How Your Trust/Authority Affects Your Rankings


In the graph of ranking metrics that SEOmoz puts out, the largest slice of the pie (24%) is called “Trust and Authority of the Host Domain”. This means that just under ¼ of how you rank is determined by your site’s trust and authority. Why would the #1 most important factor in ranking be your site’s trust?

How much does Google spend each day to combat spam and other low-quality sites? I don’t know if I can quantify it without some help from the Big G, but I do know they have a whole team dedicated to fighting Spam, which is headed by Matt Cutts. That’s a whole team of overhead and salaries, potentially all over the world. With millions of dollars spent every year to combat spam, doesn’t it make sense to reward trust and authority as the largest part of the algorithm? This serves to naturally boost those with high trust and keep down those with spammy profiles.

Where Does this Trust/Authority Come From?

There are two ways to garner trust and authority for your site:

  1. Building history and trust over time with the search engines
  2. Getting trust and authority passed through links from high trust/high authority sites

Here are a few of the factors that play into your trust/authority:

  • Age:  How long your site has been live and active. How long your domain name has been around.
  • History: Is there a history of attempting to trick the search engines
  • Links: Links from high-trust sites will pass high amounts of trust
  • Links: Links from high-authority sites will pass high amounts of authority

You can’t actively build your history and age, except by just letting the site sit over time with no evidence of spam or trickery. The key to actively building your trust and authority is to do it through your linking profile. Building high quality links will build this part of your ranking, which happens to be the most important part in how you rank.

In fact, in Rand Fishkin’s latest post, he showed the same graph, but coupled the Trust/Authority slice with the other linking metrics!

Trust Authority in SEO is a Linking Metric

Now, What Can I Take from This?

Here’s some advice:

You’re likely tired of hearing this if you read any amount from the SEO experts, but because over ¼ of how you rank is determined by your trust/authority, don’t do anything to damage your reputation.

Don’t skate the risky line of buying links or thinking that your linking scheme will be something Google hasn’t seen before.

If you have a domain name with any amount of history behind it, hang on to it and don’t let it sit on the sidelines or as a parked page. Don’t exchange links with sites which traditionally will trade links with everyone. Usually, those sites have super spammy linkgraphs because they are the only ones who will trade links with the low quality sites.

Only link to high quality sites, and only pursue links from other high quality sites. Who you link to and who links to you paint a very valuable picture for the search engines about who you are. If you hang out with the smart kids, there’s a really good chance you’re smart too.


Preston Smtih

Nice post AJ. Trust, what a valuable tool… interesting how an actual algo can calculate that.

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