If you’ve used Semrush before, you may have come across Authority Score. In this article, we’ll explain what Authority Score measures and how it can help you when making marketing decisions.
What Is Semrush Authority Score?
Semrush Authority Score is our compound metric used for measuring a domain’s or webpage’s overall quality and SEO performance. It’s based on a series of metrics that prove trustworthiness and authority.
How Is Authority Score Calculated?
Authority Score is the result of calculations that uses AI and machine learning to measure a domain’s authority based on three facets.
Those three are:
- Link Power: quality and quantity of backlinks
- Organic Traffic: estimated monthly average of organic search traffic
- Spam Factors: indicators of a spammy vs. natural link profile
Each facet has a different weight on the score. Link Power holds the most weight. Organic traffic holds the next heaviest weight.
The Spam Factors metric is actually made up of six checks:
- No organic rankings on SERPs
- Unnaturally high % of dofollow domains
- An imbalance between links and organic traffic
- Too many referring domains with the same IP address
- Too many referring domains with the same IP network
- Presence of another domain with an identical backlink profile
If we detect one of these, it subtracts points from a domain’s final Authority Score.
The score is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, with the latter being the strongest. The final score is measured in relation to the most authoritative domains.
Because of that, there are only a few domains on the Internet with the highest scores—99s, 98s, etc.
Note: Authority Score was updated in early 2023 in order to be more resistant to manipulation, which was tested in a study of 24,000 domains.
What Is a Good Authority Score?
Authority Score serves as an indicator of the overall quality of a domain or webpage.
In general, Authority Score is used for domain comparison and not for determining how good or bad domains are on an absolute scale.
This means you should judge a page or domain’s Authority Score in relation to similar websites in the same or neighboring niches.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to build links to a product page on your website that sells cast iron skillets. First, you’ll want to gather your prospects—sites that post content about food and cooking.
When evaluating these prospects, you should avoid comparing the Authority Score of a small niche blog to the Authority Score of a huge website (such as, say, foodnetwork.com).
In turn, you might misjudge the value of a link from a blogger, like in the example below (this is a screenshot of the comparison feature in the Domain Overview report).
This blog, caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com, has a much lower Authority Score than foodnetwork.com.
However, sometimes a link building prospect with a website that shows a lower Authority Score may be reasonable. Highly competitive niches and websites see higher average Authority Scores, while more low-key niches or websites will have lower average Authority Scores.
If we compare caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com to its close competitors, we can see that it actually has a higher Authority Score than the rest.
In this comparison, it may be a quality, narrowly-focused prospect for pitching a topic like “gluten free cast iron skillet recipes,” but it may not work well for a broader topic like “best cast iron recipes.
How to Use Authority Score for SEO
Authority Score provides useful data that may help you to improve your link building strategy when looking for quality domains, and to increase your website’s authority by tweaking your SEO efforts. Some ways to use Authority Score in your SEO workflow may include:
- Competitor analysis
- Judging link building prospects
- Tracking the impact of an SEO campaign over time
- Watching out for negative SEO
In these cases, Authority Score Trend may be handy. It could help you compare how much work a site needs to catch up to its competition or how much potential benefit a new investment or partnership with a website may bring.
Website Authority Score Trend in Backlink Analytics Overview
If a domain’s score shows an upward trend, it may be a sign that the site is actively working to improve its online presence and reputation. It may also be a sign of inefficient SEO on the competition’s side.
If a domain’s score is trending downward, it could mean that the niche the website operates in is very competitive. A domain with this trend is falling behind its competition. It could be for many reasons. Examples include site’s recent SEO efforts are ineffective, the site may have suffered from a negative SEO attack, etc.
The list above isn’t exhaustive. The possible reasons why a domain's Authority Score decreased or increased could be detected only after carrying out a comprehensive analysis of its SEO performance and the actions of its competitors.
Using the Semrush Link Building Tool for Link Building
In Semrush’s Link Building Tool, we have a column called “Rating.” It takes Authority Score into account along with a series of other factors to help you decide if it’s a good link prospect.
Here’s a general idea of how we decide the rating out of 5 points:
- A high score: a backlink from this site would pass on a lot of link authority (good Authority Score, high relevance) and we see the site as a realistic prospect to acquire a link from.
- A low score: a backlink from this site wouldn’t provide a lot of value for your backlink profile (low Authority Score, low relevance) and we see the site as less realistic or harder to acquire a link from.
Some other aspects that help us determine a prospect’s rating include:
- The domain’s overall quality based on links, keywords, and traffic
- The domain’s relevance based on having a common niche
- The domain’s health based on spam factors
A higher rating means there may be a more realistic possibility to attain backlinks and that it’s a high-quality website.
The table below is from the Link Building Tool. It ranks a domain’s link building prospects by Authority Score and Rating.
These sites have really high Authority Scores in the 90s, but we rate them a 1 out of 5.
Getting a link from these websites for our project domain (seoquake.com) might be unrealistic, which is why they get a low rating.
If we filter by Rating instead of Authority Score, we’ll find prospects we rate the best to have scores ranging between 50 and 70.
Out of the domains in this screenshot, hostinger.com has the highest Authority Score, making it a good backlink candidate from that site to yours.
How to Increase a Domain’s Authority Score
You can boost your site’s Authority Score in a few ways:
- Getting more organic traffic to your site
- Building more high quality links
- Reducing spam factors in your link profile
Want more organic traffic? Creating quality content is one way to do that.
Start by researching content in your niche. Visit forums and social media to see what people in your niche are talking about.
You can plug these ideas into Topic Research and sort by Topic Efficiency to get more content ideas that have a high search volume and are easier to rank for.
Then, find keywords that can help boost these topics in the search engine. Use a keyword research tool, like Keyword Magic Tool to find relevant queries.
Use helpful, quality content to earn backlinks from trustworthy domains that are relevant to your site.
More link building strategies that may increase your site’s Authority Score include:
- Creating quality content on your website, sharing it, and conducting outreach asking websites (that don’t already link to you) for a link to your new page.
- Finding directories and indexes that list websites/businesses in your niche and get added to the directory.
- Finding best-of articles or lists in your niche that you think your website could be included in, and ask to be included.
- Finding broken links that used to point to your competitor’s site, and reach out to the site with the broken links to ask for a link to yours instead.
- Investigating any toxic backlinks in your link profile.
The following will not directly increase a domain’s Authority Score:
- Adding more pages to your website
- Acquiring more “nofollow” backlinks
- Acquiring more UGC or sponsored backlinks
- Receiving more links from a domain that already links to your site
Should you only concentrate on link building and content creation? No.
All your efforts should be in-line with a multipurpose SEO strategy. Gaining keywords that bring traffic to your website is just one of the actions among many you may consider to improve your Authority Score. It is not a magic bullet that will make your score rocket up.
Remember that Authority Score is a compound metric based on different factors and indicators—you should not rely on one of them individually. Take a holistic approach instead.
Gaining a higher Authority Score is about the cumulative effect of all your SEO efforts.
Semrush Authority Score FAQ
What is a good website Authority score?
It depends. In general, you cannot call one Authority Score good and another bad.
While a score of 0 means that a domain is not the strongest, Authority Score is used more for domain comparison, and not for determining good/bad on an absolute scale.
What you can do is discover your competitors and then benchmark where their Authority Scores are. Then aim for a score that is equal to or above theirs.
As for looking at the trend, we recommend checking whether the domain’s Authority Score trend is falling or rising. Again, you can visualize this in the Backlink Analytics.
Why did my score go down?
If a domain’s authority score is going down it could be for many reasons.
Some common reasons are:
- Your website was outperformed by niche competitors
- Your recent SEO efforts may be less effective
- You may have suffered a negative SEO attack
- Your backlink profile could be stronger
Score. Each site’s case is strictly individual. Run an in-depth analysis of your website’s SEO performance and that of your competitors’ to find out the possible reasons why your Authority Score went down.
Is a low score indicative of a spammy domain?
In short, no. But, when you see a low score, it may mean the site has fewer trust signals than a reputable site may have.
We recommend investigating the sites with low scores to find out if they, in fact, appear spammy, or if they are perhaps just brand-new websites that are not established yet.
Can Google Penalties affect the score?
Directly, it is very unlikely. Receiving a Google Penalty won’t impact your site’s Authority Score immediately.
However, after receiving a penalty, we recommend disavowing backlinks that are directly causing the penalty in order to lift it and prevent possible negative consequences to your Authority Score in the future.
Should I report my client’s increase in Authority Score to them in a regular report?
Yes, if you explain to them what it is. Just don’t rely solely on Authority Score for a domain’s overall performance—use it in conjunction with other key metrics like conversions, organic keyword positions, traffic, etc.
Show your client how their site’s Authority Score compares to other sites in their same niche (remember, it is a comparative metric, not an absolute metric).
Do more backlinks from the same referring domain boost Authority Score?
No, once you have a backlink from a website, getting more backlinks from the same website will not increase your Authority Score.
For more link building tips, check out our dedicated guide, Link Building for SEO.