Domain authority and topic authority are the two main ranking factors that determine a website’s search engine score.
But do you know what each one means?
how do they compare?
Is one more important than the other?
This blog post is written to help you understand what each of these mean. By doing so, you can become the go-to website (or resource) for your customers.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is a ranking factor that tells Google how authoritative a particular domain is.
This is a score that combines backlink strength with other parameters related to your website, such as domain age, credibility, and social signals.
The term “domain authority” is usually associated with the Moz metric by the same name, but should not be confused with “domain authority” as a ranking factor.
The parameters Moz uses to give each domain a DA score do not always correlate with the permissions that Google sets on each domain it crawls.
How to improve domain authority
While we don’t know exactly all the parameters that determine a particular domain’s authority, here are some factors that strongly influence the extent of Google’s authority over a particular website.
- Domain Age — Older domains are more authoritative than newer domains because they have (relatively) established themselves as trusted brands.
- Backlink Profile – A domain linked from a powerful authoritative website is considered an authoritative domain.
- Number of pages indexed by Google — More indexed pages can increase your site’s authority.Although this may not always be true
- Brand search on Google – Popular brands that enjoy high volumes of brand searches also enjoy high domain authority in their industry
- brand anchor – Domains that receive a significant number of organic branded anchors enjoy higher domain authority.
There are no shortcuts to improving your domain authority.
This is a long and painstaking process that involves building organic backlinks and consistently adding the highest quality content to your website over months and even years.
Invest all in good SEO best practices (both technical and offline SEO) and see your domain authority grow.
This includes investing in good link building techniques, creating the right kind of content, and fixing website redirects and broken link errors.
In some ways, SEO and domain authority influence each other.
Proper SEO techniques can help improve your website’s domain authority.
Secondly, good domain authority helps with SEO, making it easier to rank for your chosen keywords over time.
What is a Topical Authority?
Topic authority is a measure of how trustworthy a website is on a very specific topic.
For example, if you have a pet website that talks about all things dog-related (breeds, food types, games to play, how to groom your dog, etc.), you might have top quality articles on each one, but the subject line, You haven’t shown your expertise in any of these various topics.
If you instead focus on a specific sub-niche within the pet topic (such as pet insurance) and publish articles on all possible topics related to pet insurance, Google will, when the domain is identified, You may consider yourself an expert. To “pet insurance,” even if you don’t enjoy other metrics that qualify a domain as trustworthy.
However, it is important to note that topic authority trumps domain authority only in certain cases.
If you’re dealing with YMYL topics (“your money, your life” – topics related to your health or finances), Google may inadvertently rank your domain with higher authority. Small domains are topic experts.
How to improve the authority of the topic?
It can take months or even years for a website to achieve high domain authority.
However, securing good topical authority is relatively easy. This can be achieved with the help of well-planned topic clusters.
The best way to tackle this is to identify subtopics within your niche that are not covered by industry competitors.
Once you’ve confirmed that this doesn’t fit any YMYL topic, you can create a complete list of top quality content.
The final step in this process is to link these different articles together so that Google can effectively navigate and interpret the context of each of these articles.
Once you’ve effectively covered a subtopic, you can wash it down and repeat it with other similar clusters in your broader niche.
It takes a relatively short time (weeks to months) for a website to acquire topic expertise compared to gaining domain authority.
Which is important for your website?
Both are important.
When you launch a new website, it can take months or even years to achieve top domain authority.
So let’s start with the authority of the topic. Pick a small sub-niche within your industry and become the ultimate expert in this topic. These are called “topic clusters”.
Once you’ve covered it thoroughly, broaden your horizons a bit and cover another topical cluster. Over time, you’ll gain topical authority in several sub-niches within your major industries.
Also, gaining topical authority will increase your chances of ranking for a keyword, even if you don’t have enough authority yet.
This will earn you organic backlinks that will help build your domain authority over time.
The last word
Both domain authority and technical authority play an important role in determining the success of any SEO effort.
The score Google assigns to a website is intended as a measure of authority. It’s not just the number of links pointing to your domain.
Google also analyzes the quality of the website’s content, how users engage with the website, whether it is helpful and answers their questions, etc.
So neither domain authority nor topic authority is more important than the other.
They work together to help you rank higher on search engine result pages.
However, for businesses that are actively building an online presence and don’t have enough followers yet, topical authority is an important first step in building their content strategy.
But domain authority becomes more important when a company has an established website with a good amount of content related to their industry or niche.
In such cases, quality backlinks can help improve your website’s overall topical authority, giving you a better position in competitive search terms.