What Is Google TrustRank, And How Do You Use It to Rank Higher

What Is Google TrustRank, And How Do You Use It to Rank Higher

Google’s main job is to help people find what they’re looking for online.

And they’re pretty good at it. But how do they know which websites to show first?

The answer is trust. 

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Google wants to show people the most trustworthy websites first. And they use a metric called TrustRank to do it.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Google TrustRank. 

What is it?

How does it work?

And most importantly, how do you use it to rank higher on Google?

Let’s jump straight in. 

What Is TrustRank?

Google’s TrustRank is a metric that measures a website’s trustworthiness. It’s similar to PageRank but specifically designed to combat web spam.

TrustRank measures the so-called “trust signals.” 

Trust signals help them evaluate your website for core ranking signals (particularly content and links). 

Though initially created by Yahoo and Stanford engineers, Google revealed that they use TrustRank as well.

They even filed a patent for it in 2006.

They have even made official statements around this, as shown below:

Google only ranks the websites they trust the most.

And they measure trust with TrustRank.

So, how exactly does TrustRank work?

How Does TrustRank Work?

Google TrustRank: How To Use It Properly For Your Website

Now that we know what TrustRank is, let’s look at how it works. 

TrustRank operates a lot like a filter.

If Google sees your content and links as trustworthy, it passes the filter. 

But if it parses them spammy, low quality, or not legitimate, they’re blocked. 

That is how Google defines trust:

“The degree to which a person believes another person or entity is reliable, credible, and legitimate.” 

They use over 200 different factors to determine trust. 

But some of the most important ones are:

  • Age of domain
  • Content quality
  • Links
  • The user’s experience
  • Reputation

And trustworthiness is not static. 

It can change over time.  

For example, if you get a lot of links from low-quality websites, your TrustRank will drop. 

Conversely, your TrustRank will shoot up if your links are mostly from high-quality websites.

The Concept of TrustRank

Moz did an article to illustrate the process. And it Looks something like this:

Google TrustRank: The Definitive Guide

Source: Moz

The idea, the further your site or page distances from a trusted seed set, the more it’s likely to contain spam results.

If your site links directly to seed sites, chances are good that it has zero spam. 

If it’s only one link “hops” away from seed sites (that’s, getting links from sites that link to seed sites instead of seed sites themselves), then there’s a fair chance it’s 99.85% good stuff and only 0.15% spam.

If it’s two links away from a seed set, then it’s likely it’s 4% spam and 96% good stuff.

The number shoots to 14% spam and 86% good spam on the third link, exponentially increasing the further you deviate from seed sites. 

How To Measure Your Website’s TrustRank

Can your website’s TrustRank be measured? 

The answer is yes and no. 

There is no official way to measure your website’s TrustRank.

But there are some methods you can use to get a general idea. 

Moz developed a trust metric called MozTrust (now Domain Authority).

Domain Authority (DA) is the closest thing we have to TrustRank. 

Moz defined DA as:

“DA is the score between 0 and 100 reflecting the trustworthiness of a given website, as determined by the number and quality of links pointing to it.”

While it’s not a replica of TrustRank, it’s a good proxy.

To measure your website’s DA, you can use Moz’s Open Site Explorer.

Just enter your website’s URL and hit the “Get free link data” button beside it: 

You’ll see your website’s DA score on a scale of 0-100. 

The higher the score, the more trustworthy your website is.

One means your website’s links are almost 100% spam. 100/100 is the highest a site can get. 

Why Is TrustRank Important?

TrustRank isn’t an official term from Google. If anything, the term is attributed to Hector Garcia Molina and Zoltan Gyonhyi, two researchers from Stanford University collaborating with Yahoo. 

But its impact on SEO is as real as they come.

It gives weight and credibility to how trust plays a critical role in the virtual and real world. It connects the two, building a relationship of trust between publishers and viewers.

And trust doesn’t just come like that. You have to give readers a reason to trust your site and content, and Google is only but a catalyst in this.

The more consumers trust businesses and the results they see in the SERPs, the more the two parties’ benefit. 

In other words, the more they’ll open to the idea of doing business online. It’s a mutually beneficial undertaking that should be encouraged.

Regarding web content, TrustRank helps evaluate if a website’s trust signals are legitimate. 

We’ll now show you how to maximize your website’s TrustRank.

How to Use TrustRank to Propel Your Website Through the Ranks on Google

#1. Link Out to High Authority Websites

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There used to be a time when those lame, paper-thin affiliate sites used to dominate search engines.

But times have changed, and Google no longer ranks these websites. Why?

Their TrustRank was nothing to write home about.

You’ve probably seen real sites like NYTimes and the Huffington Post ranking for most queries. These sites link out to high-authority links left, right, and centre. And Google (other search engines as well) love them for that.

That’s the direction you want to take with your website – you want to link out it to as many high-authority websites as possible.

Linking out is a fundamental on-page SEO strategy.

There’s a well-done industry study on the subject.

In a quick recap:

Reboot Online conducted a study in April 2020 that confirmed external links are a critical ranking factor (and a good SEO practice).

So, link building isn’t all about attracting high-quality links but being generous enough to link out to high-authority sites, too.

The idea is that every site you link out to also reflects on your website.

So, with every web article or page you create, you want to try and link out to a few high-authority sites. 

Online Reviews and SEO: What's The Relationship?

The idea is to spread the love to .gov, .edu, and other high authority websites, early and often.

#2. A Detailed Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions

Where to Host Terms of Service & Privacy Policy - TermsFeed

Your website must have a detailed privacy policy, terms and conditions, and affiliate disclosure. The idea is to try and be as transparent as possible.

The so-called boring pages are a critical trust signal.

Google pays attention to them. 

Having them on your website will change how Google views your website. 

Come to think about it: AdSense publishers are required to have this information on their websites. 

And if Google can pressure AdSense publishers to have this information, what makes you think they don’t consider them just as important in the websites they rank?

#3. Bounces and Blocked Websites

Google algorithm now considers user interaction a ranking factor.

In fact, they go as far as considering how many Chrome users have blocked your site.

The idea is that a site must be shady for someone to want to block it entirely. 

It’s the same for a site with a high bounce rate. If people find your website helpful or trustworthy, why would they be quick to leave?

For this, you want to keep an eye on your “time on page” and “bounce rate” in Google Analytics.

You want to keep the bounce rate as low as possible, below 50%. 

We also expect people to hang around your website for at least 3 minutes.

Figure out how to make people stick around your site.

The longer people stay on your website, the more trustworthy it appears to be – and the higher Google will rank it on their result pages.

#4. cite Your References and Sources

You want your sources and references at the end of particular articles. 

Unless the article is an opinion piece, you want to cite your sources at the end (hyperlinked to the article you got it from).

That’s how users tell if a piece of content is well-researched (and trustworthy). 

#5. Act Like a Big, Well-established Brand

Google loves big brands.

They seem to have no trouble trusting them.

get google ranking ad

In a world where we have people whipping out WordPress sites in their bedrooms, how do you make your brand appear like it’s well-established and big enough in the eyes of Google?

The last thing you want to do is to make it appear like you just banged out a WordPress site in your underwear.

So, how do you make your site send big brand signals?

Note that Google isn’t just a ranking machine but an algorithm. 

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When Google looks at Coca-Cola, it doesn’t see it as a big brand because it saw its Superbowl commercial. 

Here’s how you step out of the cesspool, clean yourself up, and make yourself look like a big, well-established brand:

  • Get a Branded Domain/Site Name: Forget about those exact match keywords for domains and work on getting a unique, memorable domain name that you can brand and give a life of its own.

Exact match domains might have been a thing back then, but now, all they do is scream “spam!!!” 

Instead of using besthardwoodfurnitureshop.com for a domain, use hardyfurnitures.com.

As you can see, the second domain is easy to brand and remember. It has a name that people can recall, while the second one appears confusing.

A branded domain name tells Google and its users that you’re unique – not some SEO-obsessed loser trying to game Google for a higher rank.

  • Write a Thorough About Us Page: Don’t rush through your about us page.

That is where you hire the best copywriter and run your article through several editors before publishing it online.

Big brands invest in their about us pages. They’re massive, detailed, and convincing.

Your “About Us” page should talk about your company and mission statement and tell an epic story of how you started and got to where you are. 

What do you represent as a company?

Write an epic “About Us” page that tells your story.

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  • Be Active Social Media Accounts: All big brands have active social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. They’re always updating their content and actively engaging their followers.

It should be the same with you too.

It doesn’t matter how small your business or website is. Your social media presence must be felt.

Google should recognize your brand when people query your brand name online. 

You don’t have to be a fortune 500 company to get such brand treatment. Just focus on building killer backlinks, and Google will pick on it and increase its TrustRank.

The idea is to build an awesome site that people can search for and not hesitate to click on when they see it in the search results.

  • Brand Name Anchor Text: People naturally link to brands by their name. for example, if your brand is hardyfurniture.com, you better start attracting links with anchor text: “Hardy Furniture.” 

#6. Trustworthy Domain Info

Google is many things – a domain name registrar included.

What’s weird is that they don’t sell domains.

They’re in all these to spy on your whois info. Google wants to understand your domain name.

Being an ICANN-approved domain registrar means you can check the whois information of any domain name all day long, unlike us mere mortals.

Google became a domain registrar to access this information. They wanted to understand the domain names they rank, and knowing a little about them does help them rank websites better.

So, what can you do to get more trust from your domain info:

  • Register Your Domain Name for 2+ Years: Google wants to know that you’re in this for the long haul. Although the issue of domain name registration and its impact on SEO continues to be a subject of debate, there’s no harm in registering your domain name for many years to come. So, we suggest you go for it. 

Plus, it will only cost you $10 or $20 extra.

  • Make It Public: Don’t hide your whois information. Make everything public, and, most importantly, make sure your address is accurate. Someone searching for your business or company should be able to find it just by looking at your whois information. 
  • Put Your Whois Information on Your Contact Page: Google is big on transparency and openness. They’ll be relieved to know you’ve nothing to hide.
A Quick Guide To Google's Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

So, put your whois details on your privacy notice or contact page. 

It doesn’t matter even if your business is in your mum’s kitchen; all that Google cares about it’s that it’s somewhere people can locate or find (not somewhere mysterious).

These might seem like tiny things to do. But they’re serious enough to determine where Google ranks you.

Google looks at trustworthiness the same way you look at it.

So, let’s paint a scenario:

You have two sites

  • Site #1: Has a private whois, and the domain will be expiring in a month
  • Site #2: Phone number and real address match the contact information on their official contact page. The domain name has been registered for five years.

Between the two sites, which one are you likely to trust more?

Your answer is as good as Google’s.

website design banner

#7. Trusted Links

7 Golden Rules of Link Building for 2022 and beyond

Google relies on links to measure trust. That’s no secret.

And yes, they use the SEO version of Six Degrees (by Kevin Bacon).

Here’s it works:

The first group (seed sites) consists of highly trusted sites such as .edu, .gov, nytimes.com, etc.

Google handpicks these websites and gives them a 10/10 TrustRank.

Getting a link from these sites is enough to catapult your trust score with Google a few notches higher.

These are the best links a site can get.

The second group consists of sites that have links from the seed sites. 

For instance, your site has a link from Harvard.

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Harvard.edu => your site (that’s the best-case scenario). 

Harvard.edu => some other website => your site (not bad)

Harvard.euf => some other website => some other website=> some other website=> some other website => some other website => some other website => some other website => some other website => your website (not good at all). 

The idea is to try as much as possible to link to a seed website. If not possible, then try to link to a site that links to a seed website.

That’s why it’s important to go through a website’s link profile before deciding if it’s worth linking to.

At MediaOne, we focus on getting our links directly from seed sites or sites that have their links from seed sites. 

In our experience, these sites rank better. 

The bottom line is to try and link directly to highly trusted sites.

#8. Google News Site Backlinks

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Google-approved news sites are some of the most trusted sites on the internet.

Here’s how to look at it:

News sites just have to be trustworthy.

And the reason is a bit straightforward:

Try searching for “the best rapper of all time.” 

And the result won’t include vanilla Ice.

But you’ll find Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Eminem, Tupac, etc.

Google holds news sites to a high standard. That means their content has to be spot on, well-researched and backed by facts and statistics.

If you post an article titled, “Kanye West Elected as the New President of the US,” it better be true.

For a site to be included in Google news, Google will do a rigorous manual review. There’s a good chance your site will be rejected if Google suspects it’s not trustworthy.

That makes them highly trustable in the eyes of Big G.

However, getting a link from a Google-approved site isn’t easy.
You have to come up with something incredible and newsworthy. And then promote it.

Just focus on writing high-quality content, and newsworthy websites will editorially link to it.

#9. Mind Your Bounce Rate

Google Rank Brain now considers user interaction a ranking factor.

The more time people spend on your website, the more Google algorithm perceives it as high-value, and the more it’s likely to rank it higher.

But if people only visit your website for a few seconds and leave, that doesn’t communicate anything positive to Google. 

Such behavior only affects your TrustScore in the negative.

Bounce rate is how you tell if people find your website helpful. If it offers trustworthy information, then why would anyone be in a rush to leave it?

You want to keep an eye on the bounce rate and the time people spend on your website. 

After that, you want to do whatever is necessary to make them stay. Here are pointers on what you can do:

  • Make sure the site is easy to navigate
  • Optimize the site for page load time, and ensure it loads under 5 seconds (or better, under three seconds).
  • Ensure readability
  • Include references and sources. Your site’s visitors are likelier to stick around and read more of your content if it’s well-researched, high-quality, and accurate. 

Don’t just mention random facts. You also want to mention where you got them. 

  • Make sure the site is responsive enough to load on any device, regardless of size. 

There was a time when websites with thin content used to dominate search engines. But that no longer seems to be the case.

It started with Google’s Panda update. Now sites with little to no content can’t claim a top slot in the SERPs. 

Final Thoughts

trustrank - Twitter Search / Twitter

We want to assume you now understand what Google TrustRank is and why it’s so important.

This article covers almost everything there’s to know about TrustRank and how to best use it to better your SEO.

You want to ingratiate yourself with high-authority websites, and Google will regard you as one.

It’s that simple.

You also want to do everything possible to get users to trust you. Be transparent, honest, a hard worker, and helpful.

With every new post you publish, ask yourself, “does this piece make me more credible and trustworthy?”

Even more important, ask yourself if that particular piece of article or content adds any value to your audience.

If not, you’re better off dropping it for something more valuable and trustworthy.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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