It’s like the golden rule in SEO: if you want to rank, you need to have high domain authority. It’s that simple.
Let’s start from the beginning, you may be wondering what is Domain Authority? Domain Authority (DA) measures how influential a website is in comparison to its competitors; it is determined by the quality and quantity of links that websites within your given niche receive. In general, Domain Authority is one of the most important metrics for ranking of any given site on Google – this being because webpages with high Domain Authority are likely to be more trustworthy than those with low Domain Authority
Although, back in the days, a high Domain Authority was defined by having lots of links from authoritative websites, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way today. If a page has a lot of links and few quality ones, it will likely be penalized. That’s why it’s important to know how to get high Domain Authority without getting penalized as well.
In this article, we have listed down 20 tips that will help you get high Domain Authority without being penalized by Google.
1) Think about your domain name
What’s in a name? A lot, actually. As obvious as it sounds, your domain name is one of the most important factors that influence your website’s Domain Authority. Think about it: if you have a high Domain Authority website with a low-quality domain and link profile, Google will likely downgrade your DA score. For example, if you have a website that has been getting links from many authoritative websites but with a non-branded domain (example: yyn56.com), Google will likely downgrade the site’s authority because of the non-branded domain but not so much for the links that you have been getting from quality sites.
What’s more, Google has recently announced that they will be taking into account the keyword density in the domain name. So if your domain name is filled with keywords and unrelated words like “how to,” the chances are that Google will penalize your Domain Authority.
What’s the best practice then? Choose a brandable domain name. Never use a generic, non-branded one (think yahoo.com) unless you have a very good reason for doing it so, like for example if you’re an advertising company or have a big brand behind your website that can match with your non-branded domain or because you’re selling an affiliate product or service and don’t have a product or service of your own under the same name. In those cases, Google will not penalize you for having a non-branded domain.
2) Get links from high Domain Authority sites
Many of you actually make the mistake of getting any old backlink or link builder service that guarantees to get you 100k-500k inbound links but the thing is, not all high Domain Authority are created equal. Some highDomain Authority sites have a high DA score because they have been around for ages and been able to get quality links over time while others have just recently acquired a lot of high quality backlinks that Google considers as an unnatural behavior. So it’s important to know which ones are the ones that Google considers as natural and safe for your website’s long term well-being. A good place to start is to perform a Domain Analysis.
2.1) Reciprocal link
If you are going to get links, aim for quality and trust over quantity. Always look for high Domain Authority sites that are related to your product or service and see if they have a reciprocal link policy. If they do, request a link exchange. If they don’t, always offer them something in return like social media shares and traffic – that way you’ll be able to build a genuine relationship with them first before asking for a link exchange and building your DA score naturally over time.
2.2) News sources, blogs and forum sites etc.
Especially if you have a niche business, look out for news sources, blogs and forum sites in your niche that are well-written and have a large user base. Post original content to them. Ask them to publish your content on their site as well. Even if they don’t link to you, their users will see your content and talk about it which can eventually turn into more links for you as well.
2.3) Hub sites and directories
High Domain Authority Hub sites and directories are considered as the most trustworthy in terms of quality backlinks. Hub sites usually have high DA because they have been around for a long time, have a lot of links from reputable sources and are regularly updated by experts in the field. They are also good at giving you high quality backlinks from their guest posting section but remember that you need to be approved before you can submit content to them or your post will be rejected automatically.
Some examples of High Domain Authority Hubs:
Slashdot.org – Top Tech news source with over 2.1 million users.
Lonely Planet – Popular travel blog with more than 1 million monthly readers.
Reddit.com – Social news site with over 8 Billion monthly pageviews.
Policymic.com – Blog that gets around 5 Million monthly visitors.
And many more… (Note: For the rest of this article, I’ll refer to high Domain Authority sites as Hubs/Directories)
3) Quality over quantity is the way to go
When it comes to building your links and getting a high DA score, you need to be smart about it. Quality over quantity is the way to go. If you are building links, however, there are things that you should remember.
3.1) No link farming or PageRank manipulation
You must never build links using automated tools like Ahrefs’ Bulk Backlinks tool, Scrapebox and other spamware tools because eventually these tools will get your site penalized through Google’s Penguin update. It’s also important that you only use real people to get your site some quality backlinks. This way you’ll be able to build a strong organic link profile which Google views as safer in terms of quality so that it does not have to worry about any unnatural linking activity on your website for a long time.
3.2) No black hat tricks
Low-quality link building tactics like article spinning, article cloaking, forum post cloaking and link exchanges are frowned upon by Google and you should be wary of trying them to build your links because it can get your website penalized. This is especially true for forums where backlinks are the most sought after. Only use forums that have a good reputation like reddit.com or someone with high authority (expert) in your niche to promote your content on there but not on other sites that have a bad reputation.
3.3) Avoid link reclamation agencies
A lot of SEO experts say that you can use link reclamation to clean up your website’s link profile which I personally find dubious because some of these companies can charge a lot of money for a service with very little or no ROI. And also, how would you know that they are using safe, quality backlinks that won’t get you penalized by Google in the long run? The best way is to just stick with building your links naturally using real people and high DA sites.
4) Use the Majestic Backlink Checker
The Majestic Backlink Checker is an excellent website tool that helps you find out a site’s backlinks. It also tells you how many DA’s each of your backlinks have and helps you find which backlinks to build more of. It is a great site to help you build your link profile naturally and safely. The only downside about it is that it does not tell the difference between low-quality links and high-quality links. Curious about your own Domain Authority? Check it out for yourself with our Domain Authority Checker tool.
So even if you get a lot of backlinks from low quality forums and other sites, it will still show you in its report that you have a lot of DA’s. So it’s important to do your own research first and find the best DA sites out there so that you can add them to your Majestic Backlink Checker list. Check out my backlink analysis guide here to help you with that.
5) Use the Google webmaster tools to check your DA score
Another easy way to check which backlinks are lowering your DA score is by checking Google webmaster tools. You can do this by going to “Search traffic -> Links to your site -> Top pages”. The site’s DA score will be right in front of you:
6) The importance of anchor text and content
In this post, I already talked about the importance of an article’s anchor text and the best way to build backlinks naturally. One thing that I did not mention is the quality of the backlinks you should be building. It has to be high quality and relevant to your business so that it can “rub off” on other sites’ users.
7) Build all of your backlinks from original, 100% unique content
You need high DA backlinks to get a high page rank and you will find it much harder to achieve this if you are building links from low quality, spammy articles. What Google looks at is the quantity of unique backlinks that your site receives. It doesn’t care about their quality as long as they have some amount of pages linking to them which means that if you are using duplicate content as backlinks they’ll count more than one source each time. Although it’s not always possible to build all of your links from original content, try your best to avoid using blog post cloaking, article spinning and other tools that will give you cheap links.
8) Do not engage in link trading and guest posting unless they are high quality
When getting backlinks, do not engage in link trading or start guest posting on low DA sites to get more links because you’ll be doing more harm than good. The same goes for article directories where your content ends up being scraped by hundreds of other websites, diluting your page rank score. Use these sites only when you are writing articles which are going to get a lot of hits and then share them with friends and families. This way you’ll have more engagement on your articles and that will definitely attract some bloggers from high DA blogs to link back to it.
9) Don’t re-invent the wheel
When you are looking for a link, think twice before trying to find one. Don’t get linked by a random blogger if you can help it. Search for influencers (high DA site owners) in your niche that have some good content about your subject and see if they have shared it on other websites. It is also a great way to build relationships with other people in your industry because they will know you from their RSS feeds, blogs and tweets and can become influencers themselves in the future.
10) Don’t overlink too much
If you are using a lot of links from one source, Google will flag your site as a “thin” website with little content and that can get you penalized by Google. The best way to avoid this is to avoid doing things like link cloaking where you are adding thousands of backlinks on your homepage and not having them linked anywhere else.
11) Avoid cheap, spammy linking sites
Link directories and blog networks are just money making schemes for the owners who do not care about your site’s reputation and Google doesn’t trust it either. They are also a waste of time because they are not going to give you top quality backlinks.
12) Don’t use anchor text in your URL and link to webpages that have low PageRank
Since we touched on this before in the post about the importance of anchor text, it is important to talk about it again. Links from low authority sites with bad DA scores will lower your DA score and thus affect how many links you can get from there. So the best way is to make sure that every single link you are getting is from high DA sites with good anchor text that matches the page’s topic.
If you want to read about the importance of anchor text in several other posts I made, click here or here.
13) Do not cheat on your link building with other methods or tools
I already talked about several tools that you should avoid including cloaking, google site: operator, blog link networks and other article spinning services. If you run across a site that has a lot of backlinks and is also ranked for a lot of keywords for which your site gets a high Domain Authority score, you might have luck getting some links from them if they are trading links with other websites. However, it is not the best idea because Google will flag such sites as spammers. So the best way to get quality backlinks from these sites is to get them to like and comment on your content or guest post in their blog.
14) Use the Google Page Rank Checker to check DA and PA score of your backlinks
Here I will be showing you how to use the tool that I talked about at the beginning of this post to check backlinks’ scores. The tool is called CLICRANK and you can get it here. It is a great tool because it will show you not only backlinks’ scores but also their anchor text, the number of pages linking to them, where they are pointing at and other useful information. To use it, go here and enter a URL into the input box or upload a .csv file. It’s a great tool to measure SEO Performance.
Alternatively, you can also make a .csv file yourself. You can do that by entering all the domains that you want to check into a Google spreadsheet, copying them and then making a .csv file from your browser. Once done, upload the file or paste it into Clicrank’s input box:
You will get a lot of information in return. You can also click on ‘Details’ to see more about the links:
15) Put high Domain Authority backlinks at the top of your blog posts
When you are sharing links with other sites and people, it is always best to add these at the bottom of your articles because there is less chance of them being spotted by Google (they’ll have to scroll all the way down). However, you will have to do this after you have written your post because it is not recommended to put links in the opening of the article.
16) Get backlinks from Google for Business
Google’s answer to Facebook is definitely becoming more and more popular every day. It is also a very good place for getting backlinks from because it has high Domain Authority scores (they are similar to DA 33-35 on Ahrefs’ scale) and there are already millions of people on Google who are linking out to their favorite websites or content. Since Google has been pushing the use of Google+ pages in their algorithms, this can be very valuable to boost Domain Authority.
To get shared on Google you need to get some followers who will share your content. However, for this you will have to make sure that your Google profile has a lot of authority and people actually want to follow you.
17) Be careful with too many high Domain Authority nofollow links
If you are looking at two sites with the same DA score, do not think that the one with fewer nofollow links is better than the other because they both can be penalized by Google (and they’re already going to be in trouble if they’re link building strategies are similar). The best way is to go with sites that have a lot of naturally created or contextual links instead of buying them like so many people do.
For example, you will have no problem getting quality backlinks from StumbleUpon, Delicious and Reddit because they don’t contain any nofollow links.
18) Nofollow guest posts to the sites that want them
Many blogs will want to host guest posts from you. Don’t worry if some of them are asking for a nofollow link on your site: people do not get punished for having this type of link. However, it is very important to do a thorough analysis of the blog (check the DA score) before accepting their offer because if they have bad content or are low quality (check the comments and view stats), they might hurt your site’s DA score in the long run.
To check the DA score of your blog, go to Alexa and search for: Site Name.
19) A word about nofollow blogs with high Domain Authority
There are several blogs with a high Domain Authority that will not allow you to post a link on your site unless it is dofollow. The reason for this is simple: they’re trying to protect their sites from getting penalized for having too many links from low quality sites (and very often nofollow links are ones that can be considered as low quality).
Do not use such blogs to get backlinks because even if the link is dofollow, it might be the only one they have and it might hurt other sites. Also, if they are popular enough, Google will most likely check your site and see that you are linking to a dofollow blog with its DA score. This way you can ask for their removal because a nofollow link from a site with a high DA score is not considered as good as it would be from a site with low or medium scores.
20) Don’t forget about Wikipedia
This is one of the best places to get backlinks from. It has very high Domain Authority score (93 for English version).
Also, try not to add more than one link per article and make sure that they are authoritative links (this should be easy because you are getting backlinks from Wikipedia). In addition, avoid adding your link in the anchor text: add it in the references instead. If you want your link to be found quickly by Google bots, make sure that it is relevant or related to the current topic of the page (the one for which you will be adding the link).
21) And lastly, check your site often to make sure that it’s not getting penalized by Google
Even though it’s not necessary all the time, you don’t want a situation where you’re potentially losing your site because of over-zealous search engine policies. So the best way is to at least check with the Google webmaster tools once every few days if not every week and make sure that everything is fine on your side. If something is wrong, fix it and then go back to checking. This will prevent you from getting hurt by Google for nothing.
Outline high Domain Authority
Achieving a high DA is a continuous process with many steps. Follow the steps in this article and you will succeed in your search for a higher DA. If you think this is too much work, you can always use the Increase DA service from us. View our portfolio here or take a look at our Golden DA package.