A high-quality backlink strategy is essential to improving your website’s search engine rankings. For years, SEMRush, the comprehensive SEO tool, has audited domains and provided them with an Authority Score (AS) to make it easier for users to benchmark a site’s reputation. SEMRush recently updated how they measure Authority Scores, and marketers and content managers should be aware of how these changes impact their use and understanding of the tool.
What is in the New Domain Authority Score?
Domain Authority Score is a proprietary metric developed by SEMRush that evaluates the quality and authority of a website by assigning it a numerical score between 1 and 100. A lower score indicates that the website has a weak profile, while a score closer to 100 indicates that the website is reputable and has a high level of authority.
According to SEMRush, the previous version of Authority Score relied on “two complex algorithms that used organic search data, traffic data, and backlink data to grade a website’s overall quality.” However, this system did not account for organic web traffic and was susceptible to influence by dubious linking strategies.
After the update on January 31, three key factors now determine a domain’s Authority Score:
- Link Power
- Organic Traffic
- Spam Factors
Link power is the least changed of the three factors. This factor includes the number of backlinks a domain has and the quality of those backlinks, such as the number of backlinks of each referring domain.
The newest part of Link Power is the inclusion of the Network Graph. The Network Graph is a visualization of a domain’s backlinks and the links to those backlinks three tiers deep. If these linked domains are primarily related to the same niche, Semrush may include a notice in the Authority Score label.
The second factor of the Authority Score is organic traffic to the domain. This is an important addition that will add credibility to certain websites that may not receive many backlinks but still receive high organic traffic. Semrush argues that if the site generates high volumes of organic traffic, it likely has some authority.
Spam factors are red flags that could indicate dubious linking strategies or strategies with the express intent of fooling search engines and tools like Semrush into thinking they are more reputable than they are. These spam factors increase the accuracy of Semrush’s calculations and reduce the likelihood that a domain can artificially inflate its Authority Score.
How is Each Factor Weighted?
After reviewing each parameter, Semrush calculates the domain’s Authority Score with each factor weighted in the following order:
- Link power
- Organic traffic
- No organic rankings on SERPs
- Unnaturally high % of dofollow domains
- An imbalance between links and organic traffic
- Too many referring domains with the same IP address
- Too many referring domains with the same IP network
- Presence of another domain with an identical backlink profile
Items 3-7 in this list fall under the umbrella term spam factors. You can read the full report by SEMRush on the recent update for more specificity on each factor.
Why Did it Change?
While the previous version of the Authority Score was powerful, SEMRush redesigned its system to provide a more accurate tool that adds spam to its list of considerations. In December, Google released an update to their Search Evaluator guidelines that focuses on content quality and reputability, including an increased emphasis on neutralizing the impact of spam on search results.
To be consistent with Google’s updates and follow the lead of the industry and their clients, Semrush updated how they calculate their authority score.
How Can You Use Authority Score?
Authority Score is a powerful tool for website and content management. It provides an easy and convenient way to assess the overall strength and authority of a website and is useful when conducting a competitor analysis or evaluating potential link-building opportunities.
Additionally, Authority Score can be used to identify areas where a website’s backlink profile is weak so that you can create a targeted link-building strategy to improve its authority. You can then monitor the impact of your link-building efforts over time by tracking changes to see how your link-building affects the overall reputation of your domain.
As specialists in local, national, and e-commerce SEO, the AVINTIV team can answer any questions about the new Semrush Authority Score and how this tool can elevate your domain authority. Reach out to our team of SEO experts to discuss how Semrush and a powerful backlink strategy can help you meet your goals.