Trust Flow has been all over the SEO community lately like bugs on a windshield. Everyone is making buying and linking decisions off of this rubbish metric alone, but that really isn’t helping your overall SEO efforts.
As domain brokers we get a lot of questions regarding trust flow. Everyone cares about trust flow. When we publish a new list of expired domains for sale, anything TF 30+ sells like hot cakes and nobody is interested in anything with less than TF 20 and especially not less than TF 15.
However, what many people don’t realize is that trust flow alone is not a good metric to go by and is almost worthless. If you blindly buy off trust flow then you will be very disappointed and likely not get the rankings you want. The reasons why the trust flow metric is rubbish are listed below.
1. Majestic updates frequently so the metric is unstable.
If you check the trust flow of your domains frequently you will see that it goes up and down all the time. As domain brokers we have checked the trust flow on a particular domain more than once in a day only to see different metrics. If you are buying on trust flow alone then you will be disappointed. When someone provides you with the trust flow metric, it’s just a snapshot of that domain at one point in time but is always subject to change, and it will change.
We once bought about 10 domains in our earlier days based on trust flow. They were TF 20-30 and we were stoked because we just knew that linking those to our money sites would give them a huge boost.
Well, guess what? It didn’t.
Shortly after we checked the metrics and the TF on all of them had completely tanked… to 0 on most of them. We unlinked them from our sites and put them in our virtual garbage can. However, a couple months later when we realized that Majestic was moody we checked the metrics again and the TF was back on all of them, even higher than it was before. What the heck, Majestic?!
At the time of this writing it appears that there was some big Majestic update (as if it isn’t wacky all the time anyways). Here are some conversations from the Facebook group we are apart of just to show you that it is a widespread problem and everyone is talking about it.
And here is another conversation on the same day…
And another from a Skype Group
As you can see there is a lot of chatter about trust flow because it is so unstable and it’s constantly throwing everyone off.
So if you’re going to buy domains based on trust flow alone you either shouldn’t, or stop complaining when the trust flow drops because it’s the nature of the beast. Those are your only two options. The reason why the metrics change so much over time is listed in the next point.
2. Majestic isn’t a perfect crawler so it often doesn’t find links that it found before.
Did you know that trust flow on any particular page or domain is a combination of the trust flow of all of the pages linking to it? Majestic isn’t a perfect crawler and if it doesn’t find a backlink in a particular crawl then your trust flow could be completely messed up. Often, you can check the backlinks of a domain and it shows links as “deleted”.
Have you ever checked for yourself to see if this is true? Most of the time it’s not! If you check for yourself, 80% of the time the link is still there but because Majestic thinks it has been deleted it will factor out the trust of that domain.
When we purchased this domain (we found it from scraping) it had TF 20+, but not Majestic shows that it only has TF 11. If you are living and dying by trust flow, this really, really sucks. It makes you feel like you’ve been ripped off and that you’ve wasted money.
However, because we have advanced in our domain buying strategies, we didn’t buy this for the trust flow. In fact, we NEVER buy for the trust flow of a domain. We bought this because the DA was high (and not because of spam, mind you). And look, the DA is still high even when Majestic is being moody.
3. Trust flow is easy to manufacture.
Trust flow is a garbage metric because it’s easy to manufacture… simple as that. A domain can have high trust flow because of one link… and it may be its only link.
Here is an example of one of the domains we bought a while back because it had TF 39. The trust was coming from one link alone, and Majestic showed that there were only a handful referring domains to total to the site. This domain was actually pretty weak and even if trust flow mattered, spending money on this domain would be risky because if that one link is lost then there goes all of the trust flow.
As I said, when we bought this domain it had TF 39 but today (many months later) it has TF 24 for no apparent reason. We even linked one of our powerful PBNs to this site (TF 37, DA 45) yet the trust flow is much lower than when we bought it. Why???
Here is another example if you aren’t convinced that trust flow can be manufactured. This is one of our affiliate sites in a highly competitive niche. It’s not quite a churn-and-burn site but pretty darn close because we’ve abused it so heavily.
Many of you would probably jump up and down if this was available for a reasonable price. Trust flow 54 on the home page URL? No wonder it has high trust flow, look at the top backlinks to the domain.
What you may not realize is that this domain is close to brand new (less than one year old). We have blasted it with GSA links when we thought that was a good idea. These links are far from natural, trust me, but they have made the trust flow of the domain ridiculously high. It is all too easy for a domain broker to build a couple high trust flow links to a domain and then sell it at a premium because it has high trust flow, only to later pull the links away.
4. Trust flow is not really about one domain but about ALL the domains linking to that domain, and all ALL the domains linking to THOSE domains, etc. etc.
I can hear you now saying “Well my trust flow dropped but Majestic doesn’t show that any of my links have been deleted, it just dropped.”
Trust flow is not about your domain, but about the domains linking to your domain, and the domains linking to those domains, etc. If site A (your domain) is linked to from domain B, and domain B is linked to from domain C, and domain C loses some links, then the trust flow is affected which affects the trust flow of domain B which affects the trust flow of domain A (your domain).
Are you exhausted trying to keep up with this yet? You should be.
The web is not static… it is dynamic like a river. Any snapshot that is taken is just a specific moment of time but then things quickly change. The web is constantly being crawled and metrics are constantly being updated to reflect those crawls. As covered above in this article, crawlers aren’t perfect and are frequently missing links. That is why you cannot rely on it as a metric but why you need to look at the domain as a whole to see if it will stand the test of time and be a good investment.
5. Trust flow is based off of the page that the links originate from, not the root domain.
When looking at trust flow you’ll see on the Majestics backlinks page that it’s based off the of page where the inbound links originate, not the trust flow of the entire domain. Why is this important?
This is important because if the link originates from a page that Majestic doesn’t feel has decent trust flow, even if the domain has wild trust flow, then no trust flow is passed to your domain. This is insane!
If you have an inner page link (because who is going to get a homepage link?) from bbc.co.uk, foxnews.com or huffingtonpost.com and that inner page doesn’t have high TF, your domain will appear to be garbage, based on trust flow anyhow. I don’t know about you but I consider links of that sort to be pretty valuable.
If Majestic were to factor in root domain TF, wow wouldn’t that stir things up a bit? At least maybe trust flow would be more reliable as a metric as you’d be able to spot better links easier. But as it currently stands… the trust flow metric is garbage.
You’d be ashamed to know how many lust-worthy domains are overlooked by domain scrapers which have amazing backlinks from domains that Google trusts highly, but aren’t getting any trust flow from Majestic’s algorithm.
6. If you are blinded by trust flow you will miss out on a lot of great domains.
We have dealt with many customers that are looking for domains in really specific niches… think a “pink and blue striped baseball cap” niche. We have actually found strong domains in some of these niches for customers that are spam-free, have high DA, maybe a Wikipedia link or .edu link, maybe TF 15 and numerous referring domains only to have customers say “No thank you, I only accept TF 20+ domains”.
We don’t even know how to respond to this. They are completely blind to all other factors and want to make a buying decision off of a metric that is going to change over time and is highly unstable. They pass up on really great domains (as good as expired domains get that is) because they don’t meet their minimum trust flow metrics.
7. Relying on trust flow means you will stop using your head, stop using common sense and as a result, not see the ranking improvements you wish to see.
We see many people that want a proven SEO method and want to feel 100% confident in everything they are doing, and they do it by going strictly off of commonly agreed upon metrics. Because everyone talks about how important trust flow is they will be more confident in their buying decision if they buy high trust flow domains. Many people have stopped using common sense and feel if they can’t simply go off of an agreed-upon metric in the SEO community then everything just seems up to speculation and that doesn’t make them feel warm and fuzzy. But guess what… SEO isn’t warm and fuzzy! It’ a lot of trial, error and best judgement!
So if trust flow isn’t the answer, then what is?
The answer is that you can’t simply go off of any metric whether it is trust flow, referring domains or even domain authority. Metrics just give you an idea as to if the domain is valuable or not but really, you need to look at the domain as a whole to see if it will give your websites a good push or not.
If you buy expired domains from a broker this can be difficult because the only thing you’re given is metrics. Unless you have built trust with the broker. A good idea is to pre-pay for domains and you’ll find brokers far more willing to share backlink profiles since they’re much less likely to get robbed blind.
If you’re paranoid of pre-paying a broker, then why not learn how to scrape your own expired domains? It’s really not that difficult, you don’t need mega bulk domain scrapers. Although Jesse did put together a 20 hour writeup on his top pick if you plan on going the paid route. You can do small scrapes in only the niche you need with pretty good results using some of our favorite tools.
If you don’t want to learn to scrape your own expired domains then be sure you are working with a reputable domain broker to give yourself the best odds a buying expired domains that will help you to rank you site. Also, if you are in search of expired domains don’t have false expectations about how good those domains will be. Understand the difference of buying expired domains vs buy domains at auctions. There is a reason those expired domains didn’t get picked up at auction.
Otherwise, if you already scrape your own expired domains or purchase from auctions then you should be able to do a full domain analysis to decide if it’s worth your money or not. Ultimately the only thing that matters if is a particular domain will help you to rank your website.
Surely this topic will continue to create controversy as people are grasping at straws for anything solid which can be used to guarantee rankings. The reality is harsh, but SEO isn’t now, nor for the foreseeable future, a perfect science.
After putting over 500 hours into domain scraping over 4 months and spending 12+ hour days gawking at backlink profiles we can say with 100% confidence the most reliable metric is common sense. Even Majestic themselves suggests the same…
So without giving away the farm… How do you square up on your ideal domain? Have any trick’s you’d share?