Domain authority has become part of the SEO jargon. Yet still, many marketers struggle to understand what it is and why it matters. It’s no wonder. Google considers hundreds of factors when indexing and ranking websites. So, can this one domain authority signal really make much of a difference?

In local SEO, domain authority matters a great deal; in fact, it’s one of the most important localized ranking factors.

What is Domain Authority?

The engineers who created Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool years ago coined the term “domain authority.” Back in the good ole days of 2006, defining domain authority was so much easier, as Moz Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO Site Explorer or numerous other tools would nail down a solid domain authority number for you. From there, you could embark on a link building campaign and watch that figure rise (usually while you observed gains in Google rankings, too).

Today, domain authority can account for multiple signals including (but not limited to) social shares, brand mentions, domain age, long clicks, backlinks, backlink age, spam signals, and citations.  Checklist sign icon

As the search engine optimization evolves, it has become even more challenging to define domain authority, at least from a mechanical or technical perspective. In fact, a more appropriate term for the metric as we understand it today might be Domain Search Engine Value — how useful and relevant is your website for the search engines? If your domain provides value to end users, Google will eventually take notice. Your website will have lower bounce rates, longer long clicks, increased natural brand mentions, etc.

This is not to say that backlinks/social shares don’t still hold tremendous value in the Google search algorithm. These metrics will likely continue to be heavily weighted signals for years to come. However, improving the user experience will naturally improve a website’s value in the eyes of search engines.

So, what can you do to improve your website’s domain authority through this new lens of its value to search engines? Alas, there is a solution that is seamless and provides better results than that sage dating advice you offered your “super-single” best friend. Try these common sense (but often forgotten) tips:

1. Make Yourself Useful

What do you have to offer the world? Surely your business must provide a service, product or information that is useful to customers, or you’d cease to exist. Does your website clearly convey the value of that product or service in a unique and compelling way? Does your store locator page provide easy to find directions, store hours, department information and customer reviews? Is your site easy to navigate, with a clear utility for each page? Make your website easy and useful for visitors, and the search engines will love you for it.

2. Be Interesting

Sure, your site needs to cover the basics, but if you want to be stand out, you have to be intriguing. Try adding engaging videos, get creative with your special offers, or add custom tools to help your customers. Create original content and share your brand’s unique perspective with visitors. You’re much more likely to obtain brand mentions, backlinks and social media mentions if your website entertains or otherwise engages users.

3. Keep Up With The Times

If you don’t optimize your site for mobile users, you leave a huge amount of traffic on the table. With the advent of Google mobilegeddon and “mobile first” search engine indexing, having a mobile-compliant website is no longer an option; it’s mission critical.

4. Depth/Intelligence

A website thin on content won’t be seen as authoritative by either search engines or people. Work on developing professionally written, snappy content to get your readers’ interest and fill out the experience with rich, long form content to take them deeper into the topic (and closer to making a decision). There is also substantial evidence that Google rewards content heavy websites better rankings, as well.

5. Organization

Poor navigational structure, counterintuitive calls to action and multiple errors do great damage to your authority. Make sure your website is well organized and welcoming to the visitor, but also properly optimized and tagged for search engines. This will help improve your website’s bounce rates along with more “long clicks.” Get your website in shape by eliminating unnecessary script, plugins, bloated images, etc. that slow down the visitor’s ability to move around your site. Optimize your download speeds and clean up your 404 error pages.

Building domain authority, more than a specific set of tactics, requires an overall commitment to local search engine optimization and consumer engagement marketing. Sure, a lot of it is common sense, but it’s worth reviewing every three to six months, to ensure you haven’t fallen into any bad habits.

Questions? Contact Rio SEO to book your 1 on 1 Demo, to see what the Suite Approach to Local can do for your brand.