What Is Trust Flow?

Trust Flow (TF) is a metric from the SEO software company Majestic that measures the perceived trustworthiness of a website based on its backlinks.

What Is Trust Flow, and How Can I Improve It?

In order to understand how your SEO efforts are affecting your site’s authority and visibility in the SERPs, you can track your performance using a variety of SEO metrics. As best practices continue to develop in response to changes to Google’s algorithms, new metrics are developed to help us get a fuller picture. 

In 2012, Majestic SEO introduced two metrics as part of its new Flow Metrics algorithm: Citation Flow and Trust Flow. Intended to be an improvement over Majestic’s AC rank, these have grown to be popular metrics in the SEO world. But what precisely is Trust Flow?

In essence, Trust Flow is a measure of a site’s perceived trustworthiness based on the quality and reputation of its backlinks. Like other SEO metrics, Trust Flow is not an actual ranking factor; this is because it isn’t associated with Google algorithms. However, it does provide insight when analyzing competition in your SEO campaigns. Read on for more details about this key metric in SEO and how you can use it to inform your own SEO strategies.

The Basics of Trust Flow

Trust Flow is a metric designed to quantify trustworthiness, and it is derived by examining a site’s inbound links for quality. As indicated in Majestic’s definition of Trust Flow, “Majestic (has) collated many trusted seed sites based on a manual review of the web … Sites closely linked to a trusted seed site can see higher scores, whereas sites that may have some questionable links would see a much lower score.” 

In short, links from websites that have been deemed trustworthy should improve your trust score, while links from sites that have been deemed untrustworthy should decrease it. This is a useful metric to assess your competitors’ performance, as well as your own. When used with other SEO metrics, it can help give you a comprehensive look at your SEO performance.

How Is Trust Flow Calculated?

Trust Flow scores are based on a scale from 1 to 100. As Trust Flow is a trademarked metric, the exact calculations used to derive a score are not widely known. However, more details about what factors play a role in Trust Flow scores have been revealed on Majestic’s blog in the intervening years since its inception.

For example, while Citation Flow starts with a raw number for every URL (many of which are created automatically by machines), Trust Flow starts only with sites that are curated by real developers, writers, and editors. As a result, Trust Flow is difficult to manipulate through black hat methods.

Further, like link equity, Trust Flow uses an iterative process to analyze links, and it passes from page to page — even through internal links. This is an important consideration for improving the visibility of key converting pages when planning your internal linking strategy.

While a specific formula for how Trust Flow is calculated cannot be provided here, these considerations should guide your SEO strategy in order to build trust for your domain.

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Topical Trust Flow

When looking at a site’s backlinks on Majestic, you may notice an additional metric: a second Trust Flow score next to a subject. For instance, Page One Power’s blog may appear next to the subject “Computers/Internet/Searching” or “Computers/Internet/Web Design and Development.” There are many different categories that online content can fall into. This number may differ from the domain’s overall Trust Flow, and this metric is known as Topical Trust Flow. 

Topical Trust Flow examines the subject of a page to determine how influential it is in that subject area. Given the importance of searcher intent in SEO, this is a key aspect of trustworthiness for online content. After all, you probably wouldn’t rely on ESPN for SEO best practices, and you wouldn’t rely on Page One Power’s blog to research who won the NFL Kickoff Game last year. Both of these sources would have superior topical trustworthiness in their own respective niches.

What Is a Good Trust Flow?

While we’ve discussed the meaning and importance of Trust Flow, many site owners are curious as to whether their site’s score is good enough. Broadly speaking, sites fall into one of three categories in regards to this metric:

  • A score of 50 or above indicates a high level of trust. If your site is in this range, it has a similar perceived trustworthiness of sites such as YouTube, Yahoo, or TED Talks.
  • A score between 10 and 50 indicates an average level of trust. Well-known sites in this range include Reuters, Macy’s, and MSN.
  • A score of 10 or below reflects a very low level of trust. Brand new sites, or those that have employed manipulative SEO practices, may fall into this range.

If your site falls into the first of these categories, your site has an excellent reputation. However, if it falls into the last of them, you may need to revise your approach to SEO.

How Can You Use and Improve Your Trust Flow?

To review any site’s Trust Flow, you’ll need to invest in Majestic’s SEO Backlink Checker. If you want to demo this tool, you can perform a free search on Majestic’s home page. Advanced features, such as viewing your link profile and your domain’s Topical Trust Flow, will require a paid subscription. This tool provides a useful lens for analyzing your site’s performance.

As noted above, tracking your domain’s Trust Flow is an effective way of determining your site’s perceived trust. This is a great way to determine the efficacy of your overall SEO strategy. However, there are several other ways you can utilize this metric and, ultimately, improve the trustworthiness of your site:

  • Analyze Your Competition: A competitive backlink analysis can reveal high-priority keyword-focused topics you may need to include in your content marketing strategy. Trust Flow can also help you determine areas where you can outperform other sites in your niche. Piggybacking on your competitors in this manner can be particularly helpful.
  • Evaluate Link Building Opportunities: If a trustworthy site was willing to link to your competitors, they may also be willing to link to your domain. These leads can help you focus your link building efforts on strategically viable target sites that won’t harm your domain’s Trust Flow. This is a good method to supplement an effective outreach strategy for link building. 
  • Maintain Your Topical Relevance: To effectively gain authority and visibility in high-priority queries, you must remain focused on your target audience. While linkable content should appeal to a broad range of readers to maximize linkability, it’s important that your keyword-focused content does not deviate too far from your primary focus — you will not be able to reasonably compete for irrelevant topics in the SERPs. Evaluating your Topical Trust Flow over time will help you ensure that you stay on track.
  • Identify and Clean Up Toxic Backlinks: If you notice a pattern of links from domains with a Trust Flow of less than 10, you may be currently being targeted by a competitor who is conducting negative SEO. It’s wise to be on the lookout for such toxic backlinks, as they may be impacting your own domain’s Trust Flow. You’ll need to use the disavow tool to clean these or contact the site owners and ask them to remove toxic links. While these tactics may result in short-term dips in traffic, it will help you earn a far more trustworthy reputation than any unscrupulous competitors.
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