The Value of Trust

by Stephen Pitts on January 28, 2007

Who do you trust?

The value of trust has been a great addition to organically ranking websites and the most dramatic impact has come from the social aspect of the Internet.

Where do you belong?

I know, in our day and age, it is hard to think that we need to label someone or something and categorize them. It is a great thing to celebrate our differences, because it is these differences that make the world we live in special. If we were all the same, it would be boring.

Here are a couple of things that show who you trust and who trusts you:
1. Natural Links
2. Content

Simply, who links to you and what others write about you.

OK, so you understand that getting links from trusted sources like directories, niche and others, and the idea of publishing time related information, like press releases and such, through RSS or XML. So, no one is writing about you, what do you do?

Networking and marketing your website has taken off and it is apparent that it will continue to gain importance and be used as a way to rank websites in organic search. So, what are you doing? You can start a blog, but that does require commitment and strategy, plus additional marketing and SEO to make them valuable. So, is there any other steps you can take to build social value and trust? Yes, begin by studying your vertical on social sites like MyBlogLog, MySpace, Facebook and others. Join discussions and leave relevant comments to the subject matter.

Here is some good reading about Yahoo’s social trustrank from SEObytheSea. This may be the first of many conversations about the influence of social networking on ranking or adding value to websites for ranking them in organic results.

What are your thoughts?

Have you added social networking to your SEO strategy?

Bill Slawski January 28, 2007 at 11:36 pm

Thought provoking post, Steve.

I’m looking forward to more posts on issues of trust, and social networks.

I’ve been reading a little about social networking theory, and social networking often tends to look at, and place importance upon the connections between people rather that the individuality or importance of each person being linked together.

I think in some ways, that’s a strength, and in others possibly a weakness.

The Yahoo trustrank processes looking at user annotations value numbers (thanks for linking to my post, by the way). But, do we look at large numbers at an indication of the wisdom of crowds, or the wisdom of fools? Is the content of a page valuable because lots of people link to it, and comment upon it, or is it more valuable because experts on the subject think it’s valuable?

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how similar and different social networks online and offline are. Any thoughts on that subject?

pittfall January 29, 2007 at 7:18 pm

Thanks Bill,

I would agree with the idea that social networking does place more value on the network than any particular member. It is a very comfortable statement that it is easy to devise an outcome when a member of a group is keen on a particular topic, correlate that to the other members of a group and come to a safe conclusion to provide this result for other members, but it is extremely short-sighted to apply this estimate to members of other groups.

I would absolutely agree that this is a strong foundation, however, it is extremely inflexible.

The trustrank application that Yahoo has been working on does concern me. But it is the same argument for the value that other engines, Google in particular, weighs for links from “experts.” My concern with labeling anything as being an expert or expert document is the fact that, in anything that has human intervention, it is fallible. More specifically, any interaction a human has with anything in the role of judgement, it is flawed. I was extremely pleased that Google defused the link bombing (aka Googlebomb) through means that did not have direct involvement through a filter (they adjusted the algorithm to correct known concerns). By no means am I saying that a person’s judgement is not valid, however, I don’t think that an “expert” is without their own misgivings.

My thoughts on online and offline social networks
I think that if search engines are to provide the best available results for user queries, it is paramount to understand the correlations between offline and online social groups and analyze how to apply them to the online ranking of websites for user based queries. However, the primary concern that I can see is the only way to develop this understanding is through mass amounts of data. Gathering mass amounts of data, from a government prospective is spying, and from an economic prospective is stalking. Google, Yahoo and others study what information that they can, but without linking this information directly to an offline person the understanding of online and offline social networks is just a theory. Applying it too early is not good, and waiting too long can send users to other portals. Timing is everything and it appears that Yahoo is betting on the first to market.

Acomber May 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I believe that bought Natural Links and fresh Content are important

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