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Is Root Domain Authority The Real King?
austtr




msg:4622438
 5:35 am on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've been in this game since 1997, so I like to think I know a good site from a not-so-good one…. and like many others have been saying in recent times, there seems to be more of the latter now appearing high in the SERP's…. pages that we find mystifying and cause us to think "how the $@&*% did that get there?" And if I'm correct, this more or less coincided with Google's emphasis on "authority" as being the objective we should all be striving for.

Well, back in the days when Google was claiming to "do no evil", one of their claims to excellence in search was that they indexed pages, and that their search capability allowed them to retrieve data from deep down in the pages of a site. The SERP's were essentially made up of a list of pages sorted according to their relevance to the search term. We were actively encouraged to optimise for all the pages throughout our sites.

I have just completed an (admittedly small) analysis of a series of pages that are ranking in the top 5 for competitive searches, that at face value, would be lucky to appear in the top 100. They are light on real content, spammy (keyword stuffing, multiple <h1's>, excessive bolding, alt and title attribute stuffing, absence of rel=nofollow" etc etc… your typical garden variety SEO abuse)

What seems to be happening is that the root domain for these pages is doing the heavy lifting. In nearly every case I looked at, the analysis showed an above average to very high domain authority (as reported by MajesticSEO and Open Site Explorer) for the root domain.

This got me to wondering if Google, in determining "authority", has gone back to reading the signals given off by the root domain as the primary indicator with the actual page signals as being of much lesser relevance. It would go some way to explaining why we see so many "wtf" results in the SERP's, why big brands (i.e…. very powerful root domains) are so dominant and why big brand pages top SERP's results when the page is not remotely close to being best in class.

So…. are we now living in a world where root domain authority is king?

Maybe its been that way for a long time and I just missed the roll-back!

 

Collieman




msg:4622445
 6:09 am on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

For my sector, travel, it has been this way since early 2012 . However I do think the issue of brand is mixed in here. But it's not clear which comes first. All the strong root domains on page one are sector related brands.

More recently, say last month or so, there has been some move towards geographical relevance.eg sites which specialise in a given part ofvthe country.

aristotle




msg:4622500
 11:38 am on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

For years Google has wanted desperately to get big brands and big organizations to the top of their search results. To this end they continually tested various modifications and adjustments to their algorithm looking for ways to do so. But they finally realized that the only way to really do it was to greatly reduce the relative weights of relevance and quality as ranking factors. They must have known that this would drastically degrade their overall search results. But apparently they were willing to make this sacrifice regardless.

netmeg




msg:4622531
 2:46 pm on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

King? I dunno about that. But I think it's definitely a factor, and probably an important one.

I've got some old domains (early to mid 90's) that I can put almost anything on and have to immediately jump to the top of the heap. Whether it stays there longterm is another question, of course, and if I did that repeatedly it would no doubt lose some mojo, but from some minor testing, it sure looks like the domain will give it a boost (even if it's entirely irrelevant).

EditorialGuy




msg:4622536
 3:23 pm on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

For my sector, travel, it has been this way since early 2012 . However I do think the issue of brand is mixed in here.


I've seen some incredibly bad (and high-ranking) results for location-based EMDs. Their pages aren't ranking because of "domain authority," though--they're ranking because of what Google seems to regard as "keyword authority" or "location authority" in their domain names. (They aren't brands, and I'd guess that they have very few inbound links.)

Collieman




msg:4622537
 3:35 pm on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hello EditorialGuy, Yes I would agree 100%. Although these awful results do tend to show more strongly for the obscure locations.

For instance
KW + country
and KW + county
These SERPS tend to be ok

But when you get to KW + town, village, tourist attraction...at this level you tend to get either the type of domain you mentioned or there are one or two mega domains where their SEO people have written a page for every combination under the sun.

superclown2




msg:4622552
 4:14 pm on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

So…. are we now living in a world where root domain authority is king?

Maybe its been that way for a long time and I just missed the roll-back!


Yep. It's been like that for ages now, ever since Google stopped being a search engine.

nomis5




msg:4622638
 10:51 pm on Nov 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

So…. are we now living in a world where root domain authority is king?

Maybe its been that way for a long time and I just missed the roll-back!


Looks that way to me. Never really considered it from that viewpoint but the idea matches what I see.

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