Oh No! Ahrefs Updates DR – Our Thoughts and Data


Oh No!!! Ahrefs Updates DR and People Freak Out – Our Thoughts and Data

As you may have heard, Ahrefs recently updated the way that their DR (domain rating) metric is calculated and a lot of people initially freaked out as they saw their sites DR drop massively. After receiving some criticism about the severity of the drops and the way their database of sites are now scaled Ahrefs decided to go back to the drawing board and came out with a patch which went live yesterday.

From our data so far we can already tell that the patch has made for much more accurate DR scales and that now the drops if any, are not as severe.
Here are some of the new database numbers from Ahrefs themselves:
This is how their new scale now looks:

  • DR 0-5: 146,455,043 domains.
  • DR 6-10: 10,322,431 domains.
  • DR 11-15: 5,171,577 domains.
  • DR 16-20: 3,085,066 domains.
  • DR 21-25: 2,499,437 domains.
  • DR 26-30: 2,493,952 domains.
  • DR 31-35: 1,377,630 domains.
  • DR 36-40: 861,493 domains.
  • DR 41-45: 494,599 domains.
  • DR 46-50: 313,324 domains.
  • DR 51-55: 268,988 domains.
  • DR 56-60: 152,985 domains.
  • DR 61-65: 93,021 domains.
  • DR 66-70: 64,713 domains.
  • DR 71-75: 64,898 domains.
  • DR 76-80: 21,209 domains.
  • DR 81-85: 7,368 domains.
  • DR 86-90: 3,175 domains.
  • DR 91-95: 967 domains.
  • DR 96-100: 22 domains.


How DR is calculated and what is it scoring

DR is in Ahrefs own words “NOT a measure of “website authority” and it is not calculated off your search traffic or rankings. To put things simply, Domain Rating is a metric that shows the “link popularity” of your website compared to all other websites in the world on a scale from 0 to 100. No more, no less.”
This is how Ahrefs say they calculate DR:

  1. Look at how many unique domains have at least 1 dofollow link to the target website;
  2. Take into account the DR values of those linking domains;
  3. Take into account how many unique domains each of those websites link to;
  4. Apply some math and coding magic to calculate “raw” DR scores;
  5. Plot these scores on a 0–100 scale (which is dynamic in nature and will “stretch” over time).

To summarise, DR is basically calculating the strength of a websites backlink profile only. Now this is fine but, for choosing sites to prospect for guest posts you are going to want to be looking at traffic stats too. So with that being said it’s possible for a site to have a lower than desired DR score but, still be a very healthy site (something which Ahrefs themselves admit) and be suitable to prospect for a guest post especially, if you are interested in exposure to your site and also, referral clicks and, are a believer, as I am, that it’s important to get links from sites that receive traffic as opposed to say badly built private blog networks which receive very little to no traffic at all.
Here is an example of a low DR / healthy site I found in our own database:
Low DR Site

Here is some more data from Ahrefs that I found interesting. Out of all the domains in their database, 146 million domains (83.9% of all domains in their database) are now between DR 0-5.
Here is the breakdown of what this looks like:

  • DR0: 104,218,641 domains.
  • DR1: 18,767,526 domains.
  • DR2: 9,145,844 domains.
  • DR3: 6,175,538 domains.
  • DR4: 4,515,899 domains.
  • DR5: 3,631,595 domains.


What does all of this mean for link prospecting?

From our data, I have seen an overall significate drop in DR amongst low to medium authority sites with higher authority sites not been affected as badly. It’s still early days and we need more time to go through our data to compare old and new DR scores but, I can safely say that for link prospection purposes I would recommend adjusting your filters so as to not miss out on some usable sites.
With the old DR scoring system, I used to set the DR filter at DR30+ ignoring all sites below this DR range. Now, I am going to test setting the filter at DR10+ because from our data we have plenty of solid sites all be it at the lower end of the price scale of the links we sell in the DR10-15 range. We even have less than 5% of the total sites in our database at DR5 or less which I personally would get links from for my own sites so it just goes to further validate that you have to take all metrics with a pinch of salt and that they are only to be used as a rough guide.

Something else we noticed

From our data, the old DR metric used to run a lot closer to DA. Where I used to commonly see say a DA25 being around DR30-35 so 5-10 points more I’m now seeing a much more disjointed correlation with some sites being a good 15-20 points different. At this point, I’m not really sure if this is a good or a bad thing as I’ve seen both high DA sites below DR and high DR sites being low DA so this is something I’m going to be looking closely at with the sites we use for the service. I will certainly be looking very closely at the lower DR sites to make sure their backlink profiles are up to our standards and, remove any sites that aren’t.
Personally, I hope the now larger point difference means that DR is now better at weeding out sites which have high DA and are not worthy of it. To be honest, I actually hope DR gets better and better and that people stop using DA as the amount of data Moz has compared to Ahrefs is much much less.


Even though it is still early days and, I have further number crunching to do, I do now believe that overall DR is now a better, more accurate metric and I believe / hope that it will continue to get better as Ahrefs seems to have been ahead of the game for a while now. I will of course still be taking all metrics with a pinch of salt as so should you.
Good luck with your future link prospecting. Feel free to drop me a comment about what you have seen from your own data.


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