The growing sophistication of search engine algorithms has made it possible for Google, and other search engines, to look more closely at your website to determine its overall value to the visitor.
Google’s Penguin and Panda updates were a shot across the bow for many websites and webmasters, and the message was clear:
“From now on we are looking at more than just keywords and back links, we will be assessing the content itself, and in context.”
Trust – Ringing the Changes
Google’s search engine algorithms look at a number of different factors when determining a website’s trustworthiness. Traditional techniques, such as keywords, anchor text, and back links, will always be part of the equation. However, as search engines become more sophisticated, a greater emphasis continues to be placed on your content. To better assess online content, Google is looking at certain key factors as indications of a website’s trustworthiness. These “trust factors” can be broken down into three general areas of interest:
Authority – Become An Expert
This is absolutely the #1 gauge of a site’s “trust” in search engines. Google places greater value on content written by perceived experts who know their topic and who are providing quality information. How do you become an expert? Simple. Bloggers and webmasters build online authority be producing quality content on a regular basis. And, that content needs to be associated with a consistent voice.
Google’s algorithms look for quality content that is garnering repeated visits, and is enjoying a large number of “likes”, social media shares, and Google +1’s. It’s also important to have authorship using the rel=”author” markup. As content gets shared and “liked” by users, Google will be able to associate these accumulating social signals with your voice, recognizing them as an online authority in your field.
Something you can do that will build even more authority is to link out to other “trusted” sites. Why would you do this? Well, because it’s natural and how top experts write – they cite sources through links in the article. If you look at well-known sites like Huffington Post or Mashable, they are always linking to other credible sites in their posts. Plus, this is just great practice in building online relationships.
Comprehensiveness – Provide Great Content
Everyone on the internet has come across low quality, insubstantial blog posts. These types of articles seem to barely hold together, and consist of a series of disconnected sentences that exist solely for the purpose of keyword stuffing. It’s a way to game the system, in hopes that the search engine will focus on the overabundance of keywords and rank the page highly. It didn’t work well ten years ago, and it doesn’t work at all today. Content should be informative, and on topic. Forget keywords, and concentrate on providing unique content that is engaging and likely to be bookmarked and shared over social media platforms.
Style – Edit and Proofread
If content is king, style and formatting are the king’s guards. All online content should be proofread and edited for spelling, grammar, syntax, and formatting errors. Too often sites are filled with articles that are difficult to read or understand because the content hasn’t been properly edited. Visitors to a website, whether consciously or subconsciously, place less value on poorly edited content and are less likely to return to the site or to share that site’s content on social media. Google’s latest algorithms also consider spelling and syntax errors when assessing the value and trustworthiness of a website, and have become sophisticated enough to tell the difference between well edited and sloppy produced content.
Google’s search engine algorithms look at a wide range of factors in determining a website’s value and trust. These three “trust factors” are just the latest in a long line of indicators that Google uses to determine the value and relevancy of online content. But as search engines become more sophisticated, content itself will become more highly scrutinized, and keyword stuffing and unnatural links will be relegated to the scrap heap.