What’s My Domain Rating? Who Cares? (You Should)


By Paige Bennett

People leaving reviews for business

Ever plugged your website domain into an SEO tool, and the term “domain rating” pops up? You might understand some SEO basics like internal linking or honing in on keywords, but domain rating? What’s that? 

It’s one of those SEO terms that can feel mystifying. And you might be tempted just to ignore it altogether. Yeah, you shouldn’t do that. 

Taking the time to understand your domain rating and learning how to put it to work as part of your digital marketing strategy can lead to some pretty sweet SEO pay-offs.

In this post, we’ll go deep into domain rating and explain:  

  • What domain rating is
  • What the number means
  • How it impacts business performance and ranking 
  • Ways to increase yours

What Is Domain Rating? 

Domain rating is a metric, originally defined by the company Ahrefs, that rates how weak or strong a company website’s backlink profile is based on a logarithmic scale. 

In simpler terms, it can define how likely your website is to show up higher on the SERPs based on backlinks.

Domain rating can go by a number of different names depending on the SEO tool you’re using. Here are a few of them: 

  • Domain rating (Ahrefs)
  • Domain authority (Moz)
  • Authority Score (Semrush)
  • Power of domain
  • Domain ranking 
  • Website authority

Whatever you call it, this metric offers valuable insight into your website’s quality and performance. It basically shows you how likely your site is to appear on Google’s page one vs. page 100. When trustworthy or high-ranking websites link back to your domain, it can boost your domain rating and SEO in general.

Calculating Domain Rating

Now that we know what it is, let’s talk about how it’s calculated. 

To find your domain rating, you’ll need to use an SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush. The way these platforms calculate your unique rating varies, but typically it’s a combination of components like: 

  • The number of websites with dofollow backlinks to your domain
  • The domain rating of these websites that link to your domain
  • How many backlinks to other websites this referring website has

And keeping company with other sites on the high end can help you because backlinks from a website with a higher domain rating can improve yours. On the flip side, backlinks from a website with a low domain rating tend to lower your number. 

The algorithm also doesn’t like a crowded referring website. If a site that links to yours also has tons of backlinks to other websites, it’s got less “juice” or authority to pass on to you.

Think about it like this: you see someone recommend a skincare product, and it seems like it must be a good product to receive such high praise. But the next day, that person recommends another skincare product as the holy grail. And the next day, there’s another skincare product recommendation. 

The more recommendations the person shares for the same type of product, the less value each recommendation has. Compare that to a friend who rarely offers product recommendations. When they share one or two products they really love, you place more value on those suggestions.

What Is a Good Domain Rating? 

Domain rating is placed on a scale from one to 100, with one being the lowest of the low and 100 being an absolute knock-out, top-tier domain rating. Brand new websites start out at one. The average website usually scores a domain rating of around 40 to 50. A domain rating of 50 to 60 is considered good, and anything over 60 is deemed excellent by the almighty algorithms.

Domain Rating Scale

Why Does Domain Rating Matter?

The thing is, because domain rating is a metric established by third-party SEO tools, search engines don’t take it into account, and a low number won’t directly impact your ranking with search engines.

Wait, what? So why does any of this matter, and why can’t I just keep ignoring my domain rating? 

Here’s why: While search engines don’t specifically use domain rating in determining the order of search results, you can use domain rating to see where you have room to improve your website to ultimately rank higher.

It’s what you do with that estimate that counts. Knowing your domain rating can help you take steps toward higher SERPs.

Quote from SEO/PPC Manager

What to Do With Your Domain Rating Number

Knowing your number is one thing. Putting it to work to improve SEO is more of a challenge. It starts by understanding backlinking.

SEO Term Defined: Backlinking, or inbound linking, is a link with anchor text from another website back to a page on your website.

Backlinking Is Key

When a good friend recommends a pizza shop they love, you’re likely to check out the restaurant. High-quality friend equals high-quality pizza recommendation. Similarly, backlinking can allow other websites to vouch for or recommend your domain to search engines.

According to Thrive My Way, websites ranking No. 1 on search engines tend to have nearly four times more backlinks than others ranked in the top 10 of the SERP. Most brands spend up to 10% of the marketing budget on backlinking efforts, but we could see an increase in spending on this particular metric in the future.

Keep Reading: The Benefits of Backlinking for Your Business

Backlinking is an essential part of boosting domain rating and, ultimately, SEO and SERP rankings. 

Pro Tips for Putting Domain Rating to Work for You:

  • See where you stand. Compare your domain rating to competitors, and see what websites you could earn backlinks from to improve your own domain rating.
  • Establish a backlinking strategy. After determining link prospects, note websites you want to connect to for backlinking opportunities. 
  • Estimate ranking potential. Find gaps in keywords you could rank for by comparing your domain rating with competitors.
  • Focus your content efforts. Improve existing content and create informative content with keyword optimization to encourage other websites to link back to your content pages.

Dofollows vs. Nofollows

The best thing for your domain rating and ranking in the SERP is dofollows from trustworthy websites. Dofollows and nofollows are coding attributes that tell the search engine algorithm whether or not one website’s link will pass authority back to the linked domain. 

  • Dofollows: This is like the website sharing the link saying, “Hey, I’m linking to this website, and I trust that it will provide the user with a high-quality experience.” It looks like this: <a href=”https://websitename.com”>Anchor Text</a>
  • Nofollows: Websites may use nofollow links to avoid passing on a vote of confidence to websites they link to. This was originally designed to fight spam. A nofollow link looks like this: <a href=”http://www.websitename.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>

Keep in mind that while receiving dofollow links from reputable sites can be helpful for improving domain rating and SEO by earning more authority, giving dofollows to untrustworthy domains can actually backfire for you.

How to Improve Your Domain Rating

Although domain rating doesn’t directly impact your SERP ranking, focusing on backlinking to improve your domain rating can, in turn, give your SEO a boost. When authoritative websites backlink to your website and give it a vote of confidence, you expand your audience and ultimately gain new leads.

Consider Quantity and Quality

It’s not just about scoring backlinks from high-ranking domains. It’s also important to get backlinks from as many high-ranking domains as possible. If one great website links back to your website multiple times, domain rating only takes one backlink from one domain into account. But having multiple websites backlink to your domain will improve the domain rating. 

Focus on Specific Pages

Try to build helpful, informative content on pages you want to rank. You want other websites to link back to specific pages — like a relevant blog post — rather than more general ones, like the about page. These have the greatest potential for ranking in a SERP. 

Pitch for Backlinks

Some brands may link to your awesome content just because it’s awesome, but there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting backlinks — like improving your site performance and networking.

Quote from SEO/PPC Manager

Here are some additional tips for earning more backlinks: 

  • Reach out to any companies or sources featured in your content and ask if they’d like to link to the article. 
  • Offer to write guest posts for other companies that will link back to your site.
  • Contact writers or website owners who already link to websites with a similar content focus and see if there is an opportunity to link to your content.

Improve Content

As you’re learning how to improve SEO, keep in mind content quality is everything. By improving existing content on your website pages and adding new, high-quality content, you can rank higher for your keywords, stand out from competitors, earn more backlinks and generate more leads.

To improve your existing content: 

  • Choose topics that are interesting and relevant to your customers. 
  • Avoid salesy or overly promotional content. Instead, strive to add value to your readers’ lives. 
  • Write like a journalist (or hire an actual journalist to write your content) to ensure compelling and accurate copy. 
  • Don’t cram in keywords just for the sake of using keywords. Keywords should be subtly integrated rather than stuffed in. 

The more unique information and data you can provide, the more potential you have to earn backlinks, increase your domain rating and improve SEO.

Patience Is a Virtue

Domain rating isn’t something that happens overnight. As with most inbound marketing practices, it’s important to take the long view.

Quote from SEO/PPC Manager

Don’t ignore the domain rating on your next SEO report. Knowing your number — especially if it’s lower than you want it to be — presents you with an opportunity to improve a part of your brand that your competitors may overlook. 

New Call-to-action

Paige Bennett

Join our community of informed readers and get digital marketing insights delivered straight to your inbox.