What’s Your KPI? Domain Authority vs. Domain Rating in SEO

In the ever-evolving worlds of PR and SEO, understanding key metrics is crucial to ensuring that paid and earned placements maximize value. Two commonly used metrics are Domain Authority (DA) and Domain Rating (DR). While they may seem similar, their composition does differ. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the definitions of Domain Authority and Domain Rating, explain their relevance in Public Relations (PR) tools like MuckRack, and discuss why Domain Rating is our preferred metric. 

First, why is this important? 
Domain Authority or Domain Rating are metrics that are used by PR professionals in reporting. Common tools like MuckRack incorporate it to help PR teams evaluate the authority and credibility of a publications website where coverage drops. PR specialists use DA to identify potential websites for outreach, where paid placements should be prioritized and in some cases as a program or campaign KPI. Traditionally, the industry considers a high Domain Authority website as one that is established, authoritative, and will provide valuable exposure to your brand. 

And for the PR readers, don’t think this traditional digital marketing metric won’t apply to you! The association of coverage with high-quality traffic is a metric that is increasingly important to the C-level and key advisors – so pay attention so that you can be prepared for the next board meeting.  

Defining Domain Authority and Domain Rating 
Domain Authority: Developed by Moz, Domain Authority is a metric that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). It ranges from 1-100, with higher scores indicating a stronger likelihood of ranking well. It’s a good metric to look at how capable a website is of reaching a good SERP. 

Domain Rating: Domain Rating, on the other hand, is a metric from a company called Ahrefs that looks at the backlink profile of a given website and provides a comparative score (also between 1-100).  

Why We Prefer Domain Rating as a KPI 
Domain Authority and Domain Rating both have a place in reporting, but understanding the definitions we outlined above is key to knowing how to use them. 

Domain Rating provides us with a hard set of metrics which are more meaningful. This provides a better sense of the value in which that website’s audience regards the quality of the sites’ content, so we can look at this score as “the standard.” 

Domain Authority is better used as an awareness indicator. For example, a website can feature great use of SEO in the copy which will make the website appear higher in page rankings – which is the goal! That can drive more users to articles and key content and potentially increase awareness of your brand and thought leadership. However, driving SEO with backlinks is tricky, as the quality of those links must be high to make a clear difference. To achieve a strong domain rating ranking, you must have high quality backlinks that reliably create referral traffic to your website. The higher quality referral traffic will also increase the number of pages per session, session duration, and other key metrics that make website goals more achievable and more likely to receive engagement on CTAs. 

Understanding the differences between Domain Authority and Domain Rating is essential for anyone involved in SEO and online marketing. While both metrics serve a purpose, Domain Rating, with its increased focus on backlink profiles, is our choice for a KPI in earned and paid placement decision-making with our customers along with other SEO factors to create a holistic strategy for achieving success in the ever-competitive online landscape. 

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