Authority is a qualitative measure of any web property that significantly affects the property’s overall visibility and rankings in search engines.
As such, authority is a critical focus for most SEO experts, and rightly so. Most common SEO tactics, such as producing informative content and link building, are done with the purpose of increasing authority.
Authority alone can’t guarantee search visibility – you also need contextual relevance with the query – but it’s a pretty strong indicator of your overall SEO performance.
That being said, there are different types of “authority”. There’s no single, quantitative, reliable measure for a website’s authority, though. There have, however, been attempts to quantify and articulate what ‘authority’ is and how Google (and other search engines) calculate and consider it.
Domain Authority vs. Page Authority
There are a number of different, specific measures of authority, both direct and indirect. For example, one of the best known has been “PageRank,” an algorithm created by Google’s Larry Page and designed to measure the quality and authority of a specific web page based on the number, quality, and relevance of links pointing to it.
Moz has created a number of different qualitative measures for authority, including MozRank and MozTrust, but most notably, they’re the ones who coined the phrase “domain authority,” which refers to the overall authoritative strength of an entire web domain.
For this article, I’d like to ignore some of the technical differences between these terms and narrow my focus on two main areas that are most relevant for SEO campaigns. I’m calling these “domain authority,” which refers to the authoritative strength of an entire domain, and “page authority,” which refers to the authoritative strength of a single page on that domain. Which of these is more important? What are the differences?
Domain Authority: Strategies and Effects
First, let’s take a look at the ways you can increase your domain authority. It’s impossible to objectively increase your domain authority directly or suddenly, but these tactics can improve your position over time:
- Create lots of high-quality content on your website with a tight internal linking structure.
- Work on earning lots of high-quality inbound links, both in terms of external source authority and link relevance (these can point to any page).
- Remove any bad links pointing to your site (any page).
- Give yourself time; domain authority increases slowly.
With these practices, you’ll slowly and steadily increase your domain authority. With a higher domain authority, all pages (including all your subdomains) will have a higher chance of ranking for relevant queries.
Domain authority offers a lot of flexibility in terms of how, where, and when you create content and links. It also carries wider effects (site-wide). The flip side is the amount of time and effort it takes to increase – far more than page authority.
Page Authority: Strategies and Effects
Now, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can influence page authority:
- Create a page on a domain with a high authority.
- Ensure the content of your chosen page is highly detailed, relevant, and original.
- Make sure your page is fully functional and optimized for SEO.
- Include internal linking to and from the page.
- Earn lots of high-quality inbound links, both in terms of external source authority and link relevance (these must point to your chosen page).
- Remove any bad links pointing to your site (chosen page).
Do these look familiar? They should. Most of the rules that apply to domain authority apply to page authority, just on a smaller scale.
Domain authority and page authority also have a mutually beneficial relationship; building more links to your individual pages will have the effect of raising your domain authority, and raising your domain authority in general will increase the page authority of your individual pages.
Page authority also builds faster than domain authority, giving you a critical advantage if you need to improve search engine rankings for one page quickly.
Killing Two Birds With One Stone
Objectively, investing in domain authority is better over the long-term, and if given enough time, will earn you more inbound traffic (since you’ll be increasing the ranking potential for many pages at once). Therefore, domain authority demands at least some share of your focus; focusing exclusively on one page and one page alone will stifle your campaign’s growth.
The opposite scenario, optimizing only for domain authority and not for page authority, is a feasible long-term strategy. This is, in essence, a focus on building your brand overall. The pages that stand out will naturally attract more links and authority on their own, and you’ll suffer no short-term or long-term consequences for not providing extra boosts to those individual pages.
The Bottom Line
Though both are important to your search visibility, domain authority deserves more attention and prioritization than page authority. Because it’s a bigger, longer-term investment, it has greater potential and eliminates the problem of putting all your authority eggs in one basket.
However, it’s still important to consider page authority as a useful tool – if you have a standout piece of content or a particular page you want to emphasize or compete in search results, you can build its page authority to give it an extra push.
The key is to use these metrics strategically; focus on domain authority if you want to build your brand, and focus on page authority when you’ve got one page competing for a specific high-value keyword.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.