Increasing a website's Google TrustRank is one of the best ways to improve your search engine presence and to rank higher in Google. By increasing your TrustRank, you can increase your website's authority, thus ranking higher for your keywords and increasing traffic to your website.
Most website owners don't know what Google TrustRank is, why it's important nor how to increase it.
Given that it's one of the most common questions we get here at Diesel Marketer, today we're answering that question.
Let's get started.
Introduction to Google Trustrank
Google’s job is not only to help people find relevant content on the web. Google’s job is to help people find good content on the web. That's why you need to build up your Google TrustRank.
If you want Google to help people find your website, then you need to ensure that you use the right keywords so that Google can match your content to the right searches.
But just as important is to ensure that you are sending all the signals to the search engine that your site is a good authority that people can trust.
“All healthy relationships are built on trust.”
You use keywords in order help Google match you with the right searches. But how do you get yourself in Google’s good books?
You see, in Google’s eyes not all sites are made equal. And let’s be honest: Google is right!
How frustrating is it when you’re searching for important information and the site that comes up is just full of badly written nonsense? Or when you click on a link only to be inundated with adverts and pop-ups that make it almost impossible to locate the actual information you’re looking for?
‘Very’ is the answer you’re looking for.
Thus Google has something called ‘TrustRank’ – a basic system it uses to grade websites in terms of their trustworthiness, authority and overall quality. Google needs to trust you before it will promote you.
And each time the big G rolls out a new update, it reassesses that relationship and asks whether it can still trust you in light of new information.
And if Google finds it can’t trust you anymore? It shows you the door.
So the question you need to ask: is how do you go about staying on Google’s good side?
How do you build a good TrustRank and make sure it stays good?
How important is Google TrustRank?
TrustRank is THE key factor to your success in SEO and there’s a good chance you’ve missed it in the past. If you stay up-to-date with the latest algorithms by reading blogs and listening to ‘SEO gurus’, then there’s a good chance that you’ll have barely heard TrustRank mentioned.
What’s popular to focus on right now is the ‘over-optimized anchor text’. Gurus have focussed hard on the fact that Google is ‘penalizing’ people for over-optimizing their backlinks.
The old practice of using your keyword as your anchor text has been getting into trouble. If your backlink profile is filled with links that all say ‘Buy Hats Online’, then you can expect to be penalized. TrustRank helps Google to combat web spam. Your backlink profile should look varied and organic. It should be filled with terms like ‘click here’ and ‘these awesome hats’ and only a little bit of ‘buy hats online’.
Only then can you survive and thrive and… jive… That’s the popular opinions. THAT’s what everyone is saying. Too bad it’s plain wrong.
It doesn’t take much digging to find examples of websites that have done incredibly well simply using the same anchor text over and over again. Is it a good idea to use only the one set of keywords for all your backlinks?
No, probably not.
But that’s obvious. And it’s also not the be-all and end-all. Google is not stupid. Google knows that we need to eat and that means businesses are always going to try and promote their websites.
But there’s just far too much focus placed on this one key point and it’s all down to a single post that found its way onto MicroSiteMasters.com. They compared the sites that managed to survive the first wave of Penguin casualties and determined that:
“…every single site we looked at which got negatively hit by the Penguin update had a ‘money keyword’ as its anchor text for over 60% of its incoming links.”
They also published this image to go along with it:
- Image credit MicroSiteMasters.com
Then, as people are wont to do, the internet leapt all over this and it became gospel. But there’s loads wrong with this. Apart from the fact that this was one site carrying out a relatively small and informal survey BACK IN 2012; we also need to take into account the fact that they were looking at money keywords.
And let’s be honest, the sort of website that would flood the web with backlinks in the ‘make money niche’ is fairly likely to be doing all kinds of things to upset Google.
As a niche/industry, we ‘make money’ bloggers are not always the most ‘by the books’. In science this is what we would call a ‘confounding variable’.
But at this point it was too late – the idea had momentum, it spread like wildfire and everyone got out their disavow tools and starting firing them all over the place. A practice which is in itself, rather ‘dodgy’ as far as Google is concerned.
Why Google TrustRank Matters
So if it’s not all about backlinks as the world would have you believe… what is it all about? Well, lots of things obviously. But ALSO it’s about ‘TrustRank’.
This is one of THE key factors when it comes to your performance on Google and it’s something certain sites are only now starting to wake up to. So what exactly is TrustRank?
TrustRank is not an official term from Google and in that sense you could say it’s kind of ‘made up’. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a real thing!
‘TrustRank’ is simply giving a word to something we know is out there so that we can better describe it and discuss it. TrustRank refers much more simply to ‘trust’.
The simple question you need to ask yourself is: does Google trust you?
“The simple question you need to ask yourself is: does Google trust you?”
Because if the answer is ‘no’, then Google isn’t going to want to send visitors to your site.
Simple as! We only call it ‘TrustRank’ because, of course, Google isn’t a person. Google doesn’t have feelings and when it penalizes your content, it’s not personal. It doesn’t really ‘trust’ anyone. Rather, it calculates an approximation of trust and assigns a score based on an algorithm. That’s what we call ‘TrustRank’.
Although Google hasn’t explicitly explained how TrustRank algorithm might work, we know for a fact that this has to be at the center of its its calculations.
At the moment there is no tool to check TrustRank and probably there won't be any because it changes from update to update and a 3rd party tool couldn't calculate the TrustRank correctly also Google surely won't release a tool that can give huge advantage to some people who can over-optimize their trustrank.
Imagine a web where trust wasn’t a concern for Google. You would never be able to search for a fact online because what came up would be nonsense and outright lies. The person with the biggest SEO budget would hold a monopoly on ‘the truth’.
King Jong Il would come out of it all smelling like roses. And every website would be trying to sell you Viagra. And half the web pages you loaded just wouldn’t work. Google can’t decide which sites reach the top based on its opinions and feelings but it HAS to have some way to tell if a website is credible and relatively reliable using the ‘TrustRank’ algorithm.
Even Google AdWords has a ‘quality score’ that influences the ‘cost per conversion’ its advertisers pay:
- Image credit: WordStream.com
And I’m not the only one who is constantly harping on about trust. In fact, Moz has built something of a business around it with their ‘MozTrust’ factor.
“A webpage with a high MozRank but large MozRank-MozTrust disparity usually performs poorly in search engines when it is compared against a web page with a lower MozRank but smaller MozRank-MozTrust disparity.”
In my own tests, it is certainly true that a higher MozTrust score correlates with higher rankings.
Similar is Majestic SEO’s TrustFlow.
- Image credit: Majestic.com
Moz and Majestic SEO are BIG players in the SEO landscape. They know what it’s all about. And they have put trust at the CENTER of their business models.
What does that tell you?
It tells you that it’s time to wake up to trust (man, that sounds like a motivational poster!) and to start taking this stuff seriously and start building up your TrustRank.
TrustRank & Negative SEO
Let’s go off on a tangent now and approach this from another angle.
The negative SEO angle.
Negative SEO is still something that a lot of webmasters, bloggers and businesses are worried about but they really don’t need to be.
As with over-optimized back links, negative SEO is something that gets FAR too much focus and attention.
And here’s why:
GOOGLE WILL NEVER PENALIZE A SITE THAT IT TRUSTS
Yep, it’s as simple as that! Building up your ‘TrustRank’ will help you to gain the web giant's trust. Unless you do something really bad, like covering your site in hundreds of keywords using white text on a white background or paying for links, you are completely safe as long as you have trust. (Again with the bumper-sticker stuff, I should be a life-coach!)
And this means you are impervious to attack from negative SEO. That’s right, if you have Google’s trust, then no one can hurt you.
Imagine for a moment that you are the BBC. Do you really think that Google would let someone take down the BBC with negative SEO? Can you imagine it? Jeremy Clarkson comes home angry one day and decides to spam the BBC with backlinks and gets the site shut down? It just can’t happen. They already have a solid TrustRank and earned Google's trust.
This is one of the reasons Diesel Outreach service is so popular.
Top tier publications like Forbes or Huffington Post have extremely high trust ranks and so you know these links will remain valuable and authoritative for life. Google needs to be able to quickly identify which sites it can trust in order to ensure there is some semblance of order on the net.
YOU need to get yourself to the point where Google trusts you. The rest will be plain sailing! And one MORE thing… Trust will also impact on your actual visitors. That’s right: all the same things that Google looks for are things that your visitors are looking for when they decide whether or not to stick around.
If you’re researching facts for your essay/report then you need to make sure you can TRUST the website you’re looking at before you take those facts as true. Likewise, if you’re going to shop with a website, then you want to be absolutely certain that the payment is going to be secure and that the company is a real one.
Even if you could somehow fool Google, trust is still going to play a vital role for your business in the long run. This is non-optional stuff guys!
How to Increase Your Google TrustRank
Okay, so now you know why TrustRank is important, let's answer why you're here.
Let’s take a look at 7 shortcuts that can increase your TrustRank fast.
Google TrustRank Shortcut #1: On-Page Optimization
Okay, to kick things off, you NEED to make sure that your pages themselves look trustworthy. This is the first place that Google will look to try and make heads and tails of your site – just like it’s the first place your visitors will look at.
So what are some things you can do to improve your on-page optimization in terms of trust?
Google TrustRank Shortcut #2: Link to Authority Sites
That’s right, one of the very best places to start is by linking out to other authority websites. When you do this, you show Google that you’re referencing authority sources and start building up your TrustRank in their eyes. And when you reference authority sources, it means that people can learn more from trusted sources and they can check your claims.
So what would Google or a visitor consider to be a ‘trusted source’. Well, let’s think about this like a computer. What can Google be fairly sure is a credible source without introducing any bias?
The answer is any domain ending in .gov or .edu. These sites hold a lot of authority and as such, linking to them shows that you’re serious. Likewise, linking out to journal studies is also a good idea. Here’s a screenshot from the website "Breaking Muscle":
As you can see, they have included all their references meaning that they’re not making any claims without backing them up.
All these links lead to high quality, recognized journals hosted at .org domains. That association is EXCELLENT for creating credibility and hugely improve your TrustRank.
Gone are the days where you should avoid linking out to sites for fear of losing ‘link juice’. Linking is one of the best ways to choose who you want to be associated with and to provide your readers with useful extra reading.
There is a fair amount of consensus that including privacy policies, disclosures and copyright information all lend further credibility to your site. Make sure to update that copyright notice to 2016!
This stuff may be boring, but it’s also a unavoidable for serious businesses. You’re a serious business, aren’t you?
Google TrustRank Shortcut #4: Your Bounce Rates
Google has openly stated that it takes visitor behaviour seriously.
If people aren’t spending more than a couple of milliseconds on your site, this doesn’t exactly communicate anything positive to Google. This behavior can really affect your TrustRank, in a negative way.
So you need to start thinking about what will help people to stay on your page for longer. The answer is probably a combination of great design, engaging headings and opening paragraphs, nicer fonts and fewer ads!
Google TrustRank Shortcut #5: Make Yourself a BRAND
Google has been keen on brands for a while now and has gone on record saying that having a brand name for a URL is far preferable to calling your website ‘Howtoloseweightandmakemoney.com’.
In fact, this is what Eric Schmidt had to say on the matter:
“Brands are the solution, not the problem…brands are how you sort out the cesspool”
Are you the brand? Or are you the cess…? Try to stop thinking about short-term traffic and think instead in terms of long-term credibility, visibility and recognition.
Build your brand by creating a logo and by focussing on ‘brand signals’. Some brand signals include:
- A branded domain name
- An ‘About Us’ page
- Social media accounts
- Backlinks using your BRAND as your anchor text
- Build your reputation with backlinks from reputable sources, such as with Wikipedia Backlinks
If you want to go to the trouble, you can even consider registering your brand name as a trademark.
You’ll need to go to the US Patent and Trademark Office to do that. This way you can really skyrocket your TrustRank. Ooh, was that a link to a government page I just snuck in there? Why yes, it was!
You see how this works?
Google TrustRank Shortcut #6: Fix Your Domain Info
Google is a domain registrar and the reason for this is not because it has any interest in selling hosting (for now) but rather because it wants to be able to look at your whois information.
This is so it can once again make sure that you’re trustworthy.
Don’t think of it as spying, think of it as a Mum going through her daughter’s email to check she’s safe. It’s for our own good… :-/ Anyway… some things that will help are:
- Registering your domain for more than 2 years (this has always been a very good one)
- Add your whois information to your contact page and make sure it’s the same
- Making your information public
All real businesses make their Whois information public. You can check this out yourself. Here’s Microsoft’s Whois for instance:
You see, Microsoft don’t have anything to hide, so why would they keep this secret? Google rather likes that attitude, it turns out, so makeing your whois information public is a really good way to improve your TrustRank.
Don’t want to share your address because you live with your Mum? Get a P.O. Box. As it happens, ‘businesses that live with their Mum’ are not regarded as the most trustworthy on the planet either. I know, right?
Google TrustRank Shortcut #7: Get Good Links
You knew this one was coming. Linking out to a trustworthy source is great. But getting a link from a trustworthy source?
Well that’s freaking amazing.
“Linking out to a trustworthy source is great. But getting a link from a trustworthy source? Well that’s freaking amazing.”
You need to work hard to get your links on the very best sites possible and in doing so, you’ll gain a lot more credibility and juice for your own site. It’s a little bit like LinkedIn’s connections system.
If you have a link on a site, that has a link on a site, that has a link on a site that’s from Huffington Post – then you get a lot of benefit from that. Another good example might be to have a link on a news site, or an industry site. Google has particularly said that news sites are very reliable and specifically the sites that get included in Google News.
Google News sites are rigorously and thoroughly checked and re-checked before they’re accepted, so they are considered a credible source. (No, I’m not sure how some of them got in there either…)
The link still has to be relevant you see, so if your website is about ‘matched betting’, well then good luck getting a link on Harvard.edu. Instead, you could try and get a link on one of the TOP make money online blogs.
- Guest post such as Diesel Outreach
- Ask your old college for a story in the student paper!
- Use Press Releases to Secure Google News placements
- Use LinkedIn to try and do some influencer marketing
- Look at the backlink profiles of your top competitors (if they landed those links, so can you). See this guide to do this.
Of course, attaining a link like this usually requires a considerably reputation and relationships on your part for publications to take you seriously.
This is why we started offering this service to help entrepreneurs get the word out about their products easily and quickly.
Not only is guest posting an excellent source of traffic, the SEO & Google Trust Rank benefits are insane.
Final Thoughts on Google TrustRank
So that’s that! Now you know what Google TrustRank is, why it’s so important and some of the best ways to improve your TrustRank score.
There’s much more to it than we could cover just here of course but a lot of it comes down to common sense. Each time you make a decision for your website, ask yourself: does it make you look more trustworthy or less trustworthy?
And often, the very best litmus test is just to ask: does this serve my end user?
At the end of the day, Google wants its users to have good experiences so they’ll keep using it. That means it needs to link them to sites that offer good experiences and of course with authoritative Google TrustRank.
So get excited.
Start improving your Google TrustRank today using the instructions outlined above and you'll soon see the traffic rewards.