How I boosted my domain authority on accident

Ahrefs has a really nice set of SEO tools. I’ve used them in the past for business things, but they’re a little expensive for personal use.

So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that they created a free tier late last year. After hooking it up to my personal website and poking around in the data, I discovered that I had dramatically improved my domain authority at the beginning of 2017, completely on accident. So what happened?

A line graph showing the number of referring domains over time.
At the beginning of 2017, the number of referring domains apparently tripled overnight.

Side note: for those unfamiliar, Domain authority is a rating that search engines give your domain name based on several factors. It represents the credibility of your domain in the eyes of a search engine, which can help your content rank and adds weight to your links. Strong domain authority is good for SEO.

What happened

It was Github pages.

When I migrated my personal site to Github Pages, I setup something called a “User site.” This told Github to create a site for my user at https://[username] (which I then aliased to

I didn’t realize it at the time, but because of the way Github Pages works, this ended up redirecting all my existing Github project sites to my user site. All my side-projects were now found under my personal domain name:

I wasn’t thrilled about this change (and I wasn’t alone!), but I wanted to use Github Pages, so I accepted it.

What I didn’t realize was that now the hundreds of links pointing to my various projects all over the internet were now getting redirected to their new location under And all those links gave my main domain a lot more credibility.

There’s a lot places I could put these side-projects, but is always going to be my home on the web, and it doesn’t hurt to have the extra credibility. Looking back, I don’t think I could have planned it any better.