In the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there is a massive emphasis on trust, especially in link building. Whilst what link building has been addressed, what is this whole “trust” nonsense anyway? And how does the Big G (Google) reward trustworthy sites?
WHAT IS THIS AUTHORITY/TRUST THING ANYWAY?
Aside from rumors that Google is headed towards a fact-based result (say good-bye to the anti-vaccination heretics), Google uses something called a TrustRank to help determine how trustworthy your website is. They are known as “seed sites”, and form the basis of how reliable the information from various sites actually are. Trust falls from these seed sites like manna from heaven: the trick is to try and get a hold of it and become a member of Google’s trusted disciples.
WHAT SITES DOES GOOGLE VIEW AS TRUSTWORTHY?
Our great and glorious Google tends to prefer .gov, .edu sites (government and university sites), as well as news sites. CNN and Forbes are very highly ranked in the Google Trust hierarchy, and news articles that go through Google News receive rigorous manual reviews before they are broadcast to the masses.
These sites have to be trustworthy. Because if we can’t trust them, then it’s game over and the anarchist-apostates have won.
Outside of the chosen few trusted websites, there is a “chain-of-trust” if you will, which looks something like this:
Although the algorithms are ever-changing and work in mysterious ways, there is a basic understood principle: that trust-manna that descends from Google’s trusted sites helps raise the trustworthiness of the sites they link to. For example, if say monash.edu or the abs.gov were to link directly to your website as a source, Google’s little spiders would suddenly realize that yours is a site worthy of their attention.
However, if you can’t swing linking with one of the trusted websites, then your next best option is to get the links of a site that is linked to one of the trusted sites. Say for example you knew a blogger who regularly puts up articles for Click Through Rates (CTR), and often cites academic articles from a university website. If this person, impressed by your recent work on the finer points of title and CTR, links to your website from theirs, Google’s little angel-spiders will notice that this website clearly has something worthwhile. Whilst it isn’t as good as the inner circle sites, this second wave is more common, with most of the rewards still present.
And so on, until you get to those websites that have fallen so far from grace that Google actively despises them, leaving them out in the cold of the dreaded fifth page of results – or sometimes even further, into the cold, dark realm of banned websites.
WHY IS TRUST IMPORTANT?
There has been a Google update called Penguin, which sent shock waves throughout the SEO community. It even hit a few white hat websites – that’s how heavy this update rocked the SEO world, possibly the biggest upset since the Panda updates.
Although there were numerous practices that were targeted by the Penguin updates (including eroding the dubious practice of link buying), one factor that is often overlooked was how much Google trusts your website. Google, in all it’s splendor, rewards those it trusts with better rankings.
Better rankings leads to a better CTR, assuming you have optimized your Google search result or ad. Predikkta can help here, but building trust is up to you.
HOW TO GAIN TRUST
Some of the strategies when it comes to building trust have already been discussed in Predikkta’s blog post about back-linking. In essence, avoid the dodgy links out there as much as you can, and that will be a great starting spot. You need to focus on acquiring highly ranked, highly relevant, links that complement your website. This will show Google that you are one of the faithful who relies on good information.
And try to lower that bounce back rate, as well as reference your sources: if everyone who comes onto your site simply sees unreferenced ramblings on an ugly website, they will naturally get out as quickly as possible, and may even block your website. Google will become suspicious of this if it regularly occurs, which will result in you losing your ranking very quickly.