Trust Flow is not a new concept for SEOs.

Technically, it is a term officially coined and trademarked by SEO software provider Majestic in 2012 and fosters a practice that builds off the generic SEO practice of link building and back-linking.

But with changes to how search engines — most importantly, Google — devise their search engine result pages (SERPs), how relevant is the measurement?

Understanding the Concept

For Chris Lucas, vice president of marketing at online form builder Formstack, the concept of Topical Trust Flow is as important as ever.

With “Topical” in from of it, the metric gauges a website’s quality based on its links with other sites in its niche. Topical Trust Flow focuses on the quality of your backlinks and site visitors, whereas a metric like PageRank focuses on quantity.

“With Google’s recent algorithm updates (primarily those concerned with web content) transitioning from a heavy focus on keywords to an emphasis on value, the Topical Trust Flow metric has become a better measurement of success for your site,” Lucas said.

Tony Rindsberg, CMO of social media platform SOCi, agrees. He sees Google’s changes to its algorithm, late last year, as evidence the firm has realized that it’s partly to blame for the “overproduction of low-value content” on the Internet.

“The goal is to eliminate quantity as a driving metric of SEO results and replace that metric with something more meaningful and useful to a human reader,” Rindsberg said.

“Trust Flow has really become a more important metric than the quantity-only based citation flow,” he added, warning, however, that the metric only is meaningful after a site has built a “critical mass of back-linked sites.”

Before that, trust flow could bob up and down based on the trustworthiness of individual sites linking to yours.

Focus on CX

Both digital professionals are also in agreement about the overall approach to SEO in 2016: not necessarily chasing any and all links but developing a customer experience for your very particular types of visitors.

Creating good content, that’s the SEO ticket.

Learning Opportunities

“It’s not just about having well-optimized content anymore. It’s more about the experience the content provides for the site visitor. If the piece of content creates valuable learning opportunities and links to additional valuable content, it is more likely to be ranked higher and perceived better than something that is just stuffed with keywords,” Lucas said.

Colin Guidi, ‎director of SEO for national digital marketing agency 3Q Digital, suggested another necessary content quality: Is the content useful?

SEOs have focused on relevancy, he said, but Google’s Search Quality Rater guidelines, leaked in November, indicate that useful content is what can really juice up search results.

“You can have relevant content that isn’t that useful. However, useful content will almost always be relevant,” Guidi said. “Lest we also not forget about how this applies to our content consumption in 2016 — largely weighted towards mobile devices."

It’s Complicated

What’s complicating matters, however, is that SERPs aren’t as simple anymore as what you rank and what results page you appear on.

Organic search on Google is now also about all of the different ways Google can take a shine on you — knowledge graphs, answer boxes, rich snippets, answers in its autocomplete boxes — explained Jacques L. Bouchard, senior digital marketing strategist at New York digital marketing specialist DragonSearch.

“The best SEOs are going to be carefully tracking how Google's Answer Box is evolving throughout 2016. Making it into the answer box is a golden ticket to bring your listing the top of the SERPs, and puts a big chunk of your content right in front of your target audience,” he said.

Ah, 2016 SEO still sounds pretty similar to old-fashioned SEO’ing. Where would we be without those “golden tickets”?

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Title image "Trust" (CC BY 2.0) by Joi