Link Building

How to measure authority using Ahrefs, Semrush and Majestic

How to measure authority using Ahrefs, Semrush and Majestic

Understanding website authority (also known as topical authority) is critical to building a successful SEO strategy for clients.

Website authority is a measure of how well a website is trusted and respected by Google, which plays a crucial role in determining where your client’s website appears in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

When you’re setting out on a link building campaign, measuring and understanding authority is crucial for setting a high bar for the quality of your links, and developing a backlink profile that will truly help your client’s organic visibility in search.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at:

  • The importance of website authority in link building
  • How you can measure the authority of a website using Ahrefs, Semrush, and Majestic

Why does website authority matter?

Before we get into the particulars of how different SEO tools can be applied to your campaigns, let’s review why exactly website authority matters when you’re trying to improve a website’s organic visibility.

Authority is a key factor in how Google determines the rank of the SERPs, and how much backlinks can affect a page or domain’s rankings.

Google uses a complex set of algorithms to determine topical authority, taking into account a number of factors including:

  • The quality and relevance of the content on the website
  • The number and quality of links pointing to the domain
  • The age and history of the domain

5 ways that Google determines website authority

Content quality: Google places a high value on the quality of a given piece of content, and how much that quality is shared by other pages in its referring domains. This includes factors like relevance, freshness, and accuracy.

PageRank: Google’s PageRank algorithm uses the number and quality of links pointing to a site or page to determine its topical authority. The more high-quality links pointing to your website or page, the higher its PageRank will be.

Social signals: Google also takes into account social signals like shares, likes, and comments on social media platforms as an indicator of a site or page’s authority and relevance.

User engagement: Google uses metrics like bounce rate, time on site, and click-through rate to determine how engaged users are with your website or webpage, and how well your website is meeting the user’s needs following a Google search. Sites and pages that show high user engagement through these metrics are seen as more authoritative and relevant.

Site structure and organisation: The structure and organisation of a site can also impact its topical authority in the eyes of Google. If your websites is well-organised, quick to load, and easy to navigate, you’ll generally be seen as more authoritative and user-friendly.

Earning links from authoritative websites

Website authority is a critical thing to consider in link building, as it will help you to identify and target sources of links that will have the greatest impact on your campaign’s success.

Quality links from authoritative sites can help to boost your website authority and improve your rankings in organic search, while low-quality or toxic links from spammy or irrelevant sites can harm your rankings and even result in penalties from Google.

To ensure that your link building efforts are effective, it’s important to measure the topical authority of both your own website and prospective referring domains. This will help you focus your efforts on building quality links from websites that are going to be beneficial to your overall SEO strategy.

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How to measure website authority using Ahrefs

Ahrefs is one of the most widely used SEO tools for measuring website authority and a great option for anyone who feels like they need a more detailed view in their link building strategy.

Here’s a brief run-down of how to use Ahref to support your link building purposes.

First, navigate to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool and enter the URL of the website you want to measure the authority of. Ahrefs will then provide a wealth of information, including the website’s Domain Rating (DR), URL Rating (UR), and total backlinks.

The Domain Rating is Ahrefs’ proprietary metric for measuring the overall authority of a website, while the URL Rating is a similar metric that measures the topical authority of one page in particular. The higher the DR and UR, the more authoritative the website and page are.

Next, use Ahrefs’ Backlink Profile tool to analyse the site’s profile. This tool provides valuable information on the quality and quantity of the website’s backlinks, as well as the referring domains that link to the website.

Ahrefs’ Backlink Profile tool provides several filters that allow you to sort and filter backlinks by various criteria, such as domain authority, anchor text, and dofollow vs. nofollow links.

This can help you identify high-quality referring domains that are relevant to your niche or industry and maintain a high standard of website authority.

Finally, you can also use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool to find popular content in your niche or industry.

Content Explorer allows you to search for content based on various criteria such as:

  • Target keyword
  • Topic
  • Social shares
  • Traffic value
  • Publication date
  • Language

This can be immensely helpful for content ideation, finding guest post opportunities, and tapping into trends that will help you achieve a higher level of engagement with your own content.

How to measure authority using Semrush

Semrush offers a variety of tools to help you determine the authority of a domain and decide whether or not it’s worth pursuing as a backlink opportunity.

One of the most useful tools for this purpose is the Domain Overview tool. This tool provides a snapshot of a domain’s authority by analysing a variety of factors, including organic search traffic, backlinks, and keywords. You can use this tool to quickly compare the authority of different domains and prioritise your outreach efforts accordingly.

Another helpful tool for measuring authority is the Backlink Analytics tool. This tool allows you to analyse the backlinks of a specific domain and evaluate the quality of its referring domains.

You can use this tool to identify any toxic backlinks that may be harming your site’s authority and take steps to disavow them.

The Backlink Gap tool is another useful resource for measuring authority. This tool allows you to check and compare the backlink profiles of up to five different domains at once.

By comparing the authority of your website’s backlink profile to those of your close competitors, you can identify potential areas for improvement and prioritise targets for your authority link building campaigns accordingly.

Finally, Semrush’s Authority Score tool provides a comprehensive analysis of a domain’s authority, including its:

  • Backlink profile
  • Organic search traffic
  • Social media presence

You can use this tool to get a quick snapshot of a domain’s authority and determine whether or not it’s worth pursuing as a referring domain.

How to measure topical authority using Majestic

Though Majestic isn’t seen as a particularly “blue chip” SEO tool, its singular focus on link building features and its accessible pricing has made it a household name for many marketers.

Though it’s missing strong keyword research and SERP analysis features, it still holds up well when all you need is a reliable topical authority checker. Majestic offers several metrics that can help you measure the authority of a website or page.

The first metric to consider is Trust Flow, which measures the quality of backlinks that are pointing to a website or page.

A high Trust Flow (TF) score indicates that the website or page is linked to by other high-quality, trustworthy websites, which is a positive indicator for your link profile.

The second metric to consider is Citation Flow, which measures the quantity of backlinks that are pointing to a website or page.

While the quantity of backlinks is important, it’s also crucial to ensure that your backlink profile has an emphasis on high authority links coming from high-quality websites. Therefore, you should aim to strike a healthy balance between Citation Flow and Trust Flow.

Another useful metric provided by Majestic is the Topical Trust Flow, which measures the relevance of a website or page to a particular topic.

This metric can help you determine whether a potential backlink is relevant to your website and whether it will provide value to your audience.

Finally, Majestic offers a Link Profile report, which provides an overview of a website’s backlink profile.

This report can help you identify potential toxic backlinks and take the necessary steps to remove them. It can also help you discover opportunities for new backlinks and assess the overall quality of a website’s backlink profile.

Final thoughts

Understanding site authority is crucial for successful SEO and link building.

By using Ahrefs, Semrush, and Majestic, you can get a clearer view of the authority of your client’s website and prospective referring domains for link building campaigns.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about which link building opportunities to pursue, and which ones to avoid.



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Aaron Thomas

Managing Director

Aaron is the founder of Hive19, specialising in content marketing and the complexities of website authority

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Aaron is Managing Director

and is the founder of Hive19, specialising in content marketing and the complexities of website authority