If you own a website, ranking on search engines like Google is important if you need traffic. However, this can be a complex task, especially in competitive niches.
As you work on your SEO, there are many website analysis tools online, free and paid, that you can use to know if you’re getting things right.
Domain Rating and Domain Authority scores are two common metrics you’ll find. Both tell a lot about your website’s domain and to some extent, your website’s popularity.
What do they mean? Are they the same or different? Well, they are different but similar and we’ll be discussing all about it in this article.
Domain Rating (DR) is a metric that shows the quality and extent of a website’s backlink profile. The DR strength is scaled from 1 to 100. It’s a single metric that can reveal a website’s value or the effectiveness of a digital marketing plan.
Websites with high DR ratings make the best backlinks so knowing other sites’ DRs will help you make smarter decisions. If you have backlinks from high DR sites, your DR will improve as well.
Conversely, getting backlinks from a site with a low DR will be a waste of time. Tracking your website’s DR over time is also a good way to know if your strategy is working or not.
How DR is calculated depends on the DR tool you’re using. Although the main DR checker tool is the Ahrefs website authority checker. Nevertheless, they use web crawlers, just like Google, to gather referring domain data.
A DR checker tool will essentially check for websites that are linking to your own. They look at the number of different domains that have sent at least one do-follow link to your website and also the DR and backlinks of these websites.
Subsequently, they perform further computations and coding to get raw DR scores. These are then scaled to generate the final domain rating.
As a result, DR tools will favour authoritative websites since their backlinks carry more weight than links from websites with less authoritative websites.
However, having multiple links from a single authoritative website won’t improve your DR much. DR tools will count the links from a particular website as one.
DR is also relative between competing websites. For example, if competing sites get a lot of high-quality backlinks, your website’s DR will go down. Hence, a site’s DR might drop without it losing backlinks.
From time to time, DR checker tools also change the way they calculate DR which can result in lower or higher DR for some websites without them changing their webpages or backlink profiles.
Domain Authority (DA) score forecasts the likelihood of a website ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). Just like DR, they range from one to 100; higher ratings indicate more ranking potential.
This number can be used to compare websites or track a website’s ranking strength within a period. The score shows the possibility of a website’s link appearing in search results.
A domain with a high DR is more likely to appear in SERPs than a domain with low DR. Hence, websites that top Google search results typically have high DA scores. However, it is not a ranking criterion.
In other words, having a high DA doesn’t mean your website will rank high in Google or other search engines. Instead, it’s the other way round. Ranking high in Google or other search engines translates to a high DA score.
As a result, Domain Authority should be used as a comparing ranking factor rather than absolute indicator. Multiple elements such as backlinks and linking root domains contribute to a Domain Authority score.
Most DA checker tools use machine learning models to calculate ranking algorithms based on thousands of actual search results from Google and other search engines.
As a result, DA score fluctuates regularly as websites get more or fewer links and other data points. If a high authority website gets more new links, every other site’s DA would decline.
The authoritative sites take up more high-DA spaces, leaving less space for domains with weaker link profiles.
Domain Rating and Domain Authority are more similar than they are different. Both are important scores for website SEO analysis.
While Domain Authority (DA) was coined by Moz, Domain Rating (DR) was developed by Ahrefs. According to Ahref’s, the Domain Rating is primarily a website’s authority rating. However, it’s still different from Domain Authority by Moz.
Ahrefs DR (website authority) focuses on the strength of a domain by looking at the unique backlinks it has. It doesn’t take into account factors like domain age, traffic, or if the website has spam links.
Moz DA, on the other hand, focuses on how likely a website will rank. As mentioned earlier, it’s more of a comparing metric. In fact, Moz utilizes the data from their Link Explorer web index to analyze DA.
When you check domain rating with Ahrefs checker, you basically get your website’s backlink profile. You’ll get metrics like the number of linking websites, number of backlinks, and how many of them are do-follow links.
When you check domain authority with Moz checker, you get metrics like linking root domains, spam score, and ranking keywords. Hence, domain authority involves more calculating factors than domain rating.
Furthermore, if your website has a high DA score, it’s also likely to have a high DR score. For example, Facebook.com has 96 DA score with 57.2 million linking root domains with Moz and 100 DR score with over 126 million backlinks with Ahrefs.
Nevertheless, it’s still possible for a website to rank on SERPs without having many backlinks. In such a case, a website can have a high DA but with a low DR. This is because DR is solely on backlinks.
DA and DR are metrics calculated by two different SEO companies but they have a lot of similarities. To start with, they both have to do with SEO. Having a good DA and DR indicates that your website is optimized for search engines.
Furthermore, both metrics look at links. DA looks at top backlinks, spam links, and lost links. DR looks at just backlinks, or more specifically, unique do-follow backlinks.
Domain rating and domain authority both range from 0 to 100; the higher the score, the better. Both metrics don’t have any relationship with Google or any other search engines.
They don’t influence search engine results, they just predict how well or bad a website will perform. Nevertheless, many people argue that SEO is mostly about backlinks.
Google also confirms that well-deserved links are important factors when ranking content. Hence, since DA and DR analyses unique do-follow backlink and spam links, having high scores implies that you’re following Google’s best practices.
In other words, your site could rank higher on SERPs. Websites like Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others that always rank top of Google will normally have very high DA and DR scores.
Nevertheless, there are other Google ranking factors so you can’t depend on backlinks (DA/DR scores) alone.
Although very arguable, many webmasters believe Ahrefs Domain Rating score is more valuable than Moz Domain Authority score.
Image from Wikimedia
Before now, PageRank was the single algorithm Google used in ranking websites. PageRank mainly calculates the quality of links pointing to a website.
This means that websites with the strongest backlinks dominated SERPs and it’s still not very different today. Google no longer uses just PageRank now, but backlinks are still of high importance.
Moz’s domain authority score doesn’t depend much on backlinks. It takes into account other factors like website traffic, domain age, spam score, and social presence.
The argument is that DA can be manipulated. A very old website will likely have a high DA score even if it doesn’t rank high on SERPs. A website might have high paid traffic that isn’t from Google and still have a high DA.
Also, a website may not be well optimized for search engines but still have lots of direct traffic. Hence, while it’s bigger than its competitors in popularity, it may not rank high in SERPs.
This is another reason why DA is more of a comparative metric between websites. Ahrefs DR which is focused on just backlinks cannot be manipulated as much. It’s a logarithmic scale just like Google PageRank.
To have a high DR score, you must have quality, unique do-follow backlinks, and organic traffic; there’s not much else you can do. A high DR score represents good SEO more than a high DA score.
Nevertheless, if you want your website to rank high on SERPs, focus on improving general SEO rather than DA and DR. In the end, you’ll still achieve a high DA and DR.
The best way to check your website’s DA is with MOZ’s Free Domain SEO Analysis Tool. Simply enter your website’s URL and click on Analyze Domain. The Domain Authority score is the first metric you’ll find.
For DR, you should use the Ahrefs Website “Authority” Checker. Enter your website’s URL and click on Check website authority. You may need to complete a CAPTCHA.
You can increase your Domain Rating by building more unique do-follow links. If the site linking to you has a low DR or links to many other sites, you won’t see much increase in Domain Rating.
Also, ensure that the links are from websites that relate to you and that they point to your more important pages. I.e, the pages you want to rank. You’ll get more traffic if the links point to the right web pages even if you have a low DR.
However, building backlinks, especially very quality ones, isn’t easy. Nevertheless, you won’t find it too difficult if you create content that people would want to link to. You can also pitch your content to high authoritative websites.
Internal linking is also a good way to increase your DR. Just as with external links, you should link to important pages on your website.
Since Moz considers different factors in calculating DR, how to improve your score isn’t very straightforward. Nevertheless, you can apply some techniques.
First, get more quality backlinks. Aside from improving your DA, high-authority links still drive ranking power. Hence, it’s very important whether you’re considering your DA or not.
Moz considers spam scores in website analysis. In fact, it discounts poor links even better than Google does. Hence, you should avoid spammy and bad links if you want to improve your DA.
Finally, you should avoid illegitimate traffic. Your non-organic traffic must be coming from genuine traffic sources.
In conclusion, the main difference between DA and DR is that DA tells you the possibility of a website ranking in SERPs while DR tells you how strong a website’s backlink profile is.
Both are metrics from two popular SEO companies, Ahrefs and Moz. Although they have few differences, they are more similar because they both reveal a website’s authority.
A high DR website will likely have a high DA too unless it doesn’t have many backlinks. Also, because DR focuses more on backlinks than DA, it’s considered more valuable.
However, neither of these two metrics have a direct impact on SERPs. Search engines like Google and Bing have their exclusive ranking factors and algorithms.
Therefore, while working towards having a high DR and DA is good, it’s best to work towards improving your website’s general SEO.