SEO for lawyers: How to use Domain Authority and Domain Rating

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Many attorneys want to improve how their website ranks in search engines, but of course, this isn’t something they learned in law school.

There are many ways to determine how your law firm’s website ranks in various search engines across searches in many geographic locations. Entering search queries using special browser settings, like Chrome Incognito, and using software like Ahrefs to track where pages rank for keywords are just 2 ways you can see keyword-level progress.

But for attorneys who want to know how the authority of their page is impacting its rank and why, there’s still a big question: How do you assign a single value to your domain that shows the quality of your website as it relates to search? PageRank was traditionally the go-to key performance indicator for webmasters, but these days, there are much better ways to measure the caliber of a domain.

No-cost measurement

Domain Authority, developed by Moz, and Domain Rating, developed by Ahrefs, are 2 of the most reliable metrics to emerge in SEO. One of the greatest things about these metrics is that you don’t have to pay for them to get a basic report of where your site stands in search. Both Moz and Ahrefs allow people to use their services on a limited basis for free. Of course, if you want all the data on why your Domain Authority or Domain Rating is what it is, you’ll have to pay to subscribe.

Often just seeing the measurement for your site’s homepage is enough to tell you if you are headed in the right direction. For Moz, head over to Open Site Explorer and plugin in your homepage URL.


Hit search, and Moz will generate data on links it finds for that domain.


You’ll be able to see the Domain Authority, the Page Authority, and other data related to the precise URL you pasted into the tool. Moz will let you do this a few times for free before locking you out for a day or so. Open Site Explorer is marketed as a free service, but the site limits how many reports you can run as well as which features are available.

Scanning using Ahrefs

You can also scan your site with Ahrefs and see the Domain Rating for the URL you enter as well as for the site as a whole. Keep in mind that Domain Rating is Ahref’s proprietary metric, and you cannot really compare it to Domain Authority.


Ahrefs continually improves its index and its product by frequently adding new features.

Once you have an account up and running, plug your URL into the box on the homepage of your account.


After your site is scanned, you will see the Domain Rating at the top of the page. Keep in mind that this is the Domain Rating for the whole site. The URL Rating, on the other hand, is the rating for the precise URL you put into Ahrefs.


Using your domain measurement data

Whether you use Moz or Ahrefs or one of the other great SEO measurement tools out there, keep in mind that you should be careful to avoid data paralysis. In other words, do not scan your website or analytics platform for no reason. Instead, come up with goals you can use to measure your progress. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Measure an increase in Domain Authority or Domain Rating: Take a baseline measurement of where your site is now and record it somewhere. Then, measure your progress at 30-day intervals to see if you are making progress with your link-building campaign.
  • Measure your site’s activity in organic search: Use a free tool like Google Analytics and take a baseline measurement of how much traffic your site has received from organic search over the most recent 60-day period. Make note of that and check back every 30 days during your campaign to see how you are progressing.

For example, say your website has a Domain Authority of 35, and you want to reach 45 by the end of the calendar year. Building high-quality inbound links to your site is a great way to do that, and any of the tools mentioned above can help you determine if you are succeeding.

Key takeaways

Fewer than 20 percent of attorneys that are solo or have small practices employ outside staff or specialized marketing staff to handle things like SEO. But that does not mean that you shouldn’t take small steps to understand what makes your website rank well, or not so well, in search results.

      • Benchmark: Determine where your Domain Authority and Domain Rating sit today using Moz or Ahrefs.
      • Set a goal: Identify what you would like your Domain Authority or Domain Rating to be by a specific point in time and why.
      • Get an SEO professional’s opinion on how to move forward: Knowing why you want to improve your Domain Authority and Domain Rating will help a professional work on an inbound link-building strategy with you. Be careful to use professionals with a strong reputation. There are many consultants out there who claim to generate inbound links but who do so by paying for poor quality links. You want trusted sites to link to your page; only these will help improve your Domain Authority and Domain Rating.

As search matures, so do the metrics that allow lawyers to measure their progress with SEO. Domain Authority and Domain Rating are free data points attorneys can use to mark their progress as well as justify their investment in search engine optimization campaigns. There are certainly many vague strategies attorneys can use to see how their site ranks in search results, but having reliable and near real-time metrics is vital for allocating precious marketing dollars.

To learn more about how you can use these metrics to improve your website’s ranking, stay tuned for the next post in this series, “Metrics of success: How to create an SEO strategy for lawyers.” You can also learn more about why Domain Authority and Domain Rating are important for lawyers in our first post, PageRank is dead: Domain Authority and Domain Rating for lawyers.

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