SEOs beware: Link builders are back with bogus Domain Authority pitches

This week, Moz announced it has updated its Domain Authority (DA) score, and as we expected, it caused confusion within some segments of the SEO industry. Some, maybe more novice, SEOs confuse the DA metric with an internal metric used by Google. This is fueled, in no small part, by agencies and vendors that pitch their ability to “improve your Domain Authority.”

DA is not a Google metric. It is a metric that Moz, an SEO toolset provider, came up with. To be clear, Moz has never claimed that Google uses DA. In fact, Moz has clearly stated that DA is not a Google metric and is based on its own datasets and algorithms for its DA score.

Moz is not the only company to come up with its own internal link scores, Majestic, Ahrefs and many other tool providers have their own scores.

DA doesn’t influence your Google rankings. Since DA is not a Google metric, it has zero impact on how well or how poorly you rank in Google. If your DA score goes up or goes down, you should not expect your Google rankings to follow.

Russ Jones from Moz has even requested the addition of a disclaimer on the DA score in response to the fact that people are asking Google how to improve their DA scores:

Sewing confusion. In dozens of emails and countless social media posts, we’ve seen SEO’s express concerns over DA score changes and how it will impact their Google rankings. Googlers are responding to complaints about the change in DA scores.

Why so much confusion? In part, because of emails and posts like the one below that claims “sites got penalized” by the updated DA algorithm and pitches link building services “to improve your Domain Authority.” This kind of misinformation campaign is not an uncommon tactic.

From an email pitching link building to “improve your Domain Authority.”

But, this hype history starts with Google PageRank. Much of this confusion dates back to Google’s own marketing hype around PageRank or PR. In 2000, Google made this score visible for any page in the browser with its Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer.

PageRank fever took over, and link building became big business. Many SEOs obsessed over PR scores and used to buy, sell and trade links based on PageRank. And a whole lot of snake oil link building schemers and spammers flooded the market to take advantage of this new economy.

When Google stopped making PageRank publicly visible in 2016, the industry began looking for another metric to base the link building economy around. (For a history of the rise and fall of PageRank, see RIP Google PageRank score: A retrospective on how it ruined the web.)

Well, that is where Moz came in with Domain Authority. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, but it happened: once again, there was a shiny, single metric to fixate on.

Why it matters. Focusing on PageRank alone was never good SEO strategy, just as singular focus on DA now is not. “Domain Authority is a comparative metric, and I cannot stress this enough. On its own, in a vacuum, DA means very little,” Moz’s Russ Jones told us in an interview  Wednesday.

DA has no influence on your Google rankings. Your DA score can drop through the floor, and your rankings in Google will not change as a result. Focus on the bigger picture. And don’t be fooled by sales pitches that promise to help improve your Domain Authority.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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