FREE Website Authority Checker (Any Domain) by Backlinko

FREEWebsite Authority Checker

Enter a domain below to evaluate its overall quality and SEO performance.


Why Website Authority Matters

Website authority influences your site’s SEO strength. Higher website authority = a better chance of appearing first for a Google search.

Here’s a snapshot of what Backlinko’s Authority Score looks like in Semrush:

Backlinko Authority Score

Backlinko’s authority score is 60, and has a healthy backlink profile.

Why does this matter?

We can outrank MailChimp, Semrush, and Moz for the highly competitive search term “what are backlinks?”

To increase your authority, you need to understand your score. So, we’ve created a free tool powered by Semrush so you can access enough data to develop a plan.

This guide will delve into the subtleties of website authority. It’ll also cover the reporting methods of various tools and strategies to boost your website’s reputation for increased traffic.

What Is Website Authority?

Website authority measures how likely a site is to rank in search. Higher-scoring sites are more likely to end up in the top SERPs and pass authority on to sites they link to.

Sounds great, right?

It is. And it’s part of the reason SEO professionals have been captivated by website authority since the idea was first teased in a 1999 research paper on authoritative communities. Soon after, Google made news with its confidential PageRank algorithm.

Your site’s PageRank score could significantly influence Google search results in your favor. This score is based on a complex network of incoming and outgoing links from sites. Sites of higher authority seemed to have more impact. As a result, your pages could perform better based on PageRank.

Matt Cutts, the former Head of Google’s webspam team, explained more in a 2009 blog post:

Probably the most popular way to envision PageRank is as a flow that happens between documents across outlinks.

But he also cautioned against page-sculpting, or “trying to change how PageRank flows within your site using “nofollow” attributes.

I would let PageRank flow freely within your site. The notion of “PageRank sculpting” has always been a second – or third – order recommendation for us. Pay attention to 1) making great content that will attract links in the first place and 2) choosing a site architecture that makes your site usable/crawlable for humans and search engines alike.

Even with this guidance, it prompted SEOs to create entire plans around improving PageRank.

But there was a problem. No one knew exactly what went into Google’s PageRank calculations. They had ideas, but Google didn’t share this info. It was a secret sauce.

Google’s mysterious PageRank algorithms led to the invention of the domain authority score. This scoring system allows SEOs to calculate, monitor, and influence website authority.

It’s the SEO industry’s best attempt to replicate PageRank.

Why Does Website Authority Matter so Much in SEO?

Website authority is critical to securing the top rankings in your niche. Google needs to know your website is trustworthy before surfacing your pages high in the SERPs.

You’ll have difficulty outranking your competitors if their authority scores are much higher than yours. It’s also why brand-new websites with no link history and little content struggle to get traffic.

Let’s compare the two sites for context.

When searching for “keto chicken breast recipes,” we find both The Big Man’s World and Eat Well 101 in the first page results.

The Big Man’s World is the first rich snippet for recipes. It appears further down in regular results twice, too.

The site has a Semrush Authority Score of 59.

Eat Well 101 also appears in the SERPs. While it doesn’t have a rich snippet, it’s in the first 10 results.

Eat Well101 has a Semrush authority score of 41. This is lower than the score of, which is 60. This may indicate that would show up higher in some results.

But are there exceptions? And does age matter at all?

We searched for “fun crayon activities for kids” and noticed these two sites in the SERPs:

  1. Teaching Expertise
  2. Crayola

As a brand that’s been around for 100+ years (with a well-established website), Crayola unsurprisingly has the highest Authority Score (68).

But Teaching Expertise ranked higher on the SERP with its Authority Score of 47.

It showed up well before Crayola for the search term.

What does this tell us?

While website authority does matter and can correlate with higher SERP placement, it’s not the only factor. Google also considers other things, like how useful the content is and how users interact with it.

Google wants to know that the content is relevant and delivers on promises. It’s only fair. A website having higher authority doesn’t mean it provides more helpful content for searchers.

Defining Website Authority Metrics For Semrush, Ahrefs & Moz

The top three website authority ranking tools are Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz. Although each tool uses a unique algorithm, they strive to be the most accurate.


For one, it helps them to be an authority in the field of SEO. They also want to stand out from the pack with a tool that offers something slightly different.

Like Google’s algorithms, their algorithms aren’t completely transparent, but we know how they prioritize general metrics.

Here’s how they stack up:

  • Semrush Authority Score (AS): Semrush’s Authority Score stands out for its dedication to mitigating unfair ranking practices. The tool may show a more authentic representation of the site’s link influence.
  • Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR): Ahrefs has added new SEO features to complement its DR algorithm and make it more competitive. But, with a smaller link index may not show all of a site’s inbound links.
  • Moz Domain Authority (DA): Moz is a great tool with a “first to market” reputation. It’ll continue to be a top contender, even without some of the manipulation mitigation tactics that Semrush uses.

You can see how each tool handles the website authority for in this table:

Website Authority Tool Rating
Semrush Authority Score 60
Ahrefs Domain Rating 90
Moz Domain Authority Score 72

Now, let’s talk a bit more about what goes into creating these scores.

Semrush: Authority Score (AS)

Authority Score is Semrush’s proprietary ranking metric, updated in 2023 to be more resistant to manipulation.

Why is manipulation even a problem? Around the time domain authority became relevant, companies popped up claiming to help boost authority scores. Semrush deemed it necessary to differentiate between websites with artificially inflated scores and those with genuine authority.

The ranking system goes from 0-100. In our Backlinko example, a score of 60 is considered to have a “great backlink profile and is niche relevant. A link from this domain would benefit your profile.”

Backlinko Authority Score

How it’s calculated

Semrush uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine authority based on these metrics (weighted from highest to lowest):

  1. Link power
  2. Organic traffic
  3. No organic rankings on SERPs
  4. An unnaturally high % of dofollow domains
  5. An imbalance between links and organic traffic
  6. Too many referring domains with the same IP address
  7. Too many referring domains with the same IP network
  8. The presence of another domain with an identical backlink profile

Interpreting the score

Authority score claims to have no perfect scores and very few in the high 90s. It’s also more useful as a comparative tool without a binary “good” or “bad” label for the website.

For example, how do all sneaker blogs compare? Which authority score is the highest?

Semrush’s textual rating labels go beyond just a number and help translate what the scores mean in the real world.

For instance, Backlinko’s score of 60 is “very good and niche relevant.” Other score labels may include things like “Poor traffic-to-backlink ratio” or “Heavy signs of spam,”–which can be just as useful as the numerical value.

Ahrefs: Domain Rating (DR)

Ahrefs has a publicly available ranking system that tracks just those domains in its database, measured by the size and quality of their backlinks. Its proprietary Domain Rating (DR) is a separate numerical value representing backlink strength compared to others.

Like the others on our list, DR scores are between 0 and 100. Ahrefs clarifies that its score works on a “logarithmic scale” or that it’s harder to go from DR 70 to DR 71 than it is to go from DR 20 to 21.

In other words, the better your score, the more difficult it is to improve.

Unveiling DR’s calculation

Ahrefs shares what it looks at to assign a rating. It’s all about the backlinks. First, it looks for sites with at least one referring link. Then, it counts the number of domains linking to the referring link.

The final score is determined by the DR of the original referring link and the number of unique links out from that domain.

What’s a good DR?

The closer your DR is to 100, the more authority your website has.

Because of the logarithmic scale, seeing a site with a high score go up even a point or two demonstrates more impressive gains than new sites with big leaps.

Under this ranking system, has a very high score of 90. Getting that up even a point or two higher would be rather difficult.

Moz: Domain Authority (DA)

Moz had one of the original SEO tools and was the first to coin Domain Authority (DA). It led the way for bigger and better ranking scores and proved that people care about this.

Factors affecting DA

Like the other tools, links are essential.

How important?

DA specifically looks at the total number of inbound links and the root domains of those links. It uses a dozen scoring factors, although it doesn’t specifically list them.

Ultimately, it’s all about the links. The more, the better.

How the rating works

Let’s look again at our example of

The site has a score of 72 and includes the linking authority from 62.4K root domains. By the way, these inbound links have a very low spam score of 4%. (This helps legitimize the authority score.)

Like other tools, DA compares sites to one another and makes it more difficult for high-ranking sites to move up on the scale. Moz also uses machine learning (ML) technology to rank sites.

We aren’t sure exactly what that entails (it’s a secret.) But we do know as the data points change, so will the ranking.

An example they give is if Facebook were to acquire a billion new links, competing sites would drop. There isn’t infinite space for domains. If one climbs, others must decrease to compensate for the lost opportunities.

There’s only so much authority to go around.

Which website authority score is best?

Three tools offer three very different approaches to scoring websites. With so much depending on a site’s reputation, we prefer Semrush’s rating system.

It’s focused on keeping scores fair and unaffected by shady SEO practices. It also gives more than a numerical score; it offers insight into what makes up the score so you know what to work on.

How to Increase Your Website Authority

By earning more high-quality backlinks to your website, you’re doing much of the hard work to increase your score.

Link building generally takes time, but it’s always a worthy endeavor. Start by doing a backlink audit to see who’s already linking to you, and keep a keen eye on spammy inbound links. (You don’t want those.)

It’s also possible to get results faster. Backlinko earned over 5,600 quality backlinks in 30 days.

We used the reverse outreach strategy to land links from Bloomberg, Inc. and Business Insider. Check out this case study to discover exactly how we did it.

Website Authority Is Only a Guide: Do This Instead

Many SEO professionals would have you believe that’s the only thing to aim for. But this thinking is limited and often focused on the wrong things.

Remember, website authority numbers can reflect the things you’re already doing really well (or really bad) in creating a Google-friendly experience. In the end, though, only Google knows what will help you rank.

Consider this: Google doesn’t even use the word “authority” in its guide. (Not convinced? Check it out here and here.)

It’s best to follow Google’s lead on what makes a quality site. Use the suggestions from Google Search Central. Listen to Google Search Advocates like John Mueller when they talk about changes.

You’ll want to get advice from the source. Don’t chase website authority instead of executing a well-researched SEO plan.

The Next Step to Improving Your Website Authority

With a better understanding of website authority and a free tool to measure it, you’re on your way to ranking higher in the SERPs. Your next assignment is to:

Enter your domain into the tool, taking note of the score, areas for improvement, and the number of referring domains.

Compare these results with your competitors.

You have the foundation for getting more quality backlinks and a higher authority score.

Next, explore our list of over 170 link-building strategies. These strategies have all contributed to Backlinko’s website authority and traffic. You can filter the strategies by their level of sophistication and quickly navigate to our top picks.