Ahrefs is one of the best backlink analysis tools. However, it can also serve equally well for comprehensive competitor analysis, site content analysis and as a tool for keyword suggestion, among other things. The platform uses several ranking metrics, the most prominent of which is Domain Rating (DR). What does Ahrefs DR show, how does it count and why is it important in increasing traffic from search?
What is Ahrefs DR?
Domain Rating or DR is one of the most important metrics in the Ahrefs system. It can be seen in almost all tools and reports within the platform - and if handled correctly, it can be very useful in evaluating current and planning future SEO activities. On the other hand, it can tempt bad decisions - if the analyst doesn't understand its nature properly.
Simplified, Ahrefs DR is a metric that expresses the relative strength of a website's link profile. It is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100, with a higher number meaning "stronger".
If you decide to work with Ahrefs DR, be clear about the meaning of "logarithmic scale". In the context of Ahrefs DR, you can understand it to mean that the difference between DR 50 and DR 55 is much greater than the difference between DR 10 and DR 15.
How does Ahrefs DR count?
You may recall Google's PageRank, which is now non-public, in the context of ranking metrics. And DR is calculated in a similar way to PageRank. The key difference is that PageRank is calculated between individual pages, while DR is calculated between sites.
From a technical point of view, the calculation of Ahrefs DR can be viewed as follows:
- Ahrefs searches all domains from which at least one follow link leads to the target domain.
- The system then finds out how many other domains each referring domain links to.
- It then transfers a certain amount of "Domain Rank juice" from each referring domain to the target domain. This amount of Domain Rank juice is determined (roughly) by dividing the DR of the referring domain by the number of unique domains it points to.
The above calculation of Ahrefs DR is simplistic, and other aspects play a role in practice; however, it still captures the essence of how the Domain Rank value is calculated.
The following rules also apply:
If other sites link to the site only through nofollow links, the DR value will not increase.
At the same time, only the first link affects the DR - all other backlinks (meaning from one site) no longer affect the DR.
If the website from which you link to your page links to more and more new websites over time, the amount of Domain Rank juice will decrease. In practice, your site's ranking may also decrease. But at the same time, as the Domain Rank of the site that links to you increases, your site will also start to get stronger. Therefore, it pays to build links on sites with a strong link profile.
But beware! It's good to note that the Ahrefs DR metric is based solely on links. It does not address other important aspects of linkbuilding, such as a site's position in search, domain age, brand popularity, etc.
And one more thing - Ahrefs DR does not look at the quality of backlinks objectively, or cannot recognize real SPAM. Thus, a large number of poor quality backlinks can significantly increase DR.
Ahrefs is continuously working on improving the calculation system and trying to prevent the easy tampering with the DR, which was quite common in the lean years. While it is still possible to influence the ratings today, many of the "black hat" techniques no longer work.
How are Ahrefs DR and Ahrefs Rank related?
Both of these metrics show the strength of a site's link profile, but each uses a different calculation.
While Ahrefs DR assigns a value from 0 to 100 based on the size and quality of the link profile, Ahrefs Rank (AR) simply ranks all websites based on the strength of the link profiles.
In practice, this may mean that two sites with the same Ahrefs DR value may have different Ahrefs Rank values.
Why does Ahrefs DR sometimes drop even if the site doesn't lose backlinks?
Have you noticed that your site's DR has dropped, but no backlinks have dropped from your link profile? This could be due to many other sites in the Ahrefs database gaining many new backlinks. In practice, this means that when a site with a DR of 100 gets more backlinks, we can't promote to DR 101. What happens, however, is that the DR values of other sites are reduced by 1 point. Of course this is again a rather simplistic explanation, the Domain Rank calculation is more complicated.
Another possible reason for the drop in DR could be that sites that have been to the site have lost backlinks and their DR has suffered as a result. Alternatively, they started linking to more sites, thus reducing the amount of forwarding power.
Why do some sites have a higher DR than others, even if they are not linked to from sites with such a high DR?
Links from high DR sites are not necessarily necessary for DR to increase. In fact, you can get very high DR with only links from low DR sites; it's just a matter of quantity.
Are links leading to the main page better at increasing Ahrefs DR?
Ahrefs DR does not address whether the link leads to the main stand or deeper into the site. Both types of backlinks lead to increased value equally.
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