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SEO Tip: Google Trust and Authority
If you will remember a few months ago I dispelled the importance of Google’s PageRank in organic search engine ranking position (SERP). The argument has been blazing for a while now, but I think that most professional search engine optimization (SEO) experts now agree with my side of the argument. PageRank just doesn’t mean that much anymore. Now what?

You wonder where you should spend your efforts to get those highly prized organic SERPs. Just like SEO, the answer is complicated yet simple. When you get right down to it, SEO is an exercise in common sense. And so is the answer to what has replaced PageRank as one of the most important factors in high rankings. We’ll call it Google Trust and Authority.

Fundamentally, Google Trust and Authority is similar to PageRank, it just involves a few more elements and springs from a different source. I’m still evolving my opinion on Google Trust and Authority and I think most SEOs are, as well. Aspects of Trust and Authority may be independent from each other in the algorithm and some aspects maybe tied together.

One thing remains the same, the backlinks that you have are still important and so is the anchor text. The importance of where those links are has changed whether they are at the bottom of page, top of page, what is the Authority of the site your links appear on, etc.

What is Trust in the eyes of Google? As you might expect, only Google knows exactly what Trust is, but I suspect it has something to do with the age of a domain name, who owns the domain name, what kind of activities have been going on with the domain and sister domains. Do these domains hang out in bad parts of town with other thugs (aka spammers). Or are you hanging out with respected domains that have something to offer to WWW users. I think Google, in part, is looking at your track record.

What is Authority in the eyes of Google? The theory goes, Google has picked out a bunch of Authority Seed sites (like maybe NASA) and authority flows from those sites like PageRank. So, the closer you are to these Authority Seeds in your backlinking structure the more authority you have. Think of it like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Obviously the person only one degree from Mr. Bacon has more authority on how he likes his eggs compared to the person that is six degrees away.

If you think about it, it makes sense. I’m sure that I have over simplified Google Trust and Authority in this post, but I think that this will get your wheels turning and allow your give PageRank a rest. You may be interested in reading a related article over at SEO by the Sea written quite a while back about this very subject when Google applied for a patent that might control some of this.

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64 Responses to “SEO TIP: Goodbye PageRank, Hello Trust and Authority”

miracleman12 October 21, 2010

No they are not useless. Its the PR that’s useless, or should I say not as valuable as other factors when it comes to SERPs. Links do more than pass PR. Think authority.

John@RFID Asset Tracking October 30, 2010

Great post. I agree with you a bit. We are not really sure with that, but I still think that the PR or page rank of a web site is still important in making quality back links. Thanks for the info.

Matthew@Web Hosting November 1, 2010

This is certainly the nuance in linking authority/reflected potency that I see as key going forward. Very well articulated.

cipro November 5, 2010

Great post, very interesting but I think page rank is still important together with the other two aspects and the google algorithm probably takes all of them collectively into consideration

Robin @ SEO Sheffield November 8, 2010

Backlinks from highly trusted sites still showing that they are highly worthwhile getting hold of.

Although I’m a little baffled by the weight Google is giving to exact match domains at the moment. i.e. “” etc.

Tom @ Web Design Chester December 15, 2010

Great post. It is refreshing to read a post that doesn’t go on about how important Page Rank is. I think domain age is a massive factor, it is almost the one thing that a SEO company can’t speed up. I wonder if Page Rank was scrapped because some people were getting too close to the algorithm?

I am not sure what weight Google puts on keyword rich domains but recently I have noticed that a lot of sites are using keyword rich sub domains instead of keyword rich folders and sub folders.

It’s nice to read a post written by someone who is not awestruck with PR. I agree with you that Google Trust and Authority is something that will be gaining traction in the near future. Is it going to make PR obsolete? No. PR will still be an important part of Linking, because it is still a valid way of identifying high traffic/authoritative sites. Much like you, I see the future of Google ranking for keywords to include less weight on PR, and more and more weight on Trust and Authority. And just as soon as Google figures out how to put Trust and Authority into a formula, that’s when we will really start to see the shift.

Kirsty@shopping cart February 12, 2011

Page Rank before is really a big deal but right now Trust and Authority is more important like ranking on top of the SERP. I really hope to be on the top of SERP that having PR 6 or 7.
Kirsty@shopping cart recently posted..Nexternal Review

Mark February 18, 2011

I think Page Rank is still important. Don’t overlook internal linking when creating page rank.

Tom Howlett April 7, 2011

Interesting. I think the Moz Rank at SEOmoz is a pretty good sign of how authoritative a site is. There are too many questions when it comes to page rank. Be interested to see any new authority ranking tools out there. I know of another which is Majestic SEO who have their own ranking system.

I think they’re both important in terms of SERP, but I would definitely prefer scoring my website by real people than compete with all the black hat seo and other seo dodgy stuff. I believe real people can bring more traffic to the site… Very nice article, thanks!

I’m glad to see the end of marketers chasing PR like a corgi after the Queen; but I’m still edgy about a global giant controlling how my and client sites react in the future. Kinda praying they don’t move too many goalposts, can just imagine angry client calls….”My site’s vanished”…..

I agree with this post, page rank takes the back seat these days but people are still trying to get their site ranked 4,5,6 etc.

Bryan@Rift Cleric Guide February 9, 2012

Some people have been pushing the authority angle for a while now. Especially since some sites (like Wikipedia) seem to always rank the highest on things they cover, regardless of what other sites are out there.

But how does this information really help us? How do you get links that are follow *and* high authority (without buying)?

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