First off, I want to disclaim this post by saying one thing: There is the right time and the right place for using metrics like Domain Authority or Trust Flow. BUT, most of us are using them wrong every single day.
What Metrics Am I Talking About?
Just to clarify, when I talk about domain metrics I’m talking about the following types of metrics (This, of course isn’t an exhaustive list, but the most commonly used ones):
- Domain Authority (Moz)
- Page Authority (Moz)
- Toolbar Pagerank (Google)
- Trust Flow (Majestic)
- Citation Flow (Majestic)
Now, you can probably think of a few others. I know Ahrefs uses their own and I’ve seen several others out there, but the 5 I’ve just listed are what 99% of the world uses for judging domain quality. And what’s more, every single one of these metrics is FLAWED! We’ll get to each of them individually in a bit, but if there is one thing you take from this post, it should be that if you are using metrics like the above to make decisions, you are likely making a HUGE MISTAKE!
So You Don’t Ever Use Metrics, Jeff?
Wrong, I do use metrics. What!? But you just finished telling me they were all wrong? Let me explain this through. I use metrics for two things:
1. To filter out domains that have ZERO or NEAR ZERO value. If I’m looking through a list of domains to potentially purchase, sell, or request a link from, I can be fairly sure that values like 0, 1 or similar VERY LOW numbers will likely not have the value I need in any situation. Is that 100%? No, but here is the deal. When looking through a list of 10,000 domains I can’t check every single one. I’m willing to filter out 90% of those domains that have super low metrics. What I am NOT willing to do is say that sites that meet X metric are ok to buy/sell/contact for a link.
2. To make comparisons over time WITH THE SAME DOMAIN. One of the better uses for metrics is to get feeback on how your site is doing over time. If you are building links over 6 months and suddenly you see a big drop in your trust or domain authority it gives you an idea that something may be wrong (Let me emphasize MAY). At that point I would then go back and see if there is anything that could have caused the change and decide whether there actually is a problem.
I’m Still Not Seeing It
What I never do is say “because this domain has X DA and Y Trust I will buy it. In fact, even as recently as 6 months ago I was making this very mistake and missing HUGE numbers of domains for my own networks and link building. Why? Well let me show you some examples:
If you look at these domains (Feel free to check for yourself), they all have what would appear to be very decent metrics. Trust Flows of 23, PAs around 30 and DAs around 20 all seem pretty great so the domains must be awesome, right? Wrong! As most of you can probably tell, these are all very spammy domains. If you’ve every looked at domains before you’ll probably discount these just by the domain name itself. Looking into the anchor texts you get even further in to the spam. But they have good metrics…
Now, you may be saying, “but I’d know very quickly that the domain is spammy” or “that’s why I check anchor text and web.archive.org”. But this is not the biggest problem you will encounter. If you’re into statistics at all, this is what is called a “false positive”. In layman’s terms, a false positive domain is one that appears to be better than it is. These ones will pass your metrics and show up for a manual review if you filter out the others. The bigger problem is what is known as a “false negative”. A false negative domain will have metrics below your minimum metrics filter, when in fact it is a perfectly good domain and often times can be better than the higher metric domains.
Struggling to see this? Here is an example:
Now as you can see neither of these have terrible metrics, but if you use trust flow to filter your domains you’ll likely set your filter higher than 9 or 12. So you’re saying I should use DA/PA? Absolutely not! In my opinion DA/PA runs into this issue even more often than Trust Flow. In fact, my metric of choice has always been Trust Flow for a number of reason. What I’m getting at is that metrics will lead you astray. Either of these domains are great domains with some heavy hitting links. Both have at least one .edu link and multiple contextual links (Yeah those links that you build to your money sites). By the way, they’re both available to register if you’d like to :).
I could easily show you hundreds of examples that I run into every day, but it costs me $30-40 for each domain I don’t sell and decide to post here as an example, because, yes, I would recommend these types of domains for your PBN.
Note: These last two domains are on the lower end of the spectrum of awesome when it comes to this kind of thing, but as I said I can’t post the really good ones as I’m busy selling them to clients who would obviously not like their domains posted for everyone to see. If you are interested in seeing higher domains with larger metric differentials, just let me know. My Skype ID is jffkngstn.
So, I’m Convinced There’s A Problem. Is There A Solution?
Absolutely. The solution is to avoid filtering by metrics completely. If you feel it is absolutely necessary then filter by something helpful like number of links (referring domains really). And if you do filter set your filter very very low (Like 5 Trust/DA/PA type of low).
What I do when prepping domains for sale and what I teach my team is to use only one filter: Number of Referring Domains (Referring IPs if you want to get technical). Then I’ll move through each individual domain and look for two things:
1. High power links like .edu, .gov, or Wikipedia and
2. Contextual links. Period
If a domain has terrible metrics but 40 referring domains and 25% are contextual from a variety of university and government sites you’d be stupid not to pick the domain up in my honest opinion. This is the type of domain that will give you the links that are ranking websites on Google today. Links that pass authority and ranking power, NOT Domain Authority or Trust Flow. (A note, we do also check for anchor spam :) Just so you now :) )
What Does This Mean For You?
Well, it means you have a choice. Do you stick to what Majestic or Moz are telling you is a good domain/link? Do you stick with what everyone else in the industry is doing and getting penalized and subpar rankings with? Or do you think for yourself, take a little more time, and do the thing right?
It will take more time, yes. But there is absolutely no way around doing it right when it comes down to it.
If you are interested in buying the type of domains I’ve described above, that get you ranked above your competition, please let me know. We do run an expired domain service that you will want to see. Skype ID:jffkngstn (Or click the chat button below)
or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There, that’s my shameless plug for the day :).