This is a guest post from Gino Orlandi. It is part of The 2nd annual “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
Today, ranking high in the search engines is all about trust. Now that may sound simple, but there are many signals that search engines look for to determine how trustworthy a website is.
The more good signals you send, the more authority you will have, and the easier it will be for you to dominate your target keywords. Here is a list of 20 things you can start doing right now to make your website a trusted authority in its niche.
- Build a Brand – Google loves brands because they command trust. The added benefit of building a strong brand is that people naturally talk about brands, and brands get social votes, backlinks, etc. The stronger and more respected your brand, the more authority it brings you. Building a strong brand may very well be the single most important thing you can do. It won’t bring immediate results, but if you invest in branding, it will help ensure long-term success.
- Domain Age – The length of time your website has been live and indexed plays a big role in rankings. Search engines trust old domains because it means they have stood the test of time. If you plan to launch new sites in the future, get the domains now, and set them up with some content. You will thank yourself years from now.
- Site Structure – A well-structured site is not only important for visitors, but it’s important if you want to make it easy for search engine spiders to crawl your site. Plus, a well-built site tells search engines you took the effort to make a great website, which builds authority.
- Website Validation – Hopefully the last item on the list inspired you to re-examine your site structure. While you are working on your site, make sure you validate the HTML and CSS for good measure. This tells search engines your website is up on the latest Web standards and that it’s easily accessible on various platforms such as mobile.
- Sign up for Google Analytics – If you need a reason to use Google Analytics—aside from the fact that it is the best analytics software out there—adding Google Analytics to your website adds a layer of trust between you and Google. In addition, the data is priceless for helping you to improve your site and further improve your authority.
- Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools – If you have a Google Analytics account, you will definitely want to link your website to Google Webmaster Tools as well. Again, this adds another trust level between you and Google. Bing also has its own webmaster tools program. Sign up for that one too. These tools will provide you with important information on how you can fix your site.
- Claim Your Google Places Page – Right now, “local” is a huge part of SEO and will continue to grow in importance. Claiming your Google Places page is an easy way to tell Google you are legitimate, with a real location and contact details. The added benefit is you will get free local traffic!
- Get on Google Plus – Google Plus is the hot social network right now, so that means that you must get on it! Social votes are beginning to have a direct impact on keyword rankings, and you can bet that Google is going to use its own social network to help decide which sites to trust and which not to trust. You also want to make sure you are very active on other important social sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
- Create an About Page – This is easy to do but important. I see a lot of websites that don’t have an “About” page, and if they do, it often has very little info. This page is a core page that most people and the search engines expect to find. Add your company or personal history, contact details, location and anything else important to your business. Link to it from your footer and/or main navigation.
- Create a Contact Page – Similar to the “About” page, a “Contact” page with several contact methods and a working contact form is a must. It should be easy to find the “Contact” page, because hiding it or not having one can send bad signals to search engines and site visitors. If you get a lot of traffic, you may want to direct people to a support section first, to cut down on support calls or emails.
- Fix Broken Links – We often add links to content, publish and then never pay attention to them again. While your website may still be live, those external links might not be. Use a tool to find broken links or manually check pages on your website every three months for any broken links. You may want to add some deep links back to other content on your site, as well.
- Redirect 404 Errors – Similar to broken links, broken pages can also send bad signals. If you signed up for Google Webmaster Tools, you should be able to see which pages are showing errors. Make a list of the pages, and fix them or 301 redirect them to the most appropriate and relevant live page.
- Get Backlinks – Backlinks are the backbone of the web and are currently the most important signal to search engines in terms of whether your site is an authority and what it is about. You want natural backlinks from as many different domains as possible. If you can manage to get backlinks with your target keyword text, even better. Always keep your backlink profile as natural as possible.
- Get Authority Backlinks – Most backlinks are good, but the really valuable ones come from other highly trusted websites such as .gov domains, .edu domains, major news sites and exceptional sources such as Wikipedia. Always be on the lookout for authority backlinks because even one can dramatically increase the authority of your website in the eyes of search engines.
- Get Social Votes – Backlinks may be the backbone of building authority now, but the new trend is moving towards social votes. This means you need to be active on all social sites and you must actively interact with people to get them to mention your website on their own social profiles. Just remember, like websites and links, some social profiles will have more authority than others.
- Start a Blog – It can be hard to get social votes, but one thing that makes it easier is starting a blog. Blogs make publishing great content easier and it makes connecting with your visitors easier. Use your blog to promote your brand and to become an industry leader in your niche. If you build a great blog, the links and social votes will come.
- Improve Site Loading Speed – A while back, site loading speed was officially announced as a ranking factor. While this might be a small signal, it’s still important to the overall authority of your site and goes back to why you need to have a well-coded and well-structured website.
- Improve Bounce Rate – Like loading speed, bounces rates and other user data are also thought to be used to determine rankings for websites. The better your user stats the more authority you will have. Always try to improve stats like these and monitor your Google Analytics closely.
- Improve Traffic – Big sites get big benefits. The bigger your site the more flex you have with search engines. That’s also why having a big brand can be a great benefit. Big brands naturally get a lot of traffic to their official website. The more quality and relevant traffic your website gets the more important it will become in the eyes of the search engines—simple as that.
Keep these tips in mind, and you will become a trusted friend of Google and the other major search engines, which will translate into more visitors, more revenue and more success on the web. What trust building methods do you find important? Let us know in the comments below.
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