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Like a lot of other fairly new bloggers, I struggle with the question of how to increase traffic to my blog. I get that it takes good content, time, and effort concerning SEO and driving traffic from social.
At a certain point in time, however, you will find yourself researching what factors influence that traffic. One of these things is called Domain Authority.
It’s not hard to find out what Domain Authority is. But what I actually wanted to find out was a reference. How are other bloggers doing? How long does it take to increase domain authority? What is the average domain authority for blogs? And what factors actually influence that magic number?
In this post I’ll walk you through my research and the conclusions I made concerning domain authority.
What You Should Know Before Reading On
As I am presenting my analysis on domain authority, a disclaimer about the fact that I am not an authority on domain authority and I am not an analyst would be good to disclose I guess.
Spoiler alert: I have a DA of 1 at the moment, which is the reason I started to do some research.
I am certainly not pretending to have expertise or know all about this subject, nor do I have a background in analyzing data.
All I do in this article is take you along on my research. Consider all I say as my opinion, based on my best effort trying to understand the topic.
About Domain Authority
There are a lot of articles out there that go in-depth on this topic, so I won’t. I recommend this one from MOZ.
Domain Authority was introduced by Moz. The score ranges from 1 to 100 and is an indication of how well a website is going to score in search engine rankings. Try to see the score on Domain Authority as an index.
The score is generated from hundreds of factors, but how it is calculated and what all these factors are is a big secret.
The score is not used as a factor by Google (as far as I know).
About the Data
Let’s start with how I got my data and what it looks like.
Almost all domains I researched were taken from my Pinterest boards. I either repinned a post or followed a blogger which also gave me a URL to their website.
What this also means is that most included domains are about blogging or finance. I don’t know if this influences the data, but just keep it in mind. Scores may (or may not) vary for other blog niches.
In total I randomly collected 201 URL’s that I stored in a spreadsheet.
There are a lot of tools that give you information about domain authority, backlinks, trust factors, spam scores and whatnots. Some of these tools can be used for a free trial period or with limited functionality.
I found websiteseochecker to be very useful as I could enter 3 urls at a time with the free version. The paid version would let me do a complete batch, but I went for the free version.
Websiteseochecker offers a lot of different tools that aid in researching SEO and related topics. I used their Domain Authority Checker and the Check History of Domain Authority tool to get my initial data.
I guess that a lot of their data comes from SEMrush, as you will land on their website if you try to zoom in on the details. SEMrush is an excellent SEO tool. It is used by millions of professionals to research SEO, keywords, content and social media marketing, and of course competitor analysis.
They offer a free 7-day trial, so if you want to do your own research to boost your traffic with professional tools, then check out their offer!
I found a couple of blogs where the data was unusable, either by a missing Domain Age or an Indexed page count of -1. I deleted them from the data.
The first thing that I noticed was that these domains were mostly blogs that did not have their own domain. They were subdomains on blog platforms like .appspot.com, .blogspot.com, or .wixsite.com.
I assume you can buy your own domain name and link it to that blog, which would really be a good idea, but I recommend self-hosting.
The factors that contribute to your domain authority are a secret, but I guess that the age of your blog does count.
Some of these entries actually had a good domain authority. Yet I believe they are hurting themselves by not taking advantage of self-hosting.
Self-hosting might seem a bit scary, but providers like Hostinger have fairly simple and non-technical one-click installations that have you up and running in no time. More about that in How to Start a Blog as a Newbie.
Why some of the domains returned -1 on the indexed pages is unknown to me. I recommend you examine this if your blog has the same results. None of the -1 blogs scored a good domain authority.
I also had some domains that appeared twice in the list. After deleting those I was left with a data set of 183 domains.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the properties of the data set.
The following chart shows how old some of the blogs are. The youngest is about 3 months, where the oldest has been around for over 18 years (wow!). Time is often mentioned in relation to an increase of domain authority.
In my set, there is a peak for blogs 3 to 5 years old. This could mean a lot of things, but I do believe that blogging gained in popularity about 5 or 6 years ago.
Domain Authority spread
So how is the Domain Authority spread among these domains? Let’s find out:
Apparently, the majority of the blogs in my data rank between 10 to 30. The lowest is 1 (which is the default) and the highest ranking blog has a domain authority of 72 (Wow again…)
Now let’s combine these two and see if the chart reveals new insights.
I grouped the total of blogs on age and counted how many had a certain DA.
So, for instance, there were 21 blogs that were older than 1 year, but younger than 2.
15 of them had a domain authority between 0-9, 5 ranked between 10-19 and one had an impressive score of 20.
This tells me that, within the set I created, blogs younger than 2 years are more likely to have low domain authority.
You should be careful to draw the conclusion that DA grows just by being online for a longer period.
Time does seem a factor, but don’t forget that older blogs probably have more content, backlinks, etc.
Experienced bloggers also know their audience better and they probably get better at writing SEO-optimized content.
A blog will, most likely, not grow authority by just being available online…
The reason I started investigating this, was that I wanted to find a reference. My DA is low, but is that normal? Or am I underperforming?
To find a reference, I zoomed in on blogs that maxed 2 years old:
This again confirms to me that it takes time for your domain authority to grow.
No wait, let me rephrase that: It is unlikely that fresh blogs hit a high ranking in the first months.
As I said before, in time and with enough effort, your content grows in volume. You should get better at optimizing your content and of course, if you do well, you will get more backlinks.
We also need to consider that not every blog will survive. I guess that a lot of bloggers quit their blog after a couple of months as impatience and frustration grow about the lack of traffic or income from ads and affiliate links.
Number of Indexed Pages
I mentioned volume in the previous paragraph. By that, I mean the number of posts and pages that a website contains. Would this be something that has a direct influence on domain authority?
One of the things available in my data set was the number of indexed pages. Let throw them in a graph and see what it looks like.
It seems that blogs with more pages are more likely to have a higher domain authority. But again, it is better to flip that sentence: Blogs with a higher domain authority seem to have more pages.
Looking at the graph you see two ‘peaks’. My (gut-feeling) explanation is that these peaks represent high-quality volume (second peak) and new niches (first peak), but I haven’t investigated this.
The last property I want to check is the number of backlinks. Backlinks are often mentioned as a way to quickly increase domain authority.
As Websiteseochecker refers to SEMrush to check this, I used the free backlink checker of Ahrefs. This lets me check the number of backlinks according to Ahrefs, but only one at a time.
I therefore only checked the blogs younger than 2 years (gathering data, apparently, is very time-consuming).
By now, this should be obvious. Domains with a higher authority, in general, seem to have more backlinks.
The fact that domains that exist for a couple of years, with lots of content and lots of backlinks have a higher domain authority does not come as a surprise. I guess you already knew that too.
One of the more important conclusions I draw from my own amateur analysis is that it confirms what I already believe. It is also the answer to how long it takes to increase domain authority.
It can take up to 9 months (or sometimes even more) before you would see some improvement in your domain authority.
This does not come for free. You need to establish backlinks and create valuable content.
Once you gain momentum, the additional traffic may lead to additional backlinks. This will increase domain authority for your blog in the first years. After that things tend to slow down for most blogs.
A domain authority around 30 is a realistic score for blogs to aim at.
I know for a fact that I can improve on the content. I started this blog by creating a lot of low content pages to fill up the lists and I believe that they are hurting my growth.
Note to Self
My advice to myself (and other fresh bloggers may also benefit from these actions):
- Create more, valuable content.
- Upgrade and optimize the old content frequently.
- Keep an eye out for backlink opportunities.
- Don’t worry if it takes a little longer to increase domain authority. Some blogs just take longer to get up to speed.
I have a nine-to-five, which I love, and a lot of other priorities. Therefore creating content does take a bit longer.
Seeing that I’m not the only one and that perseverance rewards, in the long run, makes me feel confident about the eventual growth of my blog.
I hope this article was valuable to you too. If the charts in this post were helpful and you want to use them then, by all means, use them. A backlink, considering the topic of this article, is appreciated, but not required.
As always, sharing is caring, and let me thank you for visiting and reading by closing this post with my appreciation. You are awesome!