Trust: It Is, Was, and Always Will Be the #1 SEO Ranking Factor

Filed in Featured, SEO by Matt McGee on September 1, 2011 7 Comments

trustDo a search on Google. Go ahead. Any search. Done? Okay, what do you see?

Maybe you see blue links, photos, videos or a map with some local businesses listed. That might be what you see, but what you’re looking at are the pages/documents that Google trusts the most to answer your search.

And that’s why TRUST is, was and always will be the #1 ranking factor in SEO.

SEO: Actually Involves Two Audiences

Your website has two audiences: search engines and humans. Effective SEO involves satisfying both of them at the same time.

Search Engines & Trust

Google, Bing, etc. want to make their users happy. When someone types “richland wa real estate” or “U2” or “clogged pores” into the search box, the search engine gives back what it thinks are the most trustworthy answers to that search.

When you have the trust of search engines, your website will be crawled more deeply, your content will get indexed faster, and you’ll be able to rank for more competitive terms faster. Your natural traffic will grow and grow and grow. You won’t have to worry about algorithm changes.


Humans & Trust

You and I operate on trust. We all like to do business with companies that we trust. As I tell the audiences at Local University events, doesn’t always have the lowest prices, but we shop there because we trust them. We trust Amazon will get the order right … or that they’ll fix it quickly if something goes wrong.

We like to spend time on websites that we trust. The first thing we do — subconsciously — when we visit a new website is make a quick decision about the trustworthiness of the company/site. When searchers trust you and your site, you’re much more likely to convert them into customers/leads.

Your Job: Focus on Trust

It’s simple: Focus on building trust in everything you do — both online and offline. Everything. No shortcuts. No cheats. No quitting.

Figure out how to earn the trust of search engines and humans, and you’ll be on your way to longterm SEO success. It’s the #1 factor for search engine rankings/visibility. Always has been. Always will be.

Suggested Reading

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about trust, and I promise you that it won’t be the last. These two articles expand on the idea in much more detail. Please read them.

(Stock image via Shutterstock and used with permission. This article is an expanded version of my Quora answer to the question, “What is the single best piece of SEO advice?”)

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  1. On Trust | September 5, 2011
  1. Brad Smith says:

    Great post Matt.

    If people spent the same amount of time on actual work that they do looking for shortcuts, then they would have better, sustainable results!

    Hopefully Panda continues to emphasis this even more (looks like it is so far).

  2. Matt, I tell this to people every single day. It’s ALL about trust. Here is a blog post I did for a well known Direct Response veteran, Rich Gorman. It very closely parallels your belief in the net effect of TRUST:

  3. MiriamEllis says:

    Very super post, Matt! So nice to read an article that is standing firmly on this topic. Trust can be hard to quantify, but I concur with your statements about its paramount importance. Enjoyed reading this!

  4. While pre-dating the Google Panda algorithm revisions, there are Yahoo’s Trust Rank white paper & Google’s Trust Rank trademark — both from 2007.

  5. Jon cooper says:

    You make a good point which I cannot disagree with, but what we shOuod be talking about is the how part. People want to know specific ways to gain trust, whether it’s in social media branding or link building. Specifics please!

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