Posted on: February 3, 2021
Domain authority (DA) is a metric created by SEO site Moz to help businesses understand where they may rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). The DA score, which ranges from one to 100, is determined by using the number of relevant backlinks (links to your website from other reputable sites) and the relevancy of those backlinks. Basically, it is a quick way to determine the quality or trustworthiness of a site, but should not be your only consideration.
For digital PR professionals, DA is a great tool. Did you know there are about 1.5 billion websites out there? Some are well-known and carry a wealth of content, like Buzzfeed (which is considered a “top–tier site” and has a high DA), and others are lesser-known and more niche, lowering their DA score (but there is still great value in them—more on that, below). The PR pro knows that attracting the right media isn’t about targeting millions of sites—it’s about curating a pitch to be highly relevant to a smaller, best-of-the-best, target audience. So, how do you decide what sites to target?
DA is a great tool to help you decide. The score lets you assess a site with your client in mind: how valuable would it be if this piece of content got up on this site? What is the quality and relevancy of other sites that would potentially link to this piece of content, if it were placed here?
If you’ve been following along thus far, you may be thinking this means you should only pitch media with the highest DA scores. To which we say: not necessarily. Here’s a condensed guide we sourced from Fractl on Search Engine Watch that explains the type of content suitable for each site tier: top–tier, mid-tier, and low–tier. Top–tier sites tend to have the highest DA scores.
- Top–Tier Sites: the holy grail of media coverage, with an extremely large audience online and on social; super exclusive. High DA scores, usually above 90. Be ready for scrutiny. (Fractl’s internal study found a link between the DA of a site and the type of response received from journalists and content creators—the higher the DA of a site, the less positive the response). Keep these pitches highly relevant and brief.
- What to offer them: extremely unique, newsworthy content.
- Mid-Tier Sites: a sweet spot for digital PR pros—not as challenging to get placed here compared with top–tier sites, plus they still have a large audience and are more responsive to content pitches. DA scores range between 66-89.
- What to offer them: unique, engaging and newsworthy content.
- Low–Tier Sites: not to be underestimated, low–tier sites are often very niche and can be a great place to target more precise audiences. They also may be an opportunity to get your content featured on other, higher tier sites (like Money-ish, which originally had a DA score of 1 and was later absorbed as a part of financial conglomerate MarketWatch).
- What to offer them: niche content that fits the interest of their smaller community, or content that has great potential and may have been overlooked by higher tier sites.
In Conclusion: DA is a valuable metric for PR pros, helping you increase outreach efficacy, customize your pitches to be well-suited to varying DA levels, curate content to fit the needs of target publishers and anticipate the outcome of content campaigns based on placement. It’s also not everything—but it is a valuable piece of the puzzle.
Curious how to calculate any site’s DA? Here are Moz’s resources: