Does Domain Authority Impact Organic Ranking

Does an increase in Domain Authority causes your website to improve its ranking on a Search Engine Results Page or is the relationship between DA and SEO organic ranking improvement merely a correlation? 

Ok when you look at the relationship between DA and organic ranking, remember a 3rules here: 

  1. Google ranks pages not websites
  2. Correlation is not causation
  3. DA calculates the strength of your backlinks (only)

Let’s discuss the fundamental question of whether DA affects your organic ranking.  The short answer is that websites with high-ranking Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) will score a high relative Domain Authority. However, sites with high DA will not necessarily rank highly in SERPS or have impressive organic traffic.   Note the keyword “relative” because DA is industry relative. 

What is DA / Where did it originate from?

So what is DA? It’s a term invented by Moz, a popular and widely used SEO software. Moz itself says higher scores correspond to a greater likelihood of ranking (*likelihood) but they don’t say one causes the other. Moreover, they have explicitly stated that “Domain Authority is not a Google ranking factor and has no effect on the SERPs.”  And that makes sense because Google ranks pages, not websites in totality.  DA is almost exclusively tied to backlinks, so it’s natural for a directory site always have a lot more backlinks than a lead gen or e-commerce site and therefore have a substantially higher DA ranking.  But this doesn’t mean a lead gen site will have a more difficult time ranking for keywords relative to its industry which draws in quality leads. 

What is it based on

DA is based on the following: 

  1. Dozens of factors in its calculations 
  2. Machine learning algorithms that predict how often Google is using that domain in its search result 
  3. Number of links
  4. DA of links 
  5. Linking root domains 

Essentially it’s mainly based on the DA of the links referenced in your site.


Backlink = other sites vouching for your content! Backlinks, inbound links, and incoming links are all the same thing – Backlinks are created when one website links to another. Backlinks are important because it’s a vote of convenience from one site to another. It just signals to a search engine that other sites vouch for your content. This is precisely why Google introduced the concept of backlinks… and then it got shot to crap with the black-hat method SEO’s buying and selling backlinks.  Therefore websites are always incentivized to build backlinks. There is a correct way of building backlinks and wrong ways – commonly referred to as the white hat method and the black method

White-hat method

White hat is any method that improves search ranking on a SERP that is genuine – for example: 

  • Publishing quality content
  • Fixing the site’s on-page SEO 
  • Using meta tags 
  • Improving the site’s UX and UI as they reduce bounce rates
  • Acquiring other sites backlinks that are relative and adding to your site

Black hat method

The black hat method is the opposite of this. This is when SEOist buys backlinks from other sites. It helps DA, but it’s risky and susceptible to google’s updates reducing your SEO juice. As Google’s algorithm evolves, it’ll be harder to fool and old deceitful tactics are more likely to be spotted. 

  • Unless you’re engaging in black-hat SEO (which you shouldn’t)

Grey hat method

actively building backlinks is considered gray hat, white hat SEO is just letting other websites link to your site on their own.

Does follow vs no-follow links make a difference 

 According to Moz, SEMrush and Ahrefs no-follow links do not have any impact on the website ranking but Google specifically mentions that the no-follow links do have an impact on a page ranking

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