Domain Authority Consolidation: An Observation of dictionary.com

July 12th, 2016 | Analysis 12 comments
by Holly Miller and Sebastien Edgar
 

A few weeks ago, we noticed five dictionary related domains on the Searchmetrics list of Top 100 SEO Visibility (although technically thesaurus.com is part of the dictionary.com domain), a curious trend since these domains technically all provide the same experience: define the word. However, we noticed recently one domain in particular appears to have rocketed to a new level of visibility overshadowing the rest. Or has it?

domain-authority-consolidation_dictionary.com-example

After some initial digging, here’s what we saw:

Number Domain SEO Visibility  06/19/2016
9 dictionary.com 4,575,712
11 merriam-webster.com 3,549,722
18 urbandictionary.com 2,265,266
61 thesaurus.com 904,896
67 vocabulary.com 812,564

 

dictionary.com vs. merriam-webster.com

By this view, it appears merriam-webster.com is the market leader. But SEO Visibility for for dictionary.com shoots up in early March, surpassing its competitors and maintaining its new position starting in April. But if they were trailing so far behind earlier in the year, how exactly did they shoot up so quickly?

seo-visibility_dictionary.com_vs-competitors

As of mid-March, the /browse/ folder within the domain did not exist. Then, all of the sudden, it took off as their top directory.

dictionary.com_seo-visibility-change

The introduction of this directory has definitely propelled the dictionary.com domain above their competitors, which begs the natural question: how did they do it? To answer this question, we began to investigate their SEO impact, and what might be going on behind the scenes to fuel their seemingly instant success. How did this domain become the new market leader in such a competitive space? Especially when you compare all five domains together, merriam-webister.com has been the market leader for the past two years. So how, exactly, did dictionary.com gain such a strong foothold so quickly?

seo-visibility_dictionary.com_vs-competitors_2014-2016

But after some investigation, in actuality, the change we saw is not some new or special SEO strategy. Rather, it’s a good example of consolidation of resources of the domain’s authority. In fact, when we zoom out even further on the timeline, we realized dictionary.com had in fact been the market leader all along. It just didn’t appear that way in 2016.

seo-visibility_dictionary.com_vs-competitors_january2014-june2016

At this point, we revisited the domain as it appeared approximately two years ago and identified that the /browse/ folder had existed previously, just under a different version of the domain: dictionary.reference.com/browse

dictionary.reference.com:browse:_seo-visibility-change

seo-visibility_dictionary.com:browse-vs-dictionary.reference.com:browse

We can see that by redirecting to a streamlined folder structure in March of this year from dictionary.reference.com/browse into dictionary.com/browse/, dictionary.com allowed them to consolidate the domain authority, resulting in regained SEO visibility.

In most cases, any given domain sees improved rankings on keywords with this sort of consolidation. For example, in the dictionary.com case, the domain had previously been ranking between positions 3-5 for the keyword “quality”, whereas with the new domain, the URL dictionary.com/broswe/quality/ ranks in a higher position (position 2) and can compete directly against merriam-webster.com for organic traffic.

keyword-position-history_dictionary.com-example

This is a great example of inherent SEO factors and why consolidating domain authority is important for contributing to maintaining good rankings and SEO Visibility.

Has consolidating domain authority helped you gain SEO Visibility for your website? Share your stories below.

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Holly Miller is the Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at Searchmetrics. In this role, she leads digital marketing efforts and the strategy behind blending earned and paid media channels with content marketing, social media and events in partnership with the Global Marketing and Content Marketing teams. Prior to this, Holly delivered SEO insights to some of the world’s largest brands as a member of the Searchmetrics Professional Services team. A true SEO lover, Holly draws her enthusiasm for search from a diverse set of professional experiences in online marketing from communications to creative agency work. She's passionate about sharing her unique professional insight to help marketers improve their customer experience through the use of data.
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Comments (12)

Comments (12)

  1. 2016/07/12

    Isn’t it ironic that SM has its blog on a subdomain?

  2. 2016/07/13

    We are working on it 🙂 …Customers first!

  3. 2016/07/14

    Im a bit confused, I thought domain authority was a accumulative effect, meaning it doesn’t matter if it’s on a sub domain, or subfolder, shouldn’t it automatically inherent the domain authority from the root domain?

  4. 2016/07/18

    Hi John,
    Thanks for your reply. So, directly regarding your question: “shouldn’t it automatically inherent the domain authority from the root domain?” No, it does not. In terms of authority, it does matter whether a page is on a subdomain vs. subdirectory, because a subdomain is treated as a separate domain. Since the authority was split between the subdomain and the main domain, it was then all consolidated into one main domain.

  5. 2016/07/19

    Hi Holly,

    Just for clarification, when you stated ” Since the authority was split between the subdomain and the main domain, it was then all consolidated into one main domain.”

    So does that mean that even tough the authority is not passed to the subdomain, any authority gained by the subdomain would passed to the main domain?

  6. 2016/07/20

    Hi John,
    That’s correct. In this case, any authority (links, etc.) going to the subdomain would then be passed on to the main domain. Since the subdomain was 301 Redirected to the main domain, roughly 90 to 99% of link juice gets passed on via a 301 Redirect.

  7. 2016/09/15

    I am little bit confused to increase our domain authority to get such a good result as you told.
    Can you explain it further what are actions to be taken for that DA.
    Thanks for information.

  8. Tom
    2016/10/11

    Sounds like a good plan to boost your domain.

  9. 2016/10/19

    Hello Miler,

    Although one thing is important if the Domain authority is the high then your blog is achieve many of good position. Indeed here your explanation is very well on Domain authority. Thank you for sharing great information.

  10. 2016/11/08

    Very interesting analysis and with an example and graphics. I’ve always been in favor of using domains, the subdomains I like less. If it is much needed I prefer to use folders.
    Regards and congrat

  11. 2017/01/11

    Great Post, explains the relevance of domain authority of a website. DA will bring more recognition in Google SERP. Thank You.

  12. 2017/03/12

    Thanks for the great information for free, i been trying to increase DA to my website (Forever) the right way, i think; i have to many links that are no follow, so i’am not seeing a increase in DA, but thanks for some great knowledge, it was needed

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