By Mark Daoust (c) 2006
Google is all about trust. Who knows, maybe they were in a bad relationship, but if you want to rank well with Google, you need to be trustworthy. And let me make the bold assumption that you are currently not trustworthy (most sites are not â€“ especially new sites).
So how do you get Google to trust you? The most obvious answer, and most commonly quoted answer, is to get inbound links from trustworthy sites. Any webmaster who has been around the block a couple of times knows that this is a bit of a catch-22. Sites that are high in Google’s trust typically do not just hand out links to small startups â€“ those go to sites that are already established.
Unfortunately, while this is probably the most frustrating answer you can receive, it is also the lions share of building trust with Google. There are, however, a few other things you can do to help Google trust you more. While having these things may not rocket your site to the top of the rankings, they will bring you closer to finding a good relationship with Google.
Offer Detailed Contact Information
For many small website owners, this is a step that can be quite tricky. Offering detailed contact information on your site shows that responsibility and reliability that Google is looking for, but at the same time many small website owners are not running their websites as a full-time business.
You should always offer some sort of contact information on your site. At a minimum, you should offer an email address (I was surprised at how many websites â€“ specifically blogs â€“ did not offer any contact information at all). If possible, you should include your address and a telephone number where people can contact you. Of course, if the only phone number you have is your home phone number, this may not be the most ideal option.
Show Consistency Over Time
This may be the single most important tip in this article. Google has shown an affinity towards sites that remain consistent in structure, growth, content, and popularity. At the risk of sounding prosaic, outside of receiving highly trusted inbound links, the best way to bring Google to trust you is to show Google over time that you are trustworthy.
Think about your relationship with Google as you would any other relationship. Relationships take time, they take commitment over time, and trust in a relationship needs to be cultivated. If you happen to screw up, it takes time to regain any trust that was lost.
With your website, show Google that you are consistent, that you are dedicated, and that you actually care. Do not change your website’s structure or focus entirely just because you feel like it. Spend time every day for months, even years, growing your site and promoting your site. Take the time to make sure it is as user friendly as possible taking into account issues such as accessibility. And whatever you do, do not take the chance of trying to cheat on Google by using a ‘shortcut’ â€“ it can and will set you back in your relationship several months, if not longer.
It May Not Be the Best Model
Far be it from me to be a Google apologist â€“ I certainly do not agree with everything that they do. The move towards a trust-based system is one that has received both praise and criticism, and both praise and criticism is deserved. While Google might be doing well in fighting search engine sp@m, they have simultaneously (if not inadvertently) hurt the small business owner who does not know any better.
There are many who complain about Google being ‘unfair’ towards website owners. Whether or not they really are being unfair is ultimately a moot point, Google is what Google does. If you choose to continue to care about having quality rankings in Google, complaining will not bring you higher rankings, adapting to their changes will.