If your site has lost Google rankings you’re probably confused and frustrated about how to fix it.
But here’s what I want you to do.
Forget all the conflicting SEO advice and recommendations from the experts on what to change, avoid, and fix to achieve higher rankings.
Instead, get a focus on how to get Google to trust your site.
The fact is no one can tell you exactly what your site needs to reach top search engine rankings, not even the experts. They try to fill in the blanks where the Google’s SEO guidelines get vague, but when push comes to shove there’s really only one thing that matters.
Do you have a TRUSTED website?
We can talk all day about whether to use exact match anchor text, best keyword practices, how much commenting is needed, the best backlinks, how to use images, how social should we be, etc., but the bottom line is that doing any or all of those things isn’t going to make or break your site if Google doesn’t first trust your site.
“Google doesn’t penalize websites they trust”
So how do you create a trusted site?
Start with creating trust factors.
3 Factors For How to Get Google To Trust Your Site
# 1. Create On site Trust
- What personal information is collected and how it’s used by your company.
- Whether or not minors can use your website without parental supervision.
- Cookie data collected.
- How your site will use the information and whether or not it will be shared with others.
- Affiliate disclosures
2. Have an ‘About Us’ or ‘about me’ page. My website analytics indicate that about 70+% of my visitors go directly to my ‘about me’ page.
What does that tell you?
That your visitors want to know about you and your business before anything else. Google also wants to know that you’re open and up front with visitors. They like that.
Top notch brands have about pages that include things like mission statements, company history and goals. Their ’about me’ pages tell their story. A good about me page is a combination of personality, professionalism and your background as it relates to your business.
3. Include a Contact Page. Either on you about me page or on a separate contact page include you business name, address phone number, or anything else that you feel would be useful for customers and visitors to contact you. For instance, on my about me page I include a link to my contact form where visitors can ask questions by filling out the simple e-form.
4. Expertise and authority. Google looks for content written by an expert or someone that knows the topic well. The clue to writing such content is providing insightful ideas, analysis and information that goes beyond the obvious stuff you read everywhere.
Tip: Make sure your blog posts are associated with a name. Use the markup code with the rel=”author”. I would highly suggest setting up a Google+ account and using the markup code with your Google+ link. Here’s what mine looks like:
5. Use references and sources. If you’ve gathered information from other sources, include those resources at the end of your article. This demonstrates to Google that your content is well-researched.
6. Link out to authority sites. When your site links to other relevant and authoritative sites you are providing a service to Google’s users. That makes your website a valuable resource in everyone’s eyes.
But here’s the key.
Your focus should not be on linking out to authority sites for the purpose of increasing Google rankings. Your focus should be to hook your visitors up with great content so they’ll remember you as a great resource for finding worthwhile information Part of getting stronger, sustainable rankings is keeping your visitor in mind, not Google. There’s a difference.
If you’re impressing your visitors, you’re impressing Google.
7. Reduce bounces and blocked sites. Google considers user interaction as a ranking factor, so keep an eye on sites that block your site because Google takes note of that.
Secondly, lower your bounce rates. Too many bounce rates and Google won’t consider your site trustworthy. Look at it this way, if your website has such great information why are so many people leaving? Think about that.
And lastly do visitors spend enough time on your site and read more than one page before leaving? Do they interact your content by making comments, suggstions and contributing to conversations?
#2. Boost Your Brand
I’m hearing a lot about how Google values brands.
But why do you suppose branding is so important to Google?
Just as with any business, a strong brand builds trust and a trusted brand gives people confidence that the business is dependable. Google likes that and so do consumers.
But what if you’re just a small business website, how do you build a strong brand?
By creating brand triggers. Here are trusted triggers to consider.
1. Build your brand through expertise. Just like your content needs expert authority your brand involves expertise too. Keurig brands itself as an expert in one cup coffee brewing. Brian Clark is an inspiring speaker and an expert in development training.
In summary, your brand needs to create the perception that you are very good at what you do.
2. Domain Name. Exact phrase domain names might seem like a good idea but it’s not the sure thing for achieving high rankings that the experts once banked on. Just take a look at all the exact phrase domains out there and see how many come up on the first page of Google.
Your domain should reflect your brand so use a domain that is unique and has less SEO focus.
So instead of going for the keyword crazed domain like www.mostcomfortableshoes.com try www.comfykicks.com instead. It’s unique, a lot easier to remember and it’s not so obviously SEO focused.
Another great domain brand is using your personal name. If you are your business, your name can be an excellent branding trigger. It’s for sure unique and a name your followers won’t forget because it’s yours.
It isn’t crystal clear as to whether things like the length of domain ownership, length of domain activity and pre-paid time for a domain influence trust. As far as I can tell Google does not use these for determining site trust. However, it makes sense that if Google is trying to identify a spammy site these could be things that they will use to help make a determination.
3. Get involved on Social Media. Google definitely uses social media data. They use the social acceptance of your site by other reputable sites as a trigger for trust.
All big and small brands are active on social media for a reason, it’s a way to engage customers and solicit feedback for all to see.
In fact there are search study rankings like this one that have found is that if brands aren’t active on social media, they tend to show up less on Google searches.
Get involved on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and make a weekly schedule to be active on each site. Remember, Google bases much of their trust on what other reputable sites find value in, so getting in good with the users of the web will be a big boost for your site.
#3. Obtain Links from High Quality Trusted ‘Seed’ Sites
A big part of Google’s trust for your site stems from the quality links to your site. So the idea is to get high quality trusted sites to link to you.
Highly trusted seed sites are sites like .edus, .govs, CNN, Forbes, etc. and the webs most trusted sites have links from sites just like these. The hard part however is getting those sites to link to you.
But here’s the good news..
You don’t have to get links directly from the high quality seed sites. You can get links from other sites that have links from seed sites.
Here’s an example of how this works using a quality seed site like Stanford:
stanford.edu links –> your site = Best
stanford.edu –> other site –> your site = This works
stanford. edu –> other site —> other site —> other site –> other site —> other site —> your site = Useless
One other thing, Page Rank isn’t the end all be all of good rankings, so don’t put all your eggs in the PR basket.
Keep in mind that it’s much better to link to a PR 3 site that has a link from a high quality seed site than getting links from a PR 5 site with lots of blog comments and blog networking links. These aren’t bad sites to get links from, but links from high quality seed sites can make a big difference in a big way.
More good practices to follow…
- Keep your page topic obvious. Make sure it’s not hard for visitors to understand what it’s about.
- Don’t allow ads to interfere with a visitors ability to view your content.
- Stay away from practices that are not natural such as SEO automation or paying for strategies that boost ranking, like paying for links. Here’s what Google says:
“Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Strive to anticipate what users want to know and then answer their questions better that other like pages do.
- Make it super easy for visitors to find their way around your site
- Keep ALL your pages high quality. Google has mentioned that even just a few low quality pages on a site can reduce the entire site’s quality ranking.
What are some of the things you’ve done to build trust with Google? And what are some of the concerns you still have?