I haven’t been in the SEO game that long.
The first time I ever heard of Search Engine Optimization was in the Fall of 2013. Even if you were to count all that time as “experience”, I literally would have less than 4 years in the industry.
When I first got started doing an internship, Domain Authority was king.
Not just king, but the end-all-be-all.
Major decisions were made using DA and opportunities were discarded because of it.
Now as I look at the industry, and especially link-building, I realize this is a big mistake.
The first habit we get into when we look for outreach prospects is organize them all into nice columns, in descending order, highest DA’s on top.
While there might be some correlation in the quality of sites and those with high authority, a third party metric like this won’t tell you traffic, relevancy, or a host of other factors that you really should be considering.
Let’s take Fiverr for an example. You can literally buy guest post opportunities on DA 30+ websites for five bucks. If you’re judging solely on DA, this seems like a great investment. But anyone with half a brain can look at these sites and see that they were more than likely set up because of their DA, not set up and succeeded, which gave them their DA. Make sense?
This doesn’t make them useless, though.
These links can sometimes be used to bulk up web properties, directory listings, and other sites, but should probably not be used on sites that you want to keep running forever.
Not worth the risk.
In short, Domain Authority can be a vanity metric, like a grading system for your site: yay! My DA went up this month! My rankings and traffic stayed the same though…
But yay! My DA rose a point.
In my link-building and outreach in general, I still look at DA every day. I see the metrics and can gather what info I can about them. But in truth, finding really good, real sites with relevant traffic that is low in DA is like finding an easter egg. No one else will go after this site because of its low stats, but I’ll receive real clicks from that link that will in turn help my site. Maybe it’s a new site. Maybe it’s a blogger that doesn’t know much about link-building (links being the highest favored factors that go into DA). Maybe they get 100,000 visitors from social media each month, but you decide to pass on them because you’re too stuck in the DA mentality.
If it’s a real site with relevant traffic and relevant subject matter, it’s a good place for a link. Period.
It’s all about relevance.
The issue sometimes comes up with clients, as they sometimes have a rudimentary understanding of SEO and require a DA next to every link built. As if that’s the most important thing.
Well, it’s not. And if you’re judging a site solely on that number, we may not be a good fit anyway.