As a skilled business owner, you’re fully aware of how important it is to rank high on Google’s SERP (search engine results page). The easier it is for people to find about your business, the more visitors you’ll get to your site. More visits equal more sales; sounds simple, right?
A higher number of backlinks from other sites will place you higher on the SERP, but Google’s ranking algorithm also takes the quality of your content into account when evaluating your site.
Here’s the dilemma: should you invest in attracting more external links, or should you invest in your own content? Both strategies impact your rankings, but strangely enough, many people focus on only one.
What is Domain Authority and How Does It Affect You?
When you receive multiple backlinks from other influential and reputable websites, your own domain authority (DA) goes up. DA is a metric that measures not only how many links you’ve received, but also their quality. To put that in perspective, this means receiving one link from the New York Times is much better than 10 links from unknown bloggers.
As a rule of thumb, website pages with higher DA usually have higher positions in Google search results. However, DA is not the only criterion Google looks at. Websites are complex hubs of content. Google’s priority is to satisfy the user’s specific search query. When the search engine indexes the top sites, it looks at several factors.
You can see this by doing a search and comparing the DA of the top results. Here’s an example with the search query “cutting your own hair men”:
You can see here that the websites with the high DA don’t always show up first.
Why Are Websites With a Lower DA Ranking Higher?
Google arranges search results based on how well they satisfy the user’s query. If the content and service is clearly very narrowly targeted, Google may decide a certain website provides the best content for this user’s query, despite its low DA.
Websites with higher DA usually appear on the first or second page of search results, as they have good backlinks and decent content. But the top spots will almost always be given to pages that are optimized for the specific search query. Sometimes these are the pages with high DA, but other times they can can have a much lower DA than the average of the top 10 results.
How Do I Get in Google’s Top 5 Results?
As we’ve said before, your content needs to be optimized for the specific keyword you want to rank for. If we take the example above, just because a website ranks high for “cutting your own hair men,” doesn’t mean will perform equally well if we substitute “women” for “men” in our search. These are two different search terms, and you have to invest time and energy building content that satisfies each query to start ranking for both.
- Content marketing will make it easier for you to rank for specific terms. It usually takes less time to achieve results than link building. However, ranking well for one term doesn’t necessarily translate to ranking for related terms.
If you want to globally improve your rankings (for all searches related to the term), then link building is a better option. By getting better links (and thus a higher DA), your general position on Google will improve.
- Link building is more costly and time-consuming. Eventually, it will make you more likely to appear on the first or second page of results for a broad range of terms. However, it doesn’t guarantee a top spot for each one of those terms.
An ideal goal would be to work on improving your DA (link building), while simultaneously fine-tuning your strategy by boosting your main pages through content creation.
How to Get The Best of Both Worlds
Quality SEO content focuses on structuring content in a way that makes both the user and the search engine happy. This means focusing on specific keywords, writing for SEO, visual editing, formatting and structuring the article in a search engine-friendly way – on top of giving your target audience an interesting and useful article to read.
Here’s where you can get the best of both worlds. By populating your site with top-notch content other people are more likely to link to it, you’ll build both credibility and authority. And that’s the ultimate link building strategy.
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Nikolay Linkov is a marketer and an editor with experience in managing content campaigns and video production. Currently he is exploring the areas of SEO, SEM, PPC campaigns, display advertising and social media marketing.