Moz DA and Ahrefs DR get Marked as Third Party, but How Useful are they?



James
The age-old argument focus on Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR)/Moz Domain Authority (DA) do not focus on DR/DA. For the people who always say do not focus on DR/DA what is your argument around it. I understand DR/DA does not do something magically but the things that make the numbers do, right? I know you cannot just say focus on on-site / on-page SEO, because national or international large branded well-established companies cannot be outranked with just on-page SEO.
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Nathan
The fake metrics mean nothing. You can literally be zero and outrank the competition. This doesn't mean I don't believe in links. However, if you wanted to go the zero link route you could beat the large branded sites! It would just take a long time. If you built pages/posts focused on low volume or long-tail keywords used those articles to interlink to the harder to achieve ones you would be able to drive traffic over time.
With that over time, you will achieve natural links and outrank even big branded websites. Now when I say you can be zero, yes you absolutely can, for instance, to prove those metrics are meaningless you could tier your links and basically hide your backlinks, therefore, the fake metrics won't move. But you can rank without that vanity metric.

James ✍️ » Nathan
So you believe a skilled SEO person with no backlinks could beat Zillow with just amazing on-page SEO?
Nathan » James
Yes, depending on how fast you wanted to rank would really be the issue. But if I pushed 1000 articles that received 20-60 visits per month each and interlinked them with high-quality content that really went in-depth on the subject of purchasing and selling a home.
I mean like really in-depth such as mold testing, radon, what is typically found in the home, rekeying the locks, the housing market on a very local and national level, how much the typical realtor charges, and how much homes sold for recently. What I mean is extremely complex content it would end up getting lots of visits because of all the keywords I rank for.
People would see that I know what I am talking about and be like oh ya that website really knows what he is talking about! Natural links so technically I would have backlinks!
Is it my preferred method, hell no! Because I can do the same thing and create backlinks which will cut my ranking time in half.
James ✍️ » Nathan
I appreciate this
Nathan » James
No problem!

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Truslow 🎩
I have a client site with a DA of 24. That said, they are undoubtedly THE authority of their niche. Sure, it's not a huge niche and there are really only 6-8 major players in the niche – along with hundreds of distributors of the products created in that sector – but nonetheless – we've positioned them at the top of the tree. I've been working the Knowledge Graph for 3 years now – it barely existed for the industry before then. Now, the whole industry is fairly well built out – at least at the top level. It needs to grow a lot deeper and make some connections to related niches yet, but… it's getting there.
All (but one of) the other manufacturer sites in this niche have a much higher DA than we do. The biggest one is up there somewhere in the high 70's or low 80's last I looked (which was a while ago). There's only one manufacturer in the industry that sells direct – the rest put you in touch with a distributor in your region. That one has a Domain Authority (DA) of like 40-something – they're getting links for both informational and transaction things so it makes sense they'd be higher up.
Now… when it comes to how Google understands this niche – how the products are categorized, grouped, classified within the industries they serve, and so on… We did that. We were the first ones to send Google the clear signals to Google about that and with those clear and consistent signals, Google started to build out the KG. If these other sites – even the distributors – want to rank well today, they either need to classify and organize their products the way I said to do it – or they need to send clear signals themselves and wait for Google to figure out the difference, how it fits in with the rest of the things, and then finally they can properly rank that way.
We don't rank for most transactional searches since we don't transact, but if you ask just about any top level question or search term in that niche – the featured snippet, top result, term definition blurbs, and those sorts of things are ALL coming from us.
We are, I'm proud to say, THE authority site in that niche. We're not just ranking but we've managed to tell Google how to look at the other sites and how to force those other sites to do it like I decided they needed to do it in order to rank (or at least to rank quickly anyway – someone with patience and motive could easily come in and shift the paradigm, and certainly one day, they will).
Now… here's the thing. With all that going on and you had ONE of these 8 manufacturer sites to go after for a link… which one do you think would ACTUALLY provide the most benefit to you?
If you were focused on Moz Domain Authority (DA) – you'd obviously want that 80 site over my measly little 24 DA, yeah? And if you worked all the manufacturers in order, we'd be the second to last site you'd go for. But, I promise you – of the 8 sites in play – a link from us is going to move the needle the most.
Now.. in here, I'm only talking about legitimate sites who are businesses trying to make money and not trying to manipulate or even worry about DA (well, the 80 one might be, I dunno). I haven't even talked about how easy it would be for me to create a bunch of sites, go crazy with link building schemes and drive up my DA but have no real authority nor authoritativeness in anything. A link from the DA 80 site in our niche WOULD certainly provide some value and punch in the niche because it actually IS a site with some authority – at least in terms of the products they make, many of which are somewhat unique and have a slightly different application than the rest of us.
If you were focused on DA and in our niche, even though we're the one you really want a link from, you would likely NEVER get to us. You'd hit the first two in the niche (the only ones over 45) and then focus your efforts on other high DA sites that would pack less actual punch than a link from MySpace.com.
So.. THAT is just ONE story of how focusing on DA is a bad choice – both in letting it decide your link building strategy AND in focusing on raising that for your own site in lieu of focusing on something that is really going to drive results.
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Conor
I was told by one of the top agencies that once you domain gains a fair DA of around 25 from their experience its enough to rank strong. Anything below 20 is alot harder

Truslow 🎩
I don't know if 25 is the magic number – the site from my story above is only 24. BUT, yeah – you want some numbers there, for sure. You DO need to have some links coming to the site to rank. And those tools are going to pick up on those links.
And the more competitive your niche, the higher you'll need it. (Another reason why DA is a tricky score – at 15 might be KING for something not very competitive like bullet proof dog harnesses. But it wouldn't move the needle for a travel booking site.)

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