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min read
January 12, 2024

A Guide to Domain Authority, Topical Authority, and Page Authority

Parthi Loganathan
CEO of Letterdrop, former Product Manager on Google Search

If you’ve set your sights on improving your website’s ranking on Google, you need to understand how Google measures your site. You can't improve what you can't measure after all. This article will show you how each plays a role in getting your website's pages ranked on Google. In particular, you need to learn about the three ways in which Google evaluates your site:

  1. Domain authority
  2. Topical authority
  3. Page authority

Domain Authority

What is Domain Authority?

Domain authority is a general measure of how your entire domain performs on searches, like letterdrop.com or allbirds.com. It isn't specific to a keyword but rather a measure of your site's overall health.

What Influences Domain Authority?

Some factors that influence domain authority are:

  1. Age Google prefers showing results to websites with an established presence instead of ones that have just cropped up.
  2. Trust If you create quality content regularly and have large trusted websites like New York Times relevant to your industry linking to your site, Google will trust it more.
  3. Search Traffic How people interact with your site from search results influences your domain authority. If people who find your site through search consistently bounce from your site, that's not good for your domain authority.

Different keyword research tools like SEMRush and Moz have different ways of calculating domain authority using the above factors.

No-code SaaS platform Retool has a domain authority of 54 using SEMRush
No-code SaaS platform Retool has a domain authority of 54 using SEMRush's score

Why Does Domain Authority Matter?

Google doesn't use Domain Authority to determine your site ranking. But it's a good overall indication of how your site would rank against competing websites. For example, if two sites had equally good articles on a topic, the one with the higher domain authority would rank higher.

How to Improve Your Domain Authority

You can find your domain authority using keyword research tools like SEMRush and Moz. Letterdrop pulls in the score from Moz if you need it. To improve your domain authority:

  • Performance Make sure you have many site backlinks and unique links (to your site).
  • Backlinks from trusted domains Get highly trusted sites in your industry with high domain authority to link to you. If your site has good content, you can reach out and try to make them pay attention to it. You could also offer to guest post for these sites.
  • High-quality content Create high-quality content on your site that searchers would read without bouncing.

Topical Authority

What is Topical Authority?

Topical authority is a measure of a site's expertise on a specific subject or topic area. From Google's perspective, each website is an authoritative source of information on a select few topics. If your topical authority score for a topic is high, all your pages around that topic are more likely to rank well.

For example, here at Letterdrop, we create content around content marketing. Google now affiliates letterdrop.com with "content marketing". Say another site without high topical authority around content marketing publishes a post on "How to distribute your content". If Letterdrop creates an equally good post on the topic, it will rank higher since it has higher topical authority.

It's similar to how you would trust an accountant to tell you how to file your taxes more than a plumber. The accountant has high topical authority around taxes, but the plumber doesn't.

The Points Guy and NerdWallet have topical authority around credit cards, so they rank highly for searches on the same
The Points Guy and NerdWallet have topical authority around credit cards, so they rank highly for searches on the same

What Influences Topical Authority?

Many of the same factors that influence Domain Authority influence Topical Authority, except just at a topic level. Your site needs to:

  1. Have lots of high-quality content around the topic you're trying to build topical authority on.
  2. Have larger trusted websites in your industry link to you. For example, if you're a site about Ecommerce, having Shopify link to you would boost your topical authority.

Why Does Topical Authority Matter? 

Building topical authority is the only way to rank on Google for the audience you want to attract. Once you have a lot of articles around a specific set of related keywords in your niche, Google will start ranking those pages for relevant searches. Once users are on your website, if your site comprehensively covers the topic, they'll spend more time on your site and don’t have to bother looking elsewhere. Google will want to rank your pages higher since the bounce rate is low, and searches seem to be happy with the information on your site around that topic.

How to Improve Your Topical Authority

You need a concrete plan that you need to execute over months or years to build topical authority.

  1. Analyze search volume and intent You can get a clear idea of what sort of content you need to produce by analyzing relevant keywords, understanding search intent and producing the best content for that search term. Go for low-difficulty keywords initially that are still relevant.
  2. Identifying content gaps Look at the primary and secondary keywords you use within your content pieces and see how they rank when it comes to traffic. Identifying the keywords that drive traffic, using customer queries, and focusing your writing around content pillars are a surefire way of bettering your topical authority.

Page Authority
What is Page Authority?

Page authority is a metric that tells you how a specific page will rank in search results. It is the overall strength of individual pages in a website. As with domain and topical authority, the higher a page authority score is, the better it is for your SEO and overall website standing. It’s worth noting that every single page within your website has its own individual page authority ranking.

What Influences Page Authority?

Let’s look at some of the biggest reasons that influence page authority.

  1. High-Quality Content Your page needs high-quality content with no spammy links.
  2. Links from trusted sites Backlinks from top external sites to your page positively influence authority.
  3. Page Recency Google factors in the recency of your information. Pages that are updated regularly have higher authority.

Why Does Page Authority Matter? 

A higher page authority improves an individual page's rankings. Combined with high topical authority, this is what gets your pages around a content pillar to start ranking, even for competitive keywords.

How to Improve the Page Authority for Your Site

Improving page authority is more straightforward than topical authority:

  1. Relevant High-Quality Content Your page not only needs high-quality content but relevant content. Make sure your page is relevant for the search queries you're trying to rank for. It has to truly address the search intent of the user searching the keyword you're targeting.
  2. Links from trusted sites Backlinks from top external sites to your page positively influence authority.
  3. Up-to-date pages Update your pages every year or if they contain stale and inaccurate information.
  4. Performance Check your page with Lighthouse or your entire site with Experte's bulk page speed tool. Starting in 2021, Google factors in page performance and Core Web Vitals into page ranking.

How to Prioritize Website Authority

Now that we have a clear picture of what domain, topical, and page authority are all about, let’s look at how you prioritize them.

Domain authority more or less is a byproduct of building topical and page authority. There isn't anything that needs to be done explicitly.

Step one is to figure out topics you want to build topical authority for. You can ask your customers what they search for and use keyword research tools to figure.

Once you have your topics and keywords under each setup, plan it out on your content calendar. Create blog posts that provide the best answer for each keyword. Make sure that your page is performant and SEO optimized.

If you need help with any of these steps, Letterdrop takes care of all of this for you. All you have to do is focus on content.


You need to understand domain authority, topical authority, and page authority to invest in SEO seriously. Domain authority tells you how your site stack ranks against competitive sites in search results. Topical authority is how well regarded your site is on a certain topic. Page authority is how good your page is with respect to SEO.

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