Domain Authority: Is It A Google Ranking Element?

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

There are guides all over about how you can enhance your site’s Domain Authority for better rankings in search engine result.

But does a greater Domain Authority really result in much better rankings?

In this chapter, we will explore what Domain Authority is and the proof as to whether it is a Google ranking factor.

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What Is Domain Authority?

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

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

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

“The domain authority of a website explains how crucial the website is for a specific targeted discipline [and] relevance with regard to … search words.”

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

Domain Authority by Moz is calculated using lots of elements, including the number of connecting root domains and the total variety of links. The score itself is displayed on a 100-point scale.

It deserves noting that Moz is not the only SEO platform that has developed a metric for determining site authority. You will likewise find that:

  • Ahrefs has an Ahrefs Rank and Domain Rating. AR ranks sites in the Ahrefs database by the size and quality of their backlinks, while Domain Rating reveals the strength of a website’s backlink profile compared to others in the Ahrefs database on a 100-point scale.
  • Semrush has an Authority Rating that determines the overall quality and SEO efficiency of a domain or web page.
  • Majestic has Flow Metric Ratings that measure the variety of links a site has and the quality of the site’s content.

The Claim: Domain Authority As A Ranking Factor

Lots of short articles going over Domain Authority describe it as a search engine ranking score and recommend it is a great predictor of how well a website will perform in SERPs for targeted keyword expressions.

This can lead some to believe that Domain Authority is a ranking aspect for search engines like Google.

There is even an interesting Buy Twitter Verification 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 evidence becomes clear.

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Domain Authority As A Ranking Element: The Evidence

Moz’s site states its Domain Authority score does not impact Google search results page.

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

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

“We don’t have “authority”, however signals ought to hand down, yes.”

In 2016, Illyes addressed a concern about whether adding or removing pages from a website impacted its domain authority.

“so, my problem is that I do not know of anything in ranking that would translate to “domain authority”, so can’t answer”

A few weeks later on, throughout a discussion about connecting to image files or websites for an effect on domain authority, Illyes responded:

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

From there, you will discover many verifications from John Mueller, Browse Supporter at Google, that Domain Authority exists however that Google does not utilize it.

In December 2016, Mueller responded to a remark about a desktop domain having higher authority.

“Google does not use ‘domain authority'”

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

Mueller’s reaction acknowledged that:

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

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

“‘Domain Authority (DA) is an online search engine ranking rating established by Moz’ so exists = yes. Search engines don’t utilize it.”

In 2019, when asked about a site-wide metric similar to Domain Authority on Buy Twitter Verification, Mueller responded to:

“We do not use domain authority. We typically try to have our metrics as granular as possible, in some cases that’s not so simple, in which case we take a look at things a bit more comprehensive (eg, we’ve talked about this in regards to some of the older quality updates).”

Later on that year, a Buy Twitter Verification user asked if a drop in search engine traffic was due to a loss in Domain Authority. Mueller responded:

“We do not use domain authority, that’s a metric from an SEO company. I ‘d recommend starting a thread in the aid online forum with the details, consisting of the URLs & queries you’re seeing changes in.”

In 2020, Mueller received another question about domain authority. This time, someone asked if backlinks from high domain authority websites matter in site rankings. His reaction:

“We do not use domain authority at all in our algorithms.”

A couple of months later on, Mueller was asked how crucial Domain Authority was to crawling websites much faster on Buy Twitter Verification.

“Just to be clear, Google doesn’t utilize Domain Authority * at all * when it pertains to Browse crawling, indexing, or ranking. This is quite clear on their website.

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

Up until that point, Google representatives seem clear that there is no use of Domain Authority. However, 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, but we do have some metrics that are more on a site level, some metrics that are more on a page level, and some of those site-wide level metrics might type of map into similar things.”

In 2022, Mueller addressed another concern about Domain Authority on Reddit. The concern was how to increase a site with a Domain Authority of 31. Mueller addressed:

“I’m kinda torn. On the one hand, you do not need DA for Google Browse. Google does not use it * at all *. If you want to level your site up in search, you ‘d require to concentrate on something else, or a minimum of utilize other metrics for it. This is primarily why DA as a metric is discredited by many SEOs. For context, I don’t believe I have actually ever looked up the DA for a website in the 14 years I’ve been doing this.”

He provided extra suggestions on how one might improve a domain’s authority by concentrating on a topic with low competition and creating “… an affordable collection of fantastic material” about that topic.

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

[Recommended Read:] Google Ranking Elements: Reality or Fiction

Domain Authority As A Ranking Signal: Our Decision

Domain Authority (DA) by Moz resembles Domain Rank (DR) by Ahrefs, the Semrush Authority Rating, and Circulation Metric Scores by Majestic. They are all authority metrics determined by third-party tools that have no real impact on search engine rankings.

While Mueller when suggested that Google has metrics that map into similar things as Domain Authority, he has actually consistently rejected using Domain Authority by Moz on Buy Twitter Verification and Reddit.

He also noted that they don’t call anything they do internally “domain authority.”

For that reason, we can conclude that Domain Authority is certainly not a ranking aspect.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel

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