Did you know that there are about 200 factors that Google takes into account when determining how a website will rank for a given keyword term?
This is a good thing because it makes any single tactic not very useful if that's all you do. Many low quality SEO companies have made a killing off of massive, low quality link building. This tactic alone does not work….anymore. This is where SEO professionals come in.
To make things even harder, these factors are always changing. Some new factors are added, some are taken away, and some existing ones that used to be positive, now are a negative. Talk about confusion. The search engines, namely Google, do a great job of consistently throwing a virtual monkey wrench in our search engine strategies.
Whenever I work with a new customer, I like to educate them on some of the factors that the search engines use to decide whether or not a given website is worthy of ranking.
While quality content and building links to a website are concepts most people know and understand, there are some other important concepts that should be understood. This is especially true for new websites, or older ones that have never used SEO best practices before.
I'm talking about Domain Authority and Page Authority. If you're a new website, just building links back to the site just doesn't do it. At least not in the very beginning. The search engines want to give search engine credit to sites that they deem to have some sort of authority in their industry. They are looking beyond just links, they want to understand the relationships you have forged with the rest of the web.
Domain Authority – Domain Authority is a formula created by SEOmoz.com. It attempts (rather well) to match Google's 150+ search engine ranking factors and creates a domain authority score based on that. It also incorporated their own MozRank and MozTrust ranking factors into the equation.
Domain Authority looks at your domain “as a whole” when creating your Domain Authority score.
The Domain Authority score determines the “Strength” of a website by looking at not only the websites that link to it, but by the links that the websites linking to it have linking to them. Sounds confusing? You don't know the half of it. It's kind of like saying that I can determine your popularity as a person by looking at who your friends are, their friends, and their friends-friends…..and so on and so on.
In a nutshell, it looks at the quality relationships your website has built with other high quality websites through the links you share with each other.
Domain Authority is scored on a logarithmic scale ranging from 0 to 100-points. Scores get progressively harder as they increase. While it's relatively easy to from 0 to 30, it's extremely difficult to go from 80 to 90.
Page Authority – While Domain Authority looks at your website “as a whole”, Page Authority looks at the strength of each individual page on your website. Similar metrics apply as when scoring your Domain Authority, except it's applied against a single page.
Think of each page on your website as a mini-website within your site. The way I like to explain it is if you have a website with a single page, you have one door to your website for possible visitors to find you. If you have 500 pages, there are now 500 doors or “opportunities” for visitors to find you. That makes a 500 page website much more likely to be found than a 1 page website.
What this means is you can have a low Domain Authority website, with a high Page Authority web page, and vice-versa. An example would be a new small business blog (low Domain Authority) having one of their blog articles getting picked up by The New York Times (High Page Authority). The more high Page Authority pages your website has, the more your Domain Authority will grow.
So what does all this mean?
What it means is that it's not just all about the links and the content. Even with great content and alot of links, in the eyes of the search engines it still takes some time for you to build some “Authority” in their eyes. Now depending on your website and how well you are doing with it, it can be several weeks or several months. In some cases, several years.
So the next time you think about SEO for your website, think beyond links and articles, and think about building an “Authority”site in your industry.
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