Google TrustRank: The Definitive Guide
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Google TrustRank: The Definitive Guide

Brian Dean

by Brian Dean Β· Updated Mar. 15, 2018

Google TrustRank: The Definitive Guide

In this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about Google TrustRank.

What it is.

How it works.

(And most important of all) how to get it.

Let’s dive right in.

What is Google TrustRank?

Google TrustRank helps Google and other search engines combat web spam. Specifically, TrustRank measures so-called “trust signals”. These trust signals help them evaluate whether or not core ranking signals (like links and content) are legitimate.

Even though TrustRank was initially created by Yahoo! and Stanford engineers, Google has revealed that they also use TrustRank in their algorithm.

For example, they filed a patent for: “A search engine system provides search results that are ranked according to a measure of the trust…”

trustrank patent

Google has also made official statements like:

“So PageRank is the most well known type of trust. It’s looking at links and how important those links are.

So if you have a lot of very high quality links, then you tend to earn a lot of trust with Google. There’s over 200 different signals that we use in our ranking.

But you can kind of break them down into this notion of trust and how well you match a particular query. We use several words – reputation, trust, authority.”

In other words: Google upranks websites that they trust. And they measure that trust in their algorithm with TrustRank.

But how does TrustRank actually work?

That leads us to our next section…

How TrustRank Works

I’ll go into a lot more detail on how this works soon.

But you can look at TrustRank like a filter.

If Google sees your links and content as trustworthy, they pass the filter.

But if your TrustRank is low, these signals are seen as not legitimate…and are blocked.

Needless to say, you want Google to see your site as a trustworthy resource. If not, your rankings are going to suffer… big time.

Can you Measure TrustRank?

Short answer: kind of.

Longer answer:

Moz has developed a metric called “MozTrust“.

MozTrust is the closet thing we have to measuring TrustRank directly.

It’s not perfect. But it’s a helpful starting point.

For example, here’s my MozTrust:

1 means that that your links are almost 100% spam. 10/10 would be a site like Harvard.edu. So 6.09 is actually pretty good.

With that, it’s time for me to show you how to maximize your site’s TrustRank…

Step #1: On-Page Trust Optimization

Here’s how to generate on-page trust for your site.

1. Link Out to Authority Sites: I know you’ve seen those lame paper-thin affiliate sites in Google.

Did you ever notice that they NEVER link out to other sites?

Can you say red flag?

But look at any REAL site, like The Huffington Post or NYTimes.com: they’re linking out to sites left and right!

And so should you. Linking out is a fundamental on-page SEO strategy.

Plus, one well-done industry study found a correlation between linking out and higher Google rankings:

Keep in mind that the sites that you link to reflect on your site

…so spread the link love to .edu, .gov and authority sites early and often.

2. Privacy Notice, Terms: Make sure your site has a thorough privacy notice, terms of use and/or affiliate disclosure. These are “boring” pages that Google pays attention to.

After all, all Adsense publishers are required to have this info on their site, which tells me that Big G thinks it’s important.

3. Bounces and Blocked Sites: Google’s RankBrain algorithm now takes into account user interaction is a ranking factor.

In fact, Google even gone as far as to consider how many Chrome users block your site.

You can imagine how shady a site must be for people to actually block the entire site.

And the same goes for sites with high bounce rate: if your site provides trustworthy information why is everyone in such a rush to leave?

So make sure you keep an eye in your bounce rate and “time on page” in Google Analytics.

Then, do what you can to keep people sticking to your site like superglue.

4. References and Sources: Consider having a list of sources and references at the end of certain articles.

This shows Google that your content is well-researched (and therefore most trustworthy).

Step#2: Look and Act Like a Big Brand

Google has been VERY big on brands lately.

How can you, some guy banging out WordPress sites in his underwear, possibly look like a big brand?

(Even if you are just some guy banging out WordPress sites in his underwear).

Easy. Build brand signals.

Remember: Google is just a site ranking machine (also known as an algorithm).

Google doesn’t know that Pepsi is a brand because it saw their Super Bowl commercial last year. They identify brands from online brand signals.

And they take brands VERY seriously because they trust brands.

In fact, here’s what Google CEO Eric Schmidt has this to say about brands:

“Brands are the solution, not the problem… brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”

Here’s how to step out the cesspool, take a long shower, and look like a big bad brand:

1. Branded Domain/Site Name: Forget exact match or phrase match domains. The EMD update made it very clear that exact match domains don’t do jack. Instead of MostComfortableMaleThongsX.com, go for ComfyThongs.com.

Rocking a branded domain sends the message that you’re a unique brand…not some SEO-obsessed loser trying to rank for one keyword.

2. Thorough About Us Page: Don’t skimp on your about page.

Real brands have MASSIVE about pages that talks about their company, mission statement, etc. Make an epic about us page that tells your story.

3. Active Social Media Accounts: All big brands are super-active on social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the like. Even if you run tiny site, get your social accounts rocking and rolling.

4. Branded Searches in Google: People search for brands, whether it be Ikea, YouTube or John Deere. You know that Google considers you a brand when you get sitelinks, like this:

But you don’t have to be on the Fortune 500 to get the brand treatment.

Sitelinks appear when you build killer backlinks AND get people to search for your brand in Google.

How do you do that, you ask?

The simple answer: create an awesome site πŸ™‚

5. Brand Name Anchor Text: People naturally link to brands with brand name anchor text. So if your site is Thongs4Less.com, you better get some links with the anchor text: “Thongs 4 Less”.

Step#3: Trustworthy Domain Info

Did you know that Google is a domain registrar?

But they don’t sell domains.

Weird right?

The reason they went through the trouble was to spy on your whois info. You see, when you’re an ICANN-approved registrar you can check whois information all day long, unlike us mere mortals.

Here’s what you can do to get more trust from your domain info:

  • Register your domain for 2+ Years: Google wants to see that you’re in this for the long haul. Although the influence of domain registration in SEO has been debated to death, it’s something that can’t possibly hurt you and might help you…so go for it. I personally register my domains for 5+ years.
  • Make it public: No real company has private whois (check if you don’t believe me). Make sure that the address is real or this can backfire.
  • Put whois info on your contact us page: To really show Google I’m all about transparency and openness, I usually put my whois address and phone on my contact or privacy notice page. This is a another brand signal. Posting your address tells Google that you have an “office” somewhere (even if your office is your mom’s basement).

Individually, these may seem like tiny things, but look at it this way:

Which site seems more trustworthy to you?

Site #1: Private whois and no contact page that’s expiring in 3-months.

Site #2: Real address and phone number that matches their site’s official contact info…AND has 5 more years before the domain expires?

Thought so.

Step#4: Trusted Links

And here’s the big one. Like everything in the Google universe, trust revolves around links.

And they do it based on an SEO version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

The trust you get from other sites is often referred to as TrustRank.

Here’s how it works:

Basically, there are a group of highly-trusted “seed sites”, such as .govs, .edus, NYTimes.com etc.

Google hand picks these sites and gives them a 10/10 TrustRank.

Obviously, getting links directly from these sites is best.

That said…

You can still get some of that trust by getting links from sites that have links from seed sites.

Or put another way:

Harvard.edu –> your site= best case scenario

Harvard.edu –>some other site –> your site = not too shabby

Harvard.edu –>some other site –>–>some other site –>–>some other site –>–>some other site –>–>some other site –>–>some other site –>–>some other site –>your site =not good

That’s why you should ALWAYS look at another site’s link profile before taking the time to get a link from them.

In fact, I focus a lot of my link building efforts on getting links directly from “seed sites”… or sites that have links from seed sites.

In my experience, these sites rank better AND are much more durable to updates.

Bottom line? You want the sites that link to you to be highly trusted sites.

Step#5: Google News Site Backlinks

In the eyes of Big G, Google News approved sites are some of the most trusted sites in the internet.

Think about it: news sites have to be trustworthy.

If you’re searching for “best rappers of all time” it’s possible that some guy will include Vanilla Ice on his list.

But news sites are held to a higher standard because their content has to be spot on.

If they post an article with the headline: “Justin Bieber Elected President of Ecuador”, then it better be true.

For a site to be included in Google News, they have to undergo a rigorous manual review before getting in (fun fact: I once submitted a site to Google News and was rejected).

That lends them a lot of trust in the eyes of big G.

The thing is, getting a real link from a Google News approved site isn’t easy.

You have to create something newsworthy… then promote it.

For example, I recently did a giant study of Google’s ranking signals.

Because that content contained something worth reporting on, several news sites wrote about it (and linked to the study):

(That’s a link from Forbes. Needless to say, that’s a highly trusted site)

And those links significantly boosted my TrustRank.

Now I’d Like to Hear From You

Now that you’ve read all about TrustRank, I’d like to hear what you have to say.

Have you tried to optimize your site for trust?

If so, how did it go?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

283 Comments

  1. Tim Love Avatar Tim Lovesays:

    Good grief! I am so looking forward to getting this report now! If looking at it from a meat and potatoes point of view; potatoes being what you give away free on your blog, meat being the stuff you charge for… I can’t wait to see what kind of stuff you start selling. Most of what you’ve included so far would have been in someone else’s paid ebook. Surely you’ve got some tasty β€œWagyu” beef steak information lined up?!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for your support Tim and I hope you enjoy the report.

      Dude, my potatoes are just the appetizer. I’m working on the meat right now, and not to brag (Ok maybe to brag a little),
      but it’s gonna be some Grade A Kobe beef stuff. Get ready.

      1. David Avatar Davidsays:

        First of all and most importantly, I love Kobe beef πŸ™‚

        Secondly, thank you for this post. It really opened my eyes. I suppose with 2-3 years of internet business under my belt, I’m still a newbie and can imagine it shows… However, I work with a very passionate community who has helped music producers get an extra (and unexpected) source of income to allow them to actively enjoy their creative process of producing great music.

        SEO is something very new to us in general and it’s a real head-f**k getting to terms with what to do and what not. We have our own blog and post tips and tricks for DJs trying to push their career, so we put a lot of whatever time is spare in creating content, in the hope that original and quality (we are always improving thanks to posts like yours) content in the end will win.

        Sorry for this longwinded story, but I simply wanted to convey that your post has helped us improve our blog structure and that means a lot. So thank you Brian and any tips you have, please keep them coming.

        1. David Avatar Davidsays:

          … actually, a question just popped in and I wanted to quickly ask… You mentioned at the end of a blog, it’s wise to cite external links to website. Should these be rel=follow, or nofollow? Does it matter from our perspective?

          thanks for your help and no worries if you have better things to do πŸ™‚

  2. harsha Avatar harshasays:

    Wow , awesome report .

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Harsha!

  3. One of the more thorough SEO posts I have read since Penguin and I will be working on a lot of these recommendations over the next couple of weeks. It makes a lot of sense, thank you!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure JC.

  4. Thank you! I was hit rather hard by penguin and haven’t really recovered. I’ve tried changing a few things that I read about but haven’t seen much of a result.

    It’s baffled me because I write unique content, some of which is long and “epic”. My links are for the most part natural (I haven’t gone out of my way to gather my own links except for may be a dozen articles in directories and about the very occasional blog/forum comment).

    I also am a staff writer for the 3rd most influential site in my niche (photography) and have direct links from my articles to my site. Still I rank poorly for most terms.

    I used to appear as a “brand” like in your example in Google search but not for months now!

    I’m going to implement all of your suggestions.

    Thanks,
    Rachael

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Rachael,

      There were a lot of legit, 100% white hat owners like you that found themselves caught in the Penguin filter. In my opinion, that update was meant to send a message…not necessarily clean up the SERPs.

      In other words, they don’t care if there were a few false positives as long as they scared the bejeezus out of the SEO community.

      If you’re serious about recovering from Penguin you may have to go all-out. That means following the steps outlined in this post and cleaning up any links that look fishy. Even then there aren’t any guarantees.

      1. Hey Brian

        do you mean by saying “Even then there aren’t any guarantees” that if i got hit by penguin or panda, i may NEVER recover??

        Thanks in advance.

  5. David Avatar Davidsays:

    Great info! Glad I found your site!
    David

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for stopping by, David!

  6. Absolutely superb information. When is the Grade A Kobe beef steak ready:)?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Dom!

      It’s still on the grill. πŸ™‚

      Should be up and running in in about 2-weeks. I’ll send a message to my list when it goes live.

  7. Sy Trinh Avatar Sy Trinhsays:

    Dear Brian Dean! I have a question. How to check the trustrank of a website?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Sy. There’s no “official” place to check TrustRank. The best two metrics I’ve found are Majestic Trustflow and MozTrust.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          No problem :-).

  8. Goran Avatar Goransays:

    Wow Brian I’ve found you searching how one can build legit backlinks that will last and found YOU on google. I’ve read your free report too and i’ve already started to work on it so we’ll see.

    What you’ve mentioned in this post so far i already have on the niche website I am runing at the moment. I like to know if you can reccomend any tips for how to get those Google News backlinks as i’ve already checked and the are very stricted in leaving any comment links or so, of course as you said: if for them is hard to be in google news how can someone get backlink from them.
    Cheers

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Found me from searching? It sounds like that SEO stuff everyone’s talking about actually works :-). Besides press releases, there aren’t any easy ways to get links from Google News sites. If you can position yourself as an expert in your niche, sites like HARO can help you build relationships with journalists. Otherwise you’ll need to tap into old-fashioned PR.

  9. Goran Avatar Goransays:

    Ok, i got you now.
    Thanks a lot

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem, Goran. Send me an email if you have any questions.

  10. Pozivnice Avatar Pozivnicesays:

    Hi Brian, thanks for this info. It’s awesome! And thanks for a response to my email and my questions, and to be honest with you, I was surprised when I saw your asnwer :).
    Also after reading through your blog, I realized I was missing some major points in both On and Off-page SEO. I’ll give my best in using your recommendations and I’ll get back to you with the result.
    Cheers

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure! Let me know how the on and off-page strategies work out for you.

  11. Loved the post, gave me some further insight and some useful SEO gold nuggets.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad to hear that, Tino!

  12. Great post that delivers the message in an easy understandable way.
    Im lucky enough to have access to a tool that analyzes power + trust. Otherwise it would be hard to analyze the link profiles.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Esben. Is that an in-house tool?

  13. Great post Brian. Trust is a big factor in my eyes too, but it will comes down to something I firmly believe in which is, SEO is common sense https://matthewlpowers.com/seo-common-sense/

    Its more than SEO, but every element of your site. Site looks spammy, your in trouble. Links look unnatural, your in trouble. Content is crap. WATCH OUT

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Matt. You’re right: I see a lot of people in SEO run before they can walk. For example, I’ve seen people use Buzzstream to do outreach for a poorly designed site with mediocre content. It’s not going to work without the proper foundation.

      You need to get the basics right (design, content, UX, branding etc.) if you want to do well with SEO.

  14. Charles Omotayo Avatar Charles Omotayosays:

    Google dont seems to recognize my at all but the post has really one a long way to enlighten me more. Indeed, trust is the key!
    Thanks for sharing…I really appreciate!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad it helped you out, Charles. You’re right: trust is super important!

  15. quinn tyler Avatar quinn tylersays:

    Brian,
    Thanks alot for the info. It really opened my eyes and it was just what I was looking for. Good job!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure, Quinn! Let me know if you have any questions about implementing these techniques on your site.

  16. chris Avatar chrissays:

    Wow impressive thinking it’s deep but true. My question is if you have already seen the google drop how can you rebuild your rep? I feel like it could be time to tear down and start over. Do you consult or do work on the side my friend?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice to hear from you, Chris.

      Recovering from a drop is a tough thing to do because there are so many potential reasons behind the drop. As you said, it sometimes makes more sense to start from scratch. I do some consulting, but I’m actually booked until 2014.

  17. Bruno Avatar Brunosays:

    Thank you so much man!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sure, no problem, Bruno.

  18. Thanks a lot for these great guidelines

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure, Tim.

  19. Jason Avatar Jasonsays:

    link hops? does this apply to subdomains too?
    You didn’t mention how your website reacts on mobile phones. If it has slow loading time , it is a negative too. I just got 4 main sites on a responsive design (static) and added a blog.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Yes, it applies to subdomains as well. You’re 100% right, Jason: a slow loading site can really hurt you.

  20. a Real eyeopener, thanks, but hey. Why can’t I find a Date on this site? Is there a reason? It’s just because I don’t know if this article is something new or If I should already know this…

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you learned something new, Marc. I don’t date posts because I don’t want people to think the content isn’t relevant because it’s a year or two old. I update everything on here regularly so it’s fresh and up-to-date.

  21. great article, it’s all correct you write, found it in a german seo forum!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Guten Tag, Steven πŸ™‚

  22. James Baldock Avatar James Baldocksays:

    Brian,
    Found this post in the SE and love your practical and helpful advice. Sometimes everyone seems to have an opinion, but no one can actually give practical tips and ideas to succeed. I appreciate your thoughts and your take on this!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks James. You’re right: the SEO world is (unfortunately) full of people that have a hundred opinions but not one practical piece of advice. Glad I could help you out πŸ™‚

  23. Jeff Avatar Jeffsays:

    Will a Google+ account allow you link to multiple URL’s?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Yes it will, Jeff.

  24. Hi Brian, just been looking over your site these past few days picking up some great info. I love the way you really expand on SEO myths and concepts taking them to the next level with some clear guidance and insight. Keep up the good work. Nick

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Nick, thanks man. I appreciate that πŸ™‚

  25. I just thought of a question. After reading your article, I’m thinking it may not be a good idea to buy an expired domain name (I read about this technique in another one of your great posts). What if these are not trusted sites? Do you think that matters or is it just better than starting from scratch?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question, Mike. If you’re going to buy an expired domain you want to make sure it’s trusted and brandable. If the domain name doesn’t make sense for your site and brand then you’re better off starting off with a fresh domain name.

  26. Great bit of info here. I am SLOWLY moving up the serps, but as an amateur, its difficult to know which way to turn. Its a bit terrifying because a wrong link or two could spell disaster. Thanks for the insights!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks John. Fortunately, when you have a solid link profile, you can survive a few missteps πŸ™‚

  27. Namita Avatar Namitasays:

    Thanks for this post. My confusions regarding the concept of Trust Rank were cleared by this very well written post.
    And of-course the Penguin update explanation was superb. You have another follower.. πŸ™‚

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glda to hear that Namita πŸ™‚

  28. Very interesting post.
    In my opinion we have not yet lead such different thinking in France.
    Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Christohpe. TrustRank definitely applies to Google.fr, so it’s worth paying attention to.

  29. Nofollow links makes a trust rank too?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      They don’t, Gry. They have to be followed links to pass TrustRank.

  30. Reven Avatar Revensays:

    Thanks for this guide…:) Now i want to be a “Big Bad Brand”

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Yeah, Reven!

  31. Brian this is awesome piece of work, now i have a better understanding about the google search engine and also know little bit more how to avoid google penalties. Thanks a lot man for this wonderful article. I will be back very soon to consume more from you

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I appreciate that, Rakesh!

  32. Really true.
    On the contact us page of my website I have put different address than the whois address on my domain name. Can you guess what happen? He put my website on page 15.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Wow. Let me know what happens when you get them to match. I’d be curious to see if your site comes back.

  33. Thanks Brian. Greets from Mexico!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Cheers, Carlos.

  34. I usually avoid to have outbound links into my posts, but you article does make a lot of sense. But I think in everything you do it must be a fair balance.

    For example, if your blog has a lot of outbound links (to authoritative websites) and no inbound links from .gov .edu and so on websites, wouldn’t that negatively affect your website SEO?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re right: Bogdan. It’s a balance. But in general, you at least want some outbound links on your site or else your site doesn’t appear to be a legit member of the web.

  35. Excellent article, l gave you a backlink and l reffer you in my epic article in greek language, my blog is in greek, the 200 factors of google algorithm…
    Thanx

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for the link, John πŸ™‚

  36. Nice Information Brian! πŸ™‚ I keep reading all your emails and posts! Thanks for this update as well

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Swayam!

  37. Great article, thanks so much. Now it is clear that some high PR ranked websites still score bad at Google…

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Randy πŸ™‚

  38. its not often that i spend 20 mins of my life reading an article from end to end! I think your correct about the penguin update.. we all (me included ) jumped on the anchor text issues.. ive been wondering why walmart hits for our keywords, just for the mention of the fact that that particular item is NOT included! brands brands brands… its obviously really about trust.. it just had not solidified properly.. i think i will get the tattoo , as suggested on my head… thank you for taking the time to write such a well informed article..

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you learned something new. You’re absolutely right: trust is HUGE!

  39. Wow, great post. OK,
    I have a site that is similar to Shopzilla except I also include more detailed product pages from Amazon. It is a computer generated site. It did well enough for the first few weeks then all of a sudden it dropped right off the search results. I have done all the things you have recommended except getting into Google news. Let’s see what happens. I can’t hurt anyways.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Let me know how it goes, Carlos.

  40. I think if you follow some of the basic principles it is possible to recover a site from a google drop. But, the advice in this article is gold. I apply this advice to all my sites now to greater successes.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Carlos.

  41. Great read Brian. Thanks for sharing this. One comment. You recommend to always put your whois address and phone on your contact page. You write that this is something you do too. However, checking your contact page ( https://old.backlinko.com/contact-2 ) that info is not there. Did you change your mind?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jakob. It’s something I do with my web properties, not Backlinko. Fortunately, this site is big enough where I rather not share my apartment # with the world πŸ˜€

  42. Thanks for all of this information. As I am working AND working on my website myself, I am limited for time so posts like yours with direct pointers are extremely helpful.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s what I do, Jerry: help business owners like you get more traffic so you can focus on building your business.

  43. I quite like Google updates, always seem to get ranking and traffic boosts as a result. Guess I’m doing something right πŸ™‚

    Bring them on!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s how I feel now too, Dominic. It definitely beats cowering in fear over updates.

  44. Dang! How do you do it Brian? You must be paying a ton of people to research, surf, dig deep and read a ton of other articles, blogs etc….To come up with some of the best SEO posts anyone has ever written!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      πŸ™‚

      I basically just eat, sleep and breathe SEO.

  45. Thanks! Great post. Do nofollow links pass trust flow?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Janet. In my opinion, they don’t. I consider nofollow links the same as a text-based mention in terms of SEO.

  46. How long it took to research and write this awesome article. Lot of good information. Thanks for your time and efforts.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      It look a while, Raj πŸ™‚

  47. Mike B Avatar Mike Bsays:

    Great article Brian. Love the raw attitude on this one πŸ˜‰

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Mike. I was feeling edgy that day πŸ™‚

  48. damon Avatar damonsays:

    G’day Brain,
    I learned a heap from reading this, like you said, SEO people are all telling me the same stuff! It;s good to learn something they aren’t telling, or they simply dont know themselves.
    Cheers mate!
    Damo

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Damon. Happy to drop some new knowledge for ya πŸ™‚

  49. Mate you put so much research into your posts, it’s a killer article. Well done.
    Definitely have to target brand names for long term results, I couldn’t agree more.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That I do, Jayde. Glad you found it helpful.

  50. Is the idea of using mechanical turk valid? I was under the impression that doing what was suggested is a bad idea?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Like any tool, it depends on how you use it, Jeremy.

  51. Jared Jammer Avatar Jared Jammersays:

    Great website. I’ve actually decided to spend my Saturday reading all 22 of your blog posts (yes, I counted them).

    On a side note, the Contact Page link at the bottom of your About page links to contact-2 (empty page), rather than contact.

    Cheers.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Wow, that’s amazing Jared. Thanks for the heads up. The link is fixed now.

  52. Great summary. It still isn’t too hard to conclude that doing many things well, but, DOING MANY THINGS, is a helpful and useful way to rank well with Google.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Terry. That’s very true: each of these strategies has a tiny influence on rankings…but they add up!

  53. Hey Brian,
    The post is insightful, and definitely helpful. But there’s a problem. There are certain sites out there that have a special, dedicated measure called TrustRank. For instance, Trust Directory Project accepts sites with a TrustRank value of at least 3.
    What exactly is that? Your post didn’t seem to suggest anything about the specific algorithm but it is good enough to have a Wikipedia entry.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Raheel, I’d use the MozTrust measurement.

  54. Hey Brian this was a very informative article about backlinking which showed me that I have just been doing things wrong. I am just wondering what is your opinion on micro niche sites that want to rank high on google. Trust is indeed hard to get on these microniche sites. So you are saying websites with a .blogspot or .wordpress ending are not going to rank high?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I don’t like nice sites for that very reason, Yuanda.

  55. Sanjay Singh Avatar Sanjay Singhsays:

    One of my website has 4.88 moztrust but 0 PR. πŸ™
    However it ranks on page 1 for 5-6 keywords. Now I will try some techniques from your post to bring rest of the keywords on first page.
    Thanks for sharing this great info with us.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sanjay, remember that Page Rank only updates once per year.

  56. Chris Avatar Chrissays:

    Give me a break.
    My site has zillions of trusted government links and “trusted” domain links, yet my pages have been falling like a rock due to the fact that I don’t get huge traffic.
    Google now ranks high traffic sites at the top and the low traffic sites with great content no longer get hits on those key “money key words” .
    On many searches they list the same domain duplicate times, pushing your pages WAY down their pages. For example if you search for “GIS Jobs” you will get the indeed domain listed many times. Why does Google do this when the user can find the other jobs on indeed for themselves. The answer is these are high traffic domains packed with Google ads and they want them listed and showing on top as many times as they can!
    Google is now playing God by picking the winners and losers before John Q Public gets a chance to. I still rank fine in Yahoo and Bing since they still care about content over traffic.
    These are the cold hard facts in the World of Google today. They ONLY care about Adsense click$. Lots of them! Maybe that is why Matt Cutts took leave and nobody wants to replace him. Somebody needs to declare shenanigans on Google!

  57. Jason Avatar Jasonsays:

    Great insight Brian!
    fyi: Anchor text url on the “MozTrust” keyword is broken.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jason. Just tried the link and it worked for me. Must have been down for a second.

  58. I have a site that sale seo content and help people rank, but this articles just open up my mind and realize what I done in the past is wrong. Thank you for sharing this great info.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Leance.

  59. Thanks Brian, I think I need to read this many times to fully comprehend how to implement your suggestions but even for me (layperson who has little idea what he is doing re SEO) this stuff makes sense. I appreciate you spelling it out for us. I I have had page 1 position 1 for my keywords in the past but now have disappeared into the abyss, and I can see now perhaps why, thanks Anton

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Anton. Glad my post could help you out πŸ˜€

  60. Tony Avatar Tonysays:

    Great article. Learn something new about anchored text links. Hope this will help improve my rankings by using more words that just my exact keyword in backlinking.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Tony, that should definitely help.

  61. harrist Avatar harristsays:

    After spending a lot of time! building a lot link, in fact huge lets say hundreds, thousand! using new strategy etc. and etc! but my traffic still suck! and Big G still doesnt trust my smal site, I can tell from traffic, because I get ranki in first page, and second page! and also I write oroginal article! and I said! WTF! I know I am missing this! I can tell, because I already test, this kind of strategy but unfortunately I forgot! πŸ˜€ anyway, thank you so much for remind me πŸ˜› hehehehe. good post bro! very good postt! you rock man! πŸ˜€

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to help, Harrist.

  62. Jim Avatar Jimsays:

    Brian,
    My site has some trusted sites link to it that are outside of my niche. Is that going to hurt me to have trusted sites but they are outside my niche?
    Thanks! Jim

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Jim, you definitely want most of your links from sites in your niche. But it’s OK and normal to have quite a few links from unrelated sites.

  63. Jim Avatar Jimsays:

    Brian,
    This post cooked my brain! LOL! Way to GO!!! Interesting. If i am hearing you right you are saying that niche has less of a factor than trust. So i could get all sorts of high trust websites to tell about my site (like testimonials) and just because they have rep google will like me. So it doesn’t have to do with niche that is on page SEO as long as solid sites link to me? I am thinking like on HARO they are good sites but way outside my niche. Wont it hurt me if they aren’t in my niche?
    Jim

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      πŸ™‚
      I’d say it’s about equal. Trust and relevancy are both super important.

  64. Jay Avatar Jaysays:

    I’ve recently started frequenting your website, Dean. You’ve got some seriously good stuff on here. You’re a natural, obviously. Will be back for more! πŸ˜€

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jay πŸ™‚

  65. Wiked article! this has really helped, I’m working hard to get my head around SEO and the constant changes and updates as to what is right and what is wrong, there is just so much misinformation out there it’s hard to keep up! Do you offer any kind of training courses on the subject of SEO and linking?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Ria. I hear you, there’s A LOT of conflicting/confusing SEO info out there.
      I actually sell a premium training program called SEO That Works. Registration will open up again in a few weeks.
      Hop on the newsletter so you don’t miss the invite.

  66. This is one of the best articles I’ve read in a while. I am a HUGE believer in building a brand, as opposed to building a keyword stuffed, awkward domain that is easily forgettable. When I created my site, my main focus on branding my site and providing the best quality information and resources possible. In other words, nothing was more important to me nor is as important to me still, as earning trust with my visitors. However, I haven’t really thought about how this will translate into trust from Google. Sure, I have implemented some of the strategies you mentioned above, but obviously there is much more I can be doing. The most interesting point that stuck out for me was linking OUT to authority sites. I have focused on internal linking, I have some affiliate links and back links from blogs and forums, but I need to start flat out sharing some quality relevant content from the authority sites. News sites, as you mentioned and also authorities specifically within my niche. I have bookmarked this post and look forward to utilizing your advice. Thanks for sharing, I’ll be back, man!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Howie. I couldn’t have said it better myself: building a brand is one of the best ways to make your site update proof.

  67. Great post. Reminded me of a lot of things I forgot about, and those will be helpful in the upcoming Advanced Link Training seminar I’m teaching later this month.
    Only one issue or update in the post: Google is actually a registrar and they DO sell domains now. See Google.com/domains you have to have an invite, but I’ve already transferred a few domains over there.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Bill. Interesting. Didn’t realize that they were selling domains now. Thanks for the heads up.

  68. Bill Slawski Avatar Bill Slawskisays:

    That trustrank algorithm that uses seedsites and all, that Moztrust is based upon is based upon Yahoo’s Trustrank Algorithm, which has nothing to do with Google. πŸ™

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for your insights on that Bill.

  69. Penguin may be about trust but correlation is no predictor. Whilst some of the advice is sound, there is empirical evidence behind your claims or SEO Moz or Majestic.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Fair points Andres. As a former lab scientist, I’ve learned there’s no such thing as empirical evidence in SEO as we can never control all of the variables. Correlation is the best we’ve got πŸ™‚

  70. David Avatar Davidsays:

    Great information. I read thru the entire post and found some new interesting information. There’s always so much chatter online about SEO, what works and what doesn’t. Got some new ideas I’ll try out for sure. Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to bring some new knowledge to the table, David.

  71. Got killed by panda – mis-lead by crappy SEO companies. I’m trying to recover and glad to find this page. Signed up for the news letters…Tks Chip

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Chip. I hope this post gets you back to where you were before.

  72. Correct me if I’m wrong Brian but, wasn’t Yahoo the one who “invented” TrustRank?
    I cannot find any reference on Google saying they use that, or a variation of, TrustRank. Am I wrong? Could you point me in the right direction?

    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Yes, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean Google hasn’t adopted something similar for their own algo.

  73. So long I suspect that google linking has more to do with Trust and Citation flow then back links. The thinks that I didn’t know was that this soo boring pages as About us, Contact is so important

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      It’s true, Ali. They make a difference.

  74. Brian,
    You share so much information in one post. I’m just starting with SEO, and this was eye opening. I have some work ahead of me. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Lou.

  75. Kris Avatar Krissays:

    Brian, I’m new to your site but it has been a life-saver. We got hit hard by Penguin (we’re a legitimate, even government-licensed company) and we’re fighting hard to move forward. I’ve already implemented so many of your suggestions and we’re working HARO like crazy for a shot at one of the big guys. Keep up the great work, I’ll be following you avidly.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Kris. Happy to get you guys back in the right direction.

  76. A great read. Thanks for sharing Brian πŸ™‚

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Chris.

  77. Pat Johnson Avatar Pat Johnsonsays:

    The part about using legitimate contact details confuses me, how does an ffiliate marketer with a dozen websites do this, if Google is checking whois, then they will see that Joe Blow has a dozen websites. is it advisable to register every domain with different contact information… could you please shed some light on this

    Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Pat, the answer is not to have a dozen websites. I recommend focusing on one (or at the most) two amazing sites. Even if you’re an affiliate marketer.

  78. Ibraheem Avatar Ibraheemsays:

    Hay Brian,
    The BS from Google keeps going. This year I saw people blogging from years a go dumped there work and closed their blogs. I know it is not a BS for you because it is your work field and the worse it gets the better lol. Here is a funny story, one of these people who closed his blog his keywords start ranking after he shut down lol. As such criteria exist for ranking Google should be clear with webmasters about it. I call it BS because not everyone need to be SEO to rank. Great article!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Ibraheem.

  79. Really enjoyed this article. Thanks for taking the time to write this!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Louis.

  80. Adam Avatar Adamsays:

    Brian,
    You’ve shared some great information here. With the last google update all my sites rankings have dropped and now I’m paranoid with every step I take.

    As I live in Australia, most my domains are .com.au and to register a .com.au domain you need to put it under your business. Each business has a unique Australian Business Number and you register the domains using your unique number. Now what got me worried is Google blacklisted my Australian Business Number and every website I make don’t rank very well. The last website I created is no where to be even found on Google. Do you think Google might be using this as a ranking factor?

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers,
    Adam.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      They could, Adam, but I’ve never heard of that happening before.

      1. Adam Avatar Adamsays:

        Thanks Brian, if you were in my shoes, would you create a new website from scratch with different Australian Business Number or just stick with the same website, put in all you have to try and make it a killer authoritative website using your methods? I’m just really lost as I don’t want to waste my time trying to rank a website that’s never going to be successful.

        Your help is appreciated!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          I might just go with private whois info. It’s not ideal, but it may be on the safe side in this case.

  81. Hey Brian, another phenomenal post! One thing that struck me in particular: I had no idea that there are companies who would try and knock off a competitor’s site using sleazy spam tactics. I’ve been doing SEO for years and never once thought of using such underhanded methods. Maybe you should write a post sometime about dirty SEO tricks and how to defend yourself against them. Just don’t forget to mention that the post was my idea πŸ™‚

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey David, unfortunately it’s actually a big issue in the SEO world. In my experience the best offense is a good defense. Namely a site with a strong, trustworthy link profile.

  82. Brian, one more observation regarding Step#5: Google News Site Backlinks: I notice that a site named http://www.prweb.com is on Google News and they offer press releases for as little as $99. And they appear to be very indiscriminate in what they publish (i.e., anything as long as you pay). What kind of juice does that kind of link provide? Is it a good SEO investment?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      David, I’d stay away from them. Unfortunately, as you said, they publish anything…which has hurt their reputation.

  83. Phillip Charlier Avatar Phillip Charliersays:

    After some years not thinking about SEO, I wanted to update myself on the changes in the industry. This is by far the best, most clear and thorough explanation I’ve seen on the subject in many years. Thanks Brian.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s an awesome compliment to read, Phillip. Happy to get you all caught up.

  84. Awesome article Brian. I’m a first-timer here but will surely stay around to check out the rest of your blog. Thanks for sharing great knowledge!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Piotr.

  85. Very good info mate. I always hide Whois of my sites. Never thought it has importance in Google eyes, Will make it open. I am a regular follower of your posts, Thanks for sharing valuable info.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Kris. Public whois is a small factor, but every little bit counts πŸ™‚

  86. Finally a common sense approach -thank you very much for your article. Lot’s of really great info. Ta

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Antonio. I always try to break things down into easy-to-understand steps and strategies.

  87. Brian, If I could, I would remove all other “Google+ Seo” related articles from google search results and leave yours only. The best informative reading on net! Thanks a lot.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Love that, Asya. Thanks!

  88. Hi Brian,
    Great article! We are currently working on implementing some of the points that you bring up. Any suggestions on how to link out to trusted high authority sites when you are a B2B site?
    Thanks

  89. Very interesting, added myself to your aweber-list and downloaded this as .pdf, but I actually have a question:

    Do you have any trust-related information regarding http vs https?

    Looking forward to hear back from you!

    Cheers

  90. Stan Lee Avatar Stan Leesays:

    I am new to the world of web development and I really struggle a lot with search engine optimization of my site . This tutorial was really helpful for me to understand the basic of search engine optimization.

  91. Greg Avatar Gregsays:

    Hey…thanks for the post here…

    Do you feel one should make most or all testimonial or client portfolio links back to their sites “no follow” unless there are unique reasons to not make the links “no follow”? What is your general feeling on this and why?

    πŸ™‚

  92. Greg Avatar Gregsays:

    Oh…also, is there a specific way to tell search engines that the whois record and domain length has been updated?

  93. Thanks Mr. Brian ,
    Very useful yours advises and of course entire article .
    I found your website on http://www.google.be on the 4th place of 1750000. I think that says enough …
    I wait the new tips from you also in 2015 !
    Victor.

  94. This is the best post about Trust Rank which I read evertime. Only 1st step has a lot of advise, so if i do all step my page will be realy trusted in Googles eyes.

  95. Sikdave Avatar Sikdavesays:

    Lol @ banging out WordPress sites in ur underwear. Ha! (I’ve actually done this)

  96. Thanks for the insight – interesting way to approach the conceptual framework of SEO. As you say, its not all about PageRank or some other metric – those are ways Google measure’s relevance/trustworthiness, and over time their relevance will likely change so pursuing them in and of themselves is probably not a winning strategy.

  97. Brian – it’s worthwhile SEO information! As others have called it out, many package and sell much less relevant SEO info as eBooks. Thanks for providing free info.

  98. Dan Lawrence Avatar Dan Lawrencesays:

    Great info Brian (as always) πŸ™‚ !

    Re: Domain Registration Privacy

    Do you think G looks at Whois details to establish an administrative relationship between linking sites ?
    If so, since im creating a separate site of curated content relating to my primary/target sites niche and then linking back to the primary site from it for contextual link benefit (amongst other benefits)….then should i have whois privacy turned on so G doesnt see an administrative relationship between the two sites and hence devalue the link due to admin relationship OR better to be transparent and just use/show same admin details for both sites. Or do you think Google just considers sites on same hosts (rather than whois details) to establish an admin relationship between them. In which case since the sites im talking about are hosted on different hosts, shouldnt be an issues to be transparent with who is data if they are the same in both cases ?

    Many thanks
    Dan

  99. Craig Avatar Craigsays:

    For every site I am trying to rank for “exact match” domains are the ones on page 1 – ALWAYS. Every site I look up on page 1 almost universally has private contact details for whois. I don’t buy a lot of what you are saying, doesn’t match up with my real world experience.

  100. Some excellent advice, some stuff I knew and some I didn’t, working my way through the list!
    Cheers

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