What is Google TrustRank?

TrustRank is an algorithm that Stanford and Yahoo developed to combat web spam. The name has been used interchangeably with Google because Yahoo’s patent came out first, and Google is more popular. Still, it should be noted that these two Web Search ranking algorithms are entirely different.

google trust rank

Yahoo’s TrustRank and Google’s similarities relate to how they both identify spam. The primary difference is that: 

  1. Yahoo’s patent  identifies and removes spam, 
  2. Whereas Google developed a system for reordering the rankings of web pages

This approach is not similar to Yahoo’s strategy because it does not negate spam as an issue; it looks to provide users with more “meaningful” search results.

Google trademarked “TrustRank” in 2005. On February 29, 2008, that was abandoned soon after a decision at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office that it infringed on Yahoo’s patent name.

United States Patent and Trademark Office: TrustRank meaning

Google TrustRank: Does it exist?

Yes, Google does have a trust ranking system, but they cannot patent it under the “TrustRank” name because Yahoo already owns that patent; because of this, both patents are radically different.

What is TrustRank?

TrustRank is an algorithm that conducts link analysis to separate useful web pages from spam and helps search engines rank pages in the SERPs. It’s a semi-automated process, so it needs some human assistance to function correctly.

Google TrustRank Patent:

Google TrustRank Patent

Search result ranking based on trust

Invented by Ramanathan Guha
Assigned to Google
US Patent 7,603,350
Granted October 13, 2009
Filed: May 9, 2006


A search engine system provides search results that are ranked according to a measure of the trust associated with entities that have provided labels for the documents in the search results. A search engine receives a query and selects documents relevant to the query. The search engine also determines labels associated with selected documents, and the trust ranks of the entities that provided the labels. The trust ranks are used to determine trust factors for the respective documents. The trust factors are used to adjust information retrieval scores of the documents. The search results are then ranked based on the adjusted information retrieval scores.

US Patent 7,603,350

How does Google Trust Rank work?

Google trust rank looks for “trust signals” to filter out spam from the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Some signals you could improve to help your authority:

  1. Become an Expert Author in your niche
  2. Build your Author Knowledge Panel
  3. Have your website reviewed by external sources
  4. Link out to Authority Sites
  5. Add a Privacy Policy & Terms and conditions pages
  6. Improve your Engagement Rates (e.g., Bounces, Time of Page)
  7. Include article References and Sources
  8. Build your Brand
  9. Build Authoritative Backlinks

The Google TrustRank patent details how the search engine might use information from annotations and labels from experts to reorder the rankings of search results in response to queries. Since trustworthiness can be hard to judge, it’s unclear what kinds of criteria these “experts” would need. It’s best to improve your website and its authority continually.

What is PageRank?

PageRank is an algorithm Google Search uses to rank web pages in their search engine results. According to Google, PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages; this works by counting the number and quality of links to determine their importance.

PageRank vs. Trust Rank

The PageRank system is a metric for ranking the importance of websites that relies on metrics such as quality and the number of links to determine how important it is.

TrustRank combats spam by identifying and filtering reliable pages from the web. TrustRank’s reliability diminishes with increased distance between documents, so its creators carefully select seed sets to be evaluated by experts. Once those reputable sites are identified manually, crawlers search for other sites in similar databases of trustworthiness.

This means PageRank uses the quality and quantity of links to access relevance. Whereas TrustRank focuses on removing spam from the SERPs (index) using a variety of signals.

Now that you’ve read all about TrustRank, I’d love to hear what you say. Have you tried making your site as trustworthy as possible? If so, how did it go? Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.


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Published on: 2021-08-01
Updated on: 2023-08-08

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Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.