Google's Matt Cutts recently said that "trust" is not a ranking signal in and of itself, but deals with the overall quality of a website and its value to searchers.

In a recent Webmaster Help video, Google distinguished engineer Matt Cutts said that websites that rank well on Google SERPs have built good “trust” with both Google and its users.

Cutts went on to define “trust” as a composite of factors that deal directly with the true quality of a website. Linking – both inbound and outbound – is a critical Google ranking factor for websites. Inbound links that come from reputable sources will improve a website’s trust, as will outbound links that accurately reflect their anchor text.

All of this deals with PageRank, the numerical value between 1 and 10, assigned to a website based on its true quality.

“PageRank is the most well-known type of trust,” Cutts said. “It’s looking at links and how important those links are. So if you have a lot of very high quality links, you tend to earn a lot of trust with Google.” His emphasis on link quality seems to refute the popular idea that social data has overtaken link building as an SEO strategy. Of course, marketers must remember that social sharing provides links, and social likely has its role in building website trust.

Cutts was clear to say that “trust” is not a finite figure like PageRank. He said that while there are “more than 200” different ranking signals, most can be broken down into “trust” and a website’s overall value to a specific query. Websites that are of a high quality and provide users with real value will rank higher on Google SERPs simply because they are more likely to match a searcher’s needs. This suggests content marketing should be an SEO focus.

For B2B marketers, adhering to the notion of a high-quality website as the best form of SEO is becoming increasingly more important, and Cutts’ comments regarding building trust can guide the creation of SEO campaigns moving forward. Brafton recently reported that SEO’s value and popularity as a marketing strategy are expected to grow, as nearly 33 percent of marketers in a recent survey named SEO as the one marketing method their businesses could not do without. 

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.