What Is TrustRank?

TrustRank is an algorithm used to reduce web spam and improve the quality of search results. It works by measuring a website’s trustworthiness based on the reliability of its backlink profile.

Essentially, TrustRank takes known-quality websites (called seed websites) and uses them as a base for evaluating other quality pages on the Internet.

The algorithm checks the outbound links from the trust seed websites and assesses the quality of the websites these links lead to.

It looks at the quality of backlinks to determine how reliable (trustworthy) each website is.

More reliability = higher rankings.

But there is one big difference between TrustRank and other algorithmic systems…

TrustRank is a semi-automated algorithm.

A real human needs to be involved at the beginning of the process, and then the TrustRank algorithm will take over.

TrustRank was originally developed in 2004 by Zoltan Gyongyi and Hector Garcia-Molina from Stanford University and Jan Pedersen from Yahoo! They released the algorithm in their paper “Combating Web Spam with TrustRank.”

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What Does TrustRank Do?

TrustRank does a backlink analysis to separate helpful web pages from spam web pages. The spam webpages are filtered out, improving the search engine results page (SERPs).

Here’s how it works:

A real human reviewer will identify a number of quality websites called “seed websites” for each topic. These websites are known to be legitimate, reliable and contain trustworthy information.

The algorithm then crawls the outbound links from the original seed website.

Each site that receives a backlink directly from the seed sites receives a TrustRank score. This is essentially based on the assumption of “trust by association”.

While this isn’t ground-breaking today, it was a massive step in 2004 to improve overall search results and combat spam.

It also formed the foundation of how Google’s algorithm detects spam today.

What Is The Difference Between Pagerank and TrustRank?

The difference between PageRank and TrustRank is that their core algorithms focus on different aspects of backlinks.

PageRank evaluates websites based on the quantity and quality of its backlink profile. TrustRank examines the quality of these links by assessing the trustworthiness of the website that provided the backlink.

The difference is in the philosophy:

PageRank operates on the premise that valuable websites will likely receive more links from other sites. TrustRank simply assumes that trustworthy sites only link to other quality sites.

Does Google Use TrustRank?

No, Google does not use TrustRank in their algorithm today. TrustRank is patented by Yahoo! so Google is not allowed to use it.

But Google does incorporate concepts similar to TrustRank in their current algorithm.

Here’s what I mean:

Google actually trademarked the name “TrustRank” in 2006. It applies to an anti-phishing filter, which has nothing to do with the TrustRank algorithm.

The truth is that Google has many systems that are “trust-type” algorithms that determine the trustworthiness of a page or website. For example, they own a patent for “search result ranking based on trust.”

While Google doesn’t use the TrustRank system as it was originally developed, they have other algorithms that do a similar (and much better) job at combatting spam.

That’s why Google is considered the best search engine in the world.

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