A lot of the algorithms used on graphs in network science are really just aimed to model, summarize, measure, and interpret reality at scale with available data in a way that’s useful.
When we can’t directly know something, we need proxies. The more proxies we have, the more we can increase the probability of knowing things.
Google does this. People do this. We look for the right signals.
Luckily, most things leave footprints.
There’s a good analogy in a ranking factor in local search called NAP consistency (stands for Name, Address, Phone number, URL). It’s an easy way to measure how trustworthy the basic contact info about a business is. If all/most web directory listings and citations have the same NAP, Google “knows” that the info is probably accurate, and this gets factored in when deciding what listings to return to a user in what ranking.
If John’s pizza shop has changed names or locations a few times, that conflicting information adds uncertainty as to which info is correct. Google would rather bury you in the results than send a hungry user to an abandoned building.
For them, the ability to trust the accuracy of your listings is a Google search product quality problem. The data consistency here is a good proxy for quality.
And why are you moving your business so much anyway? Landlord problems? Not confident enough to get a 10 year lease? Do you need to downsize your space? Why wouldn’t you at least planned for your move? Couldn’t take 10 minutes to update your directory profiles online? Why are people still going to the old location? Did you forget to setup some wayfinding, a “we’ve moved” sign?
If you aren’t doing these things, your pizza probably sucks and your business is a mess.
Of course, that’s not necessarily true, but as far as proxies go when we don’t know what’s up with your pizza place, why wouldn’t we use those signals?
Why wouldn’t Google serve your competitors’ pizza place higher in results? They have clear, consistently stable business information presented online.
To Google, to past customers, to unsuspecting users just looking for a decent slice of pizza, it’s just easier to trust.
Discerning how clearly you and your site fit in the larger context of your subject matter expertise is just like this.
Putting aside any ideas that SEO is some game you’re above or incapable of playing well, and assume for a moment that it’s your responsibility to claim where you belong online.
Are you as visible as you you think should be given your level of expertise? Are you in your rightful place? Can you say, “I’m the <something> expert.” “I don’t have a business card on me, but just Google “<something> expert” and you’ll find me”?
There are niches. And then niches inside niches. And then little corners tucked away in those niches in niches. If you want stake a claim, you have to stake a claim.
You are an entity and you have relationships. Those relationships leave footprints online… or they don’t.
Sometimes you don’t want them to but they do, like when you’ve had to move your shop (read website) a bunch of times, or when you wrote something a long time ago that makes you cringe, or like this one time I clicked on an organizer’s Meetup profile one time only to find that they were in a bunch of wacky sex groups because they forgot to make their profile info private.
And sometimes you do want those footprints to be clear, like when you’re interviewing badass experts on a podcast, or guest posting for an online trade publication, or just keynoted a big conference, or consistently create better and better content that gets buried.
If you tread too lightly (read: forget to internally link, forget to link from podcast shownotes to your site, were too tired to ask for that link you deserved for your guest post byline, didn’t negotiate posting your keynote on Youtube and then linking back and forth between your slideshare slides, forgot to set up redirects from old sites to new sites, or old pages to respective new page locations), then you’re not leaving the necessary breadcrumbs for search engines to connect the dots. And if search engines can’t connect the dots, forget about users figuring it out in a world where alternatives are just one swipe or click away.
Because trust is about consistency and that goes for everything, not just publishing content at a good frequency and threshold of quality, but all the other signals that either support and elevate what you’re doing or contribute to inconsistency, hesitation, or confusion.