What is Trust Flow?

Kendall Brennan
By Kendall Brennan

Like life according to Ferris Bueller, digital marketing tactics move pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

It seems almost daily that a new digital marketing strategy has emerged that’s instantly the must-have for every marketing firm and department. And it can be extremely difficult to keep up! You can check your newsfeed and read the blogs, but chances are, there are some strategies that go by the wayside for you and your company. Whether that be for budgetary reasons, time, or option C: other, not every marketing tool that pops up is going to be a fit for what you want to achieve.

That being said, you should always be on the lookout for new and emerging strategies that could potentially help your company. Like Ferris says, if you don’t — you might miss it! And we think one such marketing tool that is not to be missed is trust flow.

Trust Flow Defined

So what is trust flow? Naturally, it’s fairly complex, but essentially, 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, your site’s trust flow 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 (the 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 show a site’s quality.

You can use trust flow to perform link audits, prospect for links, and perhaps most importantly, to analyze your competition.

Differences Between Trust Flow & Citation Flow

Citation flow is another buzzworthy flow tactic that has emerged recently, and it’s easy to confuse the two, so we’ll try to help clear things up.

Just like trust flow, citation flow measures the popularity of a link, referring to how many clicks the link receives. However, citation flow does not take into consideration the quality of the links. Some sites can be very popular, and have a high citation flow, but may not rank well as far as their trust flow. Generally, sites that have lots of links pointing toward it will receive a good citation flow score.

If your website has a much higher citation flow than trust flow, it likely means a lot of low-quality links are pointing to your site or being hosted within. You will generally want your trust and citation flow to be 1:1 to optimize the trust of your site.

Trust flow and citation flow are indeed closely related, as if your trust flow were to increase, then your citation flow should as well. But on the other hand, if your citation flow were to increase, it does not necessarily mean that your trust flow will too. Sites that have high citation flows that point to your website should give your citation flow a boost, but if the site scores well with citation flow, yet has a low trust flow, your website’s trust flow will be negatively impacted.

That being said, you can see how it might be more difficult to get a good trust flow rating than it would be to achieve a high citation flow. Your citation flow will always receive a higher score, because it counts links that aren’t relevant, while trust flow does not. That fact is the reason why we consider trust flow to be much more important than citation flow.

And don’t just take our word for it, because Google agrees! Google actually rewards sites that have high trust flow, because it rewards qualitative backlinks. This shows a direct link between trust flow and organic search traffic, as Google will rank your site higher if you have a high trust flow.

RelatedHow SEO Impacts Other Digital Marketing Channels

What Is Topical Trust Flow?

Topical trust flow is a subset of trust flow and a separate rating that refers specifically to the relevancy of links that go to a given website. This is an even more accurate rating of the trust flow metric and should be used in tandem with your trust flow ranking. It’s incredibly useful for any link building campaign.

Why Is Trust Flow Becoming More Popular?

A big part of the reason for the rise of trust flow is another tool’s unfortunate demise, in this case being Google’s PageRank feature.

PageRank was fairly reliable during its existence but has been phased out by Google, which left a door open in the SEO world. Flow metrics have stepped in to fill the void, with software to measure the tricky metrics being provided by companies like Moz and Majestic. While there are other ranking tools out there, but none compare to the accuracy of trust flow.

Google actually stopped updating PageRank back in 2013, so it has taken a little while for trust flow and others to gain steam, but now trust flow is seen as a more reliable and accurate ranking system than even PageRank was. In the time that has passed since PageRank was left for dead, what is deemed as important in SEO measurement has changed completely, which in part gave rise to trust flow.

Trust flow’s assessments of value match what Google is promoting and looking for, allowing marketing agencies and departments to create more effective web pages. Trust flow now is changing the way websites are made, because you need to make sure that your site is quality, but also that anything it links to, as well as any pages that link back to it, have high trust flow ratings as well.

Let’s look further into a few ways trust flow works in your favor.

Keywords Are Still King

Some marketers declared keywords dead as things began to shift toward quality content and backlinking, but alas, they were wrong. When it comes to SEO, keywords are still very much the king, and it is perhaps more important than ever to utilize strong keywords on your pages.

Using strong, effective keywords across your sites has actually gained importance with the end of PageRank because it unintentionally helped end keyword stuffing. Loading a page with mass quantities of keywords in a nonsensical fashion to boost a page’s rating now will have the opposite effect because it goes against the quality, not quantity marketplace that trust flow has created.

Quality More Important Than Quantity For Backlinks Too

Producing consistent content helps to keep you ranking high in Google search, but having strong, relevant content is actually more important. Messaging that is targeted to your specific audience and addresses a specific need will attract more of the traffic you want, and help to give you a boost in your trust flow ranking on that particular topic.

Simply put: the stronger the quality of your backlinks, the higher your page will rank in Google search. This helps Google to verify you as an expert on the topic in question and will reward you by bringing you to the top of the search result pile, making you easier for users to find.

How To Boost Your Trust Flow Ranking

Now that you know how useful a tool trust flow can be to your marketing efforts, you might wonder what you can do to make your page rank higher in search.

Beyond having quality content, keywords and backlinks, having fresh, innovative content on a given topic that naturally acquires authoritative backlinks is the way to go. This is an organic strategy that will take some time and careful consideration, but it should help build you a strong foundation for your brand. Another strategy is to utilize guest posts for backlinking, but if you go this route, you have to make sure not to overdo it.

Related: What is Quality Content?

When building pages, the same rules will still apply to meta tags and descriptions. These elements help to build your site quality and authority as well as your topical relevance, which all plays into a higher trust flow rating.

How To Measure Your Trust Flow

If we have you sold on implementing trust flow into your web pages, the next step you’ll need to figure out is how to measure your rating. After all, being able to measure your success is the key to any marketing campaign, and trust flow is no different.

There are some free options available to track your trust flow, including Majestic’s add-on for Google Chrome and Firefox. Remember to not only check your own pages, but any outside pages you link to make sure they have a strong trust flow score as well, or a poor rating could bring down the score of your page. Topical trust flow scores also offer another level of specificity.

While there are some marketing fads that you and your team can probably safely skip out on, trust flow is a tool you can’t afford to ignore. Learn how to better optimize your keywords and backlinking and you should see a steady rise in your page ranking as Google rewards you for your efforts.

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Kendall is a Senior SEO Strategist at Power Digital. She specializes in SEO, but also has a passion for the holistic view of digital marketing and seeing how all channels work together to create a strong digital presence.