Trusted or Authority Sites – What are They?

Every month or so, Google quietly releases a blog post that outlines the updates they made to their various algorithms.  This month they rolled out a list of their June & July updates.  There was definitely a theme, the buzzwords were “High Quality Content” and “Trusted Sources.”

Now – how does Google find “High Quality Content?”  Honestly there are probably more ways than we’ll ever know, but what we DO know is that shares and links are an indicator. I think if we combine what they say about High Quality Content and Trusted Sources, we can extrapolate that “Shares of high quality content from trusted sources” are golden.

Identifying those trusted sources is tricky.  Trusted sites are more than likely authority sites – another club that we struggle to find members of.  If I’m trying to define “authority” or “trusted” I start by saying – if more more people have heard of the company than have not – they’re probably an authority.  If they have a well developed website and brand online, they’re probably a trusted site.

If you read this SEOMoz article written by Neil Patel, the paragraph under “Absolute and relative authority links explained” talks a bit about absolute and informational authority sites.  This is an important distinction, and you should read it.  Also read the same article to learn how you can get links from authority sites.  There are definitely some tactics that can increase your chances.

An ecommerce site that has a product feed can probably get a leg up on the competition by completing the “Google Trusted Stores” program requirements.  There is no direct and acknowledged correlation between a trusted site and a trusted store, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to show Google you’re willing to do what it takes to take care of your customer.  That’s probably one important part of being a trusted site.

I think Social Media plays heavily into the trusted site and authority site algorithms (I think they’re chosen algorithmically, with a human review every once in awhile).  How heavily we don’t really know – but we do know that sites that are extremely popular, are shared and linked to often, and talked about on social media with a very broad reach tend to rank better and have more “pull” when it comes to ranking.  Being active on social media is imperative.  You probably wont see a trusted or authority site that doesn’t have content that isn’t shared or linked to.

If you want to compete in organic search without a social media plan, good luck – you’re really banking on the fact that none of your competitors have or develop a social media plan.  This is probably not a sound supposition.

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