When Site Strategics CEO Erin Sparks and Digital Media Director Tom Brodbeck spoke with special guest Russ Jones, Principal Search Scientist at Moz, in Episode 303 of their award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast, they learned how Domain Authority 2.0 fundamentally changes the way it trains its data for more effective results. But there are other important changes to this important tool digital marketers need to know about. Here’s what we learned:
Layered on top of the fundamental change to how the data is trained are a couple of other key improvements:
- Expanded link index: With 35 trillion links, it’s probably the largest fresh links index on the web.
- Spam score: Sites that rank well are going to have a particular distribution of links that come from spammy sites. That typical distribution of spammy links is plugged into the neural network as a metric or variable of the model, which can then learn about the instances where there is deviation from the typical distribution of spammy links. Then it knows how to handle such anomalies in the future.
These improvements to training the data, expanding the link index and including a spam score metric all add up to the biggest Domain Authority update since its inception, and many public discussions to make sure people are aware of and prepared for the upcoming changes.
Taking Off the Blinders: Moz Domain Authority 2.0
One of the internal debates that happen at a company like Moz with a tool like Domain Authority is to what extent it should remain static so people can compare apples to apples over time versus more frequent changes and re-training of the data with new factors. Moz came down on the side of more frequent updating in order to keep it aligned with changes and updates at Google. Not every change or re-training of the data has a noticeable impact on the average webmaster, but new features like the ones mentioned above are more dramatic changes that do have a real impact. SEO technicians can’t afford to get complacent, so shaking things up with a major new release of Domain Authority gets everyone to sit up, take notice, and get their heads back in the game.
Moz wants people to understand that Domain Authority is more than a tool that once correlated with Google search results. It’s a dynamic tool that is constantly being re-correlated to Google, which makes it more trustworthy than ever before.
REMEMBER: DA is a Relative Metric
The most important thing to keep in mind is that DA is a relative metric that means nothing when considered in a vacuum. A DA of 70 isn’t doing anything for a site when all its competitors have DA 90s. But a DA 70 is incredible if your competitors all have DA20s. And this relativity is also important within a site’s history. Again, DA 70 means nothing by itself, but if two weeks ago your site was DA 50, then its current DA 70 is a meaningful improvement. And if the site was DA 90 two weeks ago, then DA 70 shows you’re slipping. Context matters!
Does Google Use Domain Authority?
Moz asks this question a lot. On one level, the short answer is simply no – Google does not need any assistance from Domain Authority. But on another level, the question is about whether or not Google uses something like DA in its model, meaning some kind of internal metric it uses to pre-calculate the value of a domain. Google says the answer to that question is “no” and there’s no reason to doubt the answer. Then there’s a third level to this question: If the answer to the first two levels is no, then why does Domain Authority matter at all?
Even though Google doesn’t explicitly include a DA-like metric, you can bet that somewhere inside their neural network something like it is happening. After all, the neural network is learning as it goes. But the most important thing, in the end, is this: DA has value as long as it reliably predicts search engine results for a domain. Going back to the basketball analogy, one of the strongest predictors of good players is the PER or Player Efficiency Rate. Adding up all the PERs for two teams doesn’t tell you who will win the game, but it does make a strong prediction of which team is more likely to win the game. That’s what Domain Authority 2.0 does for SEO.
Connect with Russ Jones and Moz
Twitter: @rjonesx (https://twitter.com/rjonesx)
Moz on Twitter: @Moz (https://twitter.com/Moz)
Moz on Facebook: @moz (https://www.facebook.com/moz)
Moz website: https://moz.com
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