Is a high DA really all it’s cracked up to be? How to really gauge a site’s value


Finding out how ‘valuable’ a site is, is basically Google’s (and, the humble digital marketer’s) bread and butter. Google is constantly tweaking its hallowed algorithm to best understand how to display pages in search results, whilst we do our best to figure out what this means for us, and our efforts with a site going forward. To help in getting a handle on this, SEO experts Moz developed a metric called ‘domain authority’ (DA), as a measure of a site’s power (a score out of 100).

It’s one of the factors that gauges how much ‘ranking juice’ a domain name should have, and influences how high or low it ranks in a search engine. Breaking this down further, a website’s DA comprises of three aspects: age, size, and popularity. As a result of this ranking influence, it’s widely accepted that a site’s DA is therefore a great indicator of its value, and this is true — to a certain extent.

To really gauge the true value of a website however, there is a bit more to it than just a quick glance at a number in the corner of your screen. A little digging around a website shows us not only how to increase our own DA, but also the other factors that have a role in a website’s total value.

Domain authority and content

Now, we’re not saying DA is not important, because it really is. This is mainly due to Google, and more specifically Google’s algorithms, such as Panda, over quality content control: that is, if you’re site is seen to have relevant, engaging content, Google will rank your site accordingly. As we mentioned, one of the main factors that contributes to a website’s DA is popularity. So, what influences popularity? Content does, and content itself can be broken down into a multitude of variations and strategies — onsite and offsite being the two primary, and general examples.

Breaking this down even further, we come to understand content as the source of the most influential aspect of the popularity metric: linking. Links to your site that are of a high quality will contribute to how ‘popular’ a site is seen as being, as they’re an indication to Google that another site deems your content or site good enough to link to.  

All types of links, internal and external, contribute to popularity via social media shares,  referral traffic, and the indication of a site’s strong content. This simple fact brings us full circle — back to Google’s quality content control algorithms

We shouldn’t forget, however that the ultimate marker of popularity is how actual, real people react to your site. When someone reads your content and likes it, and we mean really like it, they’ll share it, link to it, bookmark it and read it again, and develop a sense of loyalty to your site in general. Your goal needs to be speaking to these people in a way that they’ll engage with, and to bring them information they’re genuinely interested in.

So, what should I do?

As result of these algorithms, you cannot simply produce thin or irrelevant content anymore, firstly because it will more than likely not interest your audience and potentially result in a Google penalty too. Therefore, content is perhaps the most important factor on your website. The more marketable your content, the more relevant it is — the more shares you will get, the more popularity you will gain, the more links you’ll earn, and the higher your DA will become. This does, however, take time, so don’t become downhearted when your website doesn’t grow exponentially from the word ‘go’: be patient, and be consistent in producing quality content.

As such, this quality control also applies to your outreach and link building strategy: the better the content, the more inbound links you are likely to receive. Additionally, how diverse and strong these links are will also influence your website’s DA. Strong content on your own website, and strong content that is well-placed and linked to will increase your DA significantly, and, ultimately, your ranking and website value. So, DA is important, because it reflects the strength of your content. And, as we know, content is power.

That little fact there is the sole reason why, however, you shouldn’t get caught up on how low your DA is, or to worry about it that much.

Content is…

To achieve high rankings on Google or any search engine results page, you have to become the top authority in your digital field. Your content has perhaps the greatest influence over this, and, as explained, factors into your DA score.

Yes, you want quality content both on and off-site, and you want diverse and strong links that point to your website, too. And yes, this needs to be done over time to hit the three prerequisites to improve your DA: age, size, and popularity. There is more to it than this, though, which depends on how you utilise the content you create.

Experience

To get a high ranking, to truly understand your website’s value, and to more importantly, sustain that ranking, you have to consider the customer and their experience on your site. For example, you can have all the great content in the world on your website, plenty of links, and a strong DA, however if the user experience— the customer journey through your website — is poor, then it can really hamper its value.

This is where logic and authenticity come into play. Now more than ever, people desire quick and easy, digestible information that meets their needs with no fuss. They don’t want to be trawling around a clunky website that has advertisements left, right, and centre — they want a fast-paced website that points them where to go instantly, and that is categorised and organised in a simple way. Otherwise you could end up with a high bounce rate, and that doesn’t really represent good value.

Personification

What would you rather come back to, a mindless mass of content that has information on anything and everything within an already overly-saturated field, or a place that addresses your direct concern or query in a fast and reliable way? The answer is obvious, and it is that type of content which reflects on your business. Reliability and trust are key metrics for people to come back to your website again and again, and you can’t achieve that with mindless content. It may be able to improve your DA, because you are hitting those three prerequisites, but it might not meet the needs of your specific customer base.  

Therefore it comes down to what you value the most: a high DA,and perhaps wider search visibility that doesn’t even reach your target audience, or a lower DA with more specific and niche content that addresses everything your customers want to know.

After all, why would you target someone who is potentially going to have no interest in what you have to say? Research your audience, find out what they want, build your content around that, and then expand into other areas — you may grow slower, but you will last for longer.

Alternative methods

When you take all this into account, i.e. the content, the links, and the user experience of a website, there is one final method you can use when finding the true value of a website: harnessing the power of online tools. For example, SEMRush can be utilised to check a website’s current and historical keyword rankings, which can give you an idea of where they stand in their field of expertise. Additionally, MajesticSEO can be used to assess the quality of inbound links from off-site articles. Tools such as these give you a further, and alternative indication of the actual value of the content on a website.

Improving your site’s DA is difficult, and gets harder the higher it increases, but by sticking to these principles, ensuring your website is set up in a logical way with relevant and consistent content based on sound keyword research and gap analysis, internal linking with user experience in mind, and logical links off-site pointing inwards then you’re well on your way.

So, gauging a website’s value, essentially, centres around content, and from content we can derive the factors that make up that value. Domain authority makes up a large part of that, yet so does how your content is applied to impact factors such as user experience. Use the content you create to influence your DA, but apply it in a way that will be most beneficial to what your customers (and Google) want. That is arguably the true value of a website.

 

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