Google’s John Mueller answered a question in Google Office-hours hangout about improving trust with Google. Trustworthiness, along with expertise and authoritativeness are a hot topic. Mueller addresses the topic of trust factors in his answer.
Trustworthiness and E-A-T
Trustworthiness has become a big deal nowadays because Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines describes how Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness are important things for the search quality raters to look for when evaluating search results for specific kinds of queries, particularly what Google calls Your Money or Your Life categories like those for finance and medical search queries.
So it’s natural that an SEO would want to know how to improve their trust with Google.
Google Search Results About Trust Factors
If you search Google for:
What are google trust factors?
Google responds with multiple sites making a variety of claims:
The number one site:
“What is the Trust Factor? Google’s trust factor is a combination of many factors that they use to apply a value of how trustful a site is. The more trustful a site is seen the more likely its articles will be ranked higher on specific Google searches.”
The number two search result:
“Google TrustRank helps Google and other search engines combat web spam. Specifically, TrustRank measures so-called “trust signals”.”
The number three search result:
” In reality, whether or not Google trusts your site depends on several factors. Security is a leading factor.”
Search result number 4:
“Google uses trust signals to evaluate the genuineness of other ranking factors.”
One site published a periodic table of SEO factors:
“Here we dive into the Trust elements of the Periodic Table of SEO Factors.”
There’s an irony in Google’s search results though because the content about a Trust Factor is incorrect.
John Mueller’s answer seems to contradict what all of those answers in Google’s own search results claim.
How to Improve Trust
The person asking the question wanted to know what the best way was to improve trust with Google, presumably to achieve better rankings.
Here is the question:
“Does a website which includes great content improve in trust with Google or is that only determined through links?”
Google Says There are No Trust Factors
Google’s John Mueller answered:
“I don’t think we have like a trust factor that we can look at and say, oh trust is at (I don’t know) nine of out of twelve or whatever number you would have there.
So that’s kind of (I don’t know) …it’s almost like a philosophical question at that point.
It’s like, does improving the quality of your content overall make a website more trustworthy with regards to Google?
And like well… I don’t know. There are no metrics specifically for that.”
No Metrics for Measuring Trust
A metric is way to measure and help evaluate something. John Mueller is clear that Google does not have a metric specific for measuring trustworthiness.
The only reason trustworthiness is important in the search quality raters guidelines is because that is what it wants the third party raters to look for.
But that does not mean it’s a part of Google’s algorithms and that there’s an algorithm at Google that is rating sites for trustworthiness.
Improving Content is a Good Approach
Mueller next validated the practice of improving content.
He continued his answer:
“I think improving the quality of your content is always a good idea.
But it’s uh …lots of things are involved there.
And when it comes to trust it’s definitely not a matter of just links that are pointing at a website.”
No Metrics for Trust and Not Just Links
It’s always a bad idea to take a part of what is written in a patent or what John Mueller says and then make it mean something outside of the context of the overall patent or statement.
John Mueller’s answer that there is no metric for trustworthiness was said in the context of answering the question of whether “great content” or “links” help improve trust with Google.
Rather than focus on whether links or content influences Google to trust a website, Mueller discourages the person from thinking in terms of affecting a non-existing trust factor.
He encourages the person to focus on improving the content. Content is one of the few things that publishers have total control of, something that can’t be said about legitimate links.
Google Says There are No Trust Factors or Metrics for Measuring Trust
Watch Mueller pop the bubble on the idea of a trust metric at the 29:20 Minute Mark