It’s been a busy week – right up until my time on RSS Ray’s radio show on Wednesday to talk about email marketing.
SEO, Trust, and Small Business
So finally, here it is, the one thing you absolutely must manage when it comes to SEO…and that is – trust.
Now, maybe you’re out there saying, “Tony, people trust me. They like me and they visit my site, and buy from me. Why should I be so concerned with trust?”
With those people, you’ve already built trust. You job with them is to maintain it. Much of what we’ll go over covers both building and maintaining that trust. So keep reading.
The trust I’m mainly talking about is the kind that you need from first-time and new-er visitors as well as from the search engines that can hold the key to your success (and failure) online. We’ll deal with one a time.
Trust and First-Time/New Users
Trust can be built, or lost, even before visitors come to your site. The good news is that you do have some control over it.
For example, when a page from your website is returned as a search result, people make an initial judgment about that result. They read the title, the meta description and look at the URL.
With those three small pieces of info, users decide that they either trust you enough to click through and see what happens, or that they can’t trust you enough and go searching for a result that meets their requirements.
Keys to Offering Trust with First-Time and New Users:
- Have well-written page titles that accurately describe what a visitor will find on each page. Try to keep them within readable character counts, and if you must go over a character count, have the most important information at the beginning of the title.
- Write meta descriptions that support your page titles. Again, stay within character counts and use the space to build rapport, describe in further detail what your page is about and add a call-to-action if needed.
- If possible, keep your URLs as simple as possible (while being mindful of your SEO efforts) and use the URLs to describe their pages. With e-commerce sites, this isn’t always easy, but if you can keep a URL short and descriptive, it can add a little more trust – or at least not create any distrust with your users.
- Once users have clicked through to your site, they must be met with the information you promised in the three items above. If not, you will lose trust and your visitor will make the move for their back button in search of a different result – one they can trust.
About external content: It’s also important to remember that first-time visitors won’t just find content from your domain on search engines, If you’ve got press releases, articles, white papers, contributed blog posts or some other external content indexed, visitors can come from there, too. It’s important to do as much as you reasonably can with that kind of content to maintain congruency with your messages. This means having a well-written author bio, about paragraphs, etc.
Trust and search engines
With search engines, trust is built by offering useful content in a way that’s not seen as spammy.
It’s a broad statement and sounds simple on the surface, but without knowing the ins-and-outs of each search engine’s algorithm, trust is quite simply a game of best practices. Of course, there are nearly as many interpretations of ‘SEO best practices’ as there are SEO consultants.
Some Keys to Offering Trust with Search Engines:
Now, I know you might be thinking about other trust factors like backlinks, but not all backlinks are created equal. Chances are that a quality backlink comes from a quality site that (you guessed it) offers quality content in a way that’s not seen as spammy. I can only wonder where backlinks come from SEOs promise you 4,000 of them.
However, some things that are seen as spammy by search engines include:
- Hiding text – white text on your white background is a no-no. Even today, I see SEO ‘experts’ trying this and it simply isn’t worth the risk for anybody.
- Associating with ‘bad’ websites – A link to a site that’s spammy is not quite as bad as doing the spammy stuff on your site, but it’s still something you want to avoid.
- Tricking visitors – Optimizing a page for one term but having it re-direct to a different, unrelated page is spammy and outright dishonest.
It’s pretty simple – do anything that can be perceived as tricky by humans and you’ll see much more success online.
Trust must be an integral part of your SEO strategy. And trust with search engines it really, in one way or another, boils down to content – which is the majority of what search engine spiders see when they visit your site anyway. Create useful content, link it to friendly places, don’t try to trick the search engines, and you’ll see your level of trust rise along with traffic and organic ranking.