Online Marketing Blog

The 5 Easiest Ways To Get Search Engines To Trust You

With the days of meta tag stuffing, hidden text and all the wonders of “SEO” in the 90s and early 2000s well and truly behind us, search engines are investing billions of dollars into top secret algorithms to keep the search results for any given query spam free and relevant. One of those algorithms is Google’s TrustRank, a way of assigning authority to a website or domain. Aaron Wall has a nice brief rundown on TrustRank you can read to get you started. Based on that article and white paper, I am going to outline the five easiest ways you can increase your TrustRank, authority and hopefully general online visibility.

1) Get an SSL cert.

SSL-Cert You might not need one but having an SSL cert for ALL forms on your site shows search engines that you are serious about security and reassures your users that the information they are providing is being sent over a secure channel. If you were a web spammer would you care about any security or privacy of your website visitors?

2) Register your domain for ten years.

register-domain-for-10-years At a cost of about $10 a year, registering your domain for ten years shows search engines that you are serious about your business and domain. Spammers are renowned for registering cheap .info domains to do whatever nasty business they are planning and then letting them drop when they are caught. If you were spamming would you shell out your money to register your domain for ten years if you knew what you were doing would probably get you banned from the search engines?

3) Get a dedicated IP address.

dedicated-IP-address If you cannot get a dedicated IP, make sure you are not sharing your IP with any “less than desirable” websites. This is a widely debated topic but the general consensus among SEOs is that a static IP address is better. There are a few technical reasons for this and Barry sums it up pretty nicely here. Getting a dedicated IP address can be as simple an affair as calling up your hosting company and asking or at most paying a few extra Euros a month for the privilege and peace of mind.

4) Get listed in the top authority directories.

Yahoo Logo 2Quality paid and free directories show search engines you are willing to shell out sometimes big bucks to promote your business and market it online. Adding your site to the Yahoo Directory and are costly annual fees for the average webmaster but the authority gained by both listings can make a huge difference. Likewise, a DMOZ listing shows search engines that a human manually reviewed your site and deemed it to be worthy of classification among the best in it’s category (It’s debatable how much of a “review” a paid submission to Yahoo or gets you).

5) Use factual information for your Whois data.

Whois Don’t hide behind domain privacy services if you don’t have a legitimate need to. There is evidence that search engines can see right through this “wall” anyway and it makes your site less trustworthy to normal (albeit tech savvy) visitors/customers. Make sure the whois data matches the contact details on your site and in your privacy policy too. Have a read of the post on Whois Data and SEO by Adam Sharp. Adam goes through a session at PubCon last year about the topic with Matt Cutts and is well worth the read should you disagree on this point.

It should be noted that after implementing all over the above there has been a noticeable increase in search engine rankings, quality score and overall online visibility for not only our own sites but our client sites also.

While there is no real way to test exactly what effect each has on how search engines perceive your site, they are common sense, real world methods to get that extra authority for your domain with very little effort. Many people have reported that using the above methods can dramatically improve SEO efforts and along with a general “site cleanup” get search engine penalties lifted. Try them for yourself, you have absolutely nothing to lose (except for a few extra Euros a year).

What other methods have worked well for you? What other methods are within the dedicated webmaster/business owner control?

  1. Michele Says:
    October 22nd, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Getting a fixed IP goes well with the SSL, but getting one for the sake of it doesn’t sit well with RIPE

  2. Dave Davis Says:
    October 22nd, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks Michele, yea having a dedicated IP helps with implementing the SSL cert. Can be a pain on shared hosting.

    RIPE don’t mind unless there is “justification” I believe (you know more about that than me). In the past, my successful justifications have been :

    “client does not want to be associated with other sites hosted virtually on the same IP. Any other tips on this?

  3. Gab from SEO ROI Says:
    October 22nd, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    While I agree with the first four techniques (and want to give you kudos on a good post, overall), I personally doubt the whois info matters. Why should people concerned about their privacy not do as well as those who don’t give a hoot about their privacy? Privacy is a legitimate concern and just because spammers prefer their privacy, you can’t go and correlate private whois 100% with spam. If indeed Google is relying on that in TrustRank calculations, they’re getting off track, imho.

    On a related note, you might care to point out certain other trust factors that can help. BBB Online programs, Chamber of Commerce programs, and especially off-site factors like publication in reliable industry sites (think New England Journal of Medicine). If I were to venture a guess, success on social media sites like StumbleUpon and Digg are probably also important, for the reasons listed by Jakob Nielsen here:

  4. Dave Davis Says:
    October 22nd, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for stopping by Gab. The point about the whois data was to make sure that it correlated to the contact data on the site.

    I red Jakob’s article and also a patent rundown by Bill Slawski on search engines using publicly available stumbleupon and data but as my next article will point out, ther is a lot of ways to easily abuse social networks. (Not that SSL and domain reg length cannot be abused either).

  5. Michele Says:
    October 22nd, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    There are several valid reasons for a dedicated IP, such as SSL or running certain services that require a dedicated IP. Not wanting to be associated with other users on an IP wouldn’t really be a valid excuse. Of course it’s a golden opportunity to take a dedicated server :)


  6. Jeff Quipp Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Nice post Dave … and great timing!

  7. Boris Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 4:09 am

    I disagree on all points. These all may be true, however, I have never seen any proof that these work. It seems like well meaning guessing to me! Just because something make sense doesn’t mean that it actually works. When you can provide verifiable evidence then I will change my mind.
    One of my websites has had a 302 redirect used since day one… Yet, it is #1 ranked and has been for 9 months. Is a 301 a better idea… Yes, it is… But the 302 has never hurt me… So why should I give much thought to all this other stuff?

  8. Hugo Peppers Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 4:15 am

    Easy? I don’t know about that. These are easy if you have the money to pay someone to set it up, or to follow those rules.

  9. Dave Davis Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 4:29 am

    Hi Boris, thanks for the comment. Akismet flagged you as spam so sorry it took so long to fish you out.

    You are right and there is no concrete evidence that the above work but noticing a strong increase in organic rankings and quality score after implementing each has to stand for something. Also, Google specifically says “build your site for people, not for search engines”. The above points that I mentioned are indeed factors that not only improve the experience for the user, but also help the user and keep them secure. I am certain that credibility indicators to humans are similar to those used by search engines.

    Ultimately though, as stated, there is nothing concrete and I doubt there could be a test to verify it considering search engines take into consideration many things at once.

    Regarding your 302 redirect example, you never mentioned for which site or keywords. Would things change if there was some fierce competition in your niche? If a competitor overtook you would you consider moving to a 301?

  10. Matt Ridout Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Get listed in the top authority directories. – There is less emphasis on this now, and using a dmoz logo is a bit tongue in cheek

  11. Kevin Gibbons Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 10:56 am

    I would add to this the use of key webpages such as privacy policy/terms and conditions, about us and contact us (containing full address and telephone details) to build trust in a website.

  12. David Eaves Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Boris, I can’t vouch for all of them but I have seen Yahoo, Dmoz and listings have a big impact on newish (Sandboxed) sites numerous times. The couple of times I tried the ten year domain thing it seemed to have had an impact as well, it’s a shame you can only register’s for two.

  13. Michele Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Nominet are considering extending domain registration periods beyond the current two years, though I can’t see it changing in the next few months a lot of people would like to have the option.

  14. David Eaves Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks Michele, thats good to know.

  15. Adam Sharp Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    For those of you doubting the whois privacy issue, Matt Cutts strongly hinted that this is a red flag last year at Pubcon. He was reviewing a site that was apparently penalized and said:

    “when I checked the whois on them, they all had “whois privacy protection service” on them. That’s relatively unusual. Having lots of sites isn’t automatically bad, and having PPC sites isn’t automatically bad, and having whois privacy turned on isn’t automatically bad, but once you get several of these factors all together, you’re often talking about a very different type of webmaster than the fellow who just has a single site or so.”

    I did a writeup about it after the conference last year:

  16. Boris Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 3:23 am

    I am about to renew my registration for the site that has the 302 and will finally address that issue. I actually, think these ideas presented here are very sound and reasonable.

    It just bugs me on occasion, that so much is written, as if it is fact when much of it is only theory. I am sure a good case can be made for quality directory listings.

    However, since I have never spent a penny on marketing I will not start now start by buying into directories. DMOZ has turned me down so many times that I have given up. I even tried to become an editor.
    I have a nice little house cleaning service website in Tucson. It is nice and clean with PHP, Alt Tags, H-1, and so on,and no flash. The content is good and relevant. It also has an eco friendly blog that rules the rankings for this niche. Look it up if you like: Green friendly house cleaning tips… or something like that… And yes, it is long tail… I love long tail and Geo-targeting for niche markets.

    Thanks so very much… I gotta run.

  17. Livejasmin Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Do you check out any of this before you post it?

    3) Get a dedicated IP address.

    Try reading

    Less Myths more facts would help no end

  18. Dave Davis Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    @Livejasmin, if you read the referenced post you would know what I was getting at. Also refer to :

    So yes, I did of course “Check this out”. The reasons were indeed nothing to do with the reason Matt Cutts outlined. Also, did you think that inserting a porn link into your URL field would get by me?

    Boris, thanks for the follow up. I see where you are coming from and I appreciate you’r point of view.

    @Adam, thanks for the link, do you mind if I insert your comment and link into the post?

  19. Adam Sharp Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Not at all Dave, glad it was useful.

  20. Dave Callan Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Hi Dave, nice post.
    Do search engines detect ssl through the URL? Sometimes when I’m visiting pages with SSL I get a popup security alert which to be honest annoys the hell out of me. Personally I would stick to SSL for data that needs to be very secure as opposed to simple forms, put the user and not SEs first.

    My domain is set to expire in 2017, similiar to the graphic above. No two bit spammer would ever register a domain for this long, so I strongly agree with the 2nd point. In the future though when domains go down in price the value of long registrations will come down too.

    By the way Michele, do I have a dedicated on blacknight. Finally got migration sorted… right pain!

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but can’t Google recognise a physical address? I imagine this adds to your trust ‘count’ too.

  21. Dave Davis Says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Hi Dave, thanks for stopping by. Regarding the SSL, yes, they do. I believe this is only relatively recent though. I’d show you an example from this site but we excluded the quote and contact pages using robots.txt and used Webmaster Central to remove them from the index. The second result for the search “paypal” should show what I mean.

    Regarding the domains, ICANN just raised the prices of domain registration so if anything I can only assume they will go up further.

    Now, “Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but can’t Google recognize a physical address? I believe it can, or at least it can in the US. Have a read of this:

    Notice the “Ways to get into the local search engines. if you add a footer with the complete physical address of your company, helps you get into Local Search engines.”

    The post was not “The 5 Easiest ways to get GOOGLE to trust you”. I would love some more information on how Google deals with physical addresses though.

  22. Guess Says:
    December 10th, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    I have been thinking about submitting my site to Yahoo’s paid directory, but about DMOZ, I only see Geocities and other free subdomain crap listed, and I was never successful in listing any of my own.

  23. VestRite Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    It took quite a while for Google to trust my site. The whois data may not be correct anymore, and if what you are saying is true, I should definitely give it a looksie.

  24. EH Says:
    July 31st, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of research on SEO and many sources say that you don’t have to register your domain name for 10 years–supposedly that is a tactic that many people use that doesn’t actually help.

  25. andrew Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 4:08 am

    excellent article. I really don’t whois should matter or give weight in any algorithm. For the IP address most of the time you have no idea who else is sharing the IP address with you, Google knows this and should take it into consideration. I have earned trust for many sites on shared IP addresses

  26. workout routines Says:
    April 28th, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    great post. the tips are very helpful indeed but i still have my doubts regarding the google’s rank calculating algo.

  27. Susie Says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Dave, I read your post with interest as I am improving not only my web site but also help my clients as well. I came through to you via Woorank (great backlinking eh! well done) and on the site report it says that we are in the red for “WhoIs” rank and have been blacklisted because “BLACKLISTED: You have exceeded the query limit for your network or IP address and have been blacklisted.”

    Yet two days ago it was fine – what causes this? I updated my ICANN info this last week.

    Also, I want to do more work in the quality side of things (I am a quality auditor in the bricks & mortar world)

    Thank you in advance for your answer! Susie

  28. IT Support Says:
    January 22nd, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Most points seem valid … less 5, even though I saw debates about it on so many sites. There are so many reasons for which someone would want to privacy protect registration details. I would still like to hear a real search engine representative (maybe Matt :) ) stating what the truth is. If anyone here sees something from them, I am sure many would appreciate it.

  29. Stephen Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I agree, especially if your site is an e-commerce based site or is handling any kind of personal / financial information having a valid security approval can boast your online credibility.

  30. WRFM Says:
    August 8th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    This is good. I see a lot of rehashed article talking about ways to build links (press releases, article directories, blog comments, etc.) but this post is actually sharing some unique info. I doubt these 5 things will get you high rankings, but they are fresh ideas and easy to implement.

  31. Brahmadas Says:
    November 18th, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Actually transparency is very important. These few steps like SSL cert and IP, etc will be measured among the things of authenticity. It can avoid some sort of spam activities. The data provided in privacy policy and whois data can reduce confusions about the real owner. So definitely these steps can increase the points in the search engine ranking

  32. Greg Says:
    December 15th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Transparency for websites to is to have your information on the website who you are, your background, etc, this should give a good indicator to the search engine that you are not hiding, including all the above mentioned factors. We just linked our linkedin profiles, although this can be manipulated too, but it can give an indication of trust. Many websites do not have any names on them, who they would be working with, etc.

  33. Brahmadas Says:
    December 20th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Yes you are 100% right Greg, adding best and transparent information about us in our webpage can increase the trust. Recently i have noticed that thing, so as a part of optimization simple html error solving, quick loading and profile adding made a good change. But I cant say that these things will do all… The basic things to be covered successfully first…..

  34. kcee Says:
    December 20th, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    The only rule there am currently obeying is 5; the use of factual information for whois data. I guess i have a lot to do. I will follow it up with the ten years registration of my domain name and see what happens. Then i can proceed to get a dedicated ip before i start considering rule 4.

  35. Brahmadas Says:
    December 21st, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Oh Kcee, the only one I lack among the 5 things in my current project is whois data…..