SEO Metrics: DA, DR, and CF/TF

Link Building
When promoting a website, the webmaster must perform a large amount of routine work that determines the effectiveness of ranking. If you don’t pay attention to an important task, competitors can win the battle for traffic.

SEO Measurement Metrics | DA, DR, and CF/TF Importance in SEO

Many website owners spend time tracking metrics they consider important. For example, webmasters regularly monitor link mass — if the number of links starts to drop drastically, it will affect visibility.

Also, webmasters pay much attention to checking SEO metrics when selecting donors for link building. The metrics help assess the website’s quality and make the right choice.

SEO analysis services offer plenty of metrics, each of which can be beneficial according to analytical platforms, but it is difficult to monitor dozens of indicators at once. Therefore, it is better to focus on the 3-5 most important ones.

1. What Are SEO Metrics?

SEO metrics are indicators that determine the website quality in general or its specific components. For example, to figure out the approach to selling links, a spam indicator is used.

In any SEO service, you can view the ratio of outbound and inbound links. The information obtained will allow you to understand whether it is necessary to build links to the site.

If the project is trustworthy, the backlink from it will be beneficial to the recipient. Most likely, there will not be an immediate effect, but if you accumulate trust, it might eventually give a boost to visibility. SEO metrics also help determine which project has a higher rank when analyzing potential donors. If they have roughly the same organic traffics and similar link profiles, you can figure out the priority with metrics.

It is not necessary to check the potential donor with SEO metrics if it is a niche leader and does not sell links in an aggressive format. But still, analyzing metrics will not be superfluous, because even at this level, resources can be problematic.

Each webmaster has its own set of data for assessing the quality of projects, so you can gather your personal list to solve a specific problem. New indicators appear rarely, mostly after Google algorithms are updated.

1.1. Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority by Moz is a metric for assessing domain quality. It determines the probability of a project’s successful ranking in search results. The higher the number, the better the chances.

The goal of the metric is to give webmasters a handy tool to check the authority of any project. Since its development and to this day, DA has been actively used in the SEO community.

Among all domain ranking metrics, Domain Authority is often crucial in assessing the quality of a potential donor. If two projects have approximately the same authority, checking DA determines everything.

The maximum possible value of domain authority according to Moz is 100 points. You can hardly find a donor with this figure since even Google gets only 94 points.

Domain Authority is determined based on data from the Link Explorer index and dozens of individual factors. After running the quality check, the webmaster gets the result in a few seconds, but from the technical side, many resources are involved.

In 2019, Moz released Domain Authority 2.0 and changed the algorithm for calculating the metric. A neural network makes predictions based on an analysis of domain use in Google search results. Because of the use of machine learning, metrics can change at a high rate.

1.1.1. Backlinks

Link mass has always been one of the main ranking factors in any search engine. The situation has not changed in 2023, although search engines are working hard to reduce the impact of backlinks.

Every link to an authoritative project that looks organic is beneficial to the site. If the source of the link is high-quality and the search engine’s evaluation algorithm has no claims to it, you can negotiate regular cooperation.

The trend of increasing inbound links does not always indicate that the site’s position will certainly grow over time. It all depends on the approach to link building. If there will be links from reputable projects in the profile, they can positively affect visibility.

Google representatives constantly emphasize that any link exchange schemes are prohibited. That is why the developers of the search engine devote a lot of time to improving the algorithms for recognizing artificial links.

1.1.2. Internal links

The quality of internal linking also affects the future of the project. If everything is fine with external optimization, but algorithms have concerns regarding the internal condition, the resource’s potential may not be fully realized.

With internal links, you can improve the juice of pages that can count on steady traffic. Competent relinking makes them more attractive to search engine algorithms.

Webmasters use different approaches to relinking, but they mostly concentrate the juice on the main page and the priority sections of the project to attract the attention of search engine algorithms. 

1.1.3. Dofollow and Nofollow links

Previously, the nofollow attribute could be used for two important tasks — creating an organic link profile and implementing flexible link juice control within the site.

For several years now, Google algorithms consider nofollow a hint rather than a mandatory attribute. That is, crawlers see a structure in the source code and make a decision about passing juice based on a set of factors.

Algorithms still could not comply with the specified rules and act at their own discretion, but after the obligation was canceled, Google is free to take any actions. Therefore, nofollow tactics are no longer 100% effective.

The website profile should include links with nofollow attributes, ugc, sponsored, but it is unknown how exactly they affect the ranking. Google representatives only note that naturalness results from diversity. 

1.2. Domain Rating (DR)

Many SEO services have their metrics to evaluate different parameters. Not only Moz offers webmasters the domain authority indicator. A popular analytics platform Ahrefs also has a similar metric.

The peculiarity of Domain Rating is that the backlink quality analysis is used to calculate the value rather than ranking predictions like with Domain Authority. It is important because not only links affect the ranking.

That is, with DR, you can estimate the quality of link mass in the project, but there is no data on the ranking in organic search results. You should clearly understand the difference to properly use the figures.

Domain Rating is determined based on the strength of the link profile compared to other projects in the Ahrefs database. The volume of stored data in the service is large, but it does not cover the entire Internet.

Domain Rating, as one of the most popular SEO tracking metrics, is ideal for donor evaluation. It can be used simultaneously with Domain Authority to get a comprehensive picture. 

1.2.1. On-page SEO

Many webmasters focus on domain metrics and forget to check the strength of specific pages. This is a common misconception that reduces the effectiveness of link building. If a site owner has paid $500 for a link exchange, the best page should be chosen.

On-page SEO plays a significant role, so you should always look for pages that can give the maximum amount of link juice. Regardless of the toolkit creation approach, it should have a service to check page authority.

For example, the domain score may be high, but the webmaster offers to place a backlink on a page with a high spam rate. Then, the link juice will be distributed equally on all outbound links. 

1.2.2. Number of backlinks

The number of links matters only in the context of the profile dynamics. For example, if the quality of links in two projects is about the same and they are fighting for dominance in the same niche, the growth rate will be critical.

You should always keep your competitors’ profiles under control to notice changes in time. For example, if a major competitor gets 5 times more new links than usual, you need to take countermeasures.

If most competitors are adding links to their profiles from low-quality projects, there is no point in chasing them. It is better to focus on quality and building ongoing links with niche leaders.

1.2.3. Relevance

One of the main signs of quality linking is the relevance between donor and recipient. If algorithms suspect backlink sales, both resources may eventually be subject to increased scrutiny by algorithms.

Relevant topics can be of any kind, but their appropriateness can be seen with the naked eye. For example, if the pet store refers to a manufacturer of animal food, there is nothing suspicious about it.

In some niches, the number of relevant donors may be limited, and webmasters have to reduce the requirements for relevance. In this case, it is necessary to keep the balance and not sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. 

1.2.4. Internal linking

Internal linking is a useful tool for every webmaster, regardless of the characteristics of the project and competition in the niche. The better the internal optimization, the more chances to get high positions in the future.

You can improve re-linking by analyzing competitors that have long been taking high positions and consistently receive search traffic. Such projects are authoritative for search engines.

1.2.5. Technical SEO

Webmasters sometimes forget about the technical state of the project, which is very important. Relatively recently, Google has updated the requirements for loading speed, approach to advertising, and other factors.

Core Web Vitals scores related to behavioral factors also affect a project’s ranking. If a resource’s pages load slowly and access to content is problematic, rankings can worsen.

It is quite realistic to improve the state of technical SEO. You can find a developer who will improve performance and make recommendations on how to maintain important parameters at a high level. Their services can be expensive, but it is a one-time cost.

1.3. Trust Flow (TF)

Webmasters who do not know what SEO metrics are encounter many indicators when they begin to learn the theory, in particular, Trust Flow from Majestic.

TF is used to assess the quality of links of a particular project. If the strength of each backlink is unquestionable, the value will be high, and you can build links with it.

But when there are many low-quality links in the website profile and too many keywords spam, it is better to look for an alternative. You can always make a comparison and find more attractive resources, partnership with which will be beneficial.

Trust Flow does not show traffic history and is not related to PageRank, so you can use it only for donor analysis. There are dozens of other relevant indicators for other tasks.

When two projects are connected through links, a connection is created between them, which is difficult to break. Therefore, it is important to carefully select donors so that you do not have to take emergency measures.

When choosing a donor, you need to involve as many metrics as possible rather than focusing on one. Comprehensive analysis helps to see the situation from all sides and find inconsistencies. 

1.4. Citation Flow (CF)

Unlike trust flow, this metric counts the number of links rather than their quality. If you want to know which page is being cited by more resources, Trust Flow is ideal.

It is impossible to measure the link impact with CF, so do not use it for this task. Typically, webmasters analyze the TF to CF ratio to determine the feasibility of link building.

It is important to understand that citation flow may increase every day, but it does not mean a concurrent increase in trust flow. The metrics are partially related, but they are designed to solve different problems.

You can improve Citation Flow without problems and relatively cheap, but the situation with the quality of links is much more complicated. Therefore, you need to clearly set priorities and determine the direction of the project development.

2. How Do Metrics Interact?

The list of available SEO metrics is very large, and webmasters can use any of them on a regular basis. The thing is that none of them can guarantee a 100% connection to Google algorithms.

For example, specialists tried to link some indexes to the original formula for calculating PageRank, but the actual value and formula of this metric are still unknown. Therefore, we can only say that they are minimally similar.

Some metrics are actively used in close cooperation. This applies to the ratio of TF and CF, which are in demand no less than Domain Rating and Domain Authority.

The tandem of certain SEO metrics can only work in specific situations. For example, DA is used along with DR; they are alternatives to each other. You can check the value of the metric with free services.

Domain Authority is often used in conjunction with Page Authority. The first metric helps to identify the authoritative donor from the list, while the second — to find the strongest pages.

Interaction between popular metrics may not be obvious. Each webmaster has a different approach to promotion and performing individual tasks on this difficult path. 

2.1. Does this metric mean that a leading site can’t be unranked?

Every metric is nothing more than a value judgment about certain project characteristics. For example, Domain Authority is powered by machine learning and may produce different results during each review.

If a project or page scores low on a particular metric, it won’t necessarily affect its position in search results. Search algorithms will make a decision based on their rules.

Nevertheless, the use of SEO metrics can be called legitimate. If they help you save time analyzing external projects, it makes sense to pay for subscriptions and use platforms on a regular basis.

3. Domain Ranking vs. Domain Authority

There is no point in comparing these metrics for a long time because the answer is on the surface. Domain authority uses a predictive model whose main purpose is to determine the chances of a successful ranking.

Domain ranking relies on the quality of the link profile, which also affects the generation of search results. Therefore, the best scenario is a combination of the two metrics. Specialized services may be used for checking DA and DR in bulk, while a single check can be performed directly by the sources of these metrics.

There is no need to confront the two metrics and look for discrepancies and waste time searching for answers to the differences in values. You need to use the tools for their intended purpose and figure out how they work.

If a webmaster already knows what the domain rating means and wants to proceed to active link building, PRPosting will come to the rescue. In your personal account, you can collect a list of donors in a few hours.

Among the filters available are Domain Rating, Trust Flow, Citation Flow, and other important metrics. This helps to narrow down the search and select quality objects from the list of available donors.

4. How Are Metrics Calculated?

The algorithms for calculating each metric are kept secret because there is great competition in the market of search engine marketing platforms. They function thanks to subscriptions and cannot reveal their secrets.

Among SEO metrics, there are examples with a transparent operating model. For example, the spam rate is determined based on the ratio of inbound to outbound links. But each service has a different index, so the final values may vary.

Before you use the metric on a regular basis, you need to understand how it is defined. Basic algorithms are usually described in the Help section with specific examples and notes.

Some platforms even publish useful infographics that you can save to your computer and refresh your knowledge periodically. You should also keep an eye out for updates because they can change the situation.

4.1. Comparison of Trust Flow and Citation Flow

Trust Flow and Citation Flow are connected, but they were created to solve different problems. Therefore, it does not make sense to oppose them, but it is beneficial to use them in combination.

When analyzing potential donors, webmasters use TF CF because they reveal the situation with the link mass. If two metrics will not be enough, you can involve additional indicators.

Trust Flow and Citation Flow focus on working with link mass, but in any case, the situation is very different. The quality of backlinks should be in the first place, but their quantity is also important in the context of a particular site.

5. TF/CF Ratio

Webmasters often use Trust Flow and Citation Flow to decide whether to partner with a project. If a resource has a good link, you can build links with it. But first, you need to understand what trust flow is and how the metric works.

Regarding the ratio of the two metrics, experienced webmasters call the lower threshold of 0.5. That is, if the citation flow is 30 and the trust flow is 15, you can work with the project.

Authoritative resources may have a different ratio. For example, the difference in Google indicators is minimal. That is, a large number of backlinks does not negatively affect their quality. If you manage to find a site that is even slightly close to the benchmark, you should seek cooperation. In this case, the ROI of the link-building campaign will be high — over time, the project can get a boost in organic search results due to cooperation with authoritative projects and increased credibility.

5.1. Values of TF and CF indices for the site

If trust flow is 200% lower than citation flow, it means that the Majestic algorithms recognized most links as being of low quality. There is no point in building links to such projects.

You can also look at historical profile data. Majestic has a large repository that can be used to provide a complete picture of your chosen projects.

The service has a specific approach to creating charts, but if you get used to them, you won’t have problems analyzing data in the future. The cost of subscriptions on the platform is not very high, but it makes sense to buy it if the tools will be used on a permanent basis. 

6. Overall Site Rating

Site rating is a relative concept that can be interpreted differently. If you ask webmasters about what metrics can be used to measure SEO, the answers may vary greatly.

The overall ranking of a project consists of individual metrics that cover all aspects of the project. If you focus only on links, you can miss a lot of essential details.

It makes sense to focus on link-related metrics only if you want to determine the quality of donors and then negotiate with site representatives. But in this case, it is also better to choose a comprehensive approach.

6.1. Why check it?

It is necessary to assess the site rating to protect yourself from problems in the future. If you build links with a project created for quick earnings on links, they can eventually turn into dead weight.

Each reputable service has its own metrics for determining authority, so you can choose any at your discretion. It is better to give preference to constantly updated indicators, taking into account the current situation in SERP.

6.1.1. Checking the quality of the link profile

A link profile is a mirror of the site. If backlinks from authoritative resources regularly appear in it, but visibility and traffic remain at the same level, it makes sense to build links with such a project.

Various services help to check the profile quality, which not only show the value of its metrics but also give a complete picture. You can find out at what rate the project loses links, see the main methods of link building, and assess the potential for cooperation.

It is best to analyze the profile with several services to get the maximum amount of information. In each case, the data will be different because the link index differs everywhere.

6.1.2. Checking link donors

A basic link profile analysis contains a lot of useful information, but it is not sufficient to verify the project’s quality. You also need to determine how reputable the donors in the profile are.

For example, in SEMRush, you can see a list of backlinks by date and see the number of inbound and outbound donor links in the report. You can use filters to narrow down the search for links with certain attributes and choose where to place links on the site.

6.1.3. Analysis of TOP competitors

Most SEO analysis services find competitors independently by matching keywords. It is sufficient to enter the URL of the project and see the result. With built-in tools, you can compare progress.

SEMRush also provides a lot of useful information about competitors. You can see traffic dynamics and the number of new backlinks and top keywords that bring organic conversions from search engines.

Competitor analysis allows you to find weaknesses in your website promotion strategy. If competitors cannot eliminate shortcomings for a long time, you can use this aspect to gain an advantage in the SERPs. 

7. Tools for Checking SEO Metrics

In the niche of search engine marketing, there are many services that help to check the value of metrics and solve many other problems. The main thing is to choose the right platform and not overpay.

In addition to the free tools, you will most likely need to buy a subscription to a paid service to use its features without limitations. If you pay one year in advance or more, you can save money.

Most popular platforms allow you to test tools for free. For example, SEMRush provides free plan holders with 10 checks per day.

7.1. Google Search Console

Google’s console for webmasters is a source of valuable data. If the site owner does not keep track of the information in the panel, they may miss important events. For example, if a project gets subject to a filter, it’s important to notice the problem in time.

GSC has a lot of useful information, including found links. The report shows backlinks that Google crawlers detected and added to the site’s profile. External services can show anything, but search algorithms consider links according to their rules.

As for other metrics, you can see data on the ranking efficiency, the history of changes in Core Web Vitals, and many other useful statistics in the reports. If you ignore these data, the effectiveness of promotion will be low. 

7.2. Google Analytics

If you don’t have an analytics system installed on your website, you’ll have trouble finding out actual information about user visits and will never see the real state of behavioral factors and the number of targeted actions.

It’s best to connect Google Analytics to your site at the start of promotion when there are no indexed project pages even in the search engine database. This way, you accumulate as much data as possible and keep the situation under control.

7.3. Ahrefs

When webmasters want to figure out what domain authority is, they are often recommended this service. Ahrefs offers webmasters the Domain Rating metric, which is considered an ideal tool for determining project authority.

You can check the DR for free on the Ahrefs website. If you need to verify potential donors in bulk, you need to find a tool that supports multi-threading. 

7.4. SEMRush

Like its competitors, this analytics platform offers webmasters several metrics for SEO tasks. Among them is the SEMRush Rank metric, which demonstrates the quality of a project in terms of search traffic.

Webmasters can also use the service to select the most powerful pages on a donor site using Page Score. SEMRush can be used for free, but the number of checks per day is limited.

7.5. Majestic

This search engine marketing platform gave website owners Trust Flow and Citation Flow metrics. With their help, you can quickly assess the quality of a potential donor and make a decision about working with it.

The service has one of the largest historical link indices. It allows you to see the dynamics of the profile for the entire period of project existence. Majestic provides a large amount of data, but it may be difficult for beginners to navigate the interface.

7.6. Moz

When webmasters need to estimate donor potential, they often choose Moz. The service has Domain Authority and Page Authority metrics that help to determine project quality.

The platform has no free plans, but you can use a trial period for 30 days after registration. That’s enough time to make a decision about paying for a subscription. A bank card will be required to activate the profile.

On the niche resources on SEO, you can find many tips for selecting donors and using different metrics, but in each case, you need to make decisions based on a combination of factors. And be sure to understand the theory. You should at least know the meaning of citation flow.

8. Why You Should Not Use Metrics Only?

You can collect a list of 10-20 metrics, but it is only a value judgment based on algorithms rather than on a manual check. For example, if a resource actively sells links but keeps a balance between inbound and outbound links, it will have a good spam rate.

And when the webmaster will look carefully at the profile’s structure, they will find links with commercial keywords that do not look natural. In such a case, it is better to reject cooperation because, over time, the donor risks being subject to a filter.

Before building links, it is necessary to perform a comprehensive evaluation of each project with the help of dedicated services and manual checks of content, audience activity, and usability.

8.1. Look for key metrics

Any site has two key indicators: traffic dynamics and visibility. If a project stays in the top positions in search results for a long time, search engine algorithms consider it authoritative.

With the help of different indicators, you can assess the overall condition of the site. If everything is good with link factors, but there are problems with technical SEO, they can lead to negative dynamics in the future.

8.2. Referral traffic

Getting a stable volume of referral traffic is one of the priorities for every webmaster. If visits have good behavioral factors, search engine algorithms will definitely notice it.

It is possible to get referral conversions by linking to reputable projects. In most cases, SEO professionals use content marketing to achieve this goal. One of the benefits of referral traffic is that some new users may eventually become regular visitors. Therefore, it is important to attract interested customers to the site and not place links to sites from which it will not be possible to get even a few conversions. 

8.3. Terms & Conditions and official support

There are many SEO DA checkers in the public domain, which are rather functional, but for comprehensive search engine marketing, a platform of comprehensive analytics is required.

Before paying for a long-term subscription plan, you should make sure that the service will fully meet all your needs. If necessary, you can request a refund within the time frame specified in the service policy, but it is better to secure yourself in advance.

The quality of the evaluation of potential donors depends on the stability of the link profile of the site. If you do not comply with basic safety rules, negative dynamics may eventually become uncontrollable.

9. Is It Possible to Improve Metrics?

It is quite possible to improve SEO metrics, but you should understand that they are only indicators. They are not tied to search engine ranking algorithms. That is, improving the value of Domain Rating may not affect the visibility in organic search.

Therefore, it makes no sense to try to improve the performance of indicators of certain services. It is necessary to constantly work on the comprehensive optimization of the project. Only in this way can you count on the interest of the audience and search engine algorithms.

As for metrics, they can stay at the same level for a long time. Popular SEO marketing platforms have many resources, but they do not always find new links and pages in a few hours. 

9.1. Creating guest posts

Guest posting is one of the best methods of getting links. It is used in both informational and commercial niches. Before publishing articles, you should analyze the situation in SERPs and look for relevant websites.

Adding links to guest posts is standard practice, but they should fit into the context. Remember that sites from SERPs are periodically checked by assessors, who make conclusions about the quality of the project, particularly based on the approach to placing backlinks.

Guest posts are created not only for linking. They can bring in targeted conversions. If the visits have good behavioral factors, search engine algorithms will see that.

9.2. Getting backlinks

Regularly adding new links to the profile is the key to the successful promotion of the resource. But if the number of donors and backlinks decreases over time, it indicates a problem. You should create strategies to strengthen your link profile, taking into account your competitors’ approach to getting backlinks. If they dominate the niche, you need to fix the situation.

Special attention should be paid to the analysis of niche leaders. Regular monitoring will allow you to see changes in strategy, declines, and drastic growth. This advantage can be used to increase the chances of effective ranking. 

9.3. Fast loading

In 2023, users expect content to load quickly by default. If they have to wait a few minutes, they will go back to the search results to find a better resource to get answers to their questions.

You should also keep in mind that Google has Core Web Vitals, which assesses the technical state of a resource. If it is consistently bad, the site may not reveal its full potential.

Before you start the external optimization of the project, you should pay attention to bringing the internal optimization to perfection. Only then it makes sense to count on successful promotion.

9.4. Adaptivity check

Webmasters should understand what TF and CF are in SEO, but optimization doesn’t end on theory. If content loads quickly and users don’t have to wait long, behavioral factors will be positively affected.

But there are other criteria for evaluating the quality of a resource. For example, it is important for visitors that nothing interferes with the comfortable viewing of content. The share of mobile traffic is constantly growing, and the trend of mobile-first is relevant for many years.

Nevertheless, many sites have problems with adaptivity. Because of it, they lose user loyalty and chances to increase visibility. Therefore, you should keep the situation under control.

The ideal state of internal and external optimization allows you to get the maximum profits in search results. If you improve the site only from one side and do not pay attention to other aspects, the benefits will be less.

10. How Do SEO Metrics Affect the Industry?

EO indicators have a great impact on the industry. Most webmasters are guided by them in selecting donors and monitoring the progress of their projects. But you should understand that any metrics that are not tied to search engines are only relative indicators.

It is reasonable to focus on indicators because you can use them to track the dynamics. For example, if the number of donors and backlinks increases, TF, CF, and DA SEO will eventually follow.

Without monitoring SERPs, you will not be able to see problems in time. Therefore, you should not just update statistics once a month but promptly learn about changes. Some search engine marketing platforms offer monitoring tools.

Monitor Backlinks sends messages as soon as the added backlinks disappear from the page or the donor site does not load. This is just one example of the implementation of a scenario that helps automate routine work.

New metrics that affect rankings appear in the industry from time to time. This was the case with Web Vitals, which has only been around for a few years. So, you should keep an eye out for updates and promptly adapt your project to new requirements.

11. Conclusions

SEO metrics help the webmaster to monitor the progress of promotion and identify problems. There are a lot of them, so you should choose a few of the most important and periodically check the values.

To understand how they work, you should carefully read the help sections of SEO services. For example, Majestic’s FAQ has a detailed explanation of citation flow, which a webmaster with any level of knowledge will understand.


What are SEO metrics?

They are useful tools to measure your SEO progress and compare the authority of your donors. They should be used regularly to have the most up-to-date information at hand.

Is it important to check the TF/CF ratio?

It’s essential if you need to select reputable donors from a list. These metrics reveal both the quantitative and qualitative component of a link profile.

How do you check SEO metrics with indicators?

To do this, you need to select one or more services and get fresh data. Figures can change very quickly, especially if we are talking about a large project.

What is domain rating?

Domain rating is an indicator of project quality, which webmasters have been using for many years. It shows how good the link mass of a resource is.

How SEO metrics affect SEO?

Metrics themselves have no impact on SEO. They are indicators allowing you to evaluate the project on certain parameters.

Why do SEO metrics matter?

They matter because they help webmasters automate a lot of routine work. For example, it is possible to evaluate the quality of link mass in a few clicks.

Kyryk Oleksandr
SEO Consultant

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