TRUST AND GOOGLE RANKING - - A CASE STUDY

By John M. Corbett

This case study will examine the role of trust in Google ranking. Google wins when they furnish their Visitor with trusted documents - - and so do you. So how does Google measure trust? By engagement, as measured by pages viewed, per visit. That is the most fixed and reliable user signal of how valuable the Visitor found the content. More engagement from the Visitors, better ranking in Google.

For our case study, we stopped adding new content to a high performance website for a six month period. We then studied the resulting metrics, to see what they would reveal about Google’s criteria. The target Visitor was a high value purchaser (+$1M) researching custom services in a competitive market. Our case study showed that when we stopped posting new content, engagement (pages viewed per visit) went down, and traffic along with it. 

What was surprising to us was how quickly that happened. At the end of the first month, July 2019, traffic growth went to +0%, as opposed to same month, year over year (July 2018), when traffic grew +12.5%. And engagement dropped from 1:2.5 to 1:2.0, visits to pageviews. 

The following month, August 2019, traffic growth dropped into negative territory, -6%, while the previous August (2018) traffic grew 29%. Engagement for the same two months fell from 1:2.4 to 1:2.0. These trends, the measurable drop in traffic and engagement, have held for the balance of the content free period.

Enter “How to Rank High in Google" into Google search and you will find multiple entries of lists of technical SEO requirements which we won’t talk about here because you can look them up for yourself. Assuming that both you and your competition are in full compliance with these boilerplate items, how can you dominate search and rank first? 

By developing engaging, insightful, valuable Visitor content, as follows:

  1. BE RELEVANT: Target a specific concern known to be of interest to the Visitor.  Keep it focused, or they will ignore you.

  2. BE FORTHRIGHT: Tell them what you are going to tell them, right at the start. Don’t waste their time, or they will abandon you. 

  3. BE TRANSPARENT: Put yourself in the picture, so the Visitor can connect. Show process as well as outcomes. Establish trust, or they will reject you.

In summary, trusted content drives all good things - - engagement, ranking and traffic. Respect your Visitor and give them a true picture.  Transparency builds the connection they need to make an informed choice. Remember, Google rules because they furnish their Visitor with trusted documents. So team up with Google and win.