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Four Factors that influence Domain Trust

John Doherty —  February 22, 2011
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What are your thoughts on Domain Trust and how it relates to organic search rankings?

I have been an SEO full-time for some months now, learning a lot after a few years doing some web development and entrepreneurial stuff. I’ve been interested in the metrics that affect the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) in organic search. I’ve recently noticed that a lot of targeted traffic comes mostly from Yahoo!, where as the most traffic to websites comes from Google. This is neither here nor there for this post, but it’s interesting.

How Does Domain Trust Affect Results?

The website I work on full-time ranks high for a few highly competitive terms, but recently we have been dropping for the term that we have been really focusing on. I have been trying to figure out why. What I have found is that the sites that are passing us have a lot of links deep into their sites, thus raising their domain trust. No longer does the Page Trust or Page Authority matter as much, though it is definitely still an important factor not to be ignored. But Domain Trust seems to be taking precedence now in helping to rank for highly competitive terms, though maybe not as much for long-tail terms.

What Is Used To Determine Domain Trust?

I have a few ideas about what is used to determine domain trust. Some of these comes from the SEOmoz description of DT.

4 Factors used to determine Domain Trust:

  • Domain Age: The longer a domain has been registered and used, the more trust search engines may give to it. This is not fully true across the board, and has become less of a factor with all the recent startups, but in order to rank for difficult keywords, this is still a factor. Domains can often be bought for a price, but old domains are often very expensive. Also, I think content matters to the domain. If a domain name is bought and the content is completely changed, the SE algorithms are smart enough to pick this up and will devalue the site.
  • Link Diversity: You need to vary your anchor text and where your links are pointing. An example from my current life is I know of a site (Site 1) that has 60% of the external links pointing to the homepage, with very targeted anchor text for the main keyword. That site is dropping in the rankings. Another site, which has less than 20% of the total site links pointing to the homepage, and a smaller percentage of those are the targeted anchor text, now ranks above Site 1. Vary your anchor text and drive deep links.
  • Get highly respected links: I know this one is obvious, and everyone tells you to do it, but you need links from highly respected sites. Don’t just look at the Toolbar PageRank (Conversation Marketing wrote a great post about this. If you are a reputable company and offer good content and products, you should be able to get these links if you work hard. Also recently, social signals have been boosting SERP rankings, so try to engage high-level tweeters and get a re-tweet from them.
  • Internal linking: Since your site probably has different sections and many different pages, you should spread the link power across the domain to your important pages, while not taking too much away from your main targeted pages. The general rule is that the lower the page is in the link and folder structure, the less link juice it will acquire from high pages. Therefore, get links to these lower pages and link to the higher pages from the low pages, using them to boost the high pages for difficult keywords.

While doing some research into the targeted keyword I talked about above, I found that a .gov domain has just passed Site 1. The trust for this site is off the charts, because it has links from other .gov sites, as well as well-respected sites across many different platforms. This site has jumped in the rankings in the past few weeks, though the trust has not increased too much, so I can only surmise that Google has changed the algorithms to look at Trust more than Rank.

Questions: Do you have other thoughts on domain trust? What have you noticed?

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

3 responses to Four Factors that influence Domain Trust

  1. Nice post John!
    And thank you for sharing your expierience with us.

  2. I think diversity is huge as well. Interesting about aged domains losing value if site undergoes a content change. I believe you are correct in that assumption. Excellent overview.

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