Google relevance factor – Domain trust

While  most of the factors have decreased in relevance, the concept of is having a greater importance than ever. What do we mean by domain trust and how can you get search engines, especially Google to Trust your domain?

The terms “domain trust” and “domain authority” are bandied about a lot by search engine optimization services today. Domain trust is an expression that’s commonly used these days in SEO circles. Widely recognised as being of significant importance few people are able to offer a clear definition of domain trust and how it can influence search placements.

Here’s an explanation of domain trust, what it means and what you can do to build it. But let’s first have a look at the meaning of the term “trust” ..


The search engines work tirelessly in the pursuit of relevance. The name of their game is to match queries with the most suitable returns. The better they are at it, giving people simple stress free online search experiences that deliver the goods, then the more people will use them. In other words, the more value search adds to users’ lives the more value they add to their market price.

Google runs hundreds of tests against websites and checks numerous signals in order to establish relevance. One of the most important qualities that a web site can exhibit is domain trust.

The more domain trust you have the better you rank.

Domain Trust – Who links to you?

To a large extent domain trust is down to proximity. Google loves high quality websites. Well designed, well structured web sites bursting with great content and blessed with large numbers of satisfied visitors – these are Google’s trusted domains.

The closer you live to trusted domains, in other words the more direct links your site has from trusted domains, the more trust you gain.

Sites one link removed from the trusted domain network will generate 0.01% web spam. Two or more clicks from the trusted domain network and you are moving in circles that deal in unacceptable levels of spam – levels of 1.2% or more.

Domain Trust – Who you link to

It also matters who you link to. If you link to low trust sites, expect this to damage your domain trust. You’re in bad company. Link to trusted sites to boost your own domain trust.

Reciprocal links directories? Don’t do it. Why would any credible website link to a site that spams? It wouldn’t. Google is wise to this.

Domain Trust – Registration information

Google has been official registrar since 2003. Why? So that it can look under the web bonnet and access important web registration information. Being able to identify the owners of websites  means Google can spot themes. If you own 100 sites and Google spots that 75 of them are spam sites then expect this to be reflected in search placements  through

Domain Trust – User Data Signals

Google collects huge amounts of information about what users do on the web – through Analytics, through the tool bar, free wi-fi and through third party relationships. Signals reveal how naturally a domain is behaving. If the data signals are unusual the domain might well be penalised. Normal behaviour indicates a trust.

Follow Google guidelines, prioritise quality design and quality content and allow domain trust to grow naturally.

  • Domain Age – it takes time to build trust and the past history of a domain may effect domain trust.
  • Link Profile – essentially looking at the range of sites that you link to comparing the good links compared to the bad links.
  • Domain Trust of other sites in a PageRank type relationship.
  • Social networking (not yet but maybe in the future)
  • On page information such as stop words?
  • Links from a white-list of sites which is periodically checked by hand for quality? A list of manually checked sites that are unlikely to become untrustworthy overnight, Wikipedia (this rules out being correct as a factor), BBC, CNN, etc.
  • Contact information on a page.
  • Rate of link growth, natural growth – number of links grows as  a function of time and the number of pages in a site. More content should mean more link growth.  Is there a natural rate of growth for links depending on site size?
  • Duplicate Content – a site that steals content from another site would be more likely to be dodgy.
  • Bounce Rate – noisy but could be a secondary factor. It has certainly been touted as a possible ranking factor for a long time. A good site would satisfy the needs of its users but this could still be acheived in one page-view.
  • Link distribution – how are the links distributed on the  site. Are there any deep links or is the entire link structure concentrating on the home page?
  • Long-tail rankings – sites that appear for many long tail search are more likely to have good content than simple web sites.
  • I'm having a problem determining why FCC's main website didn't show up for FCC Comcast search. (w/out quotes)..I thought gov URLs were of the most trusted. Instead, the results I received were basically of news sources such as Washington post, Reuters, etc..FCC not on the first page of results. FCC should've been the first result and all others thrown in for relevance accordingly. The main source, then the chatter…

    I think manipulation of algorithms seem to benefit various interests, but relevancy being the primary goal…G has been disappointing. Others disagree. I don't thnk I like what I'm seeing on many levels..not just a silly fcc comcast search. to be continued..

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    To me this clearly demonstrate that Google is getting more and more “social” and focus on “human visitors factors” behaviors more than actual “search engine” optimization elements like on-page optimization and the famous PR…

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    Great post Shaun! I heard in somewhere that the length of the domain registration affecting SERPs proved to be a myth.

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    Agent Rank is an interesting approach, but I think it would likely need the development and widespread adoption of a digital signature type system for it to work most effectively. (patent application, summary overview) I can see the value in it though.

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    Agreed, content is the backbone of SEO, but unfortunately sometimes the blackhat folks do well in Google as well…the question is long term can the black hat SEO folks do well? My thought has always been, a strong “NO”!

  • Great post. Trust should be and is the way Google operates its search engine, and although its possible to manipulate it slightly, i’m sure in time that Google will iron these idiosyncrasies out of its algorithms.


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