What Is Domain Authority? Online Business Authority Explained


Domain authority, or as Google calls it, ‘online business authority’, is an important ranking factor in Google. What is domain authority? Well, nobody knows exactly how Google calculates popularity, reputation, intent or trust, outside of Google, but when I write about domain authority I am generally thinking of sites that are popular, reputable and trusted – all of which can be faked, of course.

Most sites that have domain authority/online business authority have lots of links to them – that’s for sure – hence why linkbuilding is so popular an activity – and counting these links is generally how most 3rd party tools calculate it a pseudo domain authority score, too. Basically massive domain authority and ranking ‘trust’ is given to a very popular sites that have gained a lot of links from credible sources, and other online business authorities too.

Amazon has a lot of online business authority…. (Official Google Webmaster Blog)

SEO more usually talk about domain trust and domain authority based on the number, type and quality of incoming links to a site. Examples of trusted, authority domains include Wikipedia, the W3C and Apple. How do you become a OBA? Through building a killer online or offline brand or service with, usually, a lot of useful content on your site. How do you take advantage of being an online business authority? Either you turn the site into a SEO Black Hole (only for the very biggest brands) or you pump out information – like all the time. On any subject. Because Google will rank it!

Can you (on a smaller scale in certain niches) mimic a online business authority by recognising what OBA do for Google, and why Google ranks these high in search result?. These provide THE service, THE content, THE experience. This takes a lot of work and a lot of time to create, or even mimic.

In fact, as a SEO, I honestly think the content route is the only sustainable way for a most businesses to try to achieve OBA at least in their niche or locale. I concede a little focused linkbuilding goes a long way to help, and you have certainly got to get out there and tell others about your site…

Have other relevant sites link to yours. Google Webmaster Guidelines

Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.

“Brands are the solution, not the problem,” Mr. Schmidt said. “Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said this. Reading between the lines, I’ve long thought this is better seo advice than most of the stuff MC video blogs these days.

If you are a brand!

Open up your site. Sell stuff on it. Got a PR7 or PR8 site? Add a store and make a fortune – god I would love a crack at doing something like that.

Google wants to rank your stuff at the top because it trusts you won’t spam it and fill results pages with crap and make Google look stupid.

That’s money just sitting on the table the way Google currently awards massive domain authority and trust to particular sites – I mean, a newspaper is no2 for “online dating” in the UK and there are plenty of other examples.

If you want to be a brand?

Get links from brands that aren’t overdoing the above!

Identifying brands are pretty easy too:

  • Content – most brands publish lots of it
  • A brand has a lot of links
  • It has links from relevant sites
  • It has lots of links from other brands
  • It’s KNOWN – well cited
  • It’s probably got a PR7 – Pr10

Trust? That’s a different matter and at the moment – as long as it’s well cited, that’s good enough for Google it seems.

Article marketing, widget marketing, social media and directory submissions are on the whole lower quality links that will let you take small steps towards ranking better – but I am always thinking:

“how do I get links from brands to a site?”

– brands in niches can mean quality links. Easier said than done, for most, of course.

Brands are making Google search results safer and with safer comes boring search results that make it harder for the smaller business owner – though that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of opportunity at the moment if you read between the lines and take a gamble on some of the type of sites Google needs to keep in the serps for variation – think well cited exact match domains and very niche, intelligent microsites.

But the aim with your main site should always be to become a online brand. Good luck.

Does Google Prefer Big Brands In Organic SERPS?

Well, yes. It’s hard to imagine that a system like Google’s was not designed exactly over the last few years to deliver the listings it does today – and it IS filled with a lot of pages that rank high ONLY because the domain the content is on. BIg Brands have an inherent advantage in Google’s ecosystem, and it’s kind of a suck for small businesses. There’s more small businesses than big brands for Google to get Adwords bucks out of, too.


This article was first published September 17th, 2008



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