“Your site’s reputation is critical to your SEO, much of that relies on your perceived authority and credibility.”
Getting your street cred
As with all reputation building, it’s all about proving yourself. Personal reputations are built on trust, respect, reliability, etc. Digital reputations are built on quality assets, best practice, valuable content, constant improvement, etc. It’s also about communicating to the powers that be (i.e. Google) that you are an authoritative and credible source for your chosen areas of expertise.
“This means, that your site needs to be delivering relevant, high-quality content!”
Often when considering SEO strategies we talk about your site authority and credibility. The reason behind this is that search engines, like Google, are constantly improving their user’s experience. Part of that is ensuring that they are delivering relevant, high-quality search results to users.
There are three key pillars which define if Google perceives your site as reputable. They are:
- Authority and
Relevancy – Keeping up with the times
Google’s spiders (the crawlbots which index the web on behalf of the search engine) are supported by a highly sophisticated programming algorithm. This algorithm tells the spiders how to view particular online content in particular ways. One of the determining factors is whether that content is relevant and what, in that case, it is relevant to.
There are a number of ways that Google interprets relevancy of content. The first part of determining relevance is figuring out what your page/site is about. One of the ways Google does this is by reading your page/site like a user would. We use code like header tags and page titles to tell users (and Google) what your page/site is about. That’s why it’s important to get the headings right.
Both users and spiders will read the paragraph following a heading and expect to read information that is in someway related to the title. Similarly, we use image titles and alt text to tell spiders how images, videos and other multimedia items are related to the content on the page.
Guilty by Association
Google uses its spiders to feed data back about trends and information on the web. This sort of capability is what allows Google’s spiders to understand how relevant your information is to the field, service or category that you’re discussing. That’s why it’s important that you’re keeping up with industry trends and information about your chosen topic.
For example, if you are writting a blog about SEO and you don’t mention any other keywords associated with SEO then Google is likely to consider that page as less relvant than another page that discusses those keywords.
Another key indicator of relevancy is recency. Most published pages give the user an opportunity to define a publication date and this is coded into the page. Google’s spiders look at this information and interpret the value of your content based on its recency and relvance to what their users are looking for.
Authority – How much weight does your site carry?
Relevancy is intrisically linked to your site’s position as an authoritative source of information. Again, there are numerous processes that Google uses to determine that this is the case.
Domain authority can be quite a big factor when it comes down to determining the weight of your site and it’s content. Domain authority is an objective metric which is a number measured out of a maximum 100 rating. A high domain authority lends more credence to your reliability as a website than a low score.
For example the same content published by different websites, one with a domain authority of 10 and another with a domain authority of 50, will compete for position on the search engine results page. Obviously, the site with the higher authority will beat out the lower one because it’s information is considered more trustworthy and authoritative.
Domain authority is cultivated over time. Length of domain registration and recency of activity combine to add considerable weight to the authority of your site. Links to your site act like referrals to build your authority. This is essentially one website saying that your website is good source of information. The more authoritative the referrer site is, the more valuable their referral is. So, getting links from authoritative sites helps to build your site’s authority.
Following Best Practice
Another aspect of site authority is following best practice in terms of coding. All websites are built using a number of programming languages with their own best practice methodologies. Not following best practice can sometimes result in slow, sluggish or even non-functional websites. Any of these factors will dock you some serious points with Google. Google is committed to providing their user’s with the best experience possible and this means directing them to the best functioning websites.
A critical aspect of following best practice is using code to indicate critical information about your site to the Google spiders. One of these is using Schema code to communicate specific information or using titles and alt text to manage user expectations.
Credibility is naturally linked to authority and relevance. Relevance shows that you know what you’re talking about. Authority puts some weight behind what you have to say. If your site is both authoritative and relevant then it’s likely that your site will also be credible to users who find themselves there.
Credibility for SEO is significantly different to credibility in marketing. When it comes to SEO credibility is critical to proving that your site is worthy of being trusted by Google and therefore worthy of jumping to the front page of their search results.