Do you need a high domain authority website to successfully rank a website?

I come from an era of SEO when there was no Domain Authority. We had PageRank. And the two common things with the both of them are that they are metrics for measuring (or at least estimating) the authority of a website. In theory, the higher the authority of the websites that’s measured by an authority metric, the more likely it is to rank on search engines and in particular Google.

However, I’m not completely sold on this and I’ve been feeling this way for a while. I still see many SEOs in the industry chase after high authority domains when trying to purchase domains or even getting links from high authority sites.

If you speak with any SEO expert that digs deeper into the metrics, they will normally look at more granular things that influence the authority that a site may have and pass onto another site. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • The age of the domain
  • The IP location of the domain
  • If the IP of the domain is blacklisted
  • The amount of links pointing to the domain
  • The age of the links pointing to the domain
  • The anchor text pattern on the domain

These are just a few of the factors. You just need to look at SEO experts who build PBNs and they will do their homework on a domain prior to purchasing it.

Why have I brought up the influence of domain authority in an SEO campaign?

I manage quite a few sites of my own and for other clients. I know that some of the sites that we manage have a very low domain authority. In fact, the site that performs the best in terms of generating organic search traffic and organic search rankings (and it even appears in position zero on Google) has a Domain Authority of 1. The site was built in December of 2016 and the Domain Authority hasn’t budged at all. Yet, the rankings continue to improve.

I’ve mentioned in other posts that we’ve been focusing more on publishing content, rather than chasing links. Both are still very important. However, we seem to be getting alot more visibility when publishing content compared to chasing links.

We also notice that the initial rankings tend to come quickly irrespective of any domain authority. In the last week, I’ve purchased brand new domains, published long-form content on those domains and submitted them via the Google Search Console. I added Schema mark-up and the sitemap.

Some of the site’s pages started ranking within 24h.

The niches weren’t competitive, as the SEO results on Google had fewer than one million websites.

It makes me think that if the content can rank that quickly on a brand new site with no authority at all, how much better it can perform in the future after the site has published a hub of information that’s valuable for web users in that particular niche.

I’m not taking anything away from the benefits that metrics like Trust Flow, Domain Authority, Page Authority, Citation Flow or any other metrics that have been shared with the SEO community. But I would encourage you to look beyond the metrics alone when executing your SEO tactics and strategies.

As I’ve said, I’ve been able to get sites with no authority or metrics ranking. And I know that I’m not the only one to do so as well.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced anything similar?

Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

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6 thoughts on “Do you need a high domain authority website to successfully rank a website?”

  1. Hey David,

    Thanks for writing this post, but I have few questions in my mind, recently while talking to some of my website’s potential buyers, found out that Domain authority is one factor that can fetch me some extra money, but I am confused on how can I quickly increase it, whether I should invest my time or let it be?

    Also While researching about DA, I have found out another metric called MajesticSEO Trustflow, is it also worth following & working?

    Looking forward to a quick response.

    ~ Beth Hein

    1. Hi Beth.
      Thank you for leaving your comment and your questions.
      You are right. Domain authority is one of the main factors that influeces prices when it comes to selling links. If you are purely selling links, then it’s in your interest to leverage domain authority to get more lucrative sales. In terms of implementing it into your own SEO campaign for performance, domain authority is metric that is used and doesn’t guarantee the amount of Page Rank that will flow from one site to another.

      TrustFlow is a similar metric to Domain Authority as well. It provides a good indication, but no other metric can provide the exact PageRank that a page or web domain has.

      You can try to improve the metrics by publishing content or gaining more inbound links to the site. It should help your site improve its DA and PA, but it isn’t a guarantee.
      I hope that this helps.

    1. Thanks for your question Sunita. I’ve not done any tests lately. About 5 years ago, we would keep the amount of links to less than 30 referring domains to keep off the radar. And then we would vary the amount of anchor text as well (Less than 30% exact match). I hope this gives you an idea. Thank you for your comment 🙂

  2. Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing some informative content. Yes, Domain Authority is a ranking factor. But, few days I do notice on my website that sometimes DA will be greater than PA or PA will be greater than DA. I have read few articles that DA should be greater than PA. I am confused why these factors are changing.

    1. Hi Miya. Thank you for your comment. I wouldn’t say that Domain Authority is a ranking factor. It’s a metric that you can use as a way to assess the authority of a site. But it is a 3rd party metric to Google. I don’t think you need a high Domain Authority (I’ve experienced this with sites that I own), but you do want to have authority signals that help to rank your website.

      It’s interesting that you see a greater PA than DA. I’ve not had that happen on any of my sites. In the days of PageRank, I used to get higher PageRank scores for the internal pages than the home page. It didn’t really do anything for rankings though.

      I wouldn’t stress on the PA being higher than the DA too much. Just remember, they are metric indicators. Instead, focus on generating valuable content and links to help you rank your site better.

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