Carmen Shiu is a six-year CLEVER veteran, project manager, and product developer. She works closely with our tech team and our social media partners to ensure we have the latest understanding and solutions for addressing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party platform updates.

 

TL;DR: Domain Authority, a score that predicts how high a website will rank on search engine result pages, is being used as an influencer vetting parameter in our industry. At CLEVER, we do not use this number, as there is no guarantee that it correlates to the value of an influencer, the quality of content, or how well the content will actually perform for a number of reasons.

WHAT IS DOMAIN AUTHORITY*?

Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score, ranging from 1–100, that predicts how high a website will rank on search engine results pages. The higher the score, the greater the ability there is to rank on search engine result pages compared to other websites.

Based on machine learning calculations, the score takes numerous factors into consideration, including various metrics and backlink data, and even all the factors that search engines have of their own. It is intentionally difficult to try to manipulate or influence a score—the best way to do so would be to improve the website’s overall SEO, specifically by link building with other pages that are well linked.

*The name varies slightly depending on tool/ranking system, but the overall definition is essentially the same. SaaS company Moz calls it Domain Authority, while SEO and search analytics software company SEMRush calls it Authority Score. You can read more about Domain Authority here and Authority Score here.

WHY IS THIS RELEVANT? WHAT’S OUR STAND?

Some brands and agencies are starting to use DA scores to determine which bloggers to work with and/or how much they’re going to pay them. They may believe that higher DA score would ultimately lead to better ROI or that perhaps such bloggers may be considered more of an expert (since quality and quantity of links attribute to the score).

 

At CLEVER, we do not find DA scores to be valuable, as they do not indicate the actual value of an influencer, the quality of content, or how well the content will actually perform. More specifically:

  • Low DA scores may still rank well in search engine results because DA scores rely on the quality and quantity of inbound links, rather than relevance of a topic.

  • On the other hand, Google gives more authority to mobile-friendly sites, those with easy-to-follow user navigation, good keyword usage, etc.

  • DA scores are not developed by search engines—Moz developed DA scores to help predict which websites might perform well in search engines.

  • High DA scores do not necessarily equate to high impressions, which means potentially fewer eyeballs than one would expect.

  • DA scores change over time, so a high DA score may be lower later down the road — or from one campaign to the next.

  • Bloggers may work with other bloggers to exchange backlinks to try to “trick” the system into giving them a higher DA score; in some cases, they may even pay for backlinks.

  • DA scores do not take social engagement into account, even though engagement is one of the best ways to measure content performance.

By relying on DA scores when vetting, brands may not only be missing out on great content, better ROI, and/or more eyeballs, but they may also be overpaying influencers.

 

At CLEVER, we have proven that success predictors are A) quality of content, B) engagement levels, and C) authenticity of influencer voice. DA rankings can’t measure any of that.