When search engines like Google decide where to rank web pages in their results pages, they consider several factors. Nobody knows exactly how the search engine algorithms calculate the position of a page (except employees of Google) but we can get a good idea of the perceived power and value of a page by measuring certain metrics.
Several years ago, Google assigned a number called “PageRank” to each web page. This, along with a few other factors, could be used as a fairly reliable indication of where pages would appear in the search engine listings. Google stopped updating PageRank in 2013, and so a number of other companies developed their own algorithm-based ranking systems.
One of these companies was analytics ranking software service SEOmoz (now Moz), which developed Domain Authority and Page Authority as ranking metrics; another was Majestic marketing search engine, which developed the Trust Flow and Citation Flow metrics.
While there were several other alternatives, over time these metrics proved to be the most accurate and helpful for businesses and SEO companies tracking the SEO progress of their websites, and so they are the most commonly used metrics today to measure the SEO value of a website or page.
Domain Authority Explained
Domain Authority, often shortened to “DA”, uses data from the Mozscape Index including other Moz metrics such as MozRank, MozTrust, and external links to rank a site on a scale of 1 to 100, with higher scores assigned to more powerful websites.
Domain Authority differs from the other popular Moz ranking score, Page Authority, because it takes into account all the pages on a single domain or subdomain, whereas Page Authority assigns a ranking to one page only.
Some of the factors that Moz uses to calculate Domain Authority include:
- Number of external links to the site
- Number of external links to the site
- Number of internal links
- Trustworthiness of linking sites
- Popularity of linking sites
- Relevancy of linking sites
- Anchor text used to link to the site
The scale that Moz uses for Domain Authority is logarithmic, so it’s much easier for a site to increase its score from 20 to 30 than from 70 to 80, for example.
Brand new sites start with a DA of 1 and this number will increase over time as they accrue links and grow in terms of size, popularity, and trustworthiness. Domain Authority is updated roughly once a month.
Google.com, Wikipedia.com, and Facebook.com all have a DA of 100. You can get an idea of the power of your site by checking its DA for free at Moz’s Open Site Explorer. However, the number your site is assigned is not an absolute measure of how important it’s considered to be and there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” DA score – Domain Authority is best used as a comparative metric. If your competitors all have a higher DA, it’s a good sign that you need to improve your site and work on SEO.
Trust Flow Explained
Trust Flow is a score Majestic assigns to an URL or domain based on the quality of external links to the site. It takes into consideration the amount of traffic that flows through a link, the relevancy of the linking site, and also the links pointing to the linking site.
It basically measures the trustworthiness of a site based on its links, using the assumption that trustworthy sites generally link out to other trustworthy sites.
Considering Trust Flow, it makes sense that outdated SEO techniques such as building a lot of low-quality spammy links to your site can actually be detrimental, as it will reduce your Trust Flow score.
Trust Flow is also a number between 1 and 100, with 100 being the highest score possible, and is assigned on a logarithmic scale like Domain Authority.
The Trust Flow metric is often used together with Citation Flow, which is another Majestic metric that measures the power of a site based on the number of links. A site with both high Trust Flow and high Citation Flow would generally be considered to be a good quality site and ranked by search engines accordingly.
Why Are Domain Authority and Trust Flow Important?
Both Domain Authority and Trust Flow can be used to assess the relative “power” of a site. This is useful, not so much to score the current performance of a website we’re trying to get on the first page of Google, but rather to identify potentially valuable sources of links.
As you’ll have noticed from the description of Domain Authority and Trust Flow, links from external sites are one of the most important factors that search engines use when deciding what order to place sites in on the result pages.
One of the most valuable things we can do as your SEO company is to acquire more good-quality links. The main way to assess the quality of sites we can potentially get links from is to use Domain Authority and Trust Flow metrics as a guide to how valuable the links would be.
Some SEO experts consider Trust Flow a more accurate metric than Domain authority as DA is easily manipulated and the Majestic link index is updated more frequently than the Mozscape index (daily rather than monthly). Others prefer DA as it fluctuates less and is calculated based on the strength of referring domains, not just referring pages as with Trust Flow.
Domain Authority is usually used in conjunction with Page Authority as high DA alone does not necessarily mean a good-quality link – e.g. social media sites have high DA but links from them are not very powerful.
In practice, both Domain Authority and Trust Flow can be manipulated and we would never rely on solely either to judge the value of a page or site. Domain Authority and Trust Flow are most useful when used together along with other metrics and a large dash of common sense. At Digital Marketing Specialists we use both metrics to evaluate sites.
How to Increase Your Site’s Domain Authority and Trust Flow
While, as we’ve explained, Domain Authority and Trust Flow are just a rough guide to a site’s strength and should not be relied on as isolated metrics, there are several reasons why you might want to work on increasing them.
Sites with high Domain Authority and Trust Flow are generally considered to be financially more valuable. If you’re thinking about selling your site, you’ll be able to get more for it with higher metrics.
Advertisers also look at these figures when deciding how much of their budget to pay for links or banners or sponsored posts on your site, so if you do sell advertising space, it’s worth putting some effort into increasing your Trust Flow and DA as much as possible.
In general, the factors that increase your site’s Domain Authority and Trust Flow are the same factors that move your site up the search engines. Your focus should be on carrying out these activities and monitoring your search engine listing position and site traffic, not just on increasing a number in website analytics software.
- Get more good-quality links
- Add more high-quality content to your site
- Maintain an active profile on social media and aim for more social shares of your content
- Ensure your on-page SEO in terms of site structure and content is strong
- Remove bad-quality links using the Google Disavow Tool (bad quality links usually have low Trust Flow)
- Communicate and build relationships with other site owners in your industry to encourage natural links
- Interlink pages on your site wherever appropriate.
Completing all these steps can take a lot of time and effort, which is why many businesses outsource the tasks to a specialist SEO agency. At Digital Marketing Specialists, we have the skills and experience to increase your search engine position through link building and other digital marketing techniques so you can concentrate on your core business.