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Drop in DA got you down? A holistic SEO strategy can talk you off the ledge

Drop in domain authority

Should an 11-point drop in Domain Authority in a single week be cause for concern? Not necessarily. 

Domain Authority (DA) is a fine metric to gauge the strength of your site, but it doesn’t directly reflect your placement in SERPs. The truth is, Google and other search engines don’t care about your DA. They have their own metrics that they don’t share with site owners. If you focus your time and energy ONLY on increasing your DA, you could be missing out on valuable site improvements that could lead to more organic traffic and revenue.

Sample data

Below is part of what Ahrefs reported in early-July–the same time our client saw a concerning 11-point dip in DA on their website. Their natural question: Why would our DA or DR drop when we’re building high quality links? The missing part of the picture–and most important–was that traffic and page one rankings were up in the same timeframe.

As you see above, traffic spikes in March and April cooled off in June due to keyword trends. The March/April spikes weren’t tied to ranking increase; they’re related to search volume trends. In addition, the steady increase in traffic heading into and through July is accompanied by keyword increases, which is a good sign of longer-term growth.

Why the drop?

So why did their DA drop? Well, there are many factors that go into the metric, with backlinks (BL) and referring domains (RD) being primary among them. RD is the number of websites linking to yours; BL is the number of times sites link to yours. For example, if Linkflow.ai linked to your website 100 times, you would gain one RD and 100 BLs.

Check out the image below. The orange section shows that the site lost a bunch of Referring Pages (or BLs). This can happen naturally without rhyme or reason and is no cause for alarm. Some websites that had been backlinking may have removed the links, or it could even be that the website is no longer active. Both would generate drops in BLs.

On the flip side (and this is what we like to see) are gains in those RDs, in blue, which directly correlates to our work with the client.

One backlink at a time

We build one backlink per referring domain and here’s why:

If one person tells you about an ice cream shop 100 times, you know that person really likes their ice cream. But every time they tell you, it’s less impressive. On the other hand, if 100 people mention the same ice cream shop just once, you can assume they’ve got a great product since so many people are willing to vouch for it. 

(NOTE: It’s been proven that Google devalues multiple links from the same site, with the first being the most impactful.)

The DA rating, and even DR to some extent, doesn’t factor in RD numbers as much as they could. Instead, when your BLs start to drop, so do your domain metrics. But that’s OK!

It is SO easy to get hung up on a single metric to assess the strength of your website and SEO program. Since there are many different forces at work, taking a holistic approach to building your website and measuring results will help keep your SEO strategy—and your professional blood pressure—stable and healthy.