Guide to Google ranking factors – Part 6: Trust, Authority and Expertise


Last week we published the fifth instalment of our complete guide to Google ranking factors.

It concentrated on ‘duplicate content and syndication’ and the practical ways you can ensure your webpages are passing on PageRank and not being ignored by Google.

This week we dive into trust signals, paying particular attention to Google’s Page Quality Rating.

Page Quality Rating

Last year, Google published an extensive document laying out exactly what it looks for when it comes to evaluating your search quality.

In order to work out your Page Quality Rating, Google takes into account the following most important factors:

  • Main content quality and amount
  • Website information/information about who is responsible for the website
  • Website reputation
  • Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness

We’ve already looked at ‘quality content’ in a previous instalment of this guide, so let’s explore the remaining three elements: trust, authority and expertise.


As stated in our article on what is an authority website? An authority website is a site that is trusted. It’s trusted by its users, trusted by industry experts, trusted by other websites and trusted by search engines.

The strength of your authority will ultimately come down to the strength of your website’s content, which we’ve covered in earlier chapters.

There are also many other on-site areas where a site can build trust and authority…

Site Architecture

1) Your site needs to have a logical architecture. The homepage should be accessible at all times, and all your categories and subcategories should be thematically grouped together in your main navigation.

2) An easily accessible search box will aid the user experience, and help people looking for more specific information. If a searcher can’t find a specific page, make sure your search results offer something in a way that’s still relevant.

3) All your categories should be accessible from the main menu. All your web pages should be labelled with the relevant categories.


4) Your website should have an easy to locate Contact Us page with an appropriate amount of contact information – emails, business address, business phone number.

5) Your Contact Page’s information should also match your WHOIS data.

6) An About Us page explaining your website’s purpose, it’s history and including profiles of your owners and senior employees will help engender trust in visitors.

4) On every webpage it should be clear who is responsible for the website (whether individual, organisation or publisher) and who created the content on the page (the author).


5) If you’re a business, it may be a good idea to start a blog on your website. Not only will this keep your site up-to-date with fresh content and encourage repeat visits (and increase the frequency of search engine crawlers), but also show that you’re a relevant, trustworthy business.

6) User reviews and testimonials that you’ve uploaded yourself onto a webpage will probably be ignored by Google’s Page Quality rating.

Instead Google pays attention to third-party expert testimonials from independent sources – reviews, references, news articles. Recommendations from professional societies, are strong evidence of very positive reputation.

7) A few negative customer reviews aren’t going to affect your Page Quality rating too much, particularly if you have thousands. Customer reviews also tend to be checked for their content rather than the actual rating itself.

That being said, you clearly need to rethink your product or customer service if negativity begins to increase.

8) You must include a Terms of Service and Privacy Policy explaining your use of cookies.



9) If you purport to be an expert site, then you’d better make sure you have experts writing for you. Even if you’re site is an entertainment site or fashion blog.

To use a few of Google’s own examples:

  • High quality medical advice should come from people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High quality medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
  • High quality advice pages on topics such as home remodeling or advice on parenting issues
    should also come from “expert” or experienced sources which users can trust.
  • High quality pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.

Google will routinely check on the ongoing quality of your ‘expert’ site.

10) Don’t worry if you don’t have any formal training or education in your chosen area, Google will take into account the “amount of life experience” that makes them an expert on the topic and will value this as “everyday expertise.”

Other instalments in our Google ranking factor guide:

Part 7: Site-level signals
Part 5: duplicate content and syndication.
Part 4: content freshness.
Part 3: quality content.
Part 2: keyword relevancy, frequency and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).
Part 1: on-page signals such as title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions.

Related reading

A screenshot of visual search on Pinterest. On the left is a picture of a copper angle-poise lamp, with the words 'Visually similar results' above it. Down the right-hand side are a number of pins showing similar lamps.
google amp project
Simple Share Buttons