Understanding DA and PA in SEO: Is It Really a Reliable Metric?

If you speak to any SEO’s or try to hire an SEO agency, you would hear this term “DA” a lot.

Most of the time, it’s used to refer to the quality of the link but sometimes to judge the state of your website, while preparing an SEO strategy.

Personally, I hate using DA and Domain Metric as valid factors. I will show you why.

What are Domain Authority and Page Authority

Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) is the score of a website or webpage on a logarithmic scale (usually 0 to 100) representing the authority of a domain or a webpage, computed based on factors like backlink count, referring domains, search traffic to represent the potential ability of a website to rank on SERPs and the value a link from the webpage.

Different Companies use different names for the same, While Moz calls it DA, Semrush calls it Authority Score, ahrefs calls it Domain Rating and majestic SEO calls it Domain Score but the inherent idea behind the concept remains the same.

They all scan the backlink profile of a webpage to understand the number of links, and the number of referring domains, and some other advanced algorithms use Search Engine visibility as a metric to understand how the website stands in comparison to its competitors.

A Domain with a DA of 60 is likely to outrank a website with DA 30 if they were to compete against each other for a certain keyword assuming both the webpages score the same on all other factors. 

How is Domain Authority Calculated?

  • Total number of inbound links your website has, including backlinks to subdomains
  • Total number of websites linking out to your website and their quality
  • Your website’s ranking predictions on Google SERPs
  • Your website’s spam score
  • Length of your website url and the total number of pages you have

More about Domain and Page Authority 

A Website with a DA 60 is Exponentially More Authoritative than a Website with a DA 50.

Let’s assume that a website like Facebook or Twitter has millions of backlinks from powerful websites. Let’s assume Facebook has the most number of backlinks coming from important pages and thereby scores a DA of 100.

On the other end of the spectrum, a website with very few backlinks will be unable to move the DA meter and will remain at 1 same as a website with let’s say only 10 backlinks.

So to solve the problem, all algorithms use a different scale for every DA score. Meaning it takes let’s say 10 links to go from DA 1 to DA 10 and would 100 links to go from DA 10 to DA 20 and so on.

DA and PA are Comparative and Not Absolute

Domain and Page Authority is the score of a website in comparison to the top website on the internet. Let’s assume that websites like Twitter and Facebook both have a billion backlinks and score 100 DA, and then Facebook goes on to acquire 100 million more backlinks.

Now it can’t have a DA of 101, rather Twitter would lose its score to let’s say 99, and Facebook will make the benchmark. 

Google Page Rank (History of DA and PA)

Google was the first company to give each webpage score on a scale of 1 – 10…It was called Page Rank. 

Now, you probably might know, that Google was the first company to build an algorithm that used a backlink as a primary factor to rank web pages for a certain keyword. This algorithm is what made Google generate relevant results for every Search query.

Assuming everything else remains the same, a web page with a higher page rank will outrank a web page with a lower page rank. 

However, as search engines moved on to more complex algorithms based on many new factors, Google decided to phase out the Google Page Rank score and discard the entire Google PageRank Toolbar. 

In the absence of Google Page Rank, Moz came up with their version of Page Rank, and that’s how DA became the new industry standard. After that many other websites have created their algorithms to compute the score.

DA Alternatives

Different SEO tool providers now provide their very own website authority metric based on the primary calculation method; Link Analysis coupled with their various internal algorithms. SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Majestic are to name a few that are used widely.

SEMRush refers to its website authority score as “Authority Score”, and calculates your website’s authority based on various parameters, including your ranking on Search Engines, your traffic, the total number of links you have, the number of domains linking to you, the authority of each domain linking to you, the number of do-follow and no-follow links segregated in inbound and outbound links, and the number of referring IPs and subnets pointing to you.

Ahrefs refers to its website authority score as “Domain Rating (DR)”, calculated based on the total number of high authority websites linking to you as compared to your competitors, and how many other websites have gotten a backlink from these websites.

Majestic refers to its website authority score as “Trust Flow”, and measures your website’s trustworthiness based on how many high-quality pages from other websites are pointing out to you, given that the more quality content you produce the more relevant websites will link out to you.

How to improve DA

Increase Inbound Links

By increasing the number of high-quality inbound links, you can improve your website’s domain authority.

Competitive Assessment

Check what your competitors are doing, the type of content they are producing, the rankings they have for their target keywords, and the average quality of their web pages.

Try to Rank Higher on SERPs

The higher you rank on Google SERPs, will represent that your website has more visibility on SERPs than the competitors who are ranking lowers than you.

Redirects from High DA Websites

Set up redirects from your high DA website, which will boost your website’s domain authority over the period

Try gaining backlinks from relevant web pages with decent traffic

Why I hate using DA as a Link Metric

Basic Algorithm

Google is a trillion-dollar company based on its ability to rank a webpage, with its tremendous experience in sorting out content on the internet and its vast resources in terms of computing power and human capital, it’s almost impossible for any company to come anywhere near to predict the worthiness of a link.

While SEOs swear by it, there are plenty of instances, where a website or a blog with DA 40 or more doesn’t rank on Google for a single keyword.

The reason behind that is simple. Google and its sophisticated algorithm might ignore a certain link for its spammy nature, whereas Moz might not consider it spammy at all and elevate the score of a webpage, it’s not uncommon to see websites with 1000s of spammy links getting high DA and PA but don’t have a single page ranking on SERPs or being outranked by low DA websites with potentially the same or lower quality of content.

Quantity over Quality

Try creating 500 low-quality links to a certain webpage, while it may increase the DA of a website from 10 to 20 but it might not help a webpage rank higher on google. Moz and others use quantity over the quality of a link. 

Relevancy of Backlink

Understanding the potential of a backlink is extremely complicated. Google considers 100s of factors to understand the importance of a link, including factors such as where the link has been positioned on the web page – a link in the first line of the content would be more important than a link in the footer, Anchor text and relevance of the linking page are important to Search Engines, whereas it might not be a factor while computing DA.

It’s Limitation

Domain authority doesn’t take a website’s impressions, CTR, traffic, organic search revenue, or rankings for relevant keywords on Search Engines into consideration which comparatively are much better indicators of its usefulness.

For example, for Facebook what would matter the most is how many users actively uses the platform, uploads the content, interact with it, and how many new user sign-ups they get in a certain period. It wouldn’t matter to them whether the website has a domain authority of 50 or above 90.

It doesn’t indicate the growth of your business.

Domain Authority doesn’t closely notify about the Subject Expertise and Authoritativeness

Domain Authority is calculated primarily on the number of links pointing to your website. However, it doesn’t analyze your website’s content and its quality and misses out on metrics such as traffic you’re receiving from the inbound links, the dwell time, and bounce rate into consideration that indicates a real users’ engagement with the content.

Hence, it doesn’t depict your niche expertise and authority as well as Google and your website’s visitors.

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