June 1, 2015 | Sarah Danks

And if it is, should we even care?

Do you give a rip about SEO?

As search marketers we all know search engine optimization (SEO) is important. Some of us might think it’s the red-headed step child of online marketing –it’s a continual, drawn-out, ongoing process; it takes forever to achieve results; you can’t pay to get to the top of the SERPs like you can with pay-per-click (PPC), etc. — but we all do it.

If it’s so hard to achieve, why do we all include it in our online marketing efforts? Well, because it’s necessary. Of course, SEO has changed drastically over the years, but it’s still alive and well…

…and still paramount to any website’s success. SEOs might not like all the time involved to get clients the web performance they want, but we all sure do appreciate the results.

By definition, SEO is the process of employing strategic methodologies to a website in order to increase its performance in search engines. One of the ways search engines analyze a site’s credibility to appear search results is by measuring the quality/quantity of a website’s backlinks.

Not so very long ago, we could actually see a web page’s backlink credibility. Google put it right out where everyone could see it: PageRank. If you cared anything at all about search optimization, then you paid attention to every web page’s PageRank (PR).

Remember PageRank?

Remember back in the day when search marketers — and, more importantly, Google — determined a page’s importance with PageRank? (How many of you are rolling your eyes right now?!) We could view that info right in the browser, and we became classically conditioned to glance up at the toolbar every time we navigated to a new website to check the PR.

Well, those days are long gone…

…much to the joy of most (and the chagrin of others, I’m sure).

Several years ago the PageRank toolbar started disappearing from browsers, and although the people at Google still use it, many marketers believe that PageRank is, in fact, dead.

But straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s Matt Cutts explaining PageRank:

“If a lot of people are linking to your site, and those people have high PageRank, then you’ll be more likely to have high PR, too.”

Yes, that was over a year ago, but it’s Google. How much can They really have changed the importance of incoming links? Of course, “doing away” with PageRank — i.e., not allowing us to see it — was an indication to many that it just wasn’t important anymore.

But I don’t think that’s the reason why it’s no longer readily “available” to us.

So why did Google “do away” with PageRank?

The main reason Google doesn’t show, promote or focus on PR anymore is because it was a blatant visual of how important They considered a website/web page to be. It was so easy for spammers — or, really, even White Hats — to manipulate a website’s authority.

Want to increase your PageRank? Just buy links from web pages with PR6, PR7, PR8…

…and of course Google doesn’t want anyone “manipulating” SERPs (which was the whole point of centering your link-building tactics around pages with high PageRank), or knowing how They calculate their algorithms.

A few years ago Google stopped showing PR to the public. But we search marketers still needed a way to determine a page’s credibility. Google has stopped focusing on it — outwardly — and expects search marketers to follow suit. And we have, to some extent.

Since we can no longer bank on PageRank to tell us the importance of a website/page, now we keep an eye on a website’s “authority.”

Enter Moz and their metric: Page Authority.

Backlinks + SEO = Authority?

As I mentioned not too long ago, a major part of any SEO strategy involves strengthening your website’s link profile. What do backlinks have to do with a website’s authority? Well, same as with PageRank, they’re a major part of how authority is calculated. Why’s that?

Because as much as SEO has changed, incoming links are still vital. Neil Patel said less than a year ago:

“The issues that most directly impact a site’s positive ranking are integrally connected to the link profile of that site.”

And if incoming links are important to page authority, which is important for SEO, which affects performance in search engines, well, it kind of brings to mind that song —

Toe bone’s connected to the foot bone
Foot bone’s connected to the heel bone
Heel bone’s connected to the ankle bone…

…at least for me, anyway.

Enter: page authority…

Here’s the definition of page authority directly from Moz (they coined the term, after all):

“Page Authority is Moz’s calculated metric for how well a given webpage is likely to rank in Google.com’s search results. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank, MozTrust, and dozens of other factors.”

So why do we put so much stock in what one SEO company says? Because…

…it’s Moz! Plus, it’s become a universal (to search marketers, anyway) metric to replace the erstwhile ubiquitous PageRank (there are other companies trying to replicate PR, too).

Simply put, page authority is the measurement of how a web page can perform in search engines. It’s based on a scale of 0 to 100, where content with a page authority of 13 will perform very poorly in search engines; with a value of 50 it will perform pretty well, and so forth.

Also, page authority increases logorithmically. Okay, I’m not sure if that’s a word but suffice it to say that in this scale, a jump from 20 to 30 isn’t nearly as big of a deal as jumping from 80 to 90. (And very few websites have garnered a score of 100; I’d not even attempt although it’s fun to dream…)

Kind of brings to mind Google’s PageRank scale, does it not? Sure, PR only went from 0 to 10, but still.

Now, Google’s wont to say you shouldn’t focus solely on the acquisition of links, but Moz says:

“The best way to influence (page authority) is to improve your overall SEO. In particular, you should focus on your link profile by getting more links from other well-linked-to pages. “

The volume — and, more notably, the quality — of links pointing to a given page impacts page authority. This includes internal links, which is why you need to ensure your site architecture/navigation is built properly, in such a way that all pages have maximum visibility.

All ships rise with the tide; if you work on increasing credibility of the individual web pages on your site, the entire domain will become stronger. Which, of course, leads us to domain authority.

…and domain authority.

Here’s what Neil Patel says about domain authority:

“Domain Authority (DA) is a website metric developed by Moz. It is one of the most important numbers known to SEOs. The greater your DA, the more likely you are to have strong traffic.”

Now, when a guy as smart as Neil says “it’s one of the most important numbers known to SEOs,” that makes you sit up and pay attention. And if it doesn’t, then good luck to you, I guess.

This exerpt from a TechTage article explains how to increase domain authority:

“…the Domain Authority metric is almost entirely dependant on the backlinks (dofollow) pointing to your site. So, what helps the most to increase your site’s Domain Authority (and thus its ranking potential) is to acquire links from sites that already have high Domain Authorities themselves.”

This lovely pie chart (which, oddly enough, is from Neil Patel’s post on SEO myths to avoid) shows the importance of backlinks and authority in Google’s ranking factors:

Yes, it’s from back when Moz was still SEOmoz. But it’s data compiled from over 70 experts in the field. And, again — how can you argue with a smart guy like Neil Patel?

It would seem that Page Authority has replaced PageRank as a measurement of credibility. We’ve seen our own site’s authority rise with the addition of high-profile incoming links…

…which leads us to believe that part of the metric is solid.

But, what do you think? Are page/domain authority important to SEO?





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