The digital age made way for a new era of marketing and, in particular, the rise of the search engine paved the way for new strategies such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This has given businesses lots of new and exciting ways to boost their website traffic and reach their target audience.

The problem is that it has also led to an influx of new buzzwords that can get a little confusing.

You’ve probably heard terms like Domain Rating (DR) being bandied about the marketing department. But what does this actually mean?

Well, in this article, we’re going to look in detail at Domain Rating, what it means and whether it’s important for your SEO efforts. In order to do this, we’re going to cover the following chapters:

  • What is Domain Rating?
  • How is Domain Rating calculated?
  • Domain Rating Vs Domain Authority: What’s the difference?
  • Do search engines take DR into consideration?
  • What’s the correlation between Domain Ratings and higher rankings?
  • How can you utilise DR for stronger SEO?
  • Summary: Is Domain Rating Important For SEO?

Now, let’s dive in and look at the meaning of Domain Rating.

What is Domain Rating?

Domain Rating (DR) is a metric developed by SEO software suite, Ahrefs, that reveals the strength of a website’s backlink profile (in both quality and size).

In order to determine the strength of a website’s backlink profile, Ahrefs uses a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being the strongest. Essentially, the higher the number, the better the Domain Rating.

It’s important to say at this point that Domain Rating is not a measure of website authority. It is also not calculated based on the traffic or rankings of a website.

Rather, the purpose of Domain Rating is to assist with link prospecting, and it is used to assess the relative link popularity of any given website.

This is because securing links from sites with a higher link popularity can be more valuable for SEO than sites with low link popularity – but we’ll look at this in more detail later in the guide.

How is Domain Rating calculated?

As we mentioned above, Domain Rating is not calculated based on the traffic or rankings of a given website. Instead, Ahrefs uses information pertaining to referring domains to calculate the DR.

What do we mean by this?

Well, as you probably know, Google uses bots to crawl websites when ranking them on search engine results pages (SERPs). In the case of Domain Rating, a similar process takes place.

Ahrefs relies on web crawling to examine factors like what websites are linking to yours and how many unique domains have sent at least one do-follow link to your website. The Domain Rating values of the referring website is also taken into consideration.

Once all this information has been gathered, Ahrefs conducts further calculations and does some coding to produce a Domain Rating score, using the aforementioned 0 to 100 scale.

Domain Rating Vs Domain Authority: What’s the difference?

Another common SEO buzzword is Domain Authority (DA). Often, Domain Rating and Domain Authority can be confused or used interchangeably. However, it’s important to understand at this stage that these are not the same thing.

So before we go any further, let’s take a quick look at what Domain Authority is and the key differences between these two metrics.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by SEO software provider Moz and is a search engine ranking score used to predict how likely a website is to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Moz relies on over 40 factors to determine the DA of a website. This metric also uses a 0 – 100 ranking scale, which can be a little confusing and could explain why these two ideas get mixed up.

In the case of Domain Authority, the higher the DA, the greater the chances of the website ranking well on SERPs.

The key differences

We’ve briefly explained why DR and DA are not the same things, but let’s quickly recap on the key differences:

  • Domain Rating was developed by Ahrefs, whereas Domain Authority was developed by Moz
  • DR shows the strength of a website’s backlink profile, where DA is used to predict how well a website will rank on search engines
  • Because they are rating different aspects of a website, they use different factors to determine the score from 0 to 100

Hopefully, this has cleared up any confusion between the two, and if you have ever considered these to be the same metrics in the past, you can see why that is simply not the case.

Do search engines take DR into consideration?

Now, we really ought to get down to answering the important question, is Domain Rating important for SEO? In order to do this, we need to look at whether search engines take DR into account and whether this directly impacts your website rankings.

For many, the misconception is that the higher the Domain Rating, the higher your website will automatically rank on SERPs because Google’s algorithms will take your DR into account when crawling your site.

However, Google has repeatedly said that its algorithms do not take DR into account when determining a website’s search ranking.

Even Ahrefs, who created the metric, has said that Domain Rating doesn’t act as an isolated ranking factor. What’s more, Ahrefs also found that a website’s URL rankings, essentially the Domain Rating of its individual web pages, align more clearly with Google rankings than the DR of the whole website does.

So, if you take this at face value, technically, search engines don’t take DR into account when ranking pages. Therefore this metric won’t impact SEO.

But of course, not everything is black and white, and there is a correlation between a higher Domain Rating and better rankings. We’ll go into more detail in the next few chapters.

What’s the correlation between Domain Ratings and higher rankings?

Despite Google clearly stating that Domain Rating is not a ranking factor on SERPs, this does not mean that DR does not have any impact on rankings or SEO at all. In fact, DR can still have a huge impact on the results of your SEO strategy for a number of reasons.

By working hard to improve your Domain Rating, you can indirectly improve your page rankings – here’s how:

Better backlinks = better rankings

Backlinks are important for showing search engines that other websites can vouch for you and your content. They prove that your website is trustworthy and helpful and should therefore rank better on SERPs.

This is why a strong backlink strategy is crucial.

As a high Domain Rating can only be achieved through a great backlink strategy, this means that the higher your DR, the stronger your backlinks are.

As your backlinks influence your rankings, this means that your Domain Rating inadvertently impacts your ratings too.

Higher DRs offer more ‘link juice’

Ahrefs has explained that websites with a higher Domain Rating will offer more ‘link juice’ to other websites.

What this means is that when a higher rated website links to another, these endorsements carry more weight than they would if they came from a website with a weaker backlink profile and a lower DR score.

This can impact rankings because the more quality ‘link juice’ you have on your pages and content, the higher your website will rank.

Internal linking impacts SEO

A high DR website doesn’t just have to rely on external links; it can also take advantage of its own ‘link juice’ by linking internally too.

If your website has high-quality backlinks, it can take advantage of its own ‘link juice’ by pointing these at its own pages.

Since internal linking is also important for SEO, it’s entirely possible that your Domain Rating can help to improve your search rankings on Google in this way.

Higher DR lead to more traffic

If other websites are looking to link to high-quality content and websites, they can do some research to find out which websites have the highest Domain Rating and would therefore be worth linking to.

Again, this important way of creating backlinks helps to drive traffic to your website, and direct traffic is an important ranking factor on Google.

Therefore, a higher DR can encourage more links, which in turn can encourage more traffic. Once again, helping your website to rank better.

From these four examples, it’s easy to see that Domain Rating can still impact other ranking factors and help websites to appear higher on SERPs. Therefore, it does play an important role in SEO.

How can you use DR for stronger SEO?

As you can see, although search engines do not take Domain Rating into account when ranking websites, the two aspects do have some huge correlations, and rankings can be influenced by factors related to DR.

So, although Domain Rating is purely a metric used to measure a website’s link popularity, it can be very useful for steering your SEO strategy.

When looking at DR as an isolated metric, there are several ways you can use this to influence your SEO. Ahrefs put together a few ways in which you might wish to use DR for stronger SEO, and these include:

1. Link prospecting

First and foremost, Domain Rating can be used to help you with your link building strategy. DR is a good metric for measuring how useful a website will be for your backlink strategy and how much value you might get if you link to that particular website.

This can give a better indication of how much value you’ll get in exchange for your efforts and chasing down this link. It can also help with securing some very high-quality links to your website.

Just be aware that there are a few caveats in using DR for link prospecting, so this should not be your only technique or metric used.

2. Using DR as a benchmark against direct competitors

Secondly, you might wish to use Domain Rating as a benchmark against your main competitors. Comparing your DR to other brands in your niche can give you lots of additional insights and possibly even encourage you to do more to boost your rating.

Which, as we’ve seen above, can have a number of positive knock-on effects that can boost your rankings.

In a nutshell, you can use DR as a metric to discover which competitors might be doing better than you, so you can put some actionable targets in place to improve your SEO strategy.

3. Using DR as a benchmark against the world

Finally, you could also use the Ahrefs tool to measure where your website is ranked in comparison to websites across the world for its link popularity.

This might seem like quite a daunting idea, but if your brand has a huge global presence, this can be a useful way to see how you compare to other websites.

Of course, these insights are not always immediately actionable, so don’t be put off by these figures and if you’re a smaller or newer brand, this might not be a helpful task at all. That is for your to decide.

Final Thoughts: Is Domain Rating Important For SEO?

We’ve covered a lot in this guide, and hopefully, this has given you a better grasp on Domain Rating, how you can use this to boost your SEO and the subsequent impact this can have on your ratings.

But as we approach the end, let’s quickly recap on whether or not Domain Rating is important for SEO.

In a nutshell, yes, DR is important for search engine optimisation.

Although it is not a ranking factor and Google does not directly look for DR when crawling sites, it is still a piece of the puzzle and should not be overlooked.

As we discussed above, there are multiple ways that DR has an impact on your link building, authority and rankings, and therefore, this is still an important metric to consider when putting together your SEO strategy.

After all, the more bases you can cover and the more metrics you can monitor on your SEO journey, the more effective your strategy will be.

If you would like help putting together an SEO strategy for your business feel free to get in touch with us and we’d be happy to discuss.