Amongst other things, Google and the other major search engines use trust to rate and rank websites. But trust is an abstract concept. How do they do it?
What does ‘trust’ mean to Google?
Here are three key factors search engines use to assess how much they can trust your website:
Quality inbound links, quality being the operative word. Link quality is much more important than quantity. It’s easy to pay someone £29.99 to get you 5000 directory links but they won’t be worth anywhere near as much as a single good quality link. In fact one great PR6 + link is usually better than tens of thousands of crap ones!
Your website’s age. Fairly or unfairly, search engines trust websites that have been around for a while more than newer ones
Quality outbound links. Search engines also take the websites you link to into account. If you link to non-prescription pharmacy websites, online gambling or other similar spammy places search engines could assume that you’re happy to be part of a bad ‘neighbourhood’ and can penalise your site by removing you from search results
It’s worth mentioning that search engines will never penalise your site for inbound links from bad neighbourhoods.
How come? It’s logical. There’s nothing to stop anyone linking to your site. As your competitor, I could potentially risk a whole load of bad Karma by paying someone to implement dodgy inbound links to your site. There’s not much you could do about it. It wouldn’t be fair to penalise you for something you can’t control. And search engine algorithms take fairness very seriously.