My Blogging Secrets: Domain Authority – from 1 to 30 in 6 months
Increasing your Domain Authority (DA) is a simple, steady process that anyone can do and I proved that by going from 1 to 30 in just 6 months time. I’m going to explain what Domain authority is, why you should care about it and what steps I took to increase it so quickly. This guide was updated in December 2018 with some new information about the Moz bar and domain authority updates.
If you don’t make it through this long article, please take the time to read the final paragraph, as it’s the most important!
What is this DA thing?
DA stands for “domain authority”. The internet is a vast, interconnected spiderweb of sites where the threads are hyperlinks, taking you from one place to another in a single click. The more hyperlinks you have coming in to your website, the more connections, traffic, and popularity you have. Domain authority is calculated on a scale of 1 to 100 where those at the higher end will be massive organizations such as the BBC which in November, had 287,000 total links pointing at it.
Domain authority indicates to brands that you are an established website that others have felt confident linking to. It also helps google see you as a genuine site and the more links to a page, the quicker google will find it and it’ll be taken into consideration for search ranking. Google uses a bunch of different things to calculate your “page trust”, and Domain Authority is one of them. In short, it’s good and you want more of it.
It’s not everything though. It’s not the only thing that’s important and it’s not even the most important thing, so don’t get bogged down in the details. It’s more important to SEO companies, brands trying to get new sites established and other bloggers or influencers than it is large companies. In these situations you might see a minimum DA listed, or fees for sponsored posts being set on DA. For established companies, your niche, your writing style, your social media influence (followers and engagement) and your unique page visits (traffic) are likely to influence them more than your DA. Once you’ve spent some time increasing your Domain Authority, it’s time to start thinking about how to get some sponsored posts!
So don’t panic if your DA is low. Don’t panic if it goes up one month and then down the next as well – as it adjusts and is very variable! If it goes down, you have not done anything wrong. The update schedule is variable, and sometimes it updates early or late which can also affect it. That being said, if you can, it’s good to work on everything and increase all your stats, as DA will have a positive – if small – effect on traffic and influence in general.
How do I check it and how often does it update?
DA is calculated by a website called Moz. The easiest way to check your Domain Authority is to use the Chrome browser and install an app called the Moz Bar. This will give you the Domain Authority on a little bar at the top of your browser – not just for your website, but for every website you visit, which also allows you to get a cheeky glimpse into how other bloggers and websites are doing too. There is their free DA checker on the website called Open Site Explorer and this gives you much more in depth information such as the exact URLs of any lost or gained links. The downside is you can only check 10 websites per month total on the free account, so don’t go spamming it and use all your requests at once. There is a Moz Pro which offers a lot of SEO tools if you decide to get super serious about it, but for the average blogger this isn’t necessary and I’ve never paid for it personally so can’t comment on how useful it is.
The claim is now that Moz is updated on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean your website will update daily, in fact, most people (especially after 30+) will find that their domain may stay static for months, or even longer. What it means is that it can change on any day so the best thing to do is just glance at the Moz bar a few times a week whilst you’re updating your website and you’ll be able to see if you have moved.
I increased my Domain Authority purely doing three things…
1. Guest Posting
When you write a post on another person’s website, it’s called a guest post. Occasionally this comes with payment (when you do it for companies), but more often than not, guest posts are made on other bloggers websites. Bloggers, like you, don’t have oodles of cash to chuck around, so instead, they provide a follow link back to your website and social media. It’s also worth noting that you get a higher value from your link if the person has a higher DA then you, and the higher their DA the bigger the benefit they pass down to you. Since most people’s DA will increase over time, contributing to small / new sites can have a long-term benefit as their DA rises and you can both increase together.
The blogger hosting you gets content for their website and social media and they get the traffic from google for your post forever. In return, you’ll get your links and most likely, get a small amount of traffic from their social media shares, which might net you a few followers of your own. If people like your writing, they’ll click the link and continue to read your posts so you might gain permanent followers or readers from it.
Sometimes bloggers will exchange guest posts and you both get a win win situation.
There is no downside to guest posting other than the fact that you’re spending your time writing a post for someone elses website instead of your own. You have to weigh up whether you would have received traffic from that post and how much it is worth it to you to exchange it. Sometimes a blogger will shut down their website and your content will be gone. It’s good to keep a copy of your guest posts and where you wrote them. I keep a hard copy on my computer, and I have a currently unpublished page where I write down where I’ve submitted content. One day I might publish this, but keeping it on my blog also means my broken link checker will email me if the link disappears and then I can check if the blog is simply down, or if it’s gone for good. If it’s gone for good, I’ll reclaim my content, re-purpose it or post it on my own blog or elsewhere.
2. Crowdsourcing responses
Bloggers often fill up posts by sharing opinion from other bloggers. This gives them content that doesn’t take much time, helps increase word count for SEO purposes, provides an interesting insight for the reader and can help make an advertising post feel more natural. Bloggers often tag all those on Twitter who have been included, and everyone can increase everyone elses traffic and engagement by interacting with it.
These links should generally be follow links. A blogger may use one quote, or 30 in a post, as they choose. The quotes are often only a sentence or two, but maybe as much as a paragraph or more depending on their needs. If you’re adding crowdsourcing responses onto your website, it’s worth noting that you can accumulate a “spam score” from moz if you have a massive amount of external links. Putting 30 links on every post would end up being detrimental.
The advantage to you submitting a response is that you can come up with your input very quickly and can potentially get a link back for a few minutes of your time. The downside is that you may need to be quick off the mark as there can potentially be a lot of comments and the requester may only use a limited amount. If you’re only checking for requests every day or two, you’ll find you miss a lot of opportunities.
In the first 6 months of my blog, I estimate I responded to over 200 crowdsourcing requests. Less than 50% of my efforts were rewarded with a backlink, but if you enjoy sharing your opinion and chatting with bloggers it’s not much of a chore either so I really didn’t mind when my quote wasn’t chosen!
Comments on other blogs which allow you to input a URL are no-follow links and hold the least weight, but they do still count. They count more if you haven’t commented on that domain before, so putting 100 comments on a single site is not a good use of time from a Domain Authority perspective. Try to make your comments genuinely useful and interesting. If you copy/paste or don’t even read the post, your comment probably won’t even be approved, plus it’s rude, since you’re doing it to other bloggers who appreciate your engagement. Short posts increase spam scores for websites, so will likely get removed. Leave a long (minimum 8 words but a few sentences is better), well thought out reply that actually shows you read the content and are interested.
Most bloggers use a moderation filter and commenting on old sites that aren’t particularly active may mean it’s stuck in the moderation queue a long time (or forever). Leaving comments is something you can do by yourself without waiting for other bloggers to agree to work with you, but it is the least effective and can be a little time consuming. You need to find a blog that allows URLs, read the post, make a relevant comment and then wait for that person to approve you. Then do that hundreds of times for maximum effectiveness!
The final option here is to take part in linkies, of which I probably have enough information to fill another post entirely! Linkies are where one host creates a link up and you follow some simple rules regarding engaging on other blogs. This roughly works out at you give some comments and you receive some comments (and traffic!). I like linkies because if you do the same ones regular you really get to know the other bloggers and this makes it much less of a chore for me and can actually help to make friends and people I genuinely enjoy reading and interacting with. It becomes just a fun way to spend an hour on a Monday morning with a cup of tea, seeing what my blogging friends have been up to.
But how do I find other bloggers to work with?
I use three places to find other bloggers to work with, which increased my Domain authority from 1 to 30 in under 6 months.
Facebook is absolutely my number 1 resource for networking with other bloggers as well as just help, support and motivation in general. Just search the groups for your niche, country and what you’re looking for. The ones I personally use the most are UK Bloggers, UK Parent Bloggers, UK Parent Blogger Crowdsourcing, Bloggers Helping Each Other and Mamapreneur Revolution. There are also groups for opportunities such as UK Blogger Opportunities and UK Parent Blogger Opportunities. You may find that your local area has a blogging network, for example I’m in South Wales Bloggers. If not – maybe this is an opportunity to create one?
Just remember that every group is run by a specific individual who will have their own rules. These people give up their free time to keep these groups running smoothly, yet every day I see them having to remove posts that break the rules. It’s not that hard to check the pinned post in each group before you use it! Some groups are there for chatting and supporting so don’t just wander into a group and drop your link or take something from other members without ever giving back. We should all be helping each other at the end of the day!
I find a lot of networking on Twitter. If you are naturally following a lot of other bloggers, you may see when they ask for guest posts. You can also post out offering a guest post, and see who responds to you. I post out when I need new posters for my guest series, and I always get a couple of responses, so people do see and network in this manner. Plus following lots of bloggers is a great way to get lots of follows and some engagement back, so I’m a big fan of networking on Twitter.
Some hashtags you might find useful are #bloggerswanted and #guestpost but you’ll have to trawl through lots of crap. Don’t ever be one of those bloggers who uses those hashtags to try and clickbait some traffic as it’s very frustrating when a couple of bloggers use them for every new post, knowing that lots of other bloggers like to look through them. Deliberately misusing hashtags is one of my big blogging pet peeves!
Yes that’s right, I use Moz to find people to work with. Moz is giving you all the connections the other bloggers are making. You can use your free searches to check out another popular blogger that you admire, and you can see where he or she is getting their link backs from. This can give you an idea of what sites might be accepting guest posts and give you a list of places they’ve commented which means you can just click through to different blogs and leave comments fairly quickly and efficiently too.
The MOST important thing!
This article is all about numbers. It’s all about the technical hoo-haa of how you can act to get the most out of this DA system that has been set up. That’s not what blogging is about, and that’s not what Welsh Mum of One is about. This is something I find fun to explore, talk about and do as I really love diving into the technical side of things – but it’s not that important in the grand scheme of the blogosphere. My website isn’t any better for having a higher DA – in fact, nothing I’ve done to increase my DA is about my website. It’s all about doing things elsewhere.
What’s important is that you keep sharing your life, your personal thoughts, your experience. Your voice should shine through, and if you don’t have time to be monitoring Facebook groups and you don’t enjoy writing a hundred comments on different blogs, then don’t do it. You don’t need to! Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae. The reality is, DA is the least important thing about you and genuine brands looking for people to work with are looking for the real you, not a number.
The main reason I wrote this guide is not because I think it’s that important, but because one of the most common questions I see from new bloggers in Facebook groups is “What is DA and how do I increase it”. Now you know, and you can decide how important it is to you and how much time you want to put into it.