Yes, it’s true…
Google clearly favours some sites over others in the search results.
But favour isn’t granted by chance – it’s got to do with the overall authority of their site. That’s why high authority sites can rank for more competitive keywords.
It makes sense then that SEOs (wrongly) obsess over domain authority as a metric.
Checking your historic domain authority is a way to check if your site is growing over time and evaluate which keywords you should target in the SERPs.
Want to check your historical domain authority?
Follow this tutorial to learn everything you need to know about historic domain authority and how to check your site.
What Will I Learn?
Most SEOs don’t really understand what domain authority is or what it’s used for.
Pay attention to this next section so that you don’t use DA out of context and ONLY use it accurately for your own site.
Domain authority is a metric created by Moz.
It measures how likely your site is to rank in SERPs compared to a competing site.
Domain authority is given a score out of 100. The higher your domain authority score is, the more likely your site will rank in the SERPs.
That sounds like the main metric you should focus on, right?
While domain authority can be a good indicator – it doesn’t actually have anything to do with Google’s algorithm.
This is where SEOs get it so wrong.
Domain authority has become so popular that Google has made several public statements about it.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that increasing your domain authority score will also guarantee that your rankings will increase.
That’s not what the metric was designed for or how it works.
Domain authority score is not a Google ranking factor and isn’t used by Google at all.
It’s a metric created by Moz that allows you to compare the relative authority of one site against another site.
A common question I always get is…
How does Google use domain authority?
Short answer – They don’t.
Domain authority was created by Moz. It isn’t used by Google at all and doesn’t directly affect the SERPs.
So why care about domain authority at all?
Moz measures both sites using the same metric and evaluation method.
That means if you have a higher domain authority than your competitor, you are more likely to rank higher than them in the SERPs.
But there is an even better use case for domain authority…
Whenever you do keyword research, one of the things you should be evaluating is whether you can rank for that keyword. That’s where domain authority can help.
Simply compare the top 10 ranking sites with your site.
Are there any sites currently ranking that have a domain authority score similar to yours?
If their answer is yes, then there is a good chance you can rank too. But there isn’t, the keyword is likely too competitive for you at this time.
This is one of the best ways to simultaneously:
Think of domain authority as a measurement of rankability compared to another site.
Domain authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors:
The bottom line is that domain authority is all about links.
Moz uses both quantity and quality of backlinks pointing at your site.
On top of that, Moz updated in 2019 how domain authority was calculated.
They basically added a machine learning algorithm to domain authority which predicted how often Google is likely to show a domain in the SERPs vs another domain.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say domain A is more likely to appear in a search result than domain B. You can expect domain A’s domain authority to be higher than domain B’s.
And because domain authority is based on machine learning and other competitors’ sites, you can expect your domain authority to fluctuate up and down from time to time.
While Moz does index links in real-time as it finds them, the algorithm only updates domain authority for individual sites every 3 to 4 weeks.
That means you need to give it up to 4 weeks after Moz finds a new link to see how it affected your domain authority.
This is because Moz is waiting to see how a link impacts your Google SERP rankings before they update your site DA on their platform.
Remember the 2019 update to domain authority that Moz made?
This updated accuracy of tracking your historic domain authority over time.
Here’s what I mean:
While domain authority as a concept was thought back in 1999, you can’t accurately measure your site’s DA that far back.
Most sites will only be able to see their domain authority back until about 2017.
And the truth is because of the update in 2019 – you really should only compare historic domain authority back that far for accuracy’s sake.
Moz has also decided to limit historic domain authority back to a maximum of 1 year.
Let me be clear:
This doesn’t mean that historical domain authority means nothing.
It just means you won’t have as much data to go on because you can only accurately measure your domain authority over 1 year.
Moz either doesn’t have the data (or, more likely) isn’t releasing it within their tools.
But most website owners focus on their SEO – a lot can happen within a year. So seeing how your authority grows over that 1 year will still give you good insight into your progress.
PLUS, I’ve got a nice little hack at the end that will let you see even further!
Historic domain authority is easy to check. Just follow my advice below and get all the information you want about your domain authority.
Moz’s link analysis tool provides a historical analysis of your domain authority for the previous year.
Note: You can use the tool for free, but you’ll need to create an account first. You get 10 free searches per month on a free account.If you need more, you’ll need to upgrade.
I recommend taking advantage of the Moz Pro 30-day free trial so you can get access to their entire tool suite.
Here’s how to check your historical domain authority step by step.
On the left, click “Link Research” and then click “Overview”.
Type in your website domain, ensure it’s set to root domain and click “Analyze”.
Wait a few seconds and you will see a bunch of metrics about your domain, including your current domain authority.
Scroll down the page until you see the “Metrics over time” section. This will give you a snapshot of your historic domain authority over the last year.
You’ll be able to see if it has fluctuated month to month. You can also see your historic page authority and all of your linking domains.
Want to check domain authority further back than a year?
Unfortunately, Moz won’t give more historic data than one year. But there is another free tool that can let you see back a bit longer…
Head over to Website SEO Checker, add your domain and click “Check DA History”.
You will see that their historical domain authority checker lets you see back as far as 2019 in some cases.
This lets you check domain authority that bit further back and gives you a better idea of your long-term growth and progress.
The truth is that Moz will provide you with more data on your domain authority.
But Website SEO Checker lets you see your historic domain authority back further.
Using both is ideal!
While historic domain authority is a good SEO metric indicator, SEO pros don’t see it as the “be all and end all” of SEO metrics.
But there is a time when I will always check it.
Buying a new domain?
Check the historic domain authority first. This is especially true if you are buying expired domains. Expired domains can offer a ton of value:
But you need to check that there aren’t any penalties against the domain.
It happens more than you think:
Tons of people build sites on domains using dodgy black hat SEO tactics. Eventually, their black hat techniques catch up to them and Google smacks the domain with a penalty.
At that point, the domain can be blacklisted and even drop out of the Google SERPs overnight.
That leads me to the next point…
Ever bought a broken product from a store?
You pick it out, pay for it at the cashier and take it home only to find out that something is broken and you can’t use it.
That’s also the risk of buying aged domains…
Once a domain owner receives a penalty from Google, they realise that the days of organic traffic for that domain are pretty close to being nil.
It’s common for them to quickly try resell the domain to make some money off it.
It’s a quick and free trick that could save you from making a costly mistake.
Make sure you combine historic domain authority with these 7 Google penalty checker tools before buying a new or expired domain.
That’s not a place you want to be.
Historic domain authority is a great metric for comparing competing sites.
But that’s about the extent of it.
Don’t make the mistake of overthinking the importance of domain authority:
Instead, avoid the hype and use it in the proper context.
Simply use domain authority when comparing your site to a competitor or when you are conducting in-depth keyword research.
This is where it will provide the most value and help you make intelligent decisions.
That’s what all SEO metrics should help you do!