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Best of Whiteboard Friday 2021: How to Explain Domain Authority to a Non-SEO

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Best of Whiteboard Friday 2021: How to Explain Domain Authority to a Non-SEO


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Next up in our top three 2021 Whiteboard Friday episodes, in this installment from February, Andy Crestodina walks through how to get your message across successfully if you ever have to explain the importance of Domain Authority to clients or co-workers who have little or no SEO experience.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

SEO is actually really hard to explain. There are so many concepts. But it’s also really important to explain so that we can show value to our clients and to our employers. 

My name is Andy Crestodina. I’m the co-founder of Orbit Media Studios. We’re a web design company here in Chicago. I’ve been doing SEO for 20 years and explaining it for about as long. This video is my best attempt to help you explain a really important concept in SEO, which is Domain Authority, to someone who doesn’t know anything at all about SEO, to someone who is non-technical, to someone who is maybe not even a marketer.

Here is one framework, one set of language and words that you can use to try to explain Domain Authority to people who maybe need to understand it but don’t have a background in this stuff whatsoever. 

Search ranking factors

Okay. Here we go. Someone searches. They type something into a search engine. They see search results.

Why do they see these search results instead of something else? The reason is: search ranking factors determined that these were going to be the top search results for that query or that keyword or that search phrase. 

Relevance

There are two main search ranking factors, in the end two reasons why any web page ranks or doesn’t rank for any phrase. Those two main factors are, first of all, the page itself, the words, the content, the keywords, the relevance.

SEOs, we call this relevance. So that’s the most important. That’s one of the key search ranking factors is relevance, content and keywords and stuff on pages. I think everyone kind of gets that. But there’s a second, super important search ranking factor. It’s something that Google innovated and is now a really, really important thing across the web and all search.

Links

It’s links. Do these pages have links to them? Are they trusted by other websites? Have other websites kind of voted for them based on their content? Have they referred back to it, cited it? Have they linked to these pages and these websites? That is called authority.

So the two main search ranking factors are relevance and authority. Therefore, the two main types of SEO are on-page SEO, creating content, and off-site SEO, PR, link building, and authority. Because links basically are trust. Web page, links to web page, that’s kind of like a vote.

That’s a vote of confidence. That’s saying that this web page is probably credible, probably important. So links are credibility. Good way to think about it. Quantity matters. If a lot of pages link to your page, that adds credibility. That’s important that there’s a number of sites that link to you.

Link quality

Also important is the quality of those links. Links from sites that they themselves have many links to them are worth much more. So links from authoritative websites are more valuable than just any other link. It’s the quantity and the quality of links to your website or links to your page that has a lot to do with whether or not you rank when people search for a related key phrase.

If a page doesn’t rank, it’s got one of two problems almost always. It’s either not a great page on the topic, or it’s not a page on a site that is trusted by the search engine because it hasn’t built up enough authority from other sites, related sites, media sites, other sites in the industry. The name for this stuff originally in Google was called PageRank.

PageRank

Capital P, capital R, one word, PageRank. Not web page, not search results page, but named after Larry Page, the guy who kind of came up with this, one of the co-founders at Google. PageRank was the number, 1 through 10, that we all used to kind of know. It was visible in this toolbar that we used back in the day.

They stopped reporting on that. They don’t update that anymore. We don’t really know our PageRank anymore, so you can’t really tell. So the way that we now understand whether a page is credible among other websites is by using tools that emulate PageRank by similarly crawling the internet, looking to see who’s linking to who and then creating their own metrics, which are basically proxy metrics for PageRank.

Domain Authority

Moz has one. It’s called Domain Authority. When spelled with the capital D and captial A, that’s the Moz metric. Other search tools, other SEO tools also have their own, such as SEMrush has one called Authority Score. Ahrefs has one called Domain Rating. Alexa, another popular tool, has one called Competitive Power. They’re all basically the same thing. They are showing whether or not a site or a page is trusted among other websites because of links to them. 

Now we know for a fact that some links are worth much, much more than others. We can do this by reading Google patents or by experiments or just best practices and expertise and firsthand knowledge that some links are worth much more.

But it’s not just that they’re worth a little more. Links from sites with lots of authority are worth exponentially more. It’s not really a fair fight. Some sites have tons and tons and tons of authority. Most sites have very, very little. So it’s on a curve. It’s a log scale.

It’s on an exponential curve the amount of authority that a site has and its ranking potential. The value of a link from another site to you is on an exponential curve. Links from some sites are worth exponentially more than links from other smaller sites, smaller blogs. These are quantifiable within these tools, tools like Moz, tools that emulate the PageRank metric.

And what they can do is look at all of the pages that rank for a phrase, look at all of the authority of all of those sites and all of those pages, and then average them to show the likely difficulty of ranking for that key phrase. The difficulty would be more or less the average authority of the other pages that rank compared to the authority of your page and then determine whether that’s a page that you actually have a chance of ranking for or not.

This could be called something like keyword difficulty. I searched for “baseball coaching” using a tool. I used Moz, and I found that the difficulty for that key phrase was something like 46 out of 100. In other words, your page has to have about that much authority to have a chance of ranking for that phrase. There’s a subtle difference between Page Authority and Domain Authority, but we’re going to set that aside for now.

“Squash coaching,” wow, different sport, less popular sport, less content, less competitive phrases ranking for that key phrase. Wow, “squash coaching” much less competitive. The difficulty for that was only 18. So that helps us understand the level of authority that we would have to have to have a chance of ranking for that key phrase. If we lack sufficient authority, it doesn’t matter how awesome our page is, we’re not likely to ever rank.



So it’s really important to understand one of the things that Domain Authority tells us is our ranking potential. Are we sufficiently trusted to be able to target that key phrase and potentially rank for that? That’s the first thing that the Domain Authority defines, measures, shows. The second thing that it shows, which I mentioned a second ago, is the value of a link from another site to us.

So if a super authoritative website links to us, high Domain Authority site, that Domain Authority in that case of that site is showing us the value of that link to us. A link from a site, a brand-new blog, a young site, a smaller brand would have a lower Domain Authority, indicating that that link would have far less value. 

Conclusion

So bottom line, Domain Authority is a proxy for a metric inside Google, which we no longer have access to. It’s created by an SEO tool, in this case Moz. When spelled with a capital D, capital A, it’s Moz’s own metric. It shows us two things. Domain Authority is the ranking potential of pages on that domain. And secondly, Domain Authority measures the value of another site should that site link back to your site. That’s it.

Hope this was helpful. Feel free to pass this along to anyone that you’re trying to explain this to. Add to it. Let us know in the comments. Hope this was useful, and it was a huge pleasure and honor to be able to make a Whiteboard Friday for Moz. Again, Andy from Orbit Media. Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com



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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter


The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.

Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.


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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Work smarter, not harder, to give customers what they want

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Work smarter, not harder, to give customers what they want


Personalizing your marketing campaigns for one customer is easy, but how about one hundred or thousands of customers across multiple marketing channels?

Work smarter, not harder, by using artificial intelligence (AI) as part of your martech stack and giving your customers the unique experiences they crave.

Register today for “Use Data to Create Next-Level Customer Experiences at Scale,” presented by MoEngage.


About The Author

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries.



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How Video Can Humanize Your Brand in 2022 & Other Insights from Wistia’s CEO

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How Video Can Humanize Your Brand in 2022 & Other Insights from Wistia's CEO


One of the main things we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic in regards to how people consume content is that they want to be entertained in different ways.

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