How Does Google Judge A Domain’s Authority?
While the specifics of how “Authority Score” or “Domain Authority Ranking” are generated by SEO tools can be hard to understand, the use of this metric in determining a website’s viability to rank for a keyword is accepted worldwide. In short, most every valuable SEO tool compiles its own database of backlinks, organic search performance, and keyword profile to create sets of scores for faster and more reliable keyword analysis. At Tekenterprise we always preach hands-on analysis over blindly following software KPI scores – that being said, the case of this particular metric for SEO may be the closest we get to flipping our position.
Domain Authority (DA) is undeniably effective for prediction of keyword ranking success and it’s useless to fight this reality. These databases and calculations provide particular SEO metrics that serve as highly useful comparison models for SEO keyword analysis. So effective are these scores in prediction that the topic is widely debated and methods for raising this score are routinely tested.
Why The Entire SEO Industry Is Obsessed With “Growing SEO Authority Scores”
This metric in itself, while mysterious in many ways, completely levels the playing field and makes virtually every SEO an expert compared to the early days of Google. Since these scores are generated in the secrecy of SEO and keyword databases, advanced SEO professionals often struggle with a different aspect of using this score. Since the authority metric in SEO is so reliable, the concept of knowing what it takes to increase this score is a giant ask from well educated SEO clients.
You may be tempted to just tell them what the KPI itself means or send them the Ahrefs blog that explains it’s a secret, and we don’t blame you if you don’t want to get into the details with some clients or partners. Helping others understand what it takes to start growing their domain’s ability to win harder keywords is never a bad idea to cover, in fact the accuracy of these scores to predict results typically leads to a much more difficult question always begs, “How do we raise our Domain’s Authority?”
You can start this often difficult conversation by noting the insights in a self-created audit that identifies concrete aspects of authority – but don’t forget to spell it out in plain English first.
The More Responsibility You Seem To Carry and The More Actions You Influence Others To Take, The Higher Your “Authority.”
These metrics are just scores to help you predict your ability to win, they don’t guarantee success. While it’s possible to do, it’s incredibly hard to outline what it takes to grow a website’s authority in the eyes of Google; most don’t even speculate or attempt to do this exercise, no matter what you pay them. It’s never been confirmed by Google just how they calculate this and the biggest SEO companies owning the databases won’t share it either.
So where do we leave off and how is this concept essentially the most vital one to grasp in terms of its influence on SEO strategy across the industry? Authority is everything in the eyes of Google.
Google Tracks Related SEO Signals Across the Internet and Rates Your Website’s Influence.
How Do You Improve This Score or Rating?
Speculative Authority Factors, Likely To Influence An SEO Campaign:
- Backlinks: both the quality and quantity of them. Also, the DA scores of the sites you link to and get links from
- Keyword Ranking Profile: What Keywords You Win and The Scope of Your Site’s Google Results Performance
- Branded Traffic Volume: Brand Related Keywords and Search Targets About A Specific Company Can Impact Results Immensely
- N.A.P. Listings: Number of Times Name, Address, and Phone Number are Listed Accurately Across The Internet
Before You Gain or Grow Authority You Have to Demonstrate It
It may be worth elaborating more that while this is a somewhat advanced SEO concept, authority is not a complicated concept in the world. If you run into a teacher, you listen and if you get pulled over by the police, you have to stop. Can you choose to ignore their advice? Of course you can decide to go against the grain but the negative consequences may be hard to ignore.
Answering the Million Dollar Question: How do we influence and grow our domain’s authority?
For those who actually wish to go further and maximize their SEO progress by influencing their domain’s ability to rank for more difficult keywords, we have a different method. If you’ve ever wanted a fast guide or checklist to better understand where a website is in its ability to command authority, look no further. No, we didn’t make up a bunch of ways to calculate or predict a score but we do have a common sense philosophy behind our own approach to building authority we usually share with clients and partners.
The SEO A-U-T-H-O-R-I-T-Y Audit
If a site isn’t able to demonstrate it can follow these basic guidelines it will likely never possess significant authority.
Accurate and contextual
You are presenting information that can be easily verified, you are using every word or discussing subjects that give context to the reader about what they are learning about.
This is one of the most obvious reasons – understanding the limits of NLP and LLM based keyword tools is essential for successful SEO optimizations. The thing about content is it takes experience and reference of information; trying to scale with artificial intelligence to grow authority is counter intuitive and is something we caution against.
Useful and Viable Source Of Information
Your blog isn’t just useful, it’s literally being used, referenced, by other websites and visitors.
This is why backlinks matter so much for every website; does any other site or publication rely on your website’s content for anything? Internet browsers suggest keywords all the time to help others learn, it can’t do that if it sends someone to a page that didn’t teach them anything.
True, verifiable depictions of reality
Google doesn’t mistake the idea that being accurate or useful automatically makes your statements true.
We hate to play devil’s advocate all the time,but some lie to make a living. Google knows this. You can be extremely accurate on some points without ever telling the truth, every lawyer knows this. Writing SEO blogs that try to sway the reader into believing something is a signal of black or gray-hat SEO intent.
Assets and pages are well maintained (fewer 301s, minimal 404s)
Most already know that site health scores aren’t the most important metric for technical SEO success. Regardless, if you have a large amount of SEO pages with outdated or non-working assets or you can’t maintain your site effectively, you will be penalized.
Relevant To The User’s Actual Situation
Your site goes beyond just winning keywords and serves users with a clear purpose.
You can optimize for a keyword perfectly but without a real understanding of what the keyword actually represents to the user, what is the point exactly? Knowing keywords and industry related semantics according to taxonomy says everything to Google. Make sure at all costs you aren’t blindly optimizing pages.
Integrity-driven, White Hat SEO Tactics Only
You didn’t skip the line or cheat in any obvious way. You actually put in the work overall and provide quality.
Google may not have the resources to catch all of you who do this, but any website that is just gaming the system to steal attention away from viable companies or websites will be penalized as soon as they are identified. Don’t get mistaken for a black hat SEO unless you are ready to deal with the consequences.
Too much leniency on gray hat tactics can destroy a brand’s credibility; many successful SEO professionals testing a number of black hat tactics avoid this on credible company sites as there are numerous penalties.
Topical and Organized
Your website serves users. The content you create is for them and the site is built for a purpose. Your understanding of the topic reflects the site’s literal architecture.
Not only are your website pages clearly focused, using headers to break out topics, but every page serves a specific focused area of subjects. The site is not just a collection of pages but they are organized or cross-linked well. Rather than building content around what keywords you want to win, you build content about topics that relate to keywords or search phrases.
Yields Clear and Consistent Experience
Visitors come back and actually are convinced to do what you suggest on site when you ask them to contact or visit a page to learn about something.
This is pretty obvious in some regards but one important concept we share is that when users who visit your site actually get educated, their search patterns and queries respond to the information they learned. After users visit your site they learn about other aspects of the topic or subject and take direction off of what you tell them.
What other activity would Google really like to see at a base level to prove authority?
Overall ask yourself this, can your website sessions demonstrate that having more pages helps establish more command over users or a better site experience?
- Authority takes responsibility and success, you may have organic traffic but without verifiable consequences or ties to the “real world” you automatically have less authority than another site or brand with more influence outside their own domain.
- Not only is it important that you can be found and identified on the internet easily as a company but your offerings and information about the organization is kept up to date.
- Users engage and respond to your brand in a clear way. Users, however new or familiar, act in the way you suggest more often than not.
- There is a clear command you possess of some decent percentage of users to learn more, buy, or verify what you are selling in a critical manner
- Customers make an effort to stay connected with you: they subscribe to your email list, go back to your website or end up following you on social media.
- Your website gets direct traffic or bookmarked traffic without strictly advertising every time.
- Your brand’s search volume, as a keyword itself, is growing. As you get press or mentions in a steady fashion it’s obvious you are doing something important.
While this topic is hotly debated, what isn’t up for debate is that some sources of information or organizations have spheres of influence that can not be broken by SEO signals. For example if you are looking for the restaurant that serves the “best fish tacos in Miami” you only have so many options to choose from and you most likely aren’t only looking at identifying the best backlink profiles to pick the right place and Google is no different in that regard.
How Can I Better Command Users To Influence Authority?
This is the kind of important difference to note between active companies creating SEO blogs to build authority and companies that win transactional queries by rite of passage. The most influential brands and people don’t need to advertise because others are ready to talk or sell for you. If you are trying to grow authority and don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out to us to make a plan. Becoming a viable source of information for others and uncovering what industry topics you can shape the conversation around goes beyond simple understanding of what keywords you can win in any particular moment.
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