Does Comprehensive Content Build Trust?
2 months ago on August 07, 2023
Google’s John Mueller, in an Office-hours hangout, answered a question about the best content for building trust. Mueller encouraged the person asking the question to stop worrying about building trust with Google and offered advice on how to create the best kind of content.
Google and Trust
There is an idea that if Google doesn’t rank a site then it might be because Google doesn’t trust it.
That’s not an unreasonable thing to worry about.
But Google doesn’t really structure its algorithms around trust metrics. Some link related algorithms structure their judgments over whether a site is normal or not-normal, with a not-normal site being one that is trying to manipulate the search rankings, like with paid links or guest posts, that kind of thing.
From outside of Google one can look at the poor performance and reach the conclusion that the site’s not ranking because Google doesn’t trust it.
But it’s not about trust. In the case of links or certain kinds of content it is because the site is a not-normal site.
It looks like Google doesn’t trust it, but it’s something else entirely.
And it’s good that these somewhat advanced SEO concepts are understood because then it saves time worrying about doing things to “earn trust” that have absolutely nothing to do with the reason why a web page isn’t ranking.
Down the Trust Rank Rabbit Hole
Yes, there’s a patent from around 2006 that mentions a Trust Rank.
That patent is about personalization and user intent. To understand what a patent is about, read the first part of the patent, over and over first.
Most people who make mistakes about patents skim the first part and go straight to the middle section. But without the context of the first part of the patent, the middle section leads them to form mistaken ideas about what the patent is about.
The above Trust Rank patent is primarily about identifying user intent through signals like whether the user has visited a site before.
The meaning of the patent is contained in the second paragraph:
“An inherent problem in the design of search engines is that the relevance of search results to a particular user depends on factors that are highly dependent on the user’s intent in conducting the search–that is why they are conducting the search–as well as the user’s circumstances, the facts pertaining to the user’s information need.
Thus, given the same query by two different users, a given set of search results can be relevant to one user and irrelevant to another, entirely because of the different intent and information needs.
Most attempts at solving the problem of inferring a user’s intent typically depend on relatively weak indicators, such as static user preferences, or predefined methods of query reformulation that are nothing more than educated guesses about what the user is interested in based on the query terms.
Approaches such as these cannot fully capture user intent because suchintent is itself highly variable and dependent on numerous situational facts that cannot be extrapolated from typical query terms.”
The above patent isn’t about Trust.
That patent is concerned with User Intent.
Googlers have long said over and over that Google doesn’t use a trust signal. Google engineer Matt Cutts even posted a video to dispel the myth of a trust factor in 2011.
Video of Google Engineer Matt Cutts Explaining “Trust”
But for whatever reason, the idea that Google has a trust thing going on persists even though Google keeps telling people it doesn’t use a trust metric.
Comprehensive Content and Earning Google’s Trust
The person asking the question wants to know if writing comprehensive articles builds trust with Google.
Here is the question:
“Does writing comprehensive articles covering a specific subject build trust with Google?”
There is No Trust Metric at Google
Being comprehensive can be good in certain cases and not so good in other cases, as John Mueller will explain.
But first, Mueller pops the bubble again on the idea that Google uses a trust metric.
John Mueller Discussing Content and Trust
“I don’t think we have any measure or metric or anything like that where we’d say, You have built trust with Google and you’ve built that based on writing comprehensive articles.”
John Mueller Explains Where to Focus Content
Mueller sets aside the topic of trust and then advises the person on how they should approach the content in order to rank better.
“I would see this kind of… I don’t know… work as being focused a little bit more on the user side.
Does this build trust with your users, do users appreciate this kind of content, and that kind of thing.
And that probably users appreciate that kind of content if you’re actually writing something comprehensive and useful for them.
The important part I think here is really to figure out which users you want to target and to make sure that your content actually speaks in their language.
So, for example, if you have technical content and you write a really detailed technical article about that.
If your users are looking for something that is more general or more simplified that explains the basic topics a little bit better then maybe tha highly specialized technical article is not the best thing for them.
Whereas if your users are really kind of these specialized technical people and they want to find all of this highly technical content then maybe that is the right match.
So that’s something where you almost need to think about which users do I want to target and what kind of content are they looking for?
How can I write it in a way that matches what they search for and what they would like to find?
And then based on that you can kind of build out your website.”
Figure Out Users First
Articles about keyword research make me cringe because they almost always advise focusing on keyword volume without discussing what motivates that volume and whether a less-volume keyword might be better because it converts while the high traffic one doesn’t convert.
John Mueller smartly advises the person asking the question to figure out the user first.
Mueller finishes his answer:
“So, don’t just blindly go in and say oh, I would like to have my website rank for rental cars therefore I will write long comprehensive content on rental cars.
Because probably that’s not what users are looking for.
You almost need to figure out your users first and then work on your content.”
That’s great advice, right there.
Some people look at their top ranked competitors and see that the content is very basic. They see that as an opportunity to write advanced content that’s on a higher level and beat the competition that is top ranked with 101 entry level content.
But a lot of times, that entry level, baby-level content is what users want and that’s why Google is ranking it there.
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