Can You Trust DA Metric for Link Building?

DA (Domain Authority) is a critical metric for building links. But while it is essential, I’ve found that SEOs place too much importance on the scores.

In my experience, DA is one cog in a wheel. Other cogs are also involved, and you must treat them all correctly to move your vehicle [link building campaign] forward.

In this article, I’ll debunk the DA ruse and show you how to use it —and other metrics— to achieve link building success. 

Let’s dive in…

What Is the Big Deal About DA Scores?

What Does DA Scores Mean?

In my early days in SEO, I focused solely on DA scores when building links. I knew they reflected the number and quality of the backlinks pointing to a website and that they were awarded on a scale of 0 to 100.

More importantly, I believe Google uses them to rank websites. To me, DA is the reputation part of RankBrain.

Well, I was wrong…

For starters, DA is not a Google metric. It is created by Moz [a third-party tool for SEOs and digital marketers].

Like Moz, other SEO tools have their own metrics, too. Here are some:

  • Ahrefs uses DR (Domain Rating)
  • Semrush uses AS (Authority Score)
  • Legiit uses “Legiit Score”

And for each tool, the score only represents the “likelihood” of ranking.

In other words, higher DA scores don’t always translate to high-ranking positions. Google doesn’t use DA, DR, or AS metrics.

Backlinko has a different view, though…

Does High Domain Authority Mean High Ranking?

Backlinko analyzed 11.8M Google search results using Ahrefs data. They found that high DR scores correlate with higher rankings.


More importantly, the study revealed that the average DR score increases along [ascendingly] the search ranking positions.


So far, the conclusions suggest that high DA scores mean high ranking. So, is that it?

DA is a reflection of your referring domains. The more relevant links pointing to your site, the higher your DA score and, by extension, your search rankings.

Does this mean you should focus your link building campaigns on the domain authority metric?

Should you trust your website’s domain authority as the sole metric to rank it?

Before I answer the question, let’s take a look at this snapshot [of Google search results]:


Despite having a lower domain authority score, Anchor Homes’ post ranks higher than Ontario’s. Why?

You might wonder if the reason for that is the PA [Page Authority].

But even that metric doesn’t follow the norm [from Backlinko’s study] because Ontario’s post has a higher PA score [at 48] than Anchor Homes [at 27].

Who knows, this case might be a one-in-a-million case. Right? 🤔

Well, here’s another one:


This case is even more confusing than the former. The DA in the second snapshot decreases along [ascendingly] the SERPs, which is totally against the results of Backlinko’s study.


DA’s relationship with search ranking can be confusing because “low score” often outranks the “high score” pages. And there are even “deeper” confusions:

  • The scores are not uniform
  • The scores can be doctored
  • Google doesn’t use the scores

The Scores Are Not Uniform

Back to the snapshots I shared earlier for Ahrefs, Semrush, and Legiit…

Did you notice that they are not uniform?

I tested my domain across all the tools:

  • Ahrefs scored it for 41,
  • Semrush showed 14, and
  • Legiit showed 31.2

Why is there fluctuation if DA scores are universal guidelines for search engine ranking?

The answer is simple:

The scoring system is biased depending on the tool used. And that is why a page can rank better than others regardless of some scores.

The Scores Can Be Doctored

Not all DA and DR scores result from manual and natural link building. Some sites use doctored scores. How so?

Website owners buy domain authority services on marketplaces like Fiverr.


The services use spammy links to boost DA/DR scores. And within a few days to weeks, the score will increase.

But in this case, you’ll only have high scores but not be an authoritative site. In other words, lower-DA-score sites will outrank you in search engine results pages.

Google Doesn’t Use the Scores

As I said earlier, DA/DR scores are generated by third-party SEO tools. Google doesn’t recognize or use them.

So, doctoring the scores will not get you higher rankings on Google search results. In fact, it might lead to deindexing. How so?

  • Doctored DA scores involve getting links from spammy sites with AI content that are hosted on expired domains.
  • Since March 2024, Google has been cracking down on low-quality sites. Unlike previous algorithm updates, manual actions are served immediately. 

In other words, you will lose your ranking and any feature on Google search results.

Now, to answer the question…

📌 Should you trust DA as the sole deciding factor?

No, DA can’t be the sole deciding factor for your link building campaign. 

So, should you abandon your site’s DA?

No. Build links to your site correctly, and your DA will increase naturally.

Below are some tips to guide you.

10 Ways to Increase Your Domain Authority

  1. Use responsive website design
  2. Create link-worthy content
  3. Optimize your website
  4. Acquire high-quality backlinks
  5. Guest post on high authority site
  6. Do target outreach
  7. Leverage your internal link
  8. Fix your broken pages
  9. Use social media to promote your content
  10. Leverage unlinked mentions from reputable sites

Use Responsive Website Design

Using a responsive design makes your website’s navigation seamless. This is important in your journey to increase your domain authority. Why?

If your website’s content is easily accessed and understood, these will happen:

  • Your visitors will readily engage with your content without wasting their precious time.
  • This means other quality websites can quickly review your content to consider it for a backlink.
  • They can also quickly contact you for a partnership.


More sites will easily link to you when you have a mobile-friendly and responsive website design, increasing your domain authority.

Now that your website is well-designed, you must also work on your content. How?

Ensure your content is not just a revamped insight from other sources. Remember that most high-authority websites already have good content on their pages.

So what?

Writing your content from a unique perspective is essential to gaining consideration from these websites and gaining links to your web page.

This is why you need to create content that offers value.

In summary, write a post that gives unique information or solutions to your readers. This will attract more visitors’ interest and earn your website more traffic and backlinks.

Optimize Your Website

Start by analyzing your website to gain accurate insight into what is happening on your site. Then, you can improve your domain authority. How?

Using reputable backlink analysis tools to examine your domain authority metrics will help you concentrate on relevant content and optimize ranking signals.

More importantly, tracking and analyzing your domain authority over time will help you see the working link building strategies and vice versa. This insight will help you focus on what works.

With this, you can find areas for improvement in your organic search rankings and optimize your website for search engines, ultimately increasing your domain authority.

Your domain authority increases as more websites link to your page. This is basic. However, you must earn quality backlinks from websites with high domain authority.


When looking for a high-quality website for your backlink, the first thing to do is find the one in your niche.

If your website is about fashion, it is not advisable to get backlinks from a page about home decor.

Another effective strategy for getting backlinks is to examine your competitors’ backlinks sources and try to earn links from the same websites.

Bottom line:

Getting high-quality backlinks from a site with high domain authority can help increase yours.

Guest Post on High Authority Site

Aside from acquiring quality backlinks, your content and name must be on external pages.

This will expose your content to a larger audience and an opportunity to gain backlinks.

Additionally, SEO tools consider this as a requirement for a suitable domain score.

Look at it this way:

When you guest post on high-authority sites, you leverage their domain authority to increase yours. 

This method is very effective, especially if they [your target sites] don’t link out to other sites often.

What to do?

  • Find and guest post on websites relevant to your niche to leverage their audience since they are the same as yours.
  • Also, find out where your competitors are guest posting and do the same.

Do Target Outreach

What if your domain authority is still low after following the mentioned steps?

In that case, you need to reach out to specific high-authority websites to gain backlinks for your page.

Doing this will not only help you ensure that high domain authority websites are linking to you, but it will also help you gain popularity.

To do this, you need to consider your top referral sites and see if you can get more links for your site. You should also reach out to high authority sites that find value in linking to you.

Overall, your domain authority will increase as more high-authority websites link to you.

Another way to increase your domain authority is by engaging your visitors with links that direct them to similar content on your page.

Some of these visitors can be a prospective backlink opportunity for you.

Furthermore, leveraging your internal link like this means passing link juice from one page to another. This serves as a vote of confidence for search engines to see your page as reliable and trustworthy.

Internal links also help search engine bots crawl your website and index your pages. All of these contribute to increasing your domain authority.

Fix Your Broken Pages

You already know what link juice means for your website. But do you know what broken pages will do to it?

Consider this scenario: imagine there’s a leak in your plumbing system. That leak will render your efforts useless. And it won’t matter how often you pump water into the system; you’ll find that more is needed.

This is precisely what broken pages on your website do to your link juice. They disconnect the authority circulating across your website. And unfortunately, that will dent your domain authority.

What is the way out?

Fix your broken links quickly to avoid this.

Use Social Media to Promote Your Content

Promoting your content on social media and other online channels is vital to further improve your domain authority.

When you use social media to promote your content, visitors to your website increase.

Furthermore, social shares will increase your brand awareness and expose your website to prospective backlink opportunities, ultimately increasing your domain authority.

Additionally, your domain authority will improve if your new and old visitors share your content on social media, engage with it, and click through to your call to action.

Leverage Unlinked Mentions From Reputable Sites

At this stage, you are famous. Many websites mention your name in their articles. However, these websites may not link back to you.

This is where targeting unlinked mentions will be helpful. How?

Contact the said websites. Getting a backlink should be easy since they [the websites] already know you.

But how do you find out about these mentions?

Use Google alerts to get notified of when your name is mentioned.

Note that you don’t have to contact all these websites. Reach out only to high-authority sites. That is the only way to increase your DA score naturally.

As earlier mentioned, DA is only a cog in a wheel of many cogs. You must also focus on the others.

  1. Organic traffic
  2. Traffic value
  3. Anchor text
  4. Inbound/outbound link ratio
  5. Referring domain

Organic Traffic

The most important metric that I’ve learned firsthand practicing SEO since 2009 is organic traffic. And I make it number 1 for two reasons:

  • Organic traffic means Google loves the content so much it sends people to check out the page
  • Once people have a taste of the content, they keep coming back

The back and forth will lead to increased and sustained ranking.

So, how can you use this metric for link building?

Use the traffic graph to monitor how Google and readers treat your pages. Watch out for declines and fix them.


Traffic Value

High organic traffic means getting clicks and impressions for various keywords. While that is good, are the keywords valuable? Are they lucrative?

Are the keywords competitive?

Valuable keywords will drive sales because they are terms buyers and prospects search for. Hence, their traffic value is always up.

So, how can you use this metric for link building?


Traffic value guides you in knowing which keywords to target. You can’t just focus on “low-hanging fruits” forever; you have to get into the big leagues.

Anchor Text

Anchors are placeholders for backlinks. They are the “blue” and “purple” hypertexts in your content. But that’s not all they are. There is more.

Anchors describes what a backlink is to Google. More importantly, it helps readers understand the need to click a link.

All those details make your content and backlinks comprehensive to Google. In turn, your rankings and traffic will improve.

So, how can you use this metric for link building?

Check your Anchor profile


While at it, reduce the rate of “generic” and “naked url” anchors. Be intentional; use branded and keyword-optimized [exact or partial match] anchors.

A site’s inbound and outbound links should always be balanced. If the scale tilts more towards the former, the issue is still manageable. Otherwise, your site will be seen as a link farm.


Referring Domain

The last and equally vital metric is your referring domains. The quality of the sites where you get your backlinks is crucial to your authority, credibility, and performance in search results.

If you use link farms, you’d soon be discovered and likely be deindexed.

What if you don’t know that a website is a link farm?

That is not an excuse. Use the inbound/outbound link ratio. If the latter is outrageously more than the former, delete the target site from your choice referring domains.


DA metrics are crucial for link building, without a doubt. However, they are not everything. Besides, they can be doctored and cost you manual actions.

My two cents: don’t rely solely on DA. Use it in addition to other metrics [like organic traffic, traffic value, and anchor texts] to get excellent results for your SEO campaigns.

And while at it, don’t fret if you have low DA scores. Even with that, you can outrank “high score” pages.

Remember, DA/DR scores are not generated, recognized, or used by Google.