10 Jul

SEO Trust Signals

SEO Trust Signals

The Main SEO Trust Signals and How to Improve Them

SEO Trust SignalsOne of the key items your site or blog has to achieve to be found in search is trust. Anything that you do that is low quality or spammy (such as keyword stuffing, for example) will also make it less trustworthy, Google and the other major search engines have things built into their algorithms that look beyond just the obvious when it comes to trust but here are the main SEO trust factors:

  1. Authority (level of expertise) and Authorship
  2. Comprehensiveness
  3. Duplicate Content
  4. Lack of Proofreading

When you create content for your website or your blog pretend that Google interviews you about each content piece and asks you these questions.

How will you answer them?

If you get the answers wrong and as a result drive down the “trust factor” of your content can you fix it?

Below is more information on each these SEO trust factors as well as the questions Google wants you to ask yourself about your content. I also include my insights on how your site might be sending negative signals with respect to each factor and how you can fix your site.

SEO Trust Factor No. 1: Authority and Authorship

What Google Asks: Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well? Does the site have other high-quality content on the same topic? Is the site recognized by other sites as an authority on the topic (does your site have in-coming links)? Is the content going beyond the basics and adding something genuinely new?

Negative Signals on Authority: A blog post should clearly identify the author. I see many blogs posts that are posted by some default “admin” or maybe a first name only. I also see many examples where the author is defined with a first and last name but there is no link to the author’s bio page. This is a big miss in an online world that is becoming more and more concerned with genuine authority and authorship.

The SEO Trust Factor Fix:  Whether or not you write your own blog posts, you need to associate a name with them. If you’re a small company then use the CEO, owner, or president’s name. It’s also fine to have multiple authors if you’re a larger company. But you will need to establish the credibility of each of them. To really notch it up with Google in particular should also set up your linking code with the rel=”author” markup.

Also, create depth of content on the topic and cross link your materials. This will help the search engine performance of the content and once you start to gain better position in search then more people will find your materials and discover just how delightful your content is and you will gain in-coming links further establishing the authority of your content.

Key Takeaway: Anyone can write or say anything on the Internet, but that doesn’t make it high-quality or even true. By having a name, face, and bio associated with your content, you’re standing by it and its authority (the reverse is also true). It is a major part of “trust” and Google and the other major search engines are wise to use this as part of their ranking algorithm.

SEO Trust Factor No. 2: Comprehensiveness

What Google Asks: Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend? Does the content provide complete or comprehensive information on the topic? Are the articles very short (too short), unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in value?

Negative Signals on Comprehensiveness: Many of the blogs I look at that do not have a specific name with their posts were also not very comprehensive.  This only reinforces my sentiments that Google and the other major search engines have made an important association between authorship and depth of content.

The SEO Trust Factor Fix:  Remember why blogs exist. The idea of a blog (and content marketing in general) is to add value to your site for the human visitors to your site. It enables you to go above and beyond talking about the products or services and solutions you can provide. In short, it’s a way to demonstrate your (or your company’s) expertise. Write about what you know and know well. This is comprehensive content.

Key Takeaway: Create delightful content with the intention to define a problem and offer a solution. The type of content that the search engines want to display in their search results is content that people cherish and this means that it is content that people bookmark and share.

SEO Trust Factor No. 3: Duplicate Content

What Google Asks: Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations? Are the topics written for the actual readers of the site, or does the site have content that has been duplicated solely with the intent to rank better in search?

Negative Signals on Duplicate Content: Duplicate content means that the content has been slightly modified and different keyword phrase have been inserted. The Google Panda algorithm put an end to this dubious SEO technique. Duplicate content is not helpful to readers. It sends a very negative signal.

The SEO Trust Factor Fix:  If you are doing this then just stop. You are not helping anyone – not even yourself. Find all the pages of your website that focus on the same or very similar topics and combine them into just one after doing some heavy editing and pruning. If they’re different enough you may be able to keep a few, but be completely honest with yourself. After you have eliminated the “duplicate” pages be sure to set up a 301-redirect from all the old URLs to the new one(s). Also, use this as an opportunity to improve your page URLs.

Key Takeaway: The good news is that the newer Google algorithms understand synonyms and the overall meaning of words and phrases.

This means it is no longer necessary to have all the keywords you’d like to be found for on the page itself. Sure, you want to use some keyword variations within the page content, but don’t worry if you miss some. If you have a great site that others like to recommend to (link to) their audiences, your pages will show up in the search results when relevant.

SEO Trust Factor No. 4: Lack of Proofreading

What Google Asks: Does this article have spelling, grammar, stylistic, or factual errors? How much quality control is done on content? Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

Negative Signals on Proofreading: Think of Google as your 10th grade English Teacher. She (or he) got on your case about spelling and grammar – and rightly so. This trust factor goes beyond merely having typos on your website. While it should be an obvious bad signal, you’d be surprised how many sites I’ve reviewed have content that doesn’t even make sense! It’s as if the people writing the content were only concerned with using keywords, rather than making sense.

Also, proper formatting counts with Google. Have a visible page title (H1 Tag) and have this formatted properly. Use H2 tags for sub-categories on a page so that it is easier to read.

The SEO Trust Factor Fix: Pay attention and always strive for top-quality. Review your content and fix all errors. Write for your target audience, not the search engines. Treat your website like a precious child. Love it, nurture it, pay attention to it, and take care of it.

Key Takeaway: If even you can’t read your content to make sure that it looks okay and makes some semblance of sense, why would anyone else? And consequently, why would Google want to showcase it? Remember Google and the other major search engines want to look good to their customers. The search engines will not display content that does not help them to achieve this key objective.

While Google certainly looks at other trust factors, these four SEO Trust Factors are the main ones in my opinion. Always produce quality content and be proud of it by attaching your name to it.

About Gary Horsman

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