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How I increased my Trust Flow by 12 in a month

Award winning SEO, link building and digital PR freelancer with measurable results

Being one of the best metrics we have to measure the quality of links, Trust Flow is the primary metric I focus on when it comes to link building and benchmarking. I’m a firm believer in deciding to work on metrics I can understand and are proven to have a measurable impact on the outcome of my work.

Anyone who’s seen my BuzzStream article on using data to decide if you need to build links will know that I use Trust Flow from the get go. Being a marker of link quality and the equity being funnelled through to a domain or URL, to me, and with everything we know about how links work, it feels foolish to focus on anything else.

So, I recently worked on increasing my Trust Flow for darrenkingman.co.uk and have mapped it over the period of a month. Here’s how it fluctuated:

trust flow mapped over a month

At the start of this period, my Trust Flow was just 3. My domain was a baby and thankfully, I’d been too busy at that point to focus on marketing my website.

However, with a few projects coming to an end and also wanting to get my teeth stuck into building my domains organic visibility whilst becoming obsessed with my own rankings for a change (prior to being a freelancer I worked in-house and agency-side for 7 years), I got to work.

By the end of the month, my Trust Flow had increased to a peak of 15. That’s a 12 ‘Trust Flow’ uplift in 28 days. Me FTW…amirite!

Tactics to increase Trust Flow

Right at the end of August as I was finishing my client work for the month, I’d started considering opportunities that I know work particularly well in the SEO niche, so focused on two key tactics:

  1. Guest posting
  2. PR comments

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a tactic that in the past few years has become synonymous with low quality link building and just generally a tactic to stay clear of for any serious link building campaign. If you’ve ever worked on your LinkedIn connections, you’ll know as well as I do that the first thing to happen is your inbox becomes bombarded with blog post specialists. I mean…damn.

However, having posted on Moz previously (and since to publish my data on the best content formats for link building), I knew the power of the domain and platforms like it. Not just from a link building perspective, but what posting and sharing them with those audiences could have on my overall authority online and the number of people getting in touch in general. As a freelancer, that’s what I want.

So I took to guest posting, but only doing it in a fashion where I’m publishing posts as good or better than I’d want to publish on my own domain. Any post I’ve done to impact my own Trust Flow and ability to improve organic performance (directly and indirectly…blog post to follow on that) is one that has taken me between a day and 3 days to complete. It’s a serious slog, but that’s what’s needed to publish material on platforms that can impact your business.

guest post

Live link date: 29/08/18. Majestic found it pretty quickly, and this shot my Trust Flow up to the dizzying heights of 8.

PR Comments

Although projects had slowed a little through September, every link I build can’t be a guest post. I’d never leave the computer.

So, this is where PR comments come in. With a strong network, and an artificial one called HARO, (tip: you actually don’t need a strong network at all because of this – it’s like your network on steroids) I started to look for opportunities to provide my highly-coveted expert insight on a topic.

pr comment

Live link date: 21/09/18. This took my Trust Flow from 8 to 14. I’m up 11!

 

When providing comments, I still want to make sure that anything I’m offering isn’t a 2 second after-thought, but a considered approach for the topical focus. I want to build my name and make sure people think of me as someone with a decent idea or two.

If you do use this tactic to increase your own Trust Flow, please make sure that you really do consider what it is you want to say and the image it builds of you. This is another touch-point people will have with your expertise, so make sure anything you share is something you believe and hopefully *know* will provide value to someone reading it.

Here, my focus wasn’t particularly to gain links on other domains with a high Trust Flow (although this obviously helps), it was more about the audience. That’s the key idea I’m hoping to get across here. Although I wanted to build my Trust Flow and increase my ability to drive organic traffic, I was also considering the referral traffic and where my name would appear. A good audience is the result of a platform that already provides great content and has proven to engage people. If you focus purely on Trust Flow, you might miss that critical point. It requires research or knowing the platform already.

testimonial

Live link date: 26/09/18. Really proud to see my name on URL Profiler’s website after using it for years. This link took my Trust Flow from 14 to 15 on the same day.

The result of my increased Trust Flow

So what was the impact of going from a Trust Flow of 3 to 15? Well, taking into account that links do and can take a little time to factor into your ranking performance (less so today), I wanted to show the changes in my organic impressions in the time during and since.

organic impression uplift from increased trust flow

Caveat – I have continued to use these tactics to build links to my domain, which will be impacting the results here, but it’s important to see the trend and the bumps.

In this time I haven’t published much content on my domain (only small changes here and there). In fact, my last blog post was back in July. Therefore, all of that uplift is a result of my link building work using those two tactics.

Obviously I have optimised for certain keyword groups that I think better highlight what I do and what it is people might want to talk to me about, but with a relatively new domain I wanted to show what’s possible using relatively simple tactics and focusing on using established domains with great audiences to catapult my Trust Flow.

I think these simple tactics often get lost in a large campaign when creative content becomes the pretty much only method of building links and increasing Trust Flow. There’s a real tangible impact I’ve seen using ‘alternative’ link building tactics that can only take a few hours to do, and have certainly played a role in making me more competitive.

I hope that helps you but if you have any questions at all, please do drop me a line or leave a comment below.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Darren

    Really enjoyed reading this and appreciate the way you’ve chosen Trust Flow as your proxy for quality and that the results of that are so clear to see.

    I regularly use guest posting as a tactic to improve authority – and by ‘authority’, I mean both in the sense of DA style metrics and the perceived authority of the brand – and believe it still to have a relevant place in any link builder/marketer’s arsenal. As an example, I have guest posted myself on places like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Roundtable and, even though technically speaking the link value of each repeat placement in those publications degrades, for me it’s a no-brainer that someone working in the SEO space would want to feature in those places. They’re trust publications so their contributors must be trustworthy.

    Same applies for comments. By providing something worth saying, I agree that you can build your brand really well.

    A caveat you put on that, and that I would also agree with, is that it’s important that your comments be considered and of a high quality. I’d also add to that that you need to ensure you’ve set clear boundaries for your comments; especially when using something like HARO or ResponseSource, you can find yourself inundated with potential comment opportunities and it’s imperative that you focus only on those which represent your brand well, and avoid commenting on anything and everything just because the site has a high domain rating.

    To help with this, I use something I call ‘circles of focus’ (I think there’s another agency using a similar framework but they call it a ‘content lens’, which is so much better, darnit…) whereby I agree with my clients where their core topics of focus lie, what occupies their secondary focus and how far they’re willing to push their tertiary focus, recognising that getting features relating to their core focus is far more likely to attract potential customers at the conversion end of the funnel, but that extending beyond that is also important for feeding the top of the funnel. You can read about that here if you wish: https://www.impression.co.uk/blog/9923/circles-focus-targeted-approach-content-production/

    I do have one question. You have kindly shared a graph which tracks your organic visibility over the time you were link building, and you have noted that you weren’t doing any on page work at that time. Now, if that weren’t the case and you were also doing on page work, do you have any ideas on how you would attribute your visibility to the links or the on page updates? Appreciate that’s the million dollar question for most SEOs (especially those working on the off page side) so totally appreciate if it’s not something you can answer, but am keen to get your take.

    Thanks again for sharing this – am sharing with my team now too.

    All the best for 2019!

    Laura

    • Darren Kingman says:

      Hey Laura!

      Thanks for the comment and really glad you like the post!

      Your post on the Circles of Focus is a really interesting one as well. I’m likely going to be producing a piece soon on how to prioritise content production and the process I go through, but your Circles opens up a related and interesting question of relevancy. It’ll be good to talk to you on how you do this at scale and how you’d handle it for a large keyword set where the lines start to really blur.

      Re your question – there’s certainly no easy answer to it (which you already knew!). However, my take is that we can isolate *if* an activity has had an impact on search visibility but there’s no way of knowing to what *degree* that activity impacted it (unless it’s in isolation, which for larger domains than mine, is impossible).

      Fortunately, because ranking changes happen much, much quicker than they used to, we can track crawl rates and logs from search engines on our pages. If we make a change and they crawl the page more often as a result and within X hours/days we’re seeing a ranking shift outside of the norm, then we can start to legitimately argue that is a result of the change. Likewise with links (as I did in my post).

      Outside of crawl rates, we could measure other on page metrics we know have the ability to improve ranking potential, like page speed, engagement rates (conversions, scroll depth, time on page, bounce, etc.). If we can argue that one of these factors changed before and after then coincided with a ranking change, I’d put that into the melting pot of ‘here’s what we did and this is the result’. But as I said before, I don’t think we could say to which degree, just that it did impact rankings.

      For larger domains, like my Lastminute.com work that you may have seen at the CMA awards (won gold for Best Use of SEO with a 2,190% ROI btw ; D ) I had to isolate the link building work we were doing to the pages we were targeting. As you can imagine, being Lastminute.com, they had changes happening all the time, from social teams, to affiliate, to SEO, etc. Therefore, isolating links and it’s impact starts to appear extremely difficult so we compared performance to other areas of the domain. They had the same resources (or more) but were failing. Yet, our pages were steadily heading up. We experienced consistent search visibility increases throughout the year for those pages and the keywords we tracked, which again starts to build the argument. When presented in context (against pages where we weren’t doing link building work but matter just as much to the company as a whole) it starts to paint the picture of impact we needed.

      Hopefully that provides a few ideas but unless we ever know the algorithm, I think it’ll always be a case of making the most compelling argument possible.

      Cheers,
      Darren.

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