What is "website authority"?

"Website authority" is an SEO concept that refers to the "strength" of a given domain.

Some people call this "domain authority," which is not to be confused with the Domain Authority (DA) metric from Moz. When we talk about domain authority, we're talking about a general SEO concept that's synonymous with "website authority".

Here at Ahrefs, we have a website authority metric of our own called Domain Rating. It runs on a scale from zero to a hundred. The higher a website's Domain Rating (DR), the stronger and more authoritative it is.

The free tool above shows your website's "authority" as calculated by Ahrefs (i.e., Domain Rating).

How we calculate our Domain Rating (DR) score

Domain Rating (DR) looks at the quantity and quality of external backlinks to a website.

Here's how we calculate this metric in simple terms:

  • Look at how many unique domains link to the target website;

  • Look at the "authority" of those linking domains;

  • Take into account how many unique domains each of those sites link to;

  • Apply some math and coding magic to calculate “raw” DR scores;

  • Plot these scores on a 100-point scale

Domain Rating doesn't take into account any other variables like link spam, traffic, domain age, etc.

Learn more about Domain Rating here.

Why the "authority" of your domain matters

Google representatives consistently deny the use of "domain authority" as a ranking factor. But according to Google's John Mueller, they do have a sitewide score that "maps to similar things."

Plus, when we studied the correlation between Domain Rating (DR) and keyword rankings for 218,713 domains, we found that the two correlate well.

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This makes Domain Rating (authority) a useful metric by which to estimate a website’s ability to get organic traffic from Google.

Disclaimer: This is a correlation study. It does not prove causation.

What is a good Domain Rating (authority) score?

Generally speaking, the higher the "authority" of your domain, the better.

But it's important not to judge Domain Rating in absolute terms. That's because Domain Rating is a relative metric by definition. It's not possible to say that a Domain Rating of 30 is good, or 50, or 60, or 70. It's all relative.

Here's a general rule of thumb:

Your Domain Rating (authority) is good if it's higher than or comparable to similar sites.

How to improve your Domain Rating (i.e., "authority" score)

Getting backlinks from more unique websites (referring domains) is the only way to improve your website's Domain Rating (authority) score.

But improving your site's "authority" should never be your primary goal.

You should instead focus on earning backlinks from strong pages on reputable sites in your industry to the pages that you want to rank in Google. That's because there's a clear correlation between the number of referring domains to a page and the amount of organic traffic it gets.

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  • The correlation between referring domains and search traffic (~920 million pages studied).

Furthermore, we found that the number of referring domains to a page is the strongest correlating backlink factor as far as rankings are concerned.

referring domains to a page is the strongest correlating backlink factor

How to use "website authority"

Here are two good uses cases:

1. Benchmarking against your competitors

If your website "authority" is higher than that of your competitors, then your site is stronger than theirs in terms of "link popularity."

For example, soihang.com has a Domain Rating of 88. Moz.com has a Domain Rating of 91.

That's because it has more backlinks from websites with strong link profiles, which leads to a higher "authority" score (as measured by Ahrefs).

TIP. If two websites have the same Domain Rating, then you should use Ahrefs Rank (AR) to judge their relative strength.

Comparing your Domain Rating to other websites in your industry can tell you whether your competitors are doing better or worse than you. If they're doing better, then you may want to analyze their backlink profile in Ahrefs Site Explorer for untapped link opportunities.

2. Vetting link prospects

Google cares more about the "strength" of the linking page than that of the linking domain. Still, pages on high "authority" domains tend to be stronger than those on low "authority" sites.

For that reason, Ahrefs' Domain Rating is a good proxy by which to judge the relative quality of link prospects.

Still, never judge the quality of a website on site-wide "authority" alone.

You should also consider the following:

  • Do they have high-quality backlinks?

  • Do they have lots of pages? (fewer is usually better)

  • Do they link out to a lot of websites? (again, fewer tends to be better)

  • Are they publishing high-quality content?

  • Is this website likely to still be around in six months? A year? Five years?

  • Does it get any organic traffic? Is this website topically-relevant to yours?

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