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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Trust Worthy Sites - Trust Rank

'Trust Rank' for a business may very well become the next step in trying to show your business accountability on the web. In attempts to weed out spam sites from search results with valid reputable sites, trust rank and/or other 3rd party seals of validation are thought to become a helpful method to differentiate between the two.

The concept of Trust Rank is that trusted website(s) would pass the editorial standards and criteria put forth by Google and link to other sites with reputable content and links. Some speculate that picking just a few trusted sites will result in nothing more than a corporate ambush for smaller businesses and sites. This may be due to the weeding out process for the initial trusted sites or seed sites as they are commonly referred to. Seed sites must meet Googles requirements, which includes a listing in other major search engines, this step alone eliminates a great deal of sites; left in contention would be websites backed by the government, educational structure or corporate entities. Others see Trust Rank as an outlet to boost a reputable sites page ranking; also as a tool for search engines to utilize when trying to find good candidates for quality check reviews. Trust Rank can become a great advantage for search engines because the initial seed sites are highly unlikely to link to bad sites therefore it can automatically boost a sites ranking because it takes into account the low probability of the linked sited containing Spam or irrelevant material.

A problem with this concept though can be that once a site acquires a Trusted status how would it be monitored? Would the site maintain their status after being chosen and what sort of process would fall into place if the site is sold or changed? What process of elimination if any would be implemented?

Advertising online businesses have been using "trust seals" as a means to show accountability to their site visitors for years. Sites like Validated Site and Verisign are 2 of the better know site's issuing these "seals". The theory is that if you have a 3rd party give your business validation then you are more trustworthy than the site without it. This same theory of 3rd party validation can be applied in a more general sense to "linking". This could be where Google is heading. If they start with a handful of sites that they "trust" then any sites that those trusted sites link to are also "Trust Worthy". In the future links from "trusted sites" may be what makes or breaks a website's SERP (search engine results page) listings.

One could imagine that this will lead to a future where "trusted sites" will have powerful "paid inclusion" directories with strict criteria for acceptance. The owners of these deemed "Trusted" sites will likely reap great financial rewards.

Verisign
Trust Seal

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