I was recently involved in a discussion on an automotive industry Facebook group where an industry friend was told by his current SEO provider that he shouldn’t be concerned with Moz’s Domain Authority ranking system. The actual quote was:
“The Domain Authority score has no actual impact on your site’s ranking. It is a 3rd party guess at the strength of your site. Moz’s value has dropped a lot over the last couple of years. I don’t even look at it anymore.”
It’s not a metric to be obsessed with, but why would anyone recommend ignoring any metric, particularly one so universally respected, when it comes to your website? That’s a good question. First let’s cover what Domain Authority is and how it is calculated.
Domain Authority is a third party tool created by Moz, used for scoring your site’s credibility as compared to similar sites in your industry. Since, I also believe that a site worth having is a site worth optimizing, I see it as a very credible resource for gauging the overall health, as it pertains to search. You can download the toolbar here. It’s free.
Domain Authority is made-up of many contributing factors, but the main ones are the age of the domain, site popularity, and most of all LINKS. Good-quality, relevant backlinks are still the primary offsite factor that Google utilizes to understand the credibility of a website. It also represents the most under-utilized SEO tool in the automotive industry, which would explain why someone would say, “Don’t look here because we don’t do anything to help you with it.”
When the Google Penguin algorithm update hit, many “SEO” providers were put out of business (or at least out of the link business). Since SEO is a very obscure term, at least in our industry, companies can call their services SEO, even if they are only providing a portion of what is considered true Search Engine Optimization. If they don’t provide links and other offsite factors as part of their service, could that influence their decision to steer you away from acknowledging the credibility of this metric? You bet! It’s conspicuous in this case because the industry friend had seen a steady decline in his Domain Authority in the last six months (from 32 down to 24). My friend’s instincts were right-on to question the advice he was being given.
What can dealers do to increase their website’s Domain Authority? First, its important to know that you cannot, and should not, try to “game the system.” It’s going to take time. Here are a few things I would recommend:
- Remove any harmful backlinks. Some are just spam that everyone has to deal with and others are applied on your behalf by a vendor trying to cut corners. Regardless of how they got there, get rid of them.
- Diversify your backlinks. Links are not about quantity. Quality earned links from a variety of sources always wins over many links from a single source.
- Use Internal links. When creating new pages on your site, be sure to include links to older pages with high authority. Make sure they are natural, contextual and most of all relevant to each other.
- Create high quality, sharable content. Remember, site popularity is one factor in Moz ranking. If you have good quality content that is getting natural backlinks and social signals, your dealership AND your customers win.
In the end, there are a lot of varying opinions on every topic. Sometimes those opinions are based more on the ability of the person giving it, over anything else. I am glad I was able to give my friend some usable advice. I hope I helped you as well.