SEOs have been buzzing with the news of future changes to Moz’s Domain Authority score.

If you haven’t heard yet, the future is now. As of Tuesday, March 5, the official roll-out of these changes are live.

What does the change in DA ratings mean for your website?

Don’t worry. We’re here to breakdown what these changes mean and how your website will be affected.

Below we will cover a few questions that you may be stressing over, like:

  • What is Domain Authority and what does it do for my site?
  • What’s changing about DA?
  • How will the Moz DA changes affect my website?
  • How can I tell if my website will be disrupted?

Let’s tear into it.

What is Domain Authority?

We get this question a lot, so don’t feel out of it if you’re wondering what the fourth and first letter of the alphabet have to do with your website rankings.

Hint: DA is short for Domain Authority. See, you’re already able to use SEO jargon like a pro!

Domain Authority is a predictive and proprietary metric that reflects how Google likely ranks a website’s domain. Moz developed it and they rank sites from 0-100.

There have been quite a few misconceptions about this metric so we’ll clear this up as quick and easy as possible.

  1. Google does not use DA as a ranking factor. It is simply a metric that SEOs and website owners alike should use as a relative number to compare against competitors and previous versions of the domain. Google uses similar factors, but not this exact metric.
  2. Having a high DA does not necessarily mean you will outrank your competitors for any given keyword. Google looks at many different factors when ranking domains. If a competitor has a DA 70 score and you only have a DA 50, you might be worried. But if you have more unique, quality referring domains with better, more relevant content, chances are you’ll outrank this competitor.
  3. Moz bases a website’s DA on the link patterns of its referring domains (also known as backlinks). The easiest way to understand this is from the E-A-T factors: Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. If there are several websites with high E-A-T linking to your site, they’re effectively saying, Hey, Google…this site knows what it’s talking about. Google trusts those websites’ opinions and will therefore often recommend your website as an expert on that subject.

This is why building an intelligent and strategic backlinking strategy is imperative for healthy SEO. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Backlinking for an in-depth look at how you can help your rankings.

At a surface level, higher DA backlinks = higher DA for your site = higher Google rankings.

Seems easy, right?

Well, no. If it was, we’d all be out of jobs and the front page of Google would be full of spam sites.

There have been many cheaters who build websites strictly to manipulate link patterns and trick search engines into believing they’re more relevant. Link sellers take advantage of this and sell links to domains that just trying to stay afloat, spamming their sites with large amounts of “high DA” websites.

Google knows when you’re trying to cheat the system, which is why the new DA will be a huge help to SEOs when analyzing a backlink profile.

What changed about DA?

    • Daily Updates: Before, we were only able to see changes to the DA rating at a monthly rate. Now we can pinpoint when and why our DA fluctuated.
    • Larger Link Index: Machine learning at its finest! Moz was only able to use the top 1-100 sites that ranked for a specific keyword. Thanks to the latest update to their algorithm, we’re able to look past the first 100 and judge if a website would (or would not) rank and why.
    • Fundamentally Different Training Set: Moz was using a standard methodology for building and analyzing Domain Authority. By only using this methodology, there weren’t taking hundreds of factors into account when judging link patterns. 
      When you’re only looking at standard search, you’re only comparing winners—sites that already rank. But most pages don’t rank for anything. So how do they get judged? Off poorly extrapolated data. This is where the new training set uses a more advanced machine learning system to review more domains and more data points, at a faster rate. Technology, amiright?
    • Spam Detection: Google relies heavily on the link patterns from a website’s referring domains to judge the website and then rank it in order of relevance. Remember that Google is investigating the quality of links at a much deeper level than before. Therefore, domains with obviously spammy links will get knocked down in the DA ratings.

Moz has stated that the new algorithm can better detect spammy links and therefore devalue them.

This will ideally lead to a large drop in Domain Authority for link sellers’ spammy domains.

Will the Moz DA changes affect my website?

If you’re building links naturally, chances are your domain won’t be affected by these changes. Most websites will see no more than a 1 to 1.25 disruption in scores. The previous DA only took into account the quantity of links—not the quality.

However, there’s a good chance that Google has already seen the low-quality links on your site, so now, thanks to Moz’s DA, you’ll see a more accurate reflection of how Google feels about your site than ever before.

How can I tell if my website will be disrupted?

There are so many tools out on the internet that track and analyze backlinks. At Digital Strike, we use a plethora of tools to keep an eye on our clients’ backlink profiles. Not all tools are created equally, though, and each have their own special features to highlight.

However, now Moz is incorporating more features to analyze your back-linking profile. Most important is the Spam Score. Backlinks with high spam scores alert Google’s crawlers to link manipulation and Google will punish you, resulting in lower rankings.

Use any of these tools to keep an eye on your back-linking profile and you should be able to spot any areas where you may be affected by this algorithmic change.m 

If you’re concerned about spammy backlinks or any negative effects you’re seeing from this algorithm change from Moz, contact us to ensure your link patterns are safe and learn more about strategic link building.

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