How To Increase Google Trust

If you are a webmaster looking to increase rankings and organic traffic from Google, then this tutorial will definitely prove helpful. You may have heard of Google’s Panda / Farmer update affecting low quality websites – this tutorial will answer the questions of what does Google view as low quality – and more importantly – how do I make my website a high quality site?

Tip #1:  Add Original, Useful and Substantial Content on a Frequent Basis

In this page: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html , Google stresses the importance of having original content on your website. Below are some good content guidelines you can implement:

a.) At least 500 words. Most readers need details – especially if your content is a tutorial or how-to guide. If your content does not explain the details, then your content is not good enough, which also reflects the overall quality of your website.

Having a thin amount of content, your site can be labeled as a “content farm” by Google. Make a habit of writing content with details instead of generalizing everything in one or two paragraphs.

b.) Content should be original and not copied. As suggested by Google here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html , some great ideas about writing original content are based on research, in-depth reports, and thoughtful analysis.

c.) Articles should be well written, clear, concise, and direct to the point. The readability of your content is also important.

d.) Content should contain images or videos. Content with images or videos reinforces learning and helps the reading process. Make sure you have rights to these images and videos. Make sure to ask permission first if you do not own them.

e.) If absolutely necessary, cites references to external sources as proof. Sometimes when you are writing something in your blog or website, you need evidence that can substantiate your point. In this case, you need to link to a quality external resource. This linking process should be given with editorial merit.

f.) Link to other content within your website. For example if your content is talking about “building widgets” then in some of your paragraphs you start talking about “configuring widgets”. If you already wrote a separate and detailed tutorial about “configuring widgets”, then have your “building widgets” page link to the “configuring widgets” content.  This method is really helpful for visitors who are in need of detailed resources about a certain topic (example “widgets”). You might notice that if you are reading a Wikipedia article, it links to a lot of related pages within Wikipedia, and of course helps improve the user experience and increases the retention time of your visitors.

g.) Allow user-generated comments. When you publish content make sure you allow comments to it. User comments are helpful to validate the accuracy and trust of the content. If certain content receives a lot of interaction and approval, then any future readers do not need to spend more time searching for quality content on the Internet because they already found one. They will stick to your website longer.

h.) Allow users to share your content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites. One aspect of a quality website is that its content is highly shared, liked and added to a users list of favorite websites. You should take this opportunity, as search engines like Google are definitely using this data (source: http://searchengineland.com/what-social-signals-do-google-bing-really-count-55389 ).

i.) Write as often as possible- this makes your website grow bigger with quality content. The end results are higher organic traffic due to long tail effect and higher link baiting opportunity because of your content. Google also loves to rank big websites (source: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Choosing-Keywords-Help/Keyword-Difficulty-vs-Size-of-Domain/ ).



Tip #2: Do not participate in Link Schemes

This is included in the Google quality guidelines already: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769 . But some are not even aware or just take this for granted, so I’m adding it as a tip.

Beware: nowadays webmasters often receive emails from link building companies requesting you to add their client link to your website for an exchange of a monthly fee. This violates the Google quality guidelines and falls under the paid link scheme, because more often than not these websites are not  related to your website’s content and you are giving a link to them without editorial merit. Even though they make sense, these companies are requesting you to place these links on your homepage, which is not advisable because it drains out a lot of link juice to your other website pages.

Why does participating in these link schemes not help your overall website quality?

1.) These companies force you to remove the rel=nofollow attribute, aside from the fact that the link is sponsored in nature and should be placed with rel=nofollow.

2.) Even though they convince you to make the link look as natural as possible, it can still be classified as a “sponsored link” by analyzing the text that surrounds it – ditto with the targeted page.

This is easy to detect, if your website homepage content is talking about “collecting antique widgets”, your reader is expecting the target page of the link to be exactly what your content is talking about. Most citations and links provided with editorial merits are pointed to inner pages of the domain.

The primary reason is that the homepage is rarely used as a reference to details because it’s used in introducing visitors to what the website is all about.  But these link building companies are building links to their client’s homepage, which of course is not editorial and does not look natural.

Tip #3: Limit Your Advertisements and Speed Up Your Website

It is understandable that every website owner needs to find some way to earn income from their website. But it does not mean that the user experience should be compromised. Some website owners are not aware of this and just decorate their website with a lot of annoying ads that scare users away.

A common measurable aspect is your bounce rate. If your website is ad-heavy and your bounce rate is very high, it indicates that your ads are affecting your user-experience. Some ads are also known to slow down the website and confuse your visitors from distinguishing content from advertisements.

Below are some recommended guidelines:

1.) If you are using Google Ad Sense, place the ads in strategic locations so as not to confuse them with website content.

2.) If you are using in-text advertising, consider limiting the number of links to a minimum (for example 3 links per page). Infolinks for example, recommends that you should maximize the number of links to 12 for maximum earnings. But in reality, your website content can look very spammy with a lot of in-text links. Try to wear the user-hat; try reading your website content with this in-text advertising on it. If it disturbs your reading experience - for example you accidentally click on it – maybe it is time to minimize or remove them, as it affects the reading experience.

3.) Optimize your website loading time with ads. Make sure they are loading fast. Remove any pop up banners and welcome banner ads, as they can distract your readers from going directly to the content. Some useful resources:

Average loading time study: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Average-Page-Load-Time-of-Top-Ranking-Websites-in-Google/

Speed up your website using Page Speed: http://www.devshed.com/c/a/PHP/Speed-up-Web-Page-Loading-Using-Google-Page-Speed/ 

3.) Remember that every ad added to your site cheapens your site content quality. Limit them.

Tip #4: Make yourself availably known: Trust Factor

How many times have you visited a website and could not even find the following information: name of the website owner, who is in-charge of the website, contact information, phone, etc. These are very important factors that can contribute to overall website quality. Remember the following equation about website quality:

High website quality = High content quality + High trust factor

It’s not enough to build a high quality website by just establishing content quality. You need to build trust with your readers/visitors. The following guidelines are helpful:

1.) Add some history or information about you. This is often found in the "About" page.
2.) Add a real picture of yourself.
3.) Add a picture of your office or establishments. Some websites even add a live video of their office where their clients can see them working, e.g. http://www.taxi.com/abouts/webcam.html
4.) Add your business address, official contact form and email address as well as an active phone number.
5.) Include some business certificates and accreditation (e.g. Better Business Bureau accreditation) you have earned or awards given to you from the industry you belong.
6.) Include your Official Facebook page widget where they can find user comments about your services.
7.) Always add some “real” testimonials and where your product/services have been successfully used/deployed.
8.) Protect your user privacy. Be careful when asking personal information such as name, phone number, etc. Some users are very sensitive to this.

Include a link to your privacy policy that explains how information is handled. When your user submits highly sensitive information using your website, make sure you use SSL. This will encrypt the communication and protect your user privacy.

9.) Make sure you add a terms and conditions page about how you conduct your business. If you accept payments, ensure that they are protected in case of a mistake. Most consumers nowadays do not even trust websites that do not accept refunds. It is just too risky.

10.) Associate yourself with reputable companies you have worked with or do business with. Adding what professional organizations you belong is also very helpful. Add trust logos of these reputable companies and badges on your website. And make sure they are there because you are really affiliated with them.

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