Why Google Thinks You’re A Sly Dog And How To Make It Trust You

Trust is everything in a relationship and without it a connection is meaningless and a bond throwaway.

So, how do you build this trust? Openness…… respect…… offering a quality experience. The funny thing is that it’s not just your girlfriend that will appreciate it when she can trust you, Google will too.  

Trust is a significant and often overlooked factor in SEO

Remember the crazy girlfriend that cut up your suits one Tuesday evening before you came home from work because you smiled at the pretty barista. Those suits could be your site and that girlfriend could be Google. If Google doesn’t trust your site, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Measuring trust can be done manually through examining a potential linking site’s backlink profile, or automatically via either Majestic Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) metrics, or Moz’s MozTrust and Moz Flow metrics. Both metrics use a list of seeded trust sources vs the number of citations a site has and base their rankings on the distance between the site being examined and these sources of trust.  

Though not exactly the same, both are similar in that they have to be compared and a disparity in the metrics suggests a problem. The larger the disparity, the higher the likelihood there’s a lack of trust.

As an example a site with a TF 30 and CF 30 has a 1:1 ratio, which is a good thing. However a site with a TF 5 and a CF45 has a ratio of 1:9 which would suggest it’s very spammy.

Why Trust

Have you ever seen a site with only a few links outranking a one with times the amount and far higher metrics? Well, the reason this happens is that Google trusts that site and it has a higher ‘TrustRank’.

Sites with high trust in Google’s eyes survive negative SEO attacks without even flinching, they rank well for information they provide and they survive Google update after Google update, often going from strength to strength.

So, how do you increase the level of trust that Google has in your site. Well, there are a number of ways and we’re going to take a look at the link based ones that matter.

Outward Linking

If you ever created an academic article you’ll remember using the references and citations and honouring sources.

Doing this backs up facts, helps people delve deeper into a subject and shows that any statement you make can be trusted. Any article or piece you create for your blog or site should do the same. It needs to cite sources and the more the merrier.

Linking out to authority, trusted sites not only creates a better on-site experience but also helps the level of trust Google has in your site. It’s easy to understand why. If you can back up your facts and statements with relevant information from authority sites then your content is likely to be a lot more accurate and of higher quality than one where there are no links and information could be just pulled out of the sky.

The information doesn’t even have to be editorial; you can add sources and references at the bottom of the content or page to back up your statements.

Backlink profile

Of course, it’s not just outbound links that create trust – not at all! Links from high quality, high authority sites to yours matter.

These high quality sites are a handful of high quality trusted sites. At the very top of this pyramid are .edu sites, .gov sites, big news sites such as BBC and large industry authority sites. In an ideal world you backlink profile would be made up from these sorts of links.

BBC >My Site> Great Ranking

However, this isn’t easily achieved. However, getting links from sites with links from these amazing sites is a more realistic prospect. Placing this simply in perspective

BBC> Site we Post on > My Site> Very Good Ranking

We’re one degree away from a high quality source and because of this still getting a lot of benefit from the authority site. Needless to say that the more degrees of separation there are between the authority link and your site, the less trust there is.

Backlink profile matters more than metrics (to a degree)

Which would you rather a link from?

  • Site 1 – PR2, DA30 with 1x BBC.com link and 1x .Gov Link
  • Site 2 – PR4, DA45 with nothing of note and lots of blog comments

Well, if you’re looking for trust, you’re going to choose the first link even if the Site 2 has a lot more going for it on first impressions. By doing this you create a more trusted, resilient site with a better backlink profile.

News

Google has its own very visible criteria for trust in Google News. It’s pretty sensible when you think about it.

If Google is willing to include a site in its trusted news sources, then it’s going to trust that site as one that delivers quality news. If all other things are equal a site that’s in Google News is going to be more trusted than a site that’s not in Google News.

Like all the good things in life, getting a link from a site that’s in Google News isn’t easy. However, as Eric Ward always a mention, if a link is hard to get then it’s probably worth getting.

Trust is and has always been a big ranking factor and one that will help your site in a number of ways now and into the SEO future well past 2015. Utilising the above tactics around link can help improve the level of TrustRank Google has around your site and it’s certainly worth considering.

Cormac Reynolds
By Cormac Reynolds who has written a number of articles on SEO in his time, is a lover of brewing beer and enjoys rugby. His work for Abacusmarketing.co.uk involves SEO and also a lot of relationship building and you can connect with him on LinkedIn
Cormac Reynolds

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