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Digital Marketing SEO

Let’s Start a War: Bloggers vs Domain Authority

Bloggers depend on PR companies for paid content work, however they ask for high DA scores. Is DA the wrong metric to be asking bloggers for to provide value for their clients?

What has Blogging got to do with DA?

The blogging community rely on DA (Domain Authority). Bloggers live off getting commissioned articles through businesses to promote their products or services. In choosing which blogs are going to be most valuable to them, many of these businesses or PR companies they work with use a metric called DA in order to ensure the sites they are working with (and bloggers they are ultimately paying) are going to provide some kind of return of either backlinks or referring traffic.

What is DA?

If you are not sure what DA (Domain Authority) is then here is a quick history lesson.

The interest became accessible due to Google and their infamous search engine which we all now use on a daily basis. The business world then discovered the value of “ranking high” in Google, so had to discover what made Google tick. Sadly however Google kept all the “ranking factors” secret. So us marketers had to go out, research and test.

This industry is called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which is the technique of modifying our sites in such a way which allows Google to value them more (Please remember, this is a history lesson, it doesn’t work like this anymore).

One of the early “influencers” of the SEO world was a company called Moz. A brilliant and fantastic company, which provide excellent SEO Tools and first class educational resources on the shared understanding of SEO. They came up with a simple metric, in order to quantify websites on their ability to rank and their value. They called it “Domain Authority” or DA for short.

As an industry we then adopted this, as it was the first metric which allowed us to quantify anything. However, it still had it’s flaws, it no where near had the in-depth understanding of the entire web that Google did. However, it was good yard stick… for it’s time.

How Does DA Work?

Google was founded on a basic principle which made it stand our from all the other search engines of it’s time (Yes, there were other search engines, Excite? Ask Jeeves? No?). This principle was simple, if me and you had two web pages and I liked my web page to yours then I have endorsed or “voted” for your page. The more “votes” a page gets the more valuable it is. So, if I want to search for “cake recipe” and your web page which a cake recipe on it has many more votes than my web page, then you would rank above me in the search engine (I’ve simplified this a little).

Further more, rather than just be a numbers game, if my web page had LOADS links from other websites, which have loads of links too, then my web page must be really, really good.

The number of links and the network of links, results in Domain Authority Score, between 1 – 100.

Let’s take a look at some scores…

Google themselves have a DA of 95.

BBC beats them with a DA of 96.

My site sadly only has a DA of 12.

Example of Bloggers Beings Asked for Articles

Here is my example of a post for bloggers being asked by an agency / brand for a article… this is a pitch from many, many examples I’ve seen.

*DA 30 and Over*

Jeff is looking for an article about “bunny rabbits”.

Please only enquire if you’ve not worked with Jeff before!

Do not disclose!

Susan

What’s the problem with DA now?

The problem now with DA is numerous; Google has moved on since the early inception of DA. Plus, more people than ever are searching on Google, every single day!

Link Value

Let’s tackle these issues one by one. Link quantity simply doesn’t mean as much as it used to. If you ever become part of the SEO community (and I strongly recommend it), then you will countlessly be faced with the ongoing debate entitled “Is Link Building Dead?”. Which is another story altogether, however in short, the argument goes something like this.

SEO 1: Hey, is link building dead?

SEO 2: Well, Google says you shouldn’t really be building links anyway, they should come naturally from great content on your website.

SEO 1: Yeah, but how often does that really happen?

SEO 2: Not often, but links should look natural and provide some really good value to your users.

SEO 1: Hmmm… that sounds hard, can’t I just build loads of rubbish links like I used to?

SEO 2: No, that will get you punished. It’s not about the amount of links but the quality of them.

This tends to go round and round in circles for a while, until ultimately we end up back at the beginning. However, DA is a score which partly quantifies the number of links a website has. As such, it will never truly reflect the Google Algorithm that attempts to qualify those links for revelancy.

DA will always favour my generic blog, which blogs about everything, over your unique, niche blogs which delivers expert articles to it’s audience of like-minded peoples.

My blog may have more links than your blog, and because I’m so generic then I might have links coming from the more populars place across the web (niches tend to be niches), so I will have a better DA. However, I most likely have a low-quality audience. Plus, in Google’s eyes any links from my blog will be of low quality because I don’t really have an “expertise”.

On another note, you may be wondering why my example above and so many requests for blogs state they wish for bloggers they’ve not worked with before… this is because link value is only a one time deal. Site A can’t spam Site B with 100’s of links and expect Google to treat them all like they are unique, clearly something is going on there. So Google treats one or more links as one link. These guys are after numbers!

Misunderstood Blogger Value

We are assuming that links are the only valuable metric that result from articles by bloggers. Which is ludicrous. As we covered, they have a fantastic niche, engaged audience. If you are a parent, who’s a massive geek and love the latest childcare gadget. Well, there is a bunch of other people who want to know / learn about that too! Their blogs drive referral traffic!

Do bloggers get asked about the referral traffic which they have channeled in the past 12 months? No.

Do bloggers track this metric? Most don’t (you should it’s gold dust)

Do brands feedback their referral traffic data back to bloggers? I’m guessing not.

The Agency

It all boils down to links, which is not the fault of the brands themselves, it’s most likely their SEO agency or PR agency at fault here. They NEED to quantify their results back to their clients to keep them paying their bills.

SEO agencies narrow-mindedly focus on organic traffic to a website. They know that in order to achieve better rankings, thus better traffic they must “build links”, however when they report back they don’t report referral traffic! Even though it came from the links they built!

What’s the Solution?

I get that DA is an easy way to do this kind of thing. However, it’s a messy and defunct way of working.

As an SEO, content creator or blogger ultimately we want to provide the best possible content to our audience. So does Google! In my personal opinion, DA is a metric which has its place in the SEO community. It’s a yardstick, a non-precise measuring tool.

In Googles eyes, the quality of your content, both within the article in question and within the large context of your site. If it provides value to users, it provides value in the Google-sphere as well.

The continued use of DA in the blogging space, shows a complete lack of understanding of the environment that we are now in. If you are the person asking for DA from bloggers reading this, perhaps a blogger has forwarded this to you (and I hope they do), you show a complete lack of respect for the blogger community and the brand which you are representing. It’s time to change your ways and start thinking a little bigger.

Yes, it will mean a bit more work from you but on the other hand you will get better results at the end of it.

If you are a blogger reading this. Then I’m sorry to tell you that this change in thinking will not happen overnight, this way of working in ingrained in the industry for way too long now. However, I do implore you to do something about it. As a community of bloggers you provide a service to these agencies and brand which if united you can confront these issues then the tide will turn. I suggest you do, for the better of your community and yourselves as self-employed individuals.

The quicker this mind set changes the more value you will have!

Want to join that revolution use the #BloggersAgainstDA

By Thomas Marriott

Digital Marketing Punk is an active resistance against poor digital agencies over selling and over promising digital services to businesses. Through education Digital Marketing Punk will empower you to take ownership of your digital marketing again.

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