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What You Need To Know About Moz’s Latest DA Update

A handy guide to the March 2019 update for bloggers

Moz has rolled out a complete overhaul of its Domain Authority scoring system. Domain Authority (DA) is one of the many metrics that brands, PRs, SEO pros and website owners use to assess the quality of a website when deciding whether to work with or write for them.

Since Google stopped showing its own public PageRank scores for pages, Moz’s DA has been one of the most-used metrics for assessing and comparing websites, so its complete overhaul is a pretty big deal!

Here’s what you need to know about the changes, our interpretation, and our thoughts on how to increase your Domain Authority moving forward.

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For an easy to read overview of what Domain Authority is, how it’s calculated, and what the changes mean, check out these PDFs: Guide to Domain Authority 2.0 and Authority Scoring Guide.

You can check your DA with the free Moz browser extension toolbar or a free web-based third party DA tracker that uses the Moz API.

What are the changes that have been made to Domain Authority?

How is the new Domain Authority different?

Instead of just relying on large numbers of search results to determine Domain Authority and changes, there’s a very different training model and network with more intelligent features, for example figuring out that a website doesn’t rank for any keywords at all and devaluing its DA as a result.

Unlike before, Domain Authority now goes beyond just counting links:

  • More data and fresher data is used, with changes and updates from both humans at Moz and a new neural network which will “learn” more and adapt further over time.
  • Link manipulation can be identified (e.g. patterns and networks of particular groups of websites linking to each other). This seems to indicate that reciprocal links, blog networks, and spam networks will all see a drop in DA and influence.
  • Moz’s Spam Score is incorporated into your DA. Learn more about Spam Score.
  • It assesses the quality of your links and traffic, with Link Explorer playing a big role. Learn more about Link Explorer. If a high percentage of external links to your site get little to no traffic, this could devalue your DA.
  • It can distinguish between good links and bad links more accurately. In the past, poor quality links would still increase your DA. Now, they should just get ignored.
  • It’s better equipped to understand correlations with search rankings, and DA can be “retrained” to correlate better with Google.
  • Updates to DA can be relative to/incorporate Google algorithm changes. So if Google decides to roll out an update related to penalizing websites for poor content, DA may follow the same pattern. It should also correlate better with general Google trends.

From Moz’s tests of the new DA system:

Known comment spammers’ DA drops on average 46%
Known domainer link islands drop on average 97%
Known directory spam networks drop on average 71%


Why has Moz changed the way Domain Authority works?

People rely on DA as a steady metric. If you make too many changes, you can’t compare apples-to-apples when doing year over year or month over month comparisons, but at the same time if you don’t make changes the scores become less relevant. I think we have struck a good balance. (Source)

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From how we interpret it, there are two main reasons:

  • The need for improved correlation with Google
  • Worry about competitors

These two things are kind of tied together, in that Moz’s competitors, including SEMRush and Ahrefs, started to be more widely used by SEO professionals. Moz’s focus was traditionally more on quality rather than speed and range of updates and features, but updates and features have been the things more highly demanded by the SEO community. Moz’s new Domain Authority is designed to get ahead of the competition again by providing faster, better updates that are more in line with how Google sees websites.


My DA has dropped, what should I do?

Take a deep breath. There are many, many people in exactly the same position, so don’t worry. Remember that it’s much more likely to be a reflection of the sites linking to you rather than your site itself.

Moz’s advice has always been to use DA as a relative metric, meaning it should only be used to compare different sites at the same time (not the same site over a period of time). This is easier said than done, especially for bloggers who use DA as a metric for working with brands rather than comparing their websites to competing websites in search engines.

Our suggestion would be, when working with brands, to provide both an “Old DA” and a “New DA” (or a “DA 1.0” and a “DA 2.0”) score, especially if your score has increased, stayed the same, or only had a marginal drop. This is likely to be viewed as a positive.

In the long term, you want to be getting high quality links to your website from relevant websites that get traffic.

You’ll also want to be more selective about the DA of other websites you get links from; if the site isn’t particularly new and the DA seems extremely low, this could potentially be an indicator of a site you don’t want linking to you. However, this is just one small factor; you’ll also want to take into consideration the quality of the content, how much interaction the site gets in general (at a pinch, likes/shares/comments can be a very rough indicator), and its history.


What are the positives?

1. The main positive for bloggers is that Moz’s Domain Authority is designed to be closer to how Google sees your website. In the past, a link that Moz thought was amazing could be considered “meh” or even seen negatively by Google. Spammy links from low-quality websites still increased your DA, even though they weren’t having a positive impact on your Google rankings.

2. Another advantage is that you now have a more accurate picture of a link’s value and how another website compares to yours. So, for example if you’re deciding whether or not to guest post on a website or take part in a link roundup, you’ll have a more accurate picture of the site you’re considering and how it’s likely to help your Google rankings, not just your Domain Authority score.

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3. Any more huge changes to DA are unlikely to be on the cards for a while now. This means you should be able to develop longer-term strategies and predictions, both for your website and your business model, without worrying about another radical shift (hopefully!)

The most recent changes should mean the work you do will please both Google and Moz, instead of having to cater to and create strategies for two very different metrics.

You will definitely see stronger relationships between DA and Google performance…Our goal is to make DA much more useful to webmasters by addressing the question of website quality with greater scrutiny. (Source)


What should I do to increase my DA from now on?

If you’re a Lyrical Host customer, we have a Link Building cheatsheet in the Resource Library for you to download. Gaining links to your website from other high quality, relevant websites has always been one of the biggest factors for Domain Authority. Just make sure the links are indexed, and that the website is getting traffic. When you create a new post, make a conscious effort to get a couple of (non-social-network) links to it from other websites.

As always, it’s likely you’ll be waiting a while to see any improvements to your Domain Authority score. Although Moz changed to updating scores more frequently (on a daily basis as opposed to monthly or even longer), in our experience it still takes a long time for it to discover and record new backlinks. It’s understandable considering the size of the web and how many links are being built on a daily basis, but equally it’s frustrating for bloggers putting a lot of effort in to positive contributions to the web. The trap most people fall into is stopping link building when they don’t see results over a few weeks or months. Link building should always be consistent so you create a flywheel of benefits, and so in the event that you lose links or links aren’t discovered by Moz at all, your overall trend will still be on the up.

As the new DA is designed to follow Google’s algorithm updates, we recommend keeping a close eye on those if you aren’t already. If you’re a Chrome user, there’s a free browser extension that overlays Google’s algorithm changes on your Google Analytics, and you can also see a rundown of Google’s changes here so you can adapt accordingly (for example if there’s an update rolled out to hit websites with a lot of thin content, you can react by increasing the length and quality of your shortest posts/pages).


Further reading


What are your thoughts on the latest Domain Authority update? How has it affected you? Let us know in the comments!


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What You Need To Know About New Domain Authority

Jenni Brown
Co-founder of Lyrical Host, Jenni has been in the web hosting industry for years and specializes in social media, copywriting, search engine optimization, and email marketing. She loves cats, baking, photography, and gaming.

  • 03/06/2019

    Thanks for the info. This helped a lot to understand about the new scoring

  • 03/12/2019

    Thank you so much for the useful (as always) information. I’ve completely ignored this in the past and I can see now that it’s something I do need to pay attention too.

  • 07/29/2019

    I struggle to understand the whole DA/backlink thing. This article and your blog are great resources for new bloggers. Another reason I am so happy to have switched to Lyrical Host. 🙂

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