How do you get Google to ‘trust’ your website?

In the world of SEO, a key contributor to a website’s high rankings has always been that of trust – Google’s trust.

As such Google doesn’t specifically have a trust rank algorithm, but Matt Cutts (head of Google’s WebSpam team middle man between SEOs and the search engine) has given an insight into what Google means by ‘Trust’ in a new webmaster video.

Google Trust

It is well known that PageRank is Google’s most well-known signal of trust; this trust rating is generally determined by the number and quality of inbound links you have to a site or page.

Altogether there are over 200 signals that Google uses within its ranking algorithm, and it’s worth noting that Cutts still breaks down Google’s ranking algorithm into two main headings:

  • Trust (how reputable your site is); and
  • Match (how topical you are or how closely you match a query based on your relevancy)

Cutts goes on to explain that by trust, you should also be asking yourself the question of how much Google (and your audience, essentially) will be willing to believe that a site or page is high quality?

He suggests that trust is a catch-all term but keeps mentioning buzzwords that all SEOs old and new should keep in mind (words such as ‘useful’, ‘high quality’, ‘match’, ‘reputation’ and ‘authority’ are frequently dropped in throughout the 2 minute 12 second video).

The word ‘exact’ is also used within the video, so it’s worth making sure you have sufficient exact matches to keywords or phrases as well as variations within your site’s copy.

Getting Browsers to Trust Your Site

It’s worth pointing out that it’s not just Google who needs to invest its trust in your site; it’s also the browser or customer. A recent article by SEOMoz emphasised the importance of gaining a browser’s trust with the design of your website, and its contents.

As well as thinking about your brand, whether your site looks professional, and whether your logo is up-to-scratch, the article lists key points that site owners should consider when publishing content.

Topics that increase your ‘trust’ factor include social signals such as likes, +1s and tweets, interaction and engagement within the site (such as comments), photos of key commentators or staff, and whether your site provides links or citations to other trusted sources of information.

However, acquiring the trust of browsers is perhaps even more important than gaining Google’s trust. A browsers trust is instant, whereas Google’s trust (particularly from an SEO point of view) takes time to build.

Overall, Matt Cutts’ revelation about ‘trust’ is nothing new, although it does reiterate the importance of building trust and the best way to go about this. In 2012, it seems that considering users during the design of your website and engaging with them afterwards has never been so important.

If nothing else, brands should consider this article as a reminder that despite roughly 500 changes/updates that Google has made to its algorithm over the past year, we all still need to focus on these basic but fundamental issues.

With research and planning during your design or redesign, and a willingness to talk professionally about your business and industry online, you’ll remain in that all important ‘circle of trust’ with the two parties that matter most; your customers, and Google.

If you consider your customers trust as priority, Google’s trust will follow.

Chris Holmes, business development manager, Rippleffect

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