How Building Brand Trust Can Boost Your SEO

Design Positive
6 min readMar 10, 2023
Illustration showing the importance of brand trust to search engine rankings.

In December 2022, Google released an update to its Quality Rater Guidelines. The big news was that it was going from E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) to E-E-A-T, which adds experience as the new E.

Immediately everyone was working to understand how Google could determine whether a person had an experience with your brand to add credence to reviews and other user-generated content.

While this new ranking factor is important, Google still lists trustworthiness as the most valuable ranking factor. And in the newest update, Google announced that its algorithms use information from a variety of sources to determine a brand’s trustworthiness and authority on a topic.

So what does that mean for branding and SEO? Here’s a look at why this update requires careful attention to your brand throughout all online interactions.

Trustworthiness and Branding

Google’s criteria for trustworthiness is nothing new but it underwent important revisions in the latest quality rater guidelines. Some ways Google is looking for trustworthiness include the following.

1. Understanding the website’s creator: Google states that it takes time to understand who owns and manages a website as well as who the content creators are. That way, the search engine can look up information about the person or organization that runs the website.

2. Getting to know the website or content creator: Then Google goes out to learn more about the content or website creator. And here’s where branding and consistency play a role. Google has used third-party content and linking to understand connections. But now it is also using data from social media to better understand companies and creators.

3. Combing through website and social media content looking for expertise: To determine how trustworthy you or your business are on a topic, Google will review everything from the jobs listed on your LinkedIn bio to the content within videos across multiple platforms.

For the first time, Google is showing that it understands the unique diversity across social media content. That means that videos, user-generated content, social posts and influencer content could all impact your search rankings moving forward.

Social media profiles and expertly branded content could now impact your rankings by helping you establish credibility for your brand and company.

Creating Human Connections

The steps Google goes through to determine trustworthiness are not all automated. Google uses a team of Quality Raters to evaluate websites and how trustworthy they truly are. These Quality Raters go through in-depth training to take on the role and help determine whether a website could cause harm based on Google’s guidelines.

Their feedback is a crucial factor in determining where your content ranks. So as you write your content, consider how it helps build human connections.

Write content that matches your voice and tone across all platforms, and above all, be honest. You can’t fool this algorithm or its human reviewers.

Ultimately, if you’re working to build a brand that your customers will love, you’ll also be building a brand that Google will love. So make good on your promises from your page titles and meta descriptions and supply users with the content you say you will.

Use keywords that genuinely fit your company’s product or service offering so that when you show up in results, the Quality Raters see why you belong there and give you a high rating to stay there.

The Role of Social Media in Building Trust

Building out your social media channels can help you build trust with your customers, and now Google is using it to understand websites and content creators like never before. What you post on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, etc., will all serve a purpose in building trust.

As you look for ways to strengthen your social presence and increase the impact it has on your social media, consider your content mix, posting frequency and voice.

Imagine if Google and its team were reviewing your social presence and found that its content hadn’t been updated in a few weeks. You don’t look very trustworthy, especially in YMYL categories (Your Money or Your Life).

Or consider the impact of social media posts with no interactions because it isn’t the type of content your audience is looking for.

And if a potential customer or Google visits your website and then scrolls your social media and it sounds and feels like a totally different entity, that experience will lack the consistency necessary to solidify your brand as an expert and the top choice for your industry.

Can AI-generated Content Build Trust?

Now for the million-dollar question everyone has been asking since November 30, 2022, when ChatGPT launched. Can I use AI-generated content and still build trust with search engines and my customers?

Potentially, yes. But you must use these tools carefully. And more than likely, ChatGPT is not your best option.

AI content has limitations in terms of how it builds content, and fact checking is its biggest problem. Most AI-generated content, including content from ChatGPT, lacks tightly knitted themes and doesn’t draft content in a way that people talk about a topic with ties between opening paragraphs and the content’s conclusion. AI content services also aren’t connected to statistics platforms to offer factual content that increases value.

The future of AI content is a blend of computer-generated ideas and keyword clusters with human editing, fact checking and reviewing. And there’s still the issue of making the content attractive and easy to read with a good page layout and experience so that your readers will stay to read the full page.

Is Dwell Time an SEO Ranking Factor?

Another common question many companies ask about generating trustworthy, desirable content is whether dwell time is an SEO ranking factor.

Dwell time is the time between when a user starts a search to when they click on a result and then how long they are on that site reviewing the content. The statistic your brand sees is time on page.

Google claims that it doesn’t use the Google Analytics platform to determine rankings. But experts disagree and believe dwell time still impacts rankings. That’s one reason why expert website designers will place a 30–60-second video in the hero section of a website to keep visitors there longer than the traditional 3 seconds that static images or words might captivate a visitor.

And whether dwell time impacts SEO shouldn’t really matter because it’s a crucial element of website user experience. You should be focused on this metric because it determines whether users engage with your content and share it with their friends, which increases your exposure.

It’s almost as if the “E” in experience should be focused on a user’s experience with the product or service’s content, rather than the difficult to prove first-hand experience of the product. Does every Amazon seller have first-hand experience with every product they sell? No, and Amazon still ranks very well for many products in Google.

Amazon product detail pages have a pretty decent page experience, which includes a section where first-hand users can add reviews, pictures, and images. This is a case where a seller doesn’t always have first-hand experience with the product, but hosts’ products on a page where real customers can provide their experience.

Michael Ramirez is the SEO expert for Design Positive. He shared his insights and analysis of the latest Google Quality Rater Guidelines to inform this content. Micheal is also the founder of Evisio, a project management platform designed for SEO consultants and their teams to help them manage campaigns. Evisio offers greater oversight for each client and helps teams prioritize tasks.

At Design Positive, we help companies build trustworthy brands to connect with customers through various channels, including SEO, while doing it in an access-to-all approach.



Design Positive

Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency.