SEO Glossary / Website Authority

Website Authority

What is Website Authority?

Website authority is an SEO concept that refers to the overall “strength” of a domain. This strength reflects the ability (or likelihood) of a given domain to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs) and pass its backlink strength, also known as “link juice,” to other websites.

The concept of website authority should not be confused with Domain Authority (DA) as a metric, which was developed by MOZ to predict the likelihood of a given website appearing in SERPs and is measured on a scale from 1 to 100. Ranktracker has its own proprietary authority metric, called Domain Rating (DR), which estimates a site’s “link popularity” compared to other websites. A higher Domain Rating typically implies a more authoritative website.

Website authority is calculated based on various factors, with the most crucial being the website’s backlink profile—specifically, the quality and quantity of the backlinks it receives.

Why is Website Authority Important for SEO?

Google asserts that Domain Authority (as a metric) is not a factor in determining search rankings. However, according to Google’s John Mueller, there is still a sitewide score that maps to similar concepts.

To understand website authority's role in SERPs, we must discuss how Google ranks sites and distinguish between “authority” as a metric and the concept of authority that a particular domain may have. Google considers over 200 factors before showing results for a particular search query, with key elements including page content and backlink profiles, along with technical aspects like mobile-friendliness and speed.

Correlation Between Domain Rating and Google Rankings

Here at Ranktracker, we explored the connection between keyword rankings and Domain Rating. After examining 218,713 domains (each ranking for at least 100 keywords), we found a clear correlation between higher Domain Ratings and better rankings in Google’s search results.

PageRank, which measures the quality and quantity of backlinks, is still used as a ranking signal in Google’s algorithm. Therefore, while you shouldn’t focus solely on a single metric, Domain Rating can still be useful to:

  • Compare your website to others globally and within your niche.
  • Estimate the “value” of a backlink when vetting link prospects.
  • Gauge a website’s ability to get organic traffic.

How to Increase Website Authority

Building website authority is a long-term strategy, and expecting instant results is unrealistic. Instead, focus on specific points of optimization and continuously monitor your site’s performance. Here are some key steps to consider:

1. Don’t Rely Solely on Authority Metrics

Focusing solely on Domain Authority or Domain Rating would be a mistake. A high DR score doesn’t guarantee the quality of a backlink. When estimating a backlink’s value, consider factors such as:

  • The number of pages on the referring website.
  • The amount of organic traffic the site receives.
  • The number of outbound links from the site.
  • The relevance of the referring website to your topic.
  • The quality of the referring website (design, optimization, content, etc.).

While high-quality backlinks from authoritative sites are beneficial, links from relevant sites with lower DR can also be valuable. Relevance is crucial, and many low-DR websites still get significant organic traffic.

3. Avoid Artificially Inflating Authority Metrics

Artificially boosting your site’s DR through methods like Private Blog Networks (PBNs) or link farms can lead to penalties from Google. Instead, focus on producing high-quality content that provides real value to your audience.


Does Google Use Website Authority as a Ranking Factor?

Google representatives have stated that Domain Authority (as a metric) is not used as a ranking factor. However, Google likely uses a similar internal metric to measure a website's authority based on factors like the quality and strength of its backlink profile.

What Website Authority is Good?

There is no universal answer to this question. A small or newly launched business may have a low DR score but can still rank high with high-quality content targeting long-tail keywords and low competition.

How is Website Authority Calculated?

Ranktracker' Domain Rating, displayed on a 100-point scale, is calculated using factors such as:

  • The number of domains linking to the target website.
  • The Domain Rating of the referring domains.
  • The more websites the referring domain links to, the less DR it passes to these sites.

By focusing on creating valuable content and earning high-quality backlinks, you can improve your website authority and enhance your visibility in search engine results.