From time to time, a new method of measuring or recording data is devised, whose brilliance and simplicity makes you wonder why it wasn’t invented before. It could be argued that domain authority is a case in point. Developed by SEO specialists Moz as a universal scoring system for websites, it calculates a simple score from zero to 100 according to how well that site is likely to perform in Google search results.
The precise formula of search engine algorithms is a closely-guarded secret at Google to prevent people finding workarounds that’ll distort future ranking results or give their websites undue prominence. However, close observers of SEO trends do know a fair amount about how Google and Bing rank websites. Key factors include the length of time a site’s been live and how frequently it’s updated, the quality and quantity of written content, and the volume of third-party sites that consider it worth linking to.
Moz’s domain authority score measures these and many other factors, combining 40 different signals into a metric that predicts how well a particular website will perform. Even IT beginners can understand this 1-100 scale, with a domain authority score allowing them to check how well rival websites perform in comparison. However, a site’s ranking score may fluctuate over time in response to known or suspected changes in Google’s algorithm.
Here are five simple steps to improve a site’s domain authority:
- Choose your words carefully. Search engines love long-tail keywords – that is, exact search terms, rather than individual words. Lengthier terms enable the search engines to return more precise results – for instance, the phrase ‘domain authority’ is more precise than simply using the word ‘domain’. Ensure every page on your site contains a few popular terms that people might be searching for, and use a package like KISSmetrics or Chartbeat to determine what those phrases might be. Don’t overdo it, though, since keyword stuffing can actually harm a site’s overall ranking.
- A picture tells a thousand words. Photos don’t just look dynamic and encourage conversions, they can also have a positive influence on SEO. By including captions and tags with each photo, it’s possible to add loads of search engine-friendly content into a web page without altering its appearance to members of the public. However, make sure that the photos are compressed as much as possible without pixelation on larger screens. Big files increase loading times, which is another key factor when estimating a site’s overall performance…
- Simplify and subtract. With most of the world’s web traffic displayed on mobile devices, search engines pay close attention to how quickly a page will load and display. Based on the various elements of a page, they will calculate loading times and factor this into their results. To minimise loading times, each graphic should be scaled down as far as possible, with manually playing video clips hosted remotely. Also, strip out unnecessary plugins, each of which takes an extra fraction of a second to acquire and run.
- Go behind the scenes. SEO isn’t just about visible components. It’s also calculated using attributes invisible to visitors, yet clearly evident to the crawlers that scrutinise web content on behalf of Google or Bing. To this end, create a robots.txt file for your site, which the search engine algorithms can quickly scan for key data. Use descriptive URLs and meta tags to provide clear indications about the specific content of each page, and fill menus with SEO-friendly terms.
- Keep them coming back for more. The more visits a website receives, the better it’ll rank. The same is true for the length of time people spend on the site, as longer visits imply valuable or important content. By regularly updating blogs or news pages and promoting them on social media to raise awareness, it’s possible to significantly boost visitor metrics. Audience attention can also be maintained with video clips hosted by YouTube but displayed within your site. Ensure these videos don’t start playing automatically, though, as this can lengthen loading times and deter repeat visitors.