Domain Authority: The One Metric Every Lawyer Needs to Understand
Most lawyers we work with are very good at what they do and most (not all, but most) have little time or interest in really delving into the minutiae that is search engine optimization or online marketing.
So while we are 100% transparent about the work we do for our clients, we really have to make efficient use of our face time with our clients and the time they spend evaluating our work.
For the most time crunched attorneys, my advice is very simple: If you use a single metric to evaluate your web site’s ‘progress’, focus on domain authority.
What Is Domain Authority?
What is your domain authority? In short, it’s a number from 1 to 100 that’s calculated by an algorithm created by a company called Moz. The Moz algorithm is attempting to emulate Google’s algorithm and thus It represents the likelihood of content on your web site ranking on Google (Note: for a more technical explanation, visit this page).
For example, if you’re trying to rank for a non competitive term like say “North Dakota Basket Weaver“, even with a domain authority of 1, you would more than likely rank on the first page with some basic SEO targeting of that keyword.
With a hyper competitive term like “Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer“, not so much. You likely aren’t sniffing the first page of Google without a domain authority in the 36+ range. Heck, there’s guys on the 2nd page for that keyword with a Domain Authority of 40!
So it’s critical that you understand that having a high Domain Authority does not guarantee high placement, it simply represents the likelihood of you ranking. Look at it like this; having the highest Domain Authority in your niche is like having the fastest car in a race, it’s not a guarantee of any sort, but it’s certainly a nice starting point.
Why Focus On Domain Authority and Not Actual Leads or Traffic?
Those items can be artificially inflated by things like PPC traffic or even past SEO efforts. If you focus on Domain Authority and measure your marketing team by that, you will be putting pressure on them to constantly increase key metric that ensures you are constantly making progress online. It also prevents your SEO team from riding the ‘gravy train’ after getting you good results. Tracking just leads and traffic does not prevent that.
Also, for a new SEO Campaign in a highly competitive niche, it may be months or even a year before there are tangible results for your SEO campaign, so closely monitoring your Domain Authority in the meantime is a great way to verify that progress is being made.
How Do I Check My Domain Authority?
This is really simple. Go to http://www.opensiteexplorer.org, type in your domain name and hit search. The results will display your Domain Authority, Page Authority (the likelihood of THAT particular page to rank) and some other metrics associated with your web site. While there’s value in all the data here, we are just going to focus on DA for right now.
How Competitive Is My Web Site’s Domain Authority In [Area Of Practice] + [Geographic Area]?
One tool that I really like is the Moz tool bar for Firefox and Chrome. Every time you do a search, it tells you the domain authority for every domain that appears in the results. This is very helpful for understanding how competitive your web site is or isn’t in it’s given niche.
One suggestion: because a higher DA is not a guarantee of placement, pay more attention to the DA of the web sites on the 2nd and 3rd pages of the search results so that you have an understanding of your worst case scenario. In other words, just because a guy with a low domain authority made it to page 1 for a key term, don’t bank on that being you.
Parting Tips to Remember Regarding Domain Authority
- Domain Authority is based on a logarithmic algorithm meaning it’s harder to go from a 10 to a 20, then it is to go from a 20 to a 30.
- Although it goes all the way to 100, it’s unrealistic for an attorney’s web site to get in the 90’s or even the 60’s. You can rank in moderately competitive niches if you can get your web site in the 25+ range
- Because Moz is designed to emulate Google’s algorithm, it will fluctuate from time to time. So dropping a couple of points every once of a while it not a huge deal so long as it’s not a pattern.
- The best way to increase your domain authority is for other high DA sites to link to yours.