Anyone who works in Digital PR will know the importance of third-party domain and traffic metrics when reporting to clients or internal stakeholders. The ability to measure the SEO value of an individual publication via data provided by companies such as Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz is absolutely essential as without this data there is no independent yardstick to illustrate how good or bad an online publication really is. The retirement by Google of their free-to-install ToolBar PageRank (TBPR) in 2016 has over the years helped to fuel the demand for third-party domain data to a point where the provider’s brand names are common parlance for those who work in PR, SEO and link-building (Moz, Majestic & Ahrefs). However, it’s not just those delivering SEO and PR campaigns that need to be aware of these third-party metrics; clients and stakeholders should also be informed (if not aware) of this data and what it means. Moreover, when viewing Digital PR campaign results, they should be shown metrics from all the major domain data providers. Below we have explained why this is the case…
There is no “gold standard” domain metric
Although there are several leading providers of domain metric data as outlined above, there is no one accepted industry “gold standard” by which a domain can be measured, as each individual may have their own preference for one or more of the leading providers. Perhaps the most common metric that marketers and others are familiar with is Domain Authority from Moz (who were first to market). Moz’s single logarithmic scale of 0 to 100 makes it very simple for users to understand – the higher than DA, the more authoritative the site is. Moreover, as the Moz toolbar is free to download, many people use this as a simple means of measuring a site’s authority due to TBPR having been retired. One thing which is noticeable is that if a person has heard of one Domain metric above all others its more often than not Domain Authority from Moz. However, merely relying just on Moz DA alone is problematic for a number of reasons; not least because it does not give you any traffic scores and moreover, does not always mitigate when a site has been penalised. For example, the site ezinearticles.com has an ostensibly good Domain Authority of 88, but if you see the traffic trend below, it has had some huge historic falls. And although it’s not just DA that can be “misleading” (or rather not mitigate for huge traffic losses) Moz DA seems to be the most prone to this scenario, as we will come onto.
Domain Metrics for Ezinearticles.com
SEMrush traffic trend for Ezinearticles.com
No one worth their SEO salt would want a link from a site like this, despite the ostensibly impressive domain metrics. Although it’s an extreme example, it does highlight the fallacy of just relying on one Domain metric and/or not paying attention to traffic volumes.
Traffic estimates aside there is also the point about relying solely on one metric. Often you get more insight by comparing multiple metrics to see how each data provider has scored a site. Take the site Astroidit.com for example; it also has an ostensibly admirable DA of 59. However, compared to the other metrics the authority is much lower – a paltry DR of 5 and an equally miserly TF of 0
Domain Metrics for Astroidit.com
The homepage of Astroidit.com
So if you were to rely entirely on DA (something I would never do) you may consider this a good site. In fact, it’s a PBN with no SEO value other than filling your disavow file. Aside from the poor Ahrefs score and Majestic CF/TF ratio the site has zero organic visibility on SEMrush despite a high DA and almost 300 pages indexed on Google. This is of course an extreme example of what can happen when you rely solely on one metric, in this case, DA as one look at the site gives you some clues about its editorial quality. However, it highlights the benefits and importance of bringing in other data providers so you can make an insightful comparison.
SEMrush dashboard view of Astroidit.com
Another benefit of reporting on all available metrics is that you are being totally transparent with the recipient of the report. For example, just reporting DA can in theory lead to the situation outlined above, whereas reporting all metrics including traffic means you are being completely open and honest. To illustrate this I’ve below shared an example of a link I secured a few years ago.
A resource page on klinefeltersyndrome.org
As you can see its a resource page, below are the metrics
Although the traffic estimate is extremely low the other metrics are comparable (good I would argue). Moreover, the relevance of this page to my target page (which was about Sensory Overload) is extremely high as all the links on this page are about visual resources. Flipping my previous argument around, if, for example, I was only to report on traffic metrics alone, then this site could have sounded some alarm bells with the recipient or stakeholder receiving it. However if you can display the quality domain metrics that are all comparable with no outliers, it helps to support the rationale for why this is a good link. (in addition to its relevancy)
Educate the recipient and showcase your knowledge
Finally, it’s worth noting that a link report with multiple metrics is not only more beneficial but also helps showcase your own knowledge. In addition you can also in some cases help educate the recipient, particularly those decision-makers who may not work in digital marketing such as C-suite. Or to put it another way, using multi-metric reports means you have set a benchmark so that if clients/stakeholders receive a similar coverage report from another source/agency, etc your report will stand out against others which may not include all the key metrics (making you look good!).