The good (or the bad) thing about the Internet is that anyone can make a website or a blog or a Facebook fan page these days. You may be a 60-year old guy in Afghanistan pretending to be a 22-year old hot chic in LA and no one would know.
Surrounded by such shams, how do we know about the credibility of a website or a person? Honestly, there’s no easy way out and this is why we need to be careful about trusting anything/anyone that we come across on the Internet.
With the responsibility of showing the most relevant and legitimate results being taken over by search engines, the task of figuring out a site’s credibility thereby relies on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Theoretically speaking, the more you’re able to please and gain the trust of your past visitors, the more you’ll be able to impress your new visitors as well. But how can automated systems like searchbots estimate a human concept, which is as abstract as credibility?
Factors that Determine the Credibility of a Website
- Legitimacy and reputation of websites that are linking to you says a lot about your website. The better the credibility of your in-bound links, the more beneficial they are for your website.
- Broken outbound links or linking to outdated or irrelevant external websites can cause your site to become the next target of the search engine hits.
- 404 errors, spelling mistakes, missing/broken images all cause your website to be seen in a negative light by the search engines.
- Traffic on your website is directly proportional to your site’s credibility. The more visitors you have, the more credible you appear.
- Poor navigation that confuses readers and increases the bounce rate of your website tells the search engines that your site was not a good match for the query entered by the users.
- A XML sitemap is a must for easy navigation of searchbots to identify and index all the pages of your website accurately and quickly. That’s the reason why a white-hat SEO services provider always insists on the need to have the .xml file for easy navigation of spiders in spite of a text-based list of the internal pages of your website for your human visitors.
New Factors that Are Now Considered to Judge a Site’s Credibility
The influence of a site’s presence on social sites is now inseparable from search engine results. This has bought the human touch in action in the search results. Earlier, only website could link or “vote” for each other. The moment a link is shared by anyone on their any of the social media accounts; it is considered as one “vote” in favor of that website.
Now any person who has a Google+ account can vouch for a link. Think who would you vouch for? A link that is +1’d and thereby seemed credible by 2000 users or a link that has a relevant keyword in it?
Sure, social SEO is still not very evolved but this is definitely the direction where search engines are heading. Below are a few factors in relation to social SEO that are affecting the credibility of a person/website nowadays:
Just as the credibility of a site is evaluated, search engines have now admitted to determine the credibility of a social media user as well. Now when you find an article in the search engines, it might as well be accompanied by the social media profile of the author of that article. The analogy of an author’s authority is based on several factors, like for Twitter, it depends on factors like:
- Follower:following ratio
- Number of posts daily
- Number of lists where the user appears
- Number of times @mentions is made every day
The Power of Retweets
Like the in-bound link from an authority site can do wonders for the rankings, traffic and credibility of your website, similarly a single retweet from an authoritative user can place you in top rankings for a long time.
Also, the rewteet rate of a link is another factor that plays an important role in deciding the credibility of a website. For instance, if a link is tweeted to the list of 1000 followers and retweeted further by 100 followers, it would come out to be a retweet rate of 10%. So, this link is expected to do better in search engine results than a similar link that has a retweet rate of 3%.
Your Network Counts
Engaging and interacting with power users on Twitter can also give great boost to your reputation. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re a food critic and retweeting tweets from Hollywood celebrities will be useful for you. But a conversation on twitter with Anthony Bourdain or Wolfgang Puck can give you a good heads up.
Finally, building credibility takes time. But once you’ve gained the trust of the search engines, your customers will soon flock to you and begin to trust you, unlike the traditional brick-and-mortar business where you have to convince each customer individually after providing them with quality customer service, mouth-to-mouth publicity, and others.
Brenda Lyttle is a guest author for the site, http://www.seomiracle.com/, which is a leader in providing an array of affordable SEO services to the masses.