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How Google can determine trust

     
1:31 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google is always trying to separate quality from spam. Sometimes they succeed and other times they completely screw up. Let's talk about the ways you can help convince Google to trust your website. Let's be clear - I am not claiming Google is currently using any of these. I am listing possible signals that I would use if I was a Google engineer. Many of these things may sound simple to you but I get many people asking me to review their under performing sites and often find these issues. Even if Google isn't using these signals these ideas smart for your business.

a) Use one of the original tlds like .com or appropriate country tld but more importantly avoid unusual tlds like .info, .zip, .work. The % of spam sites jumps exponentially when you compare .com with the cheaper & newer tlds. There are a bunch of reports from email filtering companies that complain about these domains, imho likely Google is seeing similar results with web spam & weird tlds.

b) Use https. Spam sites aren't likely to take this step and spending a few extra bucks says you are serious about your website.

c) Develop editorial backlinks aka backlinks that are embedded in relevant content with natural anchor text. If I was Google I would mostly ignore ROS links in the header and footer. Those types of links were hallmarks of paid links. High % of identical anchor text was also a easy way to spot paid links.

d) Make sure you have privacy policy, terms of service, contact pages and other administrative pages. Many spam sites don't take the time to do these pages. Even if it wasn't a possible trust signal you should do it because its good for business. Some governments require privacy policy, terms of service are good for legal protection and contact us is helpful for customers, journalists & potential business partners to reach you.

e) Intelligently monitor bounce rates. High bounce rates are not the kiss of death but they are a good way of finding bad user experiences on your site. If someone visits your online calculator I expect a high bounce rate or you need to make your calculator easier to use. If someone visits your sales video and leaves in 5 seconds, you probably want to rework that video or replace it with a better sales pitch. If I was a Google engineer I would monitor bounces back to the serps as a sign that search result didn't satisfy the user and should rank lower. As a business owner I keep an eye out for

f) Build a brand. If I was a Google I would want to see at least some searchers typing in your brand name into the search box. This is a good signal you can be trusted because no one (almost no one) would type in a spam site into the search box. What are you providing on your site that would make people specifically seek out your site and type in your domain or brand name on Google?

g) Get social. Spam sites don't take the time to build a coordinated network of social accounts. Popular brands do take the time to use different social platforms. If I was a Google engineer I would love to look for this signal. Even if Google isn't looking or can't crawl a social page you should still do it if you can connect with customers. Many webmasters used to rely on Google for their business, they diversified their traffic and now gain most of their profit making traffic from places like facebook, twitter, pinterest.

What would you add to the list?
2:10 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think it's a good list overall.

Google has ben trying to find ways to identify authority for a long time. There was the google knol, and then they tried the author tag, but neither of those worked out.

As for your list, I think that older sites may be able to get by without things like separate privacy policy pages or even https, at least for informational sites. In fact I suspect that age itself could be a positive factor, since very spammy and "churn and burn" sites usually don't stay around more than a year or two.
4:30 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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What would you add to the list?


h) Provide full contact details (phone number, email address, postal address), don't just

i) Provide a Contact form, and a site search facility.
8:53 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Trust levels will vary regarding content/niche. Info sites which are not actively involved in commerce of any kind will be viewed differently than those involved in commerce.

Know your business. Have a presentation that is reasonable and accurate for that business. OPERATE AS A BUSINESS not a page to hang ads on.

If you are a publisher for ads, make sure your content is unique, or at least FRESH (there are few to no "unique" sites/niches left on the web). Presentation and user experience is very important in this venue! Clean uncluttered code goes to both user experience and light payload and speed. Avoid audio, video, all dancing etc.

Truly be BETTER than the competition as quality will lean more heavily to "trust" than slapadoo "just enough content" sites.

Have a presence in the REAL WORLD (tv, radio, film, print and news media).

Don't trust g to know "trust".

The op's list is a good place to start ... but is only a starting place.
10:41 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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.com is still one of the cheaper TLDs you can get, especially when compared to many of the new gTLDs. Is a .info by definition less trustworthy than a .com, just because there are more spammy sites in that domain? I highly doubt it, and wouldn't use it as a trust signal myself. HTTPS is also a tricky one, and reminds me of the buzz around multi-year domain registrations (at least that one was based on one of Google's patent applications). I think Google is also probably tapping into (well, licensing) real internet usage data from ISPs around the world, and gaining insight into the traffic patterns of individual domains, not unlike Alexa but probably with more data. Time on site, repeat visits, that's valuable trust data.
11:05 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Something else for the list: make sure that everything on your site actually works as intended. I'm familiar with a site which does a lot of things well but it's also riddled with broken links, server errors, empty stub pages and so on.

I can't prove this but I'm convinced that those negative signals of quality are holding it back.

Yes, I told them to clean up but it hasn't happened yet.
2:55 am on May 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This is a great topic thanks. It's been on my mind more and more because this seems to be about one of the few avenues to go with some hope. An app, analytics and webmaster tools. Those are a few I wonder about.
8:59 am on May 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My tuppence worth...

a) I've been looking at thousands of domains in the finance sector over the past few weeks and I've yet to see an .xyz that's NOT an MFA splog, closely followed by .info

c) they all use this technique too though :)

e) standard timeout is 30 minutes though, which can be very misleading.
I've started using an adjusted bounce rate of as low as 60-120 seconds depending on the type of page

g) lots of false positives possible here
Many businesses I've seen (big and small) have genuine but terrible social presences: they publish from feed / they 'broadcast' and never interact, the profile is dormant, there's no connect between the people on the site and the people in the Social profile so there's little or no legitimacy conferred, no 'footprint'. Then there's spammers that fake interaction beautifully and chat between themselves.

Suggestion:
- Join professional associations / trade bodies for your business, local CoC equivalent, lobbying groups, networking etc.
That means real people, physical presence, money to spend, time to 'meet n greet'. All signs of a legitimate business.
10:36 am on May 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Whate is trust? The difference between a real business and a pretend business? I hate to say this, but paid links are a sign of trust. Not the kind you get on fiver, but the kind that you have to pay for to advertise your business. I spend roughly $10k a year on trade organizations, chambers of commerce, bbb, trade publications, and local charities mainly for the links. The notion that paid links are bad is a knee jerk reaction to some spam penalities. A real business adverises wherever it might generate business.
11:15 am on May 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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(Good and original content thus) your site is quoted and mentioned in a positive way. Avoid negative comments and opinions about your site.
11:53 am on May 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Regarding new TLDs, which are users more likely to click, business.example.com or business.example.biz? I suspect some have learnt to distrust the less common TLDs, which could well have an indirect effect on performance.
2:54 pm on May 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I suppose it's possible that TLDs could be a "trust signal" in isolated cases. For example .travel is reserved for DMOs (destination marketing organizations) and companies in the travel business, and it's very expensive, so a .travel domain is likely to be legitimate. That could make the .travel domain useful as a positive trust signal (though not as a ranking signal).

On the other hand, the lack of a .travel domain certainly wouldn't be a negative trust signal, because DMOs and travel companies don't use the .travel TLD and never will.

Some of the other suggestions here might be relevant to e-commerce sites but aren't relevant to news and information sites. Example: If and when https becomes commonplace among information sites, it might be reasonable for Google to consider whether information sites use the https protocol, but until then, other trust signals--history, quality of inbound links, etc.--are likely to be more useful.
1:12 am on May 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think that name brand searches are important. It tells Google that people are seeking your site specifically. Users returning to your site via name brand searches could strengthen this trust.

Links are also very useful for trust. In most niches there are easily identifiable link profiles of a "trusted" site.
4:51 am on May 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Without trying to rain on anyone's parade:

Today I spent about 5 minutes finding an expired domain where Google still had the domain indexed. Meaning, if I searched the domain name, Google popped it up as first result even though it does not resolve. I spent perhaps another 5 minutes registering the domain and redirecting the domain to a site in the same space.

I'll typically run ahrefs, majestic and OSE as a preliminary filter to see if I'm stepping somewhere I don't want to be, then double check other information sources.

"trust" defined by algorithm? Ask those who post in the monthly Google thread, I'd say there are a good percentage who feel there is no relationship between Google and trust.
11:02 am on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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ALl cra@p, get strong links to build trust... the rest of the information mentioned is speculation.
7:43 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Here is the question you need to ask. I meet a person how do I build trust to this person. Getting links or contacts as 30k a month suggested is BS. Probably a show off with out a clue. Building trust on the web is no different than meeting a person in life. How do you build that persons trust?
7:48 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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1- deliver the product on time.
2- have a backorder or out of stock on the website so the person doesn't waste there time.
3-follow up with a call or email the order arrived and all was ok.
4- don't spam them to death if they sign up for a newsletter
5-send tracking info along with a number to call if there is any issues
6-be human you will screw up take it and fix the problem

The links will follow from customers that like you and your business.

I can't tell you how many links I was able to get from a ecommerce bodybuilding business I was able to latter sell from making sure I earned the trust of my customers.

[edited by: bwnbwn at 8:08 pm (utc) on May 27, 2016]

8:03 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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bwnbwn, there's more to the Web than e-commerce. For information sites, the product is delivered when the user clicks a search result or types in a URL and clicks "Enter."
8:13 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy true but the vast majority of the websites are ecommerce. Building trust in an iinfo website is easy provide the user with the right into. Backed up by well documented reference. But the business of the web is making money so then they rely on what adsense, selling advertisement space to whomever wants to pay. I myself don't trust them.
9:47 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Building trust in an iinfo website is easy


I can't believe you wrote that!

Gobsmakced, staggered and reaching out for the vodka bottle!

You try and earn a living from an informational site and you will be treated to a very harsh lesson in life. Most in the "informational" website businesses have long since disappeared because the competition is so high.

If it's easy, drop your ecommerce business and come over to the informational side. You will be in for the shock of your life.
10:07 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy true but the vast majority of the websites are ecommerce.

I'm pretty skeptical of that claim, but if it were true, it would explain why so many people at Webmaster World are unhappy with their Google rankings. The Web supposedly reached a billion sites in 2014, so a majority of those would be more than 500 million. That's a whole lot of e-commerce businesses competing for organic search traffic.
10:09 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Subject is not "earning" it is "trust". Even info sites have to build trust ... and that is usually "authority" and "longevity" and "subject" and "quality".
10:18 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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an info site relies on one product. Traffic. Sell their traffic no matter who they sell it to, and or adsense whom could be anything. I have been there as well seen both sides of this, so I am not in the dark. Info sites have never interested me because the vast majority of them provide 2nd hand info not all of them but most. The info they provide has been published it is up to the website to spin this to make it different yet relevant so a possible search might arrive. The outcome is the same selling advertising for making payroll.

EditorialGuy you have to imagine each website built for an air-conditioned, plumber, construction and etc are all ecommerce selling a service. Now do the calculation and you will see.

Info sites make a small part of the overall web I don't care what others say this is my opinion.
10:27 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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How Google can determine trust

Algorithms are not based on "trust", they are based on how much profit can be extracted from a particular site, be it an eCommerce that has to PAY for AdWords or an "Information Site" that relies on AdSense and user tracking(USER DATA IS VERY EXPENSIVE).

Why would GOOG want to TRUST anyone?

As for eCommerce: +1000 to what bwnbwn outlined in a simple 6 points.
11:12 pm on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy you have to imagine each website built for an air-conditioned, plumber, construction and etc are all ecommerce selling a service.

No, they are advertising a service. Plumbing transactions are generally not conducted online, and so a plumber's website is informative: you get the information you need so that you can hire the plumber. It's e, but it's not ecommerce.

Algorithms are not based on "trust", they are based on how much profit can be extracted from a particular site

By your logic (or cynicism, rather), every top ranking page would have to be linked to Google in some way. I see no evidence of that. Google doesn't necessarily trust any site, it just trusts some more than others; that's what this thread is about.
12:58 am on May 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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--I see no evidence of that.--
OK, not a biggie, obviously we are not on the same page then...

I truly appreciate goodroi's effort to point to some of the same things that we had been speaking of, bringing it back to life.

The thing is the niche I originally started in(eCom) is/has been obliterated by Algorithms.

I am in this niche since early 2003, got me a nice Domain Name, I have many repeat customers(every product is unique), I am a Real Developer - Programmer by trade, I don't build links but do have a bunch from EDUs when I originally did a research on a subject, I mostly don't chase Social Media(My customers do it for me), I block almost(99%) all scrape attempts, Mobile Friendly = Yes, HTTPS = Yes(if you want to), ...

Ever tried to SPAM SEs or Customers? = NO.

Who Do I have to compete with?

1. Amazon(one of my old wholesales, a disgruntled wholesaler that pays someone almost nothing to take pictures of products and ship them),
2. Etsy: I know all of the people that sell there, same spammers from the same country(ranked last on quality of widgets in in given niche), they also have close to a 100 domains selling the same thing, over and over.
3. EBay: same as #2(pun intended, but accurate).
4: Pinterest: My images and those who were driven out of business - intelligent eCom shops that concentrated on Unique widgets in our niche, as well as(mostly that can not be found on Goog any more or less).

I started my Gig long before all these above sites that outrank me on Goog on almost every MONEY term, I was on tope, so were my legitimate competitors(I am not greedy).

No, not cynical at all, but optimistic with no reason participate in "Please Trust Me Games".

So my question would be are we talking Grey/Black Hat SEO or something else?
3:19 am on May 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google doesn't necessarily trust any site, it just trusts some more than others; that's what this thread is about.

Exactly. And I'd guess that a "trust" scoring system could involve both positive and negative signals. (A link from, say, The New York times could be a positive signal, for example, while a history of manual penalties could be a negative signal.)
4:11 am on May 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Exactly. And I'd guess that a "trust" scoring system could involve both positive and negative signals. (A link from, say, The New York times could be a positive signal, for example, while a history of manual penalties could be a negative signal.)


You were lucky in the sense you stumbled into a niche in the early days of the internet. That doesn't make you qualified to make algorithmic evaluations. But "guesses", yes, that's where you stand out.
8:48 am on May 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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- Bot Blocking
(the obvious) less copies of your pages > authority > trust
(less obvious) if you're running ads > less vulnerable to click bots > brownie points & trust

- Keeping up with the times (signs of a life / non abandoned site) e.g.
WMT account, + responding & actually fixing reported issues
mobile friendliness, server response time .. (see G's list)

- Proven human input (trickier to explain)
Google will consider it a failure if a task has to be done manually
While Google might consider your auto generated content a sign of spam
Call this one AGC monopoly if you wish

delving further into the dark ..

- Surviving Ambiguity (Quantum Algo(s) / Shapshifting Algo nightmare)
Trust is a limited resource as is search results spots, it needs recycling & rinsing, it also needs to be unpredictable while maintaining a fair stance appearance.
What could hurt a site might save another & vs. + Add time factor
What saved a site 5 years ago hurts it today & might save it tomorrow!
This forces us to run on a median, unable to account for all possibilities, a nightmare for you and me, a target for Google, keeping those unwieldy webmasters honest.

<add "I think" & imho to each of the above lines or move on, nothing here>
12:58 pm on May 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Algorithms are not based on "trust", they are based on how much profit can be extracted from a particular site, be it an eCommerce that has to PAY for AdWords or an "Information Site" that relies on AdSense and user tracking(USER DATA IS VERY EXPENSIVE).

I believe the same. Google reports quarterly profits in the billions not because they are a charity, but because they have perfected the art of monetizing what is not theirs. Lacking any innovation, they must rely on manipulation and organize their assets in such a way that garners them the most profit. Any business would do the same.

On the issue of trust, I'm sure it is a component of their algorithm though not heavily weighted. Using an original and aged domain that will expire 5+ years from now, full https, mobile friendly, original content/images/videos that makes the competition look like novices, selling on multiple marketplaces with great reviews, good communication with customers, links and references by industry leaders, etc. was not enough for us. Instead we have seen Google send crap traffic starting the beginning of the 4th quarter of 2015, including those visitors originating from Adwords ads, that exhibit behavior that resemble fake bots. After losing thousands of dollars from the same Adwords campaigns that were profitable many years prior, I've come full circle to believe what blend27 has noted - Google search results are organized for maximum profit.

Instead of trying to determine what factors of trust will make people rank better, I'd like someone to explain why we should trust Google. With all their billions in earnings Google still sends people to a low budget community forum for support and more often posters are bashed. Adwords representatives that are clueless and only know how to give instructions that will cost advertisers more money, few company spokesmen that often contradict each other, corporate satellite offices getting raided by governments for tax dodging, antitrust investigations, etc. Even the Better Business Bureau gives Google a B- rating in an age where A+ ratings can be easily bought/had. These are not the traits of a trustworthy company nor can I expect a company that employs underhanded tactics to value my efforts to be seen as a positive when their chief concern is reporting profits to shareholders.
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