Gaining Ground with Google: Website Reputation

Google logo with link back to google homepage.This article is about Google’s idea of reputation and how you can further their belief that you are a reputable blogger or website owner with a valuable, needed, and genuine service or product to offer others.

Recently Matt Cutts – a name synonymous with Google Search gave the world a list of bullet points that comprise part of Google’s idea of what it is to be trustworthy or reputable in terms of websites trying to gain favor in Google’s search engine.

If you don’t know why trust or reputation is important, it’s because one of the major factors Google looks at when deciding where to rank your website in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

Matt’s recommendations are in blue bold type. My comments follow each.

To boost site reputation Matt Cutts recommends:

Be interesting – this probably means a couple of things. Primarily it means, attract attention and once you have attention – give them something interesting to do on your site. In Google Analytics this might translate into time on page, bounce rate, returning visitors, and number of comments on your site from visitors. All these things, when looked at from the ‘be interesting’ perspective could relate well.

Update often – Sites that add content once per day or more on average are spidered by Google much more often than those sites that add once per week or month. There is some talk amongs SEO (search engine optimization) professionals that not updating content frequently can result in lower PageRank scores over time. In fact, I believe I’ve seen that happen on a couple occasions with sites I’ve been slack in updating.

There are also some recent ideas about results being shown on Google are being slanted toward newer results. Twitter has kicked everyone in the backside by offering near real-time search results (when it’s up and running anyway!). Google recognizes this as vital to the next wave of search and is also jumping on that bandwagon.

Find your niche – Not only find your niche, but, write about it. Produce content tightly focused on a niche and Google will reward you with high ranking in the SERPs. Merely writing about what is going on in your day might be interesting to three of your friends, but if you’re not a movie star you’re better off to stick to writing only about your niche at your website.

Provide a useful service – This one is a little tough. Perhaps Matt means something that brings people back to your site for repeatedly or more than once. Perhaps it refers to commenters saying “thank you” or “appreciate” and other words that would indicate they’re finding your website useful.

Useful could also mean links about it get passed around often. Try to make your content viral and easy to share with others.

Do original research or reporting – If you’re not a scientist or a newspaper reporter you can still do original research and reporting by offering Polls on your website. WordPress.org sites have a number of useful plugins for helping you conduct polls. Bringing new information into the niche is a great way to improve your reputation in Google’s eyes.

Give great information – The informatioon you have on your site – in whatever niche you’re focused on should be varied and comprehensive. You should have posts on your site about the important topics within that niche – and probably that’s decided when Google looks at other blogs and websites and pulls out the top keywords for them. Do you have articles about the top 20 topics relevant to your niche? You probably should, in addition to new information that isn’t already on others’ websites. You want to be seen as the leader – or one of them in order to create a great reputation.

Live blog – Audio podcasts. Video podcasts. Twittering. Using Facebook. Using anything in social media that is highly relevant because it’s today. It’s now. It’s conversations you’re having now about your niche. Be active in your niche in a variety of ways. Google is starting to take all that into account.

Make lists – 5 Best This. 10 Worst That. Lists are popular, attract readers and are easily passed around to others (viral). Lists get linked to shared more than typical posts because they’re short, to the point, and we learn from them easily.

Create controversy – Perhaps nothing builds links and gets people talking more than controversy. I posted a couple of controversial topics among my positive thinking niche articles at my AimforAwesome.com blog and I could hardly believe the response I had. I don’t enjoy that type of writing much – but obvviously it excites the emotions of some people! I think what Matt is saying here is that there are only so many websites that can rank on the usual topics of the niche. Many sites say basically the same thing. Say something different. Take the opposing view and people will talk about you- and you’ll be creating novel content that is interesting and popular. All add up to higher reputability.

Meet people on Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed – the number of followers and friends you have at the various social media sites and applications online are an indication of how reputable you are at your website. Create profiles at least at these mentioned, and also at YouTube, Blogger.com and other Google properties for best results.

Matt’s list ended there, but I’ll add a couple things that I’ve also learned over the years.

Time is also one of the factors that Google takes into account when deciding how trustworthy or reputable your website is. If your site has been around for a year – that means something. Five years? That means a lot. Even if you register your domain name for a long-term committment, that is said to mean something with the Google algorithms that decide where you are in the SERPs.

Mozilla.org listing for your website. Major directories that list your site probably believe it to be reputable and trustworthy. A Mozilla listing is highly sought after and rarely accomplished. They don’t update much anymore.

Inbound links from sites that are highly trusted. If you have the Google PageRank checker installed in your Firefox browser you’ll be able to see sites that have PR 4 or above are doing well for trust and reputability in Google’s eyes. Gain links from those sites and you’ll increase your own worth in those areas.

Onsite factors. Trustable sites with a good reputation have pages that every site should have – especially business sites. Pages like: About; Disclaimer; Shipping Info; Privacy Statement; FAQ; Sitemap… etc. are usually at every reputable site.

A reputable site probably wouldn’t have racial slurs, vulgarity, nude photos or many claims of “best, top, amazing, fantastic, unheard of” too often.

As I’ve covered – there are many factors that can help Google come to know you a little better and feel comfortable knowing you’re a reputable provider of some service or product. When Google feels comfortable recommending your site in the SERPS, you’ll smile just a little easier. The difference between 1st page Google and 2nd page Google is life itself to some of us.

Do everything you can to help make Google comfortable in recommending your site to the world. The art of creating a website that is Google friendly and reach the front page of the search results is a science that some (me) have spent a decade or more learning about. Randy at About.com has a good beginner’s SEO tutorial if you want to learn more over the next 10 minutes.