The search is complicated. Trust is complicated. Both are absolutely necessary for a local company or brand to place search results on the first page. A company can’t just create a website, optimize it for research, and wait for consumers to find it. The good days are long gone.
Webmasters, SEOs and digital marketers need to be at their best and use a set of strategies to help their local customers position themselves in search results.
Trust requires action
Today, I will focus on strategies that will help build trust between search engines and, by proxy, consumers.
1. Expertise, authority and reliability
You may think this is old news. If you are, this is your first mistake. According to Google, content considered “quality” must demonstrate expertise, authority and reliability (E-A-T).
This is so important that Google’s Search Quality Evaluators team has a specific responsibility in this regard. Their only job is to evaluate content published on the Web.
Don’t think they’re the only ones looking at the content of the website; there are countless algorithms that examine content to determine its location in search results based on consumer utility and intent (i.e. RankBrain).
If you manage a website using fill-type content created for the sole purpose of placing targeted keywords at the top of the page, you’ve probably noticed less and less search traffic. Search engines are getting smarter, with their algorithms.
When it comes to content, understanding what search engines consider quality content is the first and most important thing to start with. Think about the Google evaluator’s recommendations for search engines.
2. Concentration on authority
To build trust between search engines, authority must be demonstrated not only in the content of a website, but also in the perception of the site by other authoritative sites.
As mentioned above, Google looks at expertise, reliability and authority. Have you considered that you cannot actually build authority without expertise and trust?
It is important to use SEMrush, Majestic and Ahrefs referencing tools to assess authority metrics. You’ll want to evaluate page and domain authority, return link profile, social media sharing, and internal links. While some of them may seem vanity settings, they can provide indicators in how search engines display a site.
New sites may have a hard time placing on the first search page because they are not yet reliable. Linking from authoritative sites such as social networks, directories and other sources will enhance trust.
Setting up Google Analytics, Google Search Console and sending the site map will speed up indexing and provide important feedback on pages and messages that are found on search engines for new sites.
3. Confidence in the impacts of trust
While search engines can detect the topical nature of a site and page from its content, the website can impact its location by being connected to sites that are not relevant.
For example, a divorce lawyer’s website getting a bunch of backlinks from a health and wellness website would have the opposite effect – it could damage trust and authority rather than help it.
While I strongly recommend that each website have backlinks from larger sites like Facebook and Twitter, the backlink profile should contain a proportion of relevant sites. And these relevant sites must contain authoritative links from other sites and have content that demonstrates E-A-T.
It’s a circle when you really think about it – quality websites need to have quality content, a link to sites that have quality content and get links from sites with quality content to build trust and authority.
When it comes to backlinks, it’s important to remember that a new backlink won’t have the same impact as a backlink. The continuous construction of backlinks is an essential part of building trust. This is not a one-and-a-kind process.
Avoid quick fixes when it comes to creating backlinks. As the backlink ages, the backlink authority will improve. As mentioned above, the backlink profile should be based on quality, not quantity. Disavow backlinks that are irrelevant, reliable or useful.
4. Safety is a must
I know it’s tempting to skimp on things like website maintenance, invest in a security certificate and a staff member to monitor a website, but companies can’t afford to skimp on that crucial.
Search engines will blacklist websites that have viruses and show signs of hacking. They downgrade sites with security vulnerabilities and other related problems in search results. The simple truth is that websites that are not secure are vulnerable and endanger the visitor.
Search engines and some antivirus software alert site visitors when they visit an unsecured website. Depending on the level of security and search engine, they may even have to click on a link to ask to visit the website anyway.
5. Don’t jump the basics
There are a few basics that I could address here that make sense when it comes to influencing the trust and placement of a website in research, but I will only cover a few of them.
Get the technical details for the visitor to the site. From navigation to design, site architecture and research, each of these components has an impact on the user’s journey. If these are not taken into account, rebound rates will increase. Believe it or not, rebounding is an indicator of confidence. Google says that a website’s bounce rate has no impact on the ranking, but if enough visitors visit a website, click immediately to go back to the search, without risk to the researcher. Enough of these instances will send a signal to the search engine that the page or publication is irrelevant, leading to being downgraded to search results.
It is important to use Google Analytics, Google Search Console and all available tools to determine why a consumer visits a website and how they interact with it. Correcting broken links, images and optimizing settings is an ongoing process. These tools allow referors to do this.
The mobilization and speed of the site are critical. In 2015, mobilegeddon was on us. Expectations, needs and demand have only increased since then. With more than 56 site traffic coming from mobiles, according to SimilarWeb, a company’s website cannot afford to be careless. In fact, Google has just moved to the mobile index as the main index for most websites. This index is what algorithms use to serve most searches.
Consumers are super-autonomous today with a smartphone at your fingertips. Sridhar Ramaswamy pointed out at Google Marketing Live 2018, “compared to 5 years ago, there are a billion more people on the Internet today. There are twice as many people on smartphones. “These consumers have high expectations: they are curious, demanding and impatient. They want what they want, exactly when they want it.
Get the data correctly. I’m all about the data, especially the data that affects the digital presence of a local company or brand – their presence in the search results, to be exact. Consistent quotes, which is a mention of a business (usually online) is essential. Consistency builds trust after all.
Depending on where the quote is online, it may include the company name, address and phone number (NAP). Those on directory and evaluation sites may also include a link to the company’s website. This information must be consistent. If not, search engines and consumers lose confidence. In fact, 80 consumers lose confidence in a local business if they find inconsistent contact information online, according to BrightLocal’s Local Citations Trust Report 2018.
Building trust requires effort
I started by pointing out how building trust is complicated. There are several steps, strategies and factors along the way that will have an impact and equal success.
All of this will require effort, dedication and time. While I want to assure you of success overnight, the reality is that it takes time to build trust, but it is quite feasible. You are on the road to success now to expand the local presence of local businesses and the brands you represent.