Authority is a widely misunderstood topic within search engine optimization (SEO). Partly, because there are actually three types of authority with within search engine optimization (SEO):

  • Domain Authority
  • Page Authority
  • Link Authority

Domain Authority

What is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority is the ranking power a domain name has. To a high degree, it determines a website’s ability to rank. The higher the Domain Authority the better.

Domain Authority is based on three factors, namely: age and trust, popularity and size.

Age and trust

Domains with a good track record that have been around for years have earned their right to rank.

Unless we’re talking about a website migration where an aged domain is 301 redirected to a new domain, search engines aren’t just going to let new domains reach the echelon in which older domains operate. The new domains first need to earn their stripes. Partly by letting a domain age, but mostly by taking good care of her, writing good content and earning high quality backlinks.

Popularity

The most important factors determining popularity is determined by the amount of backlinks, the quality of these backlinks and the amount of unique domains linking to a website.

Size

When we talk about website size, we mean the amount of pages a website has. The more pages a website has the better, provided they contain good quality content. Avoid having lots of pages with little content since this is a strong signal to search engines that you’re not taking good care of your website.

Domain Authority isn’t solely responsible for your rankings

It’s worth noting that there’s more factors than just Domain Authority which contribute to the success of a website. An important one worth mentioning is relevancy for certain topics. The relevancy of a domain draws from the on-page content and external links.

Page Authority

What is Page Authority?

Page Authority is the ranking power a page name has. To a high degree, it determines the ability a page has to rank. As with the Domain Authority, the higher the Page Authority the better.

Page Authority is based on three factors, namely:

  • Age
  • Amount of value received from links
  • Last update

Age

Pages with a good track record that have been around for years have earned their right to rank. Just like with new domains, new pages have to earn their stripes before they are allowed to rank for competitive keywords.

Let your page age, take good care of it and make sure it contains good content and receives high quality backlinks.

Links carry Link Authority, as explained in detail in the next section. Both internal and external links pointing to a page pass some Link Authority, which in turn heavily influences the Page Authority.

Last update

Search engines like pages that are frequently updated. Make sure to periodically revisit the content of your most important pages to see if they can be updated.

Page Authority isn’t solely responsible for your rankings
You need more than high Page Authority to make a page rank for certain keywords. Relevancy for specific keywords plays a vital role as well. This relevancy is earned through on-page content which include these keywords, and through backlinks.

Link Authority is a metric to indicate the ranking power a link carries. As with the other types of authority described in this article, the higher the Link Authority the better.

The following three factors influence the amount of Link Authority that a link carries:

  • Nofollow attribute
  • Page Authority of the page linking out
  • Amount of links on the page linking out

The nofollow attribute was introduced to communicate to search engines that the owner of a website who links to a page does not want any association with it.

Naturally, this means that the link loses some of its authority.

Please note that this does not render nofollowed links useless. Millions of websites have nofollowed links. It’s normal and advisable to have them because they’re part of a natural link profile.

The page that contains the link heavily influences the amount of Link Authority which is passed. The more authority a page has, the more Link Authority can be passed to another page.

Each link on a page receives some of the page’s authority. If there’s a lot of links on a page, little authority is passed. Be smart about your links, both internal and external links (“backlinks”).

Besides authority, links also communicate relevancy and quality.

If you want to make a page relevant for a certain topic, be sure to get links from pages who share the same topic.

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