Recently, we wrote (a lot) about domain authority, a long piece you can read here if you missed it.
For someone working with a newer website, just getting started with SEO for it, and concerned about increasing their Domain Authority, it may have been a little disillusioning. Because Domain Authority IS NOT a Google metric – it is an SEO comparison tool owned and operated by Moz – and does not in any way affect SERPs results, it is calculated differently, and those calculations rely far more heavily on backlinks.
If you haven’t built many backlinks yet, that’s bad news. So your next question might be how to increase Domain Authority without backlinks? Which is what we are going to take a closer look at here.
A Recap on Domain Authority
As we mentioned, the larger piece here goes into great detail about just what Domain Authority is – and isn’t – and why you may not even need to care about it. It also details why some people still do, even if Google does not (which they don’t.)
As we explained, sometimes, to get backlinks, even if they are not following SEO best practices as Google sees them, potential link partners will want to see a ‘minimum’ DA score. In short, you need links to get links.
As a website or web page’s Domain Authority score – a number that ranges from 0-100 – is calculated with at least 40% of it being influenced by Moz’ own data from their Link Explorer tool, there is little doubt that you will need to work on link building.
Google wants to see links too, and they have always been an acknowledged ranking factor for their SERPs. They however take more than 200 factors into consideration, while Moz considers about 40 for their Domain Authority algorithm. And as Link Explorer is another of their very profitable tools, they rely on it heavily.
So, sensible link building – never link buying – is certainly something you should be concerned about. But it’s a slow, steady process.
We have developed, tested, and implemented very effective link-building strategies at Pearl Lemon that we implement for our clients. But like all good link strategies, they take time. So what can you do to address that (allegedly) other 60% of the Domain Authority algorithm to boost your DA without backlinks?
While this is far from an exhaustive list, as new strategies emerge all the time, here are some of the ways you can boost your DA while you wait for those backlinks to come in that will also boost your standing in the eyes of Google – and thus in the SERPs – which at the end of the day is far more important than your Domain Authority score will ever be.
Post-Better Content, More Often
To get the backlinks that the Domain Authority algorithm is so hungry for, you need to offer people something to link to. A link needs to provide value, so what it links to needs to offer value, and good content is the best and most effective way to do that.
That’s a very vague statement though, isn’t it? What is GOOD content?
The answer, in terms of subject matter, is often very subjective to your audience. So it takes obtaining a good understanding of them before that can be determined. Once you have that though, good content to link to – and to engage audiences – involves a little more:
Keywords – Make sure you have a list of keywords you want to rank for before you begin producing the content for your website. Finding the proper keywords also entails matching the content to the target audience. There is no value in creating content that no one reads for your website.
Content Freshness – After a few years, or even months, your content may grow old, stale and irrelevant. Your DA score and organic ranks may suffer as a result.
Since the amount of keywords that are included on the Google SERP is also taken into account when calculating DA, you can see a drop in the DA score if any of the keywords drop in the rankings.
This means that you must continue to update the material that is bringing the most traffic to your website if you want to make sure that the keywords remain at the top of Google’s SERP.
Content-Length – Years ago, the expert opinion was that a 300-400 word article or blog post was fine. Short and to the point right? People don’t read long pieces anyway, they have the attention span of goldfish.
Except they do. If someone is searching for something from an informational standpoint, they want to be informed. And you can rarely do that very well in 300 words.
So invest the time and effort in creating longer-form content. In addition to better meeting searcher’s and reader’s needs, you’ll have the chance to rank better in the SERPs for more keywords and therefore attract more links.
URL Optimization – The on-page content element that is most frequently overlooked is the URL. Most of the time, a website’s URL is automatically generated by the CMS and is not optimized for search engines. This is usually bad.
Some recommended practices must be followed for an SEO-friendly URL. It should contain your keyword, it should be free of weird numbers and letters – which lots of CMS’ generate – and it should immediately tell those seeing it what the content is about.
Work on Your Technical SEO
Technical SEO has become a very broad term. It can relate to the way your website is structured, the Schema and code you add to it, and the things you might inadvertently be doing to block search bots or to make the site insecure.
Technical SEO is rarely exciting, but getting it right is a must. It’s also more than a little complicated, so if you lack the skills to execute it yourself, getting some help is something of a must.
Make Sure That Your Website is Fast
No one likes a slow website. Not Google, not Moz and certainly not human users. People leave slow websites fast, resulting in a higher bounce rate, which will harm your place in Google’s SERPs results. Upon discovering that your site runs super slow, others will not want to ‘endorse’ it by linking to it, so you won’t acquire links to boost your Domain Authority score either.
There are a lot of reasons that websites are slow. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to discover why your site is moving at a snail’s pace, including Google’s own Page Speed tool. That will even tell you exactly what’s wrong and offer suggestions for fixing the problems. The fixes can be a little time-consuming – especially if code and overly large images across the site are the problems – but it will be time and effort very well spent, from a SERPs point of view, for increasing your Domain Authority and for pleasing your site visitors.
Work on Your E.A.T
One of the many criteria Google employs to decide whether or not material is beneficial to readers and should rank highly is E-A-T. E-A-T was originally mentioned when Google incorporated the idea into their Search Quality Guidelines in 2014, which is given to the humans that help shape the SERPs (yes, it’s not all about the bots)
Evaluators of the quality of Google searches were told to focus on:
- The content’s author’s level of expertise.
- The authoritativeness of the content’s author, the content itself, and the website
- The trustworthiness of the website, the material, and the content’s author.
In a nutshell, E-A-T factors are attributes that indicate a page is of a high standard, hence benefiting users, and making it more suitable for a higher place in the SERPS.
There are, to be fair, a lot of elements involved in establishing strong E.A.T for your website, its content and even those who create it. Your content’s purpose needs to be clear, it should be in some way valuable to its intended audience, it should be up to date and just who created it should be clear. And that’s just the beginning.
However, the more you can demonstrate that your content is trustworthy and authoritative, the more likely people are to link to it naturally. More good links = higher Domain Authority score.
Invest in Some PR
In the age of social media, you might think that old-fashioned public relations are dead, but that is far from the truth.
Any size business can benefit from having a public relations team, but for enterprise-level firms, getting links from reputable sources is essential to competing with other websites that have extremely high Domain Authority scores.
Because Google counts on off-site signals like brand mentions to help determine the authority of your website, press coverage without a link can still benefit your total brand recognition. But do follow links from prominent media sources will be what eventually matters for increasing DA specifically. And a good PR team is still the best way to get that kind of coverage.
These are just some of the ways you can work on your site that will help increase your Domain Authority without backlinks. To find out more about what you might specifically need to do, contact us today to book a call with one of our specialists.