You may already be familiar with Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA). These terms were created by Moz – a SaaS company – and are used for different purposes.
Some companies use authority to study and evaluate how well they’re performing in their digital strategies. It’s also a qualitative measure of your web properties and affects search engines’ overall rankings and visibility.
That’s why most search engine optimization (SEO) experts focus on producing quality and valuable content, link building, and other SEO tactics – just to increase authority.
While authority is a strong indicator of your overall SEO performance, it isn’t the only way to guarantee search ranking and visibility for your web properties – you also need relevant context based on the search query.
DA and PA are simply popular authority metrics in the SEO world, sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re different.
So what do these metrics mean? And what are the main differences between them?
To help you understand the main differences between the two terms, we’ll define DA and PA, their functions, and how they’re derived.
Domain authority or DA is a useful metric that helps you know the status of your web property against your competition. It’s a search engine ranking score, but it isn’t among the ranking factors on Google’s list.
The metric is the brainchild of Moz, and it’s used to predict the likelihood that your website will rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Moz rates the score on a scale of 1-100, where 0 is the lowest, and higher scores correspond to a higher probability that your site will rank well in the SERPs.
Moz bases DA on data from its Link Explorer web index tool and inputs several factors when calculating this metric.
The actual calculation applies a machine learning model, which helps you find the best-fit algorithm with the strongest correlation to Moz’s link data.
Moz’s DA search engine ranking score considers the quality and quantity of links that your web pages receive.
If you have backlinks from high authority pages like Wikipedia, Google, or other renowned magazines and pages, you’re more likely to score a better DA.
Getting such quality backlinks will depend on the characteristics of your website and the type of industry, which means your DA may differ from another business in the same industry.
For instance, IMDB – a website that curates information about films, TV shows, video games, and more enjoy a high DA. That’s because it naturally integrates relevant keywords throughout its site.
How do you calculate DA for your website? We look at that in the next section.
When calculating DA, Moz’s algorithm evaluates the number of links and linking root domains into a single score. They then use this score to track the ranking strength of a website or to compare websites over time.
So, if your site is more likely to appear in the SERPs than your competitor’s site, your site is likely to have a higher DA than the competitor’s site.
However, the DA score tends to fluctuate as different data points become available and are added to the calculation.
For instance, if an established, authoritative website would acquire a significant number of new links, every other site’s DA would fall relative to that website.
This is because the established site will have higher and larger link profiles, which results in less room at the higher DA score levels for other domains with less robust link profiles.
It’s easier for you to grow your score at lower DA levels (20-30) than at higher DA levels (70-90).
You can check your site’s DA for free using different tools such as Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker or Moz’s Link Explorer. Just enter your domain’s root URL, and the tool will calculate and display the DA.
You also get other metrics like the linking domains, inbound links, and ranking keywords.
DA isn’t a Google-based or ranking factor, but it just indicates how well your site is doing over the competition.
You can build your site’s DA to rank better than competing websites in a few simple steps.
- Put quality, relevant backlinks before quantity
- Make sure you analyze the backlinks you get, and if they’re quality, make them do-follow links
- Create valuable and engaging content so you can get natural backlinks
- Make sure the content focuses on your target audience so they can find and share it
- Update unindexed or older content with additional, relevant, or fresh information that will interest your audience
- Know the competition and analyze what they do or don’t do so you can increase your site’s visibility
- Find out where the competition get backlinks and see if you can get similar ones
- Distribute your content through multiple channels – email, newsletter, social media, and more
Page authority or PA is another popular score by Moz that predicts how a particular page will rank on the SERPs. PA scores also range from 1-100 – the higher the score, the greater the probability of ranking.
This metric is based on Moz’s web index data and considers several factors when calculating the final score.
A machine learning model identifies the best algorithm that matches the rankings across the SERPs that Moz predicts against, and then a PA score is derived from that calculation.
However, this happens at the individual page level, and the data used to calculate the score considers over 40 factors, including link counts. On-page factors like keyword use or content optimization aren’t considered when calculating PA.
Moz constantly updates the PA algorithm, so it may fluctuate over time. Like DA, it’s easier to grow your score at lower PA levels than at higher ones of 70-80 points.
Dozens of SEO and online marketing tools across the internet incorporate PA metrics. If you want to know the PA for a specific webpage, you can check the Moz ecosystem’s Link Explorer.
While it’s not possible to influence your web pages’ PAs, you can take some steps to increase the likelihood of a higher PA and ranking on the SERPs. Here are some of the most important steps to try:
- Build direct links to the page you want to optimize. Link building is at the page level, so you’ll want to put your efforts there. These efforts include creating more in-depth, well-researched, and authoritative content to create a resource for your audience.
- Distribute the page authority throughout your site across pages with less PA. Managing link equity can boost your PA and help spread the link juice across. If you want to optimize some pages, link to them from higher PA pages, but ensure they’re contextually relevant to the topic.
- Pack each page with valuable content – not thin, short, and re-hashed information. Your content should be unique, comprehensive, and in-depth, covering every angle of each topic.
- Build your DA using the tips we’ve mentioned above, and make sure your site is optimized and has a clean, proper URL and site structure.
- Weed out harmful links to your page. You put in a lot of time and effort to grow your PA. Having spammy backlinks pointing to your page can destroy all that work because they nullify the benefits of the quality links you’ve already amassed and lead to lower rankings or a Google manual penalty.
- Use the disavow tool from Google to request that such bad links pointing back to your site be removed from your link profile.
- Create a page on a high authority domain
- Optimize your page for SEO and make sure it’s fully functional
At first glance, Domain Authority and Page Authority metrics may seem similar. However, there are several differences, albeit subtle, which set them apart. Let’s look at each below.
Domain Authority helps you know the status of your web property compared to your competition and predicts the likelihood that your website will rank in the SERPs.
Page Authority, on the other hand, predicts how a particular page will rank on the SERPs. It helps you prioritize and define the actions you need to improve or develop based on the individual page with the most scope for improvement.
Domain Authority data is drawn from Moz’s web index tool and considers several factors, including links and linking root domains.
Page Authority considers over 40 factors like link counts and others but doesn’t include keyword use or content optimization.
When calculating Domain Authority, Moz uses an algorithm powered by machine learning that evaluates the linking root domains and number of links on your site to derive a score.
The score ranges from 1-100 and depending on the figure you get, you can track the ranking strength of your site over the competition.
Page Authority is also calculated using an algorithm, but it considers link counts and other factors to derive a score ranging from 1-100 on an individual page.
Domain Authority is a score based on the entire website, while Page Authority is based on an individual web page or pages, but not the whole site.
Domain Authority and Page Authority are important metrics to your search visibility.
The key to balancing the use of both metrics is to focus on their purpose and being strategic about it right from your digital strategy down to implementation.