Is Your Website Providing Negative Trust Signals?

Website Trust Factors

When Amit Singhal, Google’s Chief Engineer for the Panda Algorithm first rolled it out they provided a List of Potential Factors that the search engine Google utlises to determine the trustworthiness of your website. Panda was rolled out just over two years ago so you would think that most websites have address these factors – Well it comes as no surprise when I review many they still show signs of UN-Trustworthiness as far as Google is concerned. Add to this fact, Google has been coming down hard as it updated and rolled out Panda and Penguin algorithm updates since then.

Google’s algorithm and the people behind them are more than qualified and capable of working out if you are trying to manipulate them, so if we look beyond the obvious stuff that makes your website untrustworthy, such as keyword stuffing, which to Google it looks like spam, there are four main trust factors that was identified;

  1. Expertness
  2. Comprehensiveness
  3. Redundancy
  4. Lack of Proofreading

You need to ask yourself how does your website come up against the above factors, to clarify these points;

Trust Factor No. 1: Expertness

What Google looks for: Is this content written by an industry expert or weekend enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it shallower in nature? Also, is the website a recognised industry authority on its topics, products or services? Does it have insightful and detailed analysis or compelling information that is beyond the obvious?

Is your website sending a negative signal: Surprise, so many website blogs have no byline attached to their posts. Using a default ‘admin’ or just the first name of the author and without a Bio, really does not add any credibility to the piece.

The correction: Be it the Managing Director, a team member or an outside copywriter, you need to have ‘A’ name and Bio associated to it. You should also mark up your code with the rel=”author” markup.

Consider this: The Internet allows anybody to say or write anything they care too, but that does not make it accurate or true. If you are putting it out there put your credentials behind it Name and Bio. Obviously, Google use this in their Algorithm.

Trust Factor No. 2: Comprehensiveness

What Google looks for: Would you recommend this website, page or article to a friend or bookmark it for future reference? Does the website represent a comprehensive source of information on the subject? Is their information factual, substantial, helpful or just pitching a sale and lacks any detail?

Is your website sending a negative signalMany websites with Blogs which lacked associating a name to their posts were also did not have very comprehensive article content – sometimes just utter vague drivel, conjecture or unfounded opinions adding no value to the visitor.

The correction: Remember why you started the blog. The idea should have been to add value to your website, engage your audience and make it worth their while to return. It provides the opportunity to discuss more than just the Features and benefits of your products or services. Demonstrate that your business has a wide understanding of what impacts the industry as a whole.

Consider this: First and foremost consider your audience and write what are some interesting, trending or hot topics in your industry. If you have genuine industry credentials why not become a Critic – by which I do not mean slander the competition but provide commentary on matters back by proof. yes, it will generate controversy but then you will be engaging your audience and generating interest on the topic matter.

The point about creating controversy I have to thank Paul McGarry of Juno Creative Web and Logo Design, as the concept come out during our most recent chat on generating interest on Blogs.

Trust Factor No. 3: Redundancy for the Sake of Keywords

What Google looks for: Are you putting on your website the same article with a few changes on the topic and switching the keywords? Are you putting on the site content just for the sake of content in the hope that it will look good to Google and thus get you ranked? Duplicate, overlapping or outdated articles on the same or similar topics will certainly not be of any interest to your audience and obvious that you are just doing it for Google.

Is your website sending a negative signal: Does your website have multiple pages with limited content on the same or similar topic – hoping to show that you are an expert. This may have work in the old  pre-Panda days but that is old school SEO and many webmasters have not learned this.

The correction: Combine and eliminate all those pages and content into just one, once you have done that put a 301-redirect from all the old URLs to the new much improved page’s URL.

Consider this: I have said it before the people at Google who write the algorithm are competent and smart, so much so that the algorithm does understand Synonyms and the overall meaning of words and phrases.

So you do not need to have ALL your keywords that you would like to be found for on the page itself.

Trust Factor No. 4: Lack of Proofreading

What Google looks for: Well the bleeding obvious – Spelling, grammar and errors of fact!

Is your website sending a negative signal: Whilst this maybe an obvious bad signal on the expert trustworthiness of the website, it will come as no surprise that many websites fail on this point – What never heard of spell checker?

Of course the trust factor is more than just bad spelling by why sabotage your credibility.

The correction: If you wrote it get someone else to proofread it. use a spell checker (Switch it on). Keep your audience in mind and not for the search engines.

Consider this: If your article looks like and reads like an 8-year-old wrote it why would your audience think that they can trust you with their business? Ditto, why would Google consider it worthy to display it to their users?

There are many more factors that Google utilizes in their algorithm and these are just the 4 fundamental obvious ones, get these right and you are ahead of the game.

Ben Miranda, Web Strategist, Havoc Digital

This article was compiled from post in of June 2013 by Jill Whalen, the CEO of High Rankings, an SEO Consulting company in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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