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Understanding The Importance of Trust Flow

What is Trust Flow?

Trust Flow (TF) is a link authority metric developed by Majestic. It is used to evaluate the trustworthiness, authority and credibility of websites and directories that are linking to a particular site. This metric is scored out of 100, and sites with high Trust Flow means that the site has a lot of highly trusted sites linking to it, and as such, is likely to rank high in the search results.

Remember PageRank?

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm used by Google when evaluating the relative importance of a webpage. PR ascribes a numerical value to each based upon its perceived importance in the set. For years, PageRank was the gold standard for website authority because it was coming from Google, and it was the best way of understanding the level of trust and credibility that Google ascribes to your site. Google also provided a toolbar that was used by webmasters to check the PR for pages on their websites. However, due to abuse by link sellers making money off website owners who wanted quick boost in rankings, Google stopped updating the PageRank toolbar in December 2013.

In November 2014, Google’s John Mueller announced in a Google Webmaster forum that Google “have no plans to do further updates around PageRank.” Keep in mind however, that just because Google have decided to stop updating the toolbar does not mean PageRank no longer exists. Google simply keeps it hidden because it doesn’t want the toolbar to be manipulated by link sellers.

Since Google has all but killed off the ability to view PageRank, Trust flow is now the most important metric for analysing links, performing link audits and prospecting. Even though Moz’s Domain Authority is probably the best-known metric, you cannot rely on Domain Authority alone when analysing the quality of a link. The main problem with this metric is that it can be easily manipulated.

For example, if you want to increase your DA quickly, you can do so simply by building a large volume of no-follow comment author links and directory listings. These types of links are particularly effective for increasing DA.

Note however that comment links will not do much for your organic search ranking on Google, so getting links from sites with a manipulated DA will not help your search ranking.  This is why you cannot look at DA in isolation when evaluating the quality of a webpage or site.

For example, consider the DA for the following  website.

moz screenshot

As you can see, it has very strong DA and PA with a spam score of zero. Looking at the metrics on this site, it would seem to be the ideal link prospect.

However, take a look at the same site’s trust flow:

majestic screenshot

Although this site has an impressive DA of 68 and PA of 45, its trust flow is a strong indication that the site’s link profile is not likely to be trusted by Google because of the quality of links pointing to it. It is highly likely that majority of the links are from a large number of blog comments and low quality directories.

Furthermore, if you type the name of the site into Google or Bing (without the .com or .co.uk), and it is not ranking for its own domain name, this is a further indication that the site is not viewed as a high quality site by Google. Consequently, getting a link from this site will do nothing for your organic search ranking, despite the impressive DA and PA metrics.

Citation Flow

Citation Flow mainly looks at the quantity of links to a website. It does not look at the quality of those links. A site with high Citation Flow and low Trust Flow indicates that the site has been building a lot of low quality links, and is unlikely to rank high in the search results. On the flip side, if the site has a high amount of Trust Flow and low Citation Flow, it means that the site’s link profile is based on links from very trustworthy sources, but it needs to build more links.

Consider the following example:

  1. Site A has Trust Flow of 54 and Citation Flow of 43. Trust Ratio = Trust Flow/Citation Flow = 1.25. With a trust ratio of 1.25, this means that the links from this site are from very trustworthy sources, and sites who get links from these types of sites are likely to rank high in the search results for their target keywords relatively quickly. Note however, that not all sites with high trust flow will help your site. For example, if majority of your links are from self-publishing platforms like Medium, Rebel Mouse and Kinja, you won’t get the results you’re looking for because these are not your peers. You’ll want to focus on links from news sites, business sites and high quality blogs that have a strong social presence. These are the types of sites that will make a real difference to your search ranking.
  2. Site B has Trust Flow of 7 and Citation Flow of 43. Trust Ratio = 0.16. The Trust Ratio here is well below one, which indicates that the site has obtained its search ranking using low quality sites which may not necessarily be spammy. This means that the chances of this site ranking high in the search results are very low.

I recognize that seosocialgeek.com currently has a below average trust flow. This is due to the fact that link building is an expensive and time consuming process, and for such a competitive niche, it will take up far too many resources.

It is important to note however, that in the vast majority of cases the Trust Flow will always be lower than Citation Flow, and the sites are perfectly trustworthy. All you need is a bit of common sense in your analysis. If the Trust Flow is very low and the difference between the Trust Flow and Citation Flow is very wide, chances are that the site is a poor quality site.

Using this metric as a gauge when evaluating the linkworthiness of a particular website can help to ensure that the links you are building to your site are not going to damage your ranking, as such sites are not likely to rank on Google until they have improved the quality of their link profile.

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