Is it a Google ranking factor?

Many businesses and marketers think domain authority is a big deal.

There are guides all over the place on how you can boost your website’s domain authority for higher rankings in search results.

But does higher domain authority actually lead to better rankings?

In this chapter, we will explore what domain authority is and the evidence on whether it is a Google ranking factor.

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What is Domain Authority?

To understand if domain authority is part of Google’s algorithm, we first need to understand what domain authority is.

First, there’s Domain Authority – the concept – and Domain Authority (DA), Moz’s metric.

As VentureSkies describes it, the general definition of domain authority is as follows:

“The domain authority of a website describes the importance of the site for a specific targeted domain [and] relevance to … search words.

Then there is by Moz Domain Authority or DA score, which defines the metric as “…a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts a website’s likelihood of ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).”

Moz’s domain authority is calculated using dozens of factors, including the number of linking root domains and the total number of links. The score itself is displayed on a scale of 100 points.

It should be noted that Moz is not the only SEO platform to have developed a metric to measure website authority. You will also find that:

  • Ahrefs has an Ahrefs rank and domain rating. AR ranks websites in the Ahrefs database based on the size and quality of their backlinks, while Domain Rating shows the strength of a website’s backlink profile compared to others in the Ahrefs database on a scale of 100 points.
  • Semrush has an authority score that measures the overall quality and SEO performance of a domain or webpage.
  • Majestic has Flow Metric scores which measure the number of links a website has and the quality of website content.

The Claim: Domain Authority as a Ranking Factor

Many articles discussing domain authority refer to it as a search engine ranking score and suggest that it is a good predictor of a website’s performance in the SERPs for word phrases. targeted keys.

This may lead some to believe that domain authority is a ranking factor for search engines like Google.

There’s even an interesting Twitter thread in 2020 from Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin showing internal documents from Google, suggesting that Google has a domain authority type metric.

But keep reading – the evidence becomes clear.

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Domain Authority as a Ranking Factor: The Proof

by Moz website claims that its Domain Authority score does not affect Google search results.

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

In 2015, Gary Illyes, Chief of Sunshine and Happiness at Google, was asked about the shift in authority from HTTP to HTTPS. His answer :

“We don’t have ‘authority’, but the signals have to get through, yes.”

In 2016Illyes answered the question of whether adding or removing pages from a website affects its domain authority.

“So my problem is that I don’t know anything in the ranking that would translate to ‘domain authority’, so I can’t answer”

A few weeks laterWhen discussing linking to image files or web pages to impact domain authority, Illyes replied:

“We don’t really have a ‘global domain authority’. A text link with anchor text is better if “

From there, you’ll find plenty of confirmation from John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google, that domain authority exists but Google doesn’t use it.

In December 2016Mueller responded to a comment about a desktop domain with higher authority.

“Google does not use ‘domain authority'”

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

Mueller’s response acknowledged that:

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

later than yearwhen asked on Twitter if domain authority existed – again – Mueller replied:

“’Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz’ so exists = yes. Search engines don’t use it.

In 2019When asked about a site-wide metric similar to Domain Authority on Twitter, Mueller replied:

“We don’t use domain authority. We generally try to get our metrics as granular as possible, sometimes it’s not that easy in which case we look at things a bit broader (eg we talked about this in regards to some of the older updates quality).

later than year, a Twitter user asked if a drop in search engine traffic was due to a loss of domain authority. Muller replied

“We don’t use domain authority, it’s a metric from an SEO company. I recommend you start a thread in the help forum with the details including URLs and queries in which you see changes.”

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

“We don’t use domain authority in our algorithms at all.”

Some months laterMueller was asked about the importance of domain authority to browse web pages faster on Twitter.

“Just to be clear, Google doesn’t use domain authority *at all* when it comes to crawling, indexing, or search ranking. It’s pretty clear on their site.

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

Until then, Google representatives seem clear that there is no use of domain authority. However, late 2020 interview with SearchLove, Mueller was asked if Google had a domain authority type metric.

Unlike previous ones, this answer hints at a possible DA-like metric in Google’s algorithm.

“I don’t know if I would call it an authority like that, but we have some metrics that are more site-level, some that are more page-level, and some of those site-level metrics might sort of card in similar things.

In 2022, Mueller answered another question about domain authority on Reddit. The question was how to increase a website with a domain authority of 31. Mueller answered:

“I’m a little torn. For one thing, you don’t need DA for Google search. Google doesn’t use it *at all*. If you want to level your site in search, you need to focus on something else, or at least use other metrics for that. This is mainly why DA as a metric is frowned upon by many SEOs. For context, I don’t think I’ve ever consulted the DA for a site in the 14 years I’ve done this.

He offered additional advice on how one could improve a domain’s authority by focusing on a low-competition topic and creating “…a reasonable collection of fantastic content” on that topic.

He pointed out that user cues, not any kind of authority score, would be what moves the needle.

[Recommended Read:] Google Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction

Domain Authority as a Ranking Signal: Our Verdict

Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) is similar to Ahrefs’ Domain Rank (DR), Semrush Authority Score, and Majestic’s Flow Metric Scores.

These are all authority metrics calculated by third-party tools that have no real effect on search engine rankings.

While Mueller once suggested that Google had metrics that correspond to similar things to Domain Authority, he repeatedly denied Moz’s use of Domain Authority on Twitter and Reddit.

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

Therefore, we can conclude that domain authority is definitely not a ranking factor.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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