I’ve vaguely mentioned “trust factor” and “authority” in many SEO articles here on the website and communities. And often it pops up many questions from the audience side. What exactly is authority? What precisely is Search Engine trust factor? And the likes.
What is Search Engine Trust Factor?
Well, it would be difficult to put it into a single comprehensible definition however, here is the closest I can get.
Search Engine trust Factor is the resulting average grade awarded to a website chronologically over a period of time by search engines based on several sets of signals on its content credibility and user preferences.
Well, let’s call them brownie points, to make it simple.
As far as I understand, Search engine trust factor for a website is the measure of how they are seen in the eyes of search engine bots compared to other websites. How trust worthy they are, how friendly they are and how transparent they are. In layman’s terms, you can say, it’s a check of whether you are in the good books of Google or not.
Characteristic nature of Search Engine Trust Factors
- It aggregates over a large period of time, often spanning in years.
- It is by far influenced by user preferences, usage metrics and votes more than anything.
- It isn’t competitive in nature, instead self-aggregative to a website.
- They are the phase two set of assessments done by search engines, atop the initial search engine rankings.
Building search engine trust factor to your website is in fact easy, but it isn’t quick. It happens over a period of time.
How does Search Engine Trust factors affect a website?
Some of the search engine trust factors I can think of:
- Time spent by users on the webpage upon search engine referral.
- User click preference on search engine result page.
So, when a user makes a search on Google, and is on the search engine results page, he has ten choices. So, search engines with their initial set of assessments, have made this list of top ten performers.
Now, based on the user’s behavior, search engines could additionally rate the websites, in fact this is why there is a constant re-arrangement of top 10 search engine ranks.
Example of how Search Engines might count Trust Factor
Let’s assume that most number of users click on site number 3, skipping site number 1 and 2. To the search engine bots (or whatever that is monitoring the user behavior), it should mean that users trust site no.3 and not 1 and 2.
It could be that site no.3 has a better keyword specific meta information or it could also be that site no.1 and 2 has spam-like meta info. Or it could even be previous experience. (We skip about.com pages, don’t we?)
If I was Google, this is a clear signal to me that this trend (of more users clicking site no.3 and skipping site no.1 and 2) should be monitored and if found genuine, site no.3 should be pushed to position no.1 to increase the relevancy of the results page.
Similarly, if a user visits site no.1 and finds that the information in there is not worthy / irrelevant, the time he’d spent on the site would be minimal before hitting the back button to search results. We wouldn’t know what a healthy stand-by time is, but it could be the average of as many users who had been on the page (and returned). So, lets say the average time spent by a user on a site is 3 seconds before hitting the back button, while the average time spent by users on a site with relevant information is more than 10 seconds.
Wouldn’t the site with less than 3 seconds stand by time fall low of quality? It certainly will.
It wouldn’t be possible for us to know certainly of what the search engine trust factors are, however factors like what I mentioned above are pointers to metrics that might be possibly relevant to search engines in helping them decide which websites deserve the trust factor and which does not.