain authority is a “quality” a website may possess based on the way it’s perceived by other websites and search engines. It’s easy to understand this if you consider how authority is perceived in the real world.
Some people speak with great authority from a position of knowledge and expertise. Other people may speak loudly and confidently but consistently get their facts wrong. You can usually tell when someone is confidently talking nonsense – just picture the last time you overheard two dads talking to each other.
The way search engines perceive authority is extremely similar. It’s based on tracing knowledge networks back to ensure a website offers good information that other experts agree with.
This is also why link-building campaigns aren’t all created equal (see below). Google perceives low-quality, farmed backlinks to be as trustworthy as something a man once told you at a bar.
Features of an Authoritative Domain
Domain authority is higher when:
- Other expert sources trust and refer back to the domain
- Articulate content is backed up by relevant external links
- A website is well-organized and presents its pages in an intuitive order
- A website isn’t associated with untrustworthy networks
A website’s reputation can flourish or tank depending on how it manages its authority score. First, we need to understand how it’s measured.
How is Domain Authority Calculated?
Here’s a breakdown of what a search engine looks for when calculating how authoritative your website is.
1. Site Structure
Search algorithms are robots, and as such, they love organization. A well-structured site, where all content is divided neatly into relevant subsections, is easy for Google to crawl and assess.
It also helps to ensure that outdated and irrelevant content is removed or redirects to the current, most appropriate page. A website full of expired links shows that the domain isn’t maintained regularly and may be out of date.
2. Internal Linking
Likewise, internal links help Google understand connections between different sections of a website. Internal links should only be used when relevant and useful. Disorganized linking can make the site appear shambolic and confusing.
3. Volume of Backlinks
The number of websites linking to your domain indicates how many other websites trust you to provide relevant, high-quality information. Backlink campaigns help increase this number, but quantity isn’t everything – keep reading.
4. Backlink Relevance
Google assesses how relevant links are when it crawls backlinks. It likes to see natural connections, anchored by text that makes sense both for the host domain and your website.
For example: if your website sells air conditioning units, the sites you want to link back to you are trade professionals, home improvement blogs, energy-saving experts, etc. If all your backlinks are from healthy living blogs and IT websites, the connection looks unnatural.
This rings an alarm bell for the Google algorithm, especially since its SpamBrain update in late 2022. Irrelevant backlinks are more likely to have been acquired through paid campaigns – backlinking must always appear organic.
6. Backlink Authority
When a high-authority site links back to you, it passes on some of that authority. High-trust sites are automatically expected to vet their outbound links thoroughly, so if they recommend your domain for further reading, Google takes note.
In this way, successful backlink campaigns target high-authority websites relevant to your brand’s niche.
7. Root Domains
The wider the variety of sources linking back to you, the better. If all your backlinks come from one source, they don’t accumulate in value.
Acquiring backlinks from multiple medium-to-high-authority blogs and news outlets transfers much greater authority than a hundred links from one high-authority domain.
8. External Linking
Google uses academic standards when judging how relevant and well-researched content is.
When you publish content on your website, you should back up claims with links to high-authority (non-competitive) sites. These links should be anchored to relevant text – this helps Google establish a natural connection.
Sometimes this can be included as part of a link-building campaign, but mostly, it’s just good practice to show Google the content has been properly researched.
How Can You Improve Your Domain Authority?
The first thing to know is that building authority takes time. There’s no quick fix.
On the other hand, once acquired, authority isn’t easily lost.
So how do you establish authority for your brand in a reasonable timeframe? A reputation management company can help you circumvent the traps that many brands fall into – only fools rush in. It’s best to start by booking a consultation and developing a consistent strategy.
Here are 4 features of any authority-building campaign.
1. Acquiring Strong Backlinks
Backlinks are the bread and butter of domain authority. They’re often expensive, but worse – they can be counterproductive.
Backlinks should only be acquired from relevant, trusted domains. A reputation management company will also help you seek out backlink hosts that aren’t perceived as “link farmers” – association with these sites will crash your reputation instantly.
2. Creating Authoritative Content
This is a common-sense measure. If you produce authoritative, well-researched content on your website, a reader will be much more likely to link back to it.
Content can be optimized with keyword research to help it rank higher for specific search queries. Answering niche questions is a great way to get discovered and start acquiring organic backlinks.
3. Housekeeping & Removing OId/Irrelevant Content
Broken links and outdated content make Google’s job difficult when it crawls your website. It’s worth auditing your website frequently to identify areas that need to be trimmed, de-indexed, or redirected.
Redirecting to fresh content is often the best strategy, as the old page may have acquired valuable backlinks. A redirect order retains that authority but sends Google where it needs to go.
4. Improving Site Structure
A website audit should also ensure that your content is well-organized. Whether it’s blog posts or product pages, Google appreciates it when content is filed by category and subcategory.
This adds the benefit of improving your website’s UX (user experience). A smoother journey for your customers increases the likelihood of sales and reduces your site’s bounce rate.
Benefits of High Domain Authority
It may take a while, but once trust is earned, your brand will reap the benefits for years to come. Here’s how.
- Success breeds success. The higher your authority, the more other sites will want to link to you
- Improved SERP performance for generic search terms
- Greater discovery opportunities through organic backlinks
- High prominence as the go-to answer for questions in your industry
- Increased brand recognition when credited by other sources
- Become a household name & enjoy the sales benefits!
How The Reputation Management Company Helps Improve Domain Authority
A reputation management company can guide your authority-building campaign every step of the way. Here’s why reputation management is inseparable from authority.
Making a Good Impression
You’ll need to reach out to other sites when link-building. If they find negative associations with your brand, they won’t want to work with you.
A reputation management company can eliminate or suppress hostile press and negative reviews. This puts you in a stronger negotiating position when reaching out.
Avoiding Getting Blacklisted
You need to choose your partners carefully when building domain authority. You can spend a fortune on backlinks that come from a generic link farm – Google is getting better at identifying these and blacklisting them. Your site’s reputation will go down with the host.
A reputation management company will ensure you work with trusted partners. They’ll help you acquire relevant, natural backlinks. This is the true road to authority growth.
Is it worth investing in your long-term domain authority? That’s a hard “yes.”
Entrust your brand’s long-term growth to a reputation management company that clears the path in front of you and watches your back. Optimize your digital presence organically and make Google your friend!