Gini Dietrich

Help! My Domain Authority Has Dropped and it Can’t Get Up!

By: Gini Dietrich | June 7, 2017 | 

My Domain Authority Has FallenThe other day, a client sent me a panicked email.

His domain authority had decreased and he couldn’t figure out why.

I said:


Sure, a decrease is panic-inducing—I do it, too.

But it happens to everyone…and it typically happens to all of us at the same time.

This simply means Google is re-calibrating (which they do hundreds of thousands of times) and either you’ll bounce back up or everyone will stay at the new level.

Let’s talk about why these fluctuations occur, why you most definitely should not panic, and how to know when it’s something more than Google re-calibrating.

Why Does My Domain Authority Fluctuate?

It’s totally normal for your domain authority to fluctuate.

While we certainly want it to continually increase—and we all work hard to provide the most relevant content to make that happen—we oftentimes will see a drop.

That’s OK!

Anytime Google re-calibrates or Moz updates their index, you’ll see a change.

Whether that change is positive or negative depends on which sites get crawled and what has changed on the web (such as a Google algorithm shift).

If you drop a couple of points, it’s nothing to worry about, particularly if your competition also dropped.

If you’re not tracking your competition’s domain authority, start on that now.

That will help you not panic when there is a drop.

To increase your domain authority, your site has to earn links from high-value sites—those that have a higher domain authority than your own.

If you are doing that—and you’re consistently producing new content—you won’t typically see a drop when no one else does.

If, however, your domain authority does decrease while your competition increases, it may be time to panic.

Don’t Really Panic

A decrease in domain authority while your competition continues to rise could mean a few things:

  • You haven’t produced any  new content since the last time your site was crawled.
  • Google may have caught something sketchy you did, such as keyword stuffing or duplicate content (which is different than syndicated content).
  • A site (or sites) that has linked to you has been devalued.
  • You have content that is inappropriately named.
  • Your site had issues, such as it was hacked or it went down for 24 hours or any of the other things we all experience at least once.

But if your domain authority decreases by a point or two when no one else does, it’s smart to keep an eye on things for the next 30 days.

If the trend continues, then it’s time to dig in and figure out what’s going on.

How Do I Fix Issues?

Earlier this year, I sat down with our web team to figure out why our domain authority had stabilized.

It wasn’t dropping, but it wasn’t increasing, either.

We opened an SEMRush account ($99/month) and we got to work.

Here is what we found:

  • There were some blog titles that had non-PR names, such as Online Management and Porn Stars. It was appropriately named for the article (how to compete in search results when your name is the same as a porn star’s), but it was bringing yucky traffic to the site. We renamed it (and others) and saw a slight shift in our domain authority.
  • When we compared the backlinks we get to those our competition gets, we found we our severely lacking when it comes to links from education institutions. University communications programs have since been added to our media relations efforts.
  • There were about 700 broken links. We have painstakingly gone through each one and either deleted or updated them.
  • There were more than 250 articles that appeared on page two of Google results. With a few tweaks, we were able to get all of them to appear on page one.
  • While the Packers most definitely do suck, people who search “Packers suck” are not our audience. So a blog post with that title, while a great traffic generator, was not helping our business case or our domain authority.

We also did an audit of our Google Analytics and found numerous issues that were easily fixed.

The Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is: Do not panic!

Fluctuations are OK—and it’s great to pay attention to your ranking.

Also pay attention to the rankings of your competition so you know whether or not to freak out.

And make sure you track fluctuations month-over-month, not by day or week.

If your domain authority decreases when no one else does—and it stays there for more than three months—it’s time to do some extra work.

While tools such as SEMRush do cost some out-of-pocket dollars, it’s far less expensive than having to do all that work manually.

What questions do you have?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • While more about search than DA, Rand’s last Whiteboard Friday looked at this issue too. He said don’t panic as well 🙂

    Ranking Fluctuations: What to Expect + How to React

    p.s. Worked with a woman who did roller derby. It was such fun to watch.

    • I have a friend who does it, too. I cannot imagine getting out there and doing that. Then again, I crash my bicycle all the time and get back out there. So don’t listen to me.

      • And fell off when I was horseback riding. Name of the game. Getting back up is why you’re so successful 🙂

        • This is why I like you: You’re resilient (and smart)!

  • Darryl Robinson-Keys

    Another good image for this article could have been “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.

    Here is the Moz Index updates link –
    The next one is planned for June 27th.

    I am a Rush fan, and an SEMRush fan….

    Good article – Thanks Gini.

    • I was seriously cracking myself up when I wrote the headline and did the image. LOL!

      • Howie Goldfarb

        How will this all change when we stop using Google and start verbally using our personal assistants to find stuff. Will Alexa, Home, Cortina only return results for companies that contract with them? This really needs to be discussed. The whole SEO ecosystem could be gone in 10 years. Moz could be gone. All these AI systems are going to change everything.

        • Mary Meeker’s internet report predicts voice will be 80% of all search by 2020. So it’ll be less than 10 years.

    • If you have your towel, it’ll all be fine.

  • Awesome photo!

  • Howie Goldfarb

    So glad I don’t have a website anymore! Great post Ms Gini to help those that do. But you left out if you spend some money ranking doesn’t matter you can always show up on first page with Ad Words!

    I read these posts on the hardcore tactics needed to succeed online and one thing is always missing. Product or Service. So much is by word of mouth when your product or service is excellent and I often feel these tactics while they should be taken on if the resources are there….so many other factors come into play when a biz that doesn’t have awareness (like a Fortune 500 or Regional Company does) in how to be found. Obviously harder for services than companies that make products because then you just need distribution to get going.

    BTW I stopped using Disqus because the system was always too buggy for me. I can’t log in with Twitter (no idea why). I have to go to the Disqus site to log in then come back. Not worth it for me. But I can always play guest I just can’t give up or downs.

    • You have to remember my audience is communicators. And, typically, they don’t run the AdWords accounts. So yes, I agree with you, but if you’re focused on earned and owned media in silos, this is the way you track your results.

  • Thanks for the insight.

  • Thanks for sharing can you help me for increase Domain Authority my Site On Give me some tips