You can’t trust everything you click on. That’s why search engines like Google try to keep you safe from spam and other dangers by looking for “trust signals.” Sites that show these signs of authority will be higher ranked and get more user traffic.
As part of your SEO strategy, it’s essential that you boost your Google TrustRank – the score of your site’s trustworthiness. Understanding this SEO metric can help you optimize your site for trust factors and gain traction with your potential customers. Let’s go through typical TrustRank principles so you can take action to improve your site’s SEO today.
What are TrustRank principles?
As you know, Google’s search engine algorithm is complex. There are dozens of factors that contribute to your site’s ranking, including performance, user intent and more. Trustworthiness is yet another element for beating the competition on Google.
TrustRank was first described in an academic paper called Combating Web Spam with TrustRank, by Stanford University researchers Zoltan Gyongyi, Hector Garcia-Molina and Jan Pedersen. The aim behind TrustRank is to ensure users aren't served spam and instead land on trustworthy websites that fulfill their search intent.
(Source: USPTO PatFT Database)
In 2006, Google patented this idea of a search ranking based on trust. As you can see from the patent application above, Google’s system is based on “trust factors.” The search engine starts by hand-scoring high-trust sites and then rewards sites that participate in these authority networks.
For example, if you cite a statistic using a high-trust site (such as the New York Times), Google understands that your site is concerned with trustworthiness. In this case, your TrustRank will be higher than citing your friend’s blog.
That’s why Google TrustRank principles often center around your site’s ability to interact with authority sites and build a robust link strategy. However, there are other aspects that reveal your site’s trustworthiness, such as your bounce rate, branding and domain authority. We’ll take a closer look at these “trust signals” below.
Why understanding TrustRank principles is important
Google TrustRank is yet another metric for boosting your SEO strategy. By optimizing your site’s trustworthiness, you’ll be able participate in networks that are rewarded by Google’s algorithm. Here are the main reasons you’d want to do that:
Point #1: Boost your Google site ranking to reach more users.
Search engines like Google reward trustworthiness, so by boosting your TrustRank you’ll improve your site ranking. In turn, this means you can draw more users to your site with organic and link traffic.
Point #2: Optimize your content so that it’s more likely to be seen and resonate.
When you optimize your content with TrustRank SEO, it becomes tailored to user intent and better resonates with potential customers. This strategy helps your current content become more authoritative and higher quality.
Point #3: When users trust your site, they’ll stay longer and engage/purchase.
Trustworthiness means that users feel safe and comfortable on your site. With a better user experience, they’re more likely to spend more time on your site, leading to more engagement and purchases.
How to apply TrustRank principles in your SEO strategy
Step 1: Measure your current TrustRank.
To get started, it’s important to find out where your TrustRank currently stands. Though Google doesn’t reveal this information to you, there are tools that give you a good estimate of your TrustRank. For example, you can determine your site's trustworthiness through tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, SEO Majestic,Serpstat, Backlink Watch, and Rankchecker.
Topical Trust Flow from Majestic SEO
By measuring your current Google TrustRank, you can get a “before” and “after” and see how your SEO strategy made strides in improving search rankings.
Step 2: Look at on-page trust metrics.
Common red flags that users are unhappy with your site include a high bounce rate and block rate, as well as a short average session duration. To improve your on-page trust metrics, you should work on improving these ranking factors through great content that’s optimized for real user intent.
You’ll also want to check for any broken links, bad links or obvious barriers to a great user experience. Head to Google Analytics to look at the numbers and find areas for improvement, or use Ahrefs or Semrush to fix on-page SEO errors.
In addition, you should include all necessary notices for users to understand how your site is using their information. Having a visible privacy notice, as well as a cookies policy, are best practices for building site trustworthiness. In particular, you’ll want to make sure your privacy notice and other legal copy is easily findable.
Step 3: Boost your link strategy.
Your link strategy is perhaps the most important part of TrustRank SEO. You can boost your sense of trust by linking to authority sources, news sites and government sites. A good trick to find quality sites is to look for domains such .org, .gov and .edu, as well as those with media prominence or high user engagement. The quality of backlinks is essential, but they should also be relevant to your content.
However, your link strategy isn’t just about linking to trustworthy websites. You should also try to get linked from these authoritative sites. This could be in the form of guest posts, round-ups or mentions. In this case, you may need to reach out to potential site partners to offer engagement opportunities with them.
In addition, the quality of your content matters. It’s important to write long-form blog posts that include statistics and a list of references at the end. You should also SEO optimize this content according to user intent.
Step 4: Give off brand signals.
Other aspects of your website show signs of authority, too. For example, your brand is a key aspect of trustworthiness. You should work to give off brand trust signals throughout your website.
To start, you should have a branded domain and design on your site. In addition, you’ll want to have a robust About Us page and active social media channels to boost your site authority. Ideally, you’ll also have your brand name included in anchor text across your site.
Step 5: Enhance your domain authority
Finally, your domain info and site set-up say a lot about your trustworthiness. A few ways to show that you’re authoritative include:
- Holding a domain for 2+ years
- Including public contact info
- Citing your “whois” info
- Setting up HTTPS (instead of HTTP)
With these steps, you’ll enhance your domain authority and Google’s algorithm will understand that you’re more trustworthy. These more technical features are just as important as improving your link building.
What’s the difference between Page Rank and TrustRank?
As you work to boost your Google TrustRank, you may run into another similar term called Page Rank. While both Page Rank and TrustRank are related to SEO strategy, they have different histories.
Page Rank was originally created by Googlers Larry Page and Sergey Brin in order to measure site authority. It was largely based on the number of external links within content, which soon led to issues with companies overloading content with links and buying placements on other sites. For this reason, Page Rank was effectively scrapped.
The term TrustRank soon came onto the scene to help marketers improve their site trustworthiness and connect with high-trust networks. Nowadays, most folks use TrustRank to talk about the importance of a SEO link strategy.
As a note, this is also different from Moz’s metric called “MozTrust,” which measures how well a webpage ranks in Google search queries. MozTrust is widely considered one of the best estimates for TrustRank.
What else should my SEO strategy include?
Google TrustRank is only one element of your sitewide SEO strategy. While it’s vital to enhance ranking factors, it’s hardly the only area of interest. Other aspects of your SEO strategy should include:
- Keyword research, including long-tail keywords,
- Competitor analysis, especially on the first page of Google
- Mobile optimization (page speed, local SEO, etc.)
- User intent optimization
- Keyword-rich URLs and metadata, such as descriptions, images, etc.
- Internal linking strategy
- Off-page SEO, including social media
- Influencer reach-out
- Blog strategy
- Breaking up content for scannability
- Using media such as videos, images, infographics, etc.
- Compressing media files
- Page performance, including load speed, etc.
- … and more!
As you can see, SEO has a wide variety of elements that you need to optimize for. While Google TrustRank is a key part of any SEO strategy, you should also work on enhancing the other features on this SEO checklist.
Boost your SEO strategy with Embarque
SEO can be quite the undertaking. Even enhancing your TrustRank score will involve lots of research and outreach in order to build your site authority. And Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, making your SEO game a moving target.
As you work to boost your sitewide SEO strategy, you can lean on our breadth of SEO expertise. Here at Embarque, we’re SEO experts who know what to look for to beat out your keyword competition. Reach out to our team so we can start researching and building links for your brand today.