Domain Authority versus Page Authority
If you’re reading this, we’re assuming you understand the concept that backlinks build authority and authority improves organic rankings. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, check out our post, Link Juice: Definition & Theory and revisit this post once you’re done.
If you are familiar with this concept, keep reading.
So you understand the importance of building backlinks as part of your SEO strategy but do you understand the difference between building links for domain-level authority versus page-level authority? If not, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s start by breaking down how links pointing to different pages on your site can influence your organic profile. First, any links pointing to your site will increase domain-level authority, leading to an increase in site-wide rankings. Any links pointing to specific pages on your site will increase page-level and domain-level authority, resulting in increased site-wide and page-level rankings. Links pointing to folder pathways (i.e. /blog), will increase the domain-level authority, and the authority of the pathway URL and all URLs that live within that pathway (i.e. any URLs that follow the URL structure /blog/blog-category/blog-title, etc.)
Leveraging this information to improve your linking strategy will require competitor analysis. The ability that your page has to rank for a given term is dependent on how competitive that specific SERP (search engine results page) is for the page and keyword you are trying to rank. A competitor analysis will determine the ability your page has to rank for a targeted keyword. It will also determine how influential your domain versus page-level authority will be for ranking in a top position for that SERP. The more competitive a SERP, the more authority your domain or page will need to rank.
The purpose of conducting competitor analysis is to determine how much authority you need to build based on your website’s strength relative to the website’s holding the top positions for your keyword target.
Conducting Competitor Analysis
To conduct competitor analysis, start by identifying what keywords and pages you are trying to rank. Analyze the SERP for your targeted keyword and determine how your authority stacks up against the authority of the websites ranking in the top position. Do you have a third of the backlinks pointing to that specific page that websites in position 1-3 have? If so, you may be able to increase your backlinks and earn a top spot in the SERP. If you have less than a third of the backlinks that your competitors have, it will take a lot of link building to rank against your competitors. You can also use tools like Moz DA and Ahrefs DR to put a quantitative value on how your authority stacks up against other websites. Make sure that you are assessing both page-level and domain-level authority. There may be a considerable gap in terms of domain-level authority, but the target may be a lot closer for page-level authority.
Once you’ve completed an analysis across all the pages you are trying to rank, target the lowest hanging fruit by picking the page with the best relative strength to start building links to.
Strategies for Link Development Based on Ranking Priority
If you are building out a page-level versus domain-level linking strategy, there are a few unique tactics at your disposal. Both of the tactics outlined below leverage your website’s existing authority to build authority to pages with greater SEO value. It’s important to note that these strategies do not generate new authority for your site.
- Link reclamation or sculpting strategies:
- This is an effective strategy as the website is already linking to you organically. This means that your ask is a simple update to something that already exists on the page. You should expect to see a fairly positive response to this type of outreach.
- Broken link strategies:
- This strategy identifies broken or sold out product pages on your website with backlinks. There is no value in having links pointing to pages that no longer exist or carry out of stock products. After identifying broken pages with valuable backlinks, reach out to the webmaster letting them know that they are linking to a broken page. Provide them with the updated URL and let them know that swapping out the link will help maintain user experience.
- This is an effective strategy as the webmaster will likely want to maintain working URLs throughout the site.
There are a few other strategies that you can utilize for building page or domain-level authority. The strategies outlined below have a lower conversion rate but they do generate new authority at both the domain and page-level depending on your strategy.
- Thought leadership:
- Becoming a regular contributor to publications relevant to your niche is a great way to build authoritative and valuable links. Contributing content to third party sites like many other SEO strategies, has been corrupted by link builders. It’s common practice for SEO’s to identify ways to easily manipulate the search algorithm, resulting in Google rolling out changes to the algorithm to circumvent these “shortcuts”. This applies to a certain degree with this approach to link building. Google won’t penalize you for building links through this method, but they may ignore the links if it’s obvious what you are doing.
- Resource campaign:
- This strategy identifies a linkable resource on your website and third party websites who are linking to or providing resource lists of a similar nature. Once you’ve identified third party websites who are linking to similar pages, make the ask. Let them know you came across their page, noticed they provide tons of valuable resources around XYZ and that you think your asset would make a great addition to the bunch.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, building links to folder pathways will add authority to all pages that live within that subfolder. This means that if you are running a resource campaign and you are trying to grow the authority of your blog post on “SEO for Beginners”, you might be better off building links to the Blog section on your website that covers everything related to SEO (i.e. /blog/seo). Taking this approach allows you to grow the authority of your “SEO for Beginners” post while also growing the authority of all other URLs that live within this subfolder pathway. This will also result in increased authority for the subfolder itself. Keep in mind that this approach could cause changes to your conversion rate. If pitching a subfolder results in decreased conversions, it may not be worth the lost link placements to build to a subfolder over a specific page.
Internal Linking Strategy
Developing a well-thought out internal linking strategy can help authority flow through your website, resulting in increased page-level authority and rankings. Make sure to structure your website in a way that makes it easy for authority to travel through your site in a trickle down flow. This will also create valuable subfolders that you can incorporate into your link building strategy.
Determine which pages in your strategy are the most “linkable”. Analyze aspects of your page such as shareability, a call-to-action, emotional or ethical appeal and other aspects that might influence how linkable your page is. Conduct testing over the course of your outreach to determine where you are seeing the best conversion rates and make adjustments accordingly.