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Perhaps you have invested significant time in trying to increase your domain authority but are frustrated because you cannot seem to get real results. You are not alone, as an Aira poll showed that 42 percent of marketers are using domain authority to measure the authority and/or quality of a link.

Many companies are trying to rank higher than their competitors in search results and build link equity, but stressing over domain authority might not be the thing to obsess over. Consider what research has shown us about increasing domain authority.

The Importance of Domain Authority

Domain authority relates to the quality and quantity of backlinks or hyperlinks from other reliable websites to your website. Relevant links will be important because your score will ultimately be influenced by them.

Moz has a domain authority metric under which their scoring system allows you to compare websites and monitor the ranking strength of a website as it develops over time. Certain brands do not have to try to be authoritative, such as Dropbox, which maintains a high domain authority because it has visual content people share for personal and business use. 

Such use creates unique domain backlinks aside from total backlinks and boosts domain authority for Dropbox. While this is not a Google ranking factor, an ahrefs study did find a connection between domain authority and a SERP ranking.

The study suggests that domain authority could be a beneficial metric for calculating the possible volume of organic traffic from Google. When you hope to increase your SEO rankings, you need to think about your entire strategy to increase your domain authority.

You should not give up when you do not immediately see results, however. It can take time to establish authority.

Why is Time So Important for Domain Authority?

Backlinks can be very important for determining domain authority because one of the most significant ranking factors will be the number of backlinks. Much like search engine optimization (SEO), the best way to increase domain authority will be a slow game that depends on your efforts.

You will optimize a website more effectively if you get a better understanding of the keywords that you will be recognized for as an authority, although your efforts have to go beyond keywords. When you have a larger backlink profile, you will have more chances to increase your domain authority.

There is a logarithmic scale that is used to determine domain authority, so individual statistics do not affect a score in the same way. Higher metrics translate to more impact.

The result can mean that you do not earn top-ranking spots right away. Solid content and strategy does not always translate to success when your website is new, and you have a limited backlink profile.

Achieving a higher rank will be a challenge.

What The Data Shows Us About Increasing Domain Authority

Here is a breakdown of a few websites’ domain ratings and their referring domains to see what factors contribute to their domain growth. The study uses a 10-year period (from July 2013 to July 2022) to measure domain growth. 

When balancing the data against referring domains and backlinks, there were insights to find correlations applying to increasing domain authority. Here are lessons learned from data insights on Netlify, Digital Ocean, and Linode.


Ahrefs reports that Netlify did not see an increase in domain ratings until March 2015, when it hit 25 with a total of 34 referring domains, and then over the course of that year, Netlify increased its domain authority to 71 with 201 referring domains. Two years later, it began with a 70 domain score and 443 referring domains, ending 2017 with a domain score of 78 and 1,531 total referring domains. 

In other words, it took Netlify about one year to increase 8 points. This was accomplished through more than doubling the links going to the website and led to massive gains in its domain rating.

By 2018, Netlify increased from 78 all the way to 83 with 3,283 referring domains, and by the beginning of 2020, it maintained an 83 and rose three positions to 86 with 14,479 referring domains by the end of 2021. The website now sits at 88 for its domain rating, with 24,423 referring domains.

Netlify’s backlink profile consists of 90 percent being from websites with a 0-10 URL distribution. Because of a high domain authority at 88, many websites in that range want to link to them.

Only 4 percent of Netlify’s URL distribution comes from websites with a domain authority of 50 or higher. Additionally, 88 percent of Netlify’s links are do-follow, which helps pass on link equity.

Digital Ocean

Ahrefs shows Digital Ocean did not have any domain rating score until as late as March 31, 2015, when it hit 12,644 referring domains. Digital Ocean’s starting score began at 87 and increased to 89 by the end of 2015, when it had 17,878 referring domains.

When 2016 began, the website was at 18,884 referring domains and an 89 for its domain rating, which remained constant through the end of the year in 2019. Digital Ocean remained at 89 in 2017, when it gained 25,600 referring domains. 

It was not until halfway through 2018 that Digital Ocean gained a point and hit 90 with 31,690 referring domains. Digital Ocean stayed at 90 through all of 2019 and most of 2020, but in September 2020, the website hit 91 with 57,973 referring domains. 

Nearly doubling referring domains allowed Digital Ocean to close out 2021 with a 91 and 59,500 referring domains. It is important to note that at the beginning of 2020, Digital Ocean dropped down to 90 and also dropped to 58,800 referring domains, demonstrating Digital Ocean was being removed from many pages they were linked on or websites they were linked to were no longer active.

Digital Ocean went back and forth between 91 and 90 a few times over the course of 2021 and ended 2021 with 72,344 referring domains. It has now maintained a 91 domain rating with an impressive 86,822 referring domains.

Digital Ocean’s backlink profile consists of 71 percent being from websites with a 0-10 and a high domain authority at 91, meaning many websites in that range want to link to it but make up a majority of their backlink profile. Only 4 percent of their URL distribution comes from websites with a domain authority of 50 or higher, and 73 percent of their links were do-follow, which also helped pass on link equity.


Linode has a very similar story. It did not reach an 85 domain rating until March 31, 2015, when it had 6,824 referring domains, and ended that year with a domain rating of 85 and 9,031 referring domains.

Linode began 2016 still at 85, but when 2016 came to an end, it dropped down to 84 and had 9,967 referring domains. 2018 came and went, with Linode finally hitting 85 again at the end of the year with 11,572 referring domains.

2019 began at an 85 for domain rating and dropped down to 10,915 referring domains. Linode dropped to an 84 shortly after and was working to build its referring domains back up. 

Linode hit 11,469 referring domains and finally reached 85 again in early 2019, with them hitting an 86 in mid-2019 for their domain rating and achieving 14,546 referring domains. 

After 2019 ended, Linode landed on 86 and had 15,957 referring domains. 2021 began at 86 for Linode, and it slipped down to 85 with 19,882 referring domains at year’s end, but 2022 began with it regaining 86 for a domain rating and 20,462 referring domains. 

Linode’s backlink profile consists of 92 percent being from websites with a 0 – 10. Because of a high domain authority at 86, many websites in that range want to link to Linode but make up a majority of its backlink profile. 

Only 3 percent of Linode’s URL distribution comes from websites with a domain authority of 50 or higher. For Linode, 77 percent of its links are do-follow, which helps pass on domain authority.

Lessons Learned from Data About Increasing Domain Authority

This data shows us it takes about 23,000-25,000 referring domains to end up in the mid to high 80 scores for domain rating. The number of referring domains does seem to correlate with a higher domain rating score.

Digital Ocean has over three times the number of referring domains than its competitors, allowing it to maintain a 91 as its domain rating score with an impressive 86,822 referring domains. Netlify has 24,423 referring domains with a domain rating score of 88.

While there is a minor difference between Netlify’s 24,423 referring domains and Linode’s 23,666, the 2-point difference may be attributable to Netlify also having a greater percentage of referring domains that have domain ratings of 50 or more. This means that having more quality websites passing off their authority to Netlify is what boosted their domain rating score.

When we turn to Netlify, it can take about 34 referring domains to reach a score of 25. It took Netlify one year to go from a 25 to a 71 with its 304 referring domains, although Digital Ocean took one year to go from an 87 to an 89.

All of this seems to indicate that the closer a website gets to a 100 domain rating, the harder and longer it will take to grow authority. It can be easy to go from 0 to 10, but when a website hits the higher domain rating scores, it will be more difficult to improve it year over year.

Speeding Up the Process

Increasing domain authority means you have to be patient throughout the process. You can use a few tips to help you get to your goal faster.

You can begin with a link audit. This process involves being able to tell which links that are pointing to your website are legit and not using black-hat SEO techniques.

You can also benefit from Ubersuggest. Not all backlinks are equal, but they can all have some impact on your SEO results because they will still be links from other websites to yours.

To speed up your process, you want to collect links of higher quality by using the Backlinks feature in Ubersuggest for a free analysis. This will let you see how backlinks are a factor and which websites are linking to your competitors, among many other options to accelerate an increase in domain authority.

Domain Authority Myths 

Everybody has their own individual beliefs about domain authority, but some of the commonly held ones are simply untrue. Here are a few:

  • Myth 1: Backlinks do not matter much — Simply put, more links equals more traffic and leads to better rankings. Even a few high quality backlinks are better than multiple ineffective ones. This makes it worth your time when links are relevant to your niche and viewed as being trusted sources by searchers online.
  • Myth 2: When a website has a lower domain authority than your own, do not get links from them — Domain authority is generally about the metrics, which means getting a link from a page with lower domain authority will not penalize you. It may just be a new website you are working with. Sites with few links or local links will be just fine. Just because a website’s domain authority is low, you should not worry that they are not going to deliver any value or stunt your progress. High-quality websites will distribute links editorially and connect to other solid websites, so they can still be useful.
  • Myth 3: Garnering links too quickly might be suspicious — Google will focus on spam or spammy-looking links. This means that when they are triggered by activity on a page, they closely examine a website and might penalize a website. Black hat link-building and link-buying activities trigger Google that something sketchy is occurring. There is nothing wrong with accelerating the pace of how many links you are gathering. You need to make sure your links are coming from good, trusted websites and never purchase links.

It is again important to remember that growing domain authority is possible but takes time. Your rating will be affected by several elements, and it can be a challenge to evaluate all of them.

When you understand how domain authority works, it will be worthwhile to monitor and optimize for it. Again, all metrics count and contribute to a website’s domain authority.

Check all of your follow or non-follow links, and note your audience’s search intent through keywords using Ubersuggest. Also, be sure to review and revise your content marketing strategy. 

Find SEO Help in Houston, TX | SERP Matrix

Domain authority is one of the aspects that SERP Matrix handles when delivering web design and development services. We also focus on SEO, including being heavily invested in local SEO.

You should know that SERP Matrix has been dealing with domain authority issues for several years. We can better explain all of your options when you call us at (713) 287-1134 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.

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