The Ever-Changing Face of SEO

As anyone who’s been tasked with the SEO of a website knows, getting to the top of search results is a moving target. We’ve become accustomed to terms like Google Algorithms, Rankbrain (artificial intelligence), Structured Data, Mobile First Indexing, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and Domain Authority.

For well over a decade Google has been practically synonymous with SEO, however, in the last few years, some newer players have come to the forefront – MOZ and Majestic.

Things affecting SEO in 2019 include increased use of Voice Search on mobile devices, less emphasis by Google on Keyword Ranking and more on Domain Authority, Page Authority, Trust Flow, Citation Flow, Page Rank Quality, and Spam Score.

The Big Three of SEO in 2019

  1. Authority

    When we think of Authority in SEO, it usually entails Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA). Authority has been used as a ranking factor for a number of years, however, changes are currently underway in the algorithm.

    So what is Authority as it pertains to SEO, really?

    According to Moz:

    Domain Authority is based on data from our Link Explorer web index and uses dozens of factors in its calculations. The actual Domain Authority calculation itself uses a machine learning model to predictively find a “best fit” algorithm that most closely correlates our link data with rankings across thousands of actual search results that we use as standards to scale against.”

    Since Authority is based on machine learning calculations, your site’s score will often fluctuate as more, less, or different data points are used in the calculation — for instance, if Facebook were to acquire a billion new links, everyone’s PA and DA would drop relative to Facebook. For this reason, keep in mind that you should always use Domain Authority as a relative metric to compare against the link profiles of other sites, as opposed to an absolute value scoring the efficacy of your internal SEO efforts.”

    A DA score is based on a logarithmic scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest. It’s a comparative rather than an absolute or concrete indicator, based on the performance of other competing sites. Therefore, it’s significantly easier to grow your score from say, 20 to 30, than from 70 to 80.

    A real-time analogy would be to imagine that you’re visiting a public library seeking reference material on say, genealogy. A good resource would be to ask the librarian. As opposed to the homeless person taking refuge in the library to read magazines, use the washroom, etc., the librarian would have a high “Authority” ranking. Get the picture?

    Domain Authority has become the industry standard for measuring the strength of a domain relative to ranking. This article from Moz, A New Domain Authority Is Coming Soon: What’s Changing, When, & Why, discusses, in detail, what to expect in 2019.

  2. Trust

    Since Yahoo started the link analysis technique known as TrustRank to fight web spam, Trust has become an important metric in website ranking. Based on the idea of six degrees of seperation, if you start with a “seed set” of highly trusted sites, then counted the number of clicks it took to go from those sites to yours, the fewer the clicks the more trusted your site.

    Trust Flow and Trust Metric

    What is Trust Flow? Basically, Trust Flow is a metric that analyzes how trustworthy your site is. It measures your site’s trustworthiness by using quality as a key metric. A site’s Trust Flow is measured by the number of clicks a specific page receives from a seed set of trusted sites.

    For example, Trust Flow for your site will increase if it is authoritative as well as qualitative. This means your Trust Flow score will be determined by how much traffic flows through a link (number of clicks it receives), how relevant the linking site is, and the number of links that link to the site. These items in tandem indicate a site’s quality.

    You can use Trust Flow to perform link audits, for link prospecting, as well as to analyze your competition.

    Trust Flow vs Citation Flow

    Like Trust Flow, Citation Flow is also based on links, only without regard for the quality of those links. In other words, it’s easier to boost a site’s Citation Flow score than it is to improve it’s Trust Flow score by merely increasing the number of links.

    Google has long said they don’t use this type of metric.

    However, in April 2018, Google was granted a patent related to evaluating the trustworthiness of links. But the existence of a granted patent does not mean it’s used in practice.

    For your own purposes, however, if you want to assess the trustworthiness of a site as a source of a link, using the trusted links concept is not a bad idea.

    If they do any of the following, then it probably isn’t a good source for a link:

    • Sell links to others.

    • Have less than great content.

    • Otherwise don’t appear reputable.

    Google may not be calculating trust the way you do in your analysis, but chances are good that some other aspect of their system will devalue that link anyway.

    Bottom Line – When it comes to link building, it’s Quality over Quantity!

  3. Relevance

    Relevance of content has always been one of the fundamental components to any good website, thus making important in SEO in about every way.

    You have to be relevant to a given topic.

    If you have a page about Tupperware, it doesn’t matter how many links you get – you’ll never rank for queries related to used cars.

    This defines a limitation on the power of links as a ranking factor, and it shows how relevance also impacts the value of a link.

    Consider a page on a site that is selling a used Ford Mustang. Imagine that it gets a link from Car and Driver magazine. That link is highly relevant.

    Also, think of this intuitively. Is it likely that Car and Driver magazine has some expertise related to Ford Mustangs? Of course, they do.

    In contrast, imagine a link to that Ford Mustang from a site that usually writes about sports. Is the link still helpful? Probably, but not as helpful, because there is less evidence to Google that the sports site has a lot of knowledge about used Ford Mustangs.

    In summary, the relevance of the linking page, and the linking site, impacts how valuable a link might be considered.

Most of these 3 areas can be greatly improved by using diligence in building links and procuring quality backlinks.

Regardless of the metrics used to evaluate a website, the fundamental goals still remain as they’ve always been – quality content, clarity of purpose, clear and concise delivery, and attractive presentation.

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