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How to improve your site's integrity rating
A guide for webmasters.
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Businesses with their own web sites
  • Anonymous businesses, which are illegal in many jurisdictions, now get low search rankings. You're going to have to make it clear who's behind your web site, or you will have low search rankings. Legitimate businesses, even if small, will now rank higher.
  • Comply with California Business and Professions code section 17538, even if you're not in California: Put the real name and address of your business prominently on the web site. If necessary, it can be a P.O. Box, but if it is, that box must be registered using USPS Form 1583, the legal way to operate a business semi-anonymously. We look for a name and address in a format which, if placed on an postal envelope, would be delivered correctly. We look for that information on, at least, the home page, any "About" or "Contact" or "Checkout" page, and on the pages directly linked from the site's entry page. If we can't find it in any of those places, it's not being prominently disclosed. If our system can't find that information easily, search ranking will drop.
  • Domain registration information must be complete and correct. The registrant must be a real, verifiable person or a real, verifiable business.
  • “Cloaked domains” kill your search ranking.
  • Get a Dun and Bradstreet number and rating. It's free. Even sole proprietors can get a D&B rating. Nor are D&B ratings limited to the United States. If you're a sole proprietor and not a corporation, you won't be able to get a High Assurance SSL certificate. at least initially. But if you're rated by D&B, you're seen as valid by us.
  • If you're a corporation, make sure your corporate filings with the appropriate authorities in your country are up to date and have your correct name and address.
  • Get an SSL certificate for your site, one where the issuer validates who you are and guarantees it to users. Get a “High Assurance” SSL certificate if possible. Using a “domain only” certificate will reduce your search ranking.
  • Don't hide your secure site from search engine crawlers. If you use a different site for login or payment, at least one link to it should be visible without submitting a form. The secure site should have the same base domain. (For example, “ebay.com” and “signin.ebay.com” are clearly associated). If you use the same domain for secure and non-secure connections, there's no problem.
  • If your page has unusually complex formatting, extensive JavaScript, or is an all-Flash site, we may have trouble finding your name and address on your site. In such cases, put your name and address within an HTML <address> tag.
  • If you're a big company with multiple brands, locations, or subsidiaries, make sure they're all in your D&B reports. Large companies tend not to have problems here; they can be validated against multiple sources
  • All your information should match. Domain registration, name and address on the web site, address given to D&B, corporate registration information, DBA name, name used on SSL certificates – all must match, or be related in traceable ways.
  • All of this applies only if you're selling something, or assisting in the sale of something. Sites which sell nothing and don't contain advertising need not worry about these rules.
Auction sellers
  • Auction sellers operating on established auction sites are evaluated differently. For major auction sites with well-established dispute-resolution systems, SiteTruth looks at the seller's feedback rating and uses it to compute the site integrity. Currently, this applies only on "ebay.com", "auctions.yahoo.com", and "ubid.com". For these auction sites only, sellers can be anonymous.
Merchants using off-site payment services
  • Many smaller merchants use an off-site payment service to process their payments. In such cases, the payment service must be known to us and have suitable bank references. We then verify that the off-site payment service acknowledges the identity of the merchant. The first off-site page of the payment site should display the name and address of the merchant (not the payment service), in a form of a valid postal address. Some payment sites already do this, displaying "You are purchasing from", followed by a name and address. When a known payment site does this, we consider that payment site to have vouched for the identity of the merchant site, and the merchant site need not have an SSL certificate.

  • All merchants can improve their ranking by obtaining a High Assurance certificate for their domain. Even if your site has no secure pages, you can still use a secure certificate to authenticate your site, and we can find it, read it, and validate it.

You can check your rating on these items with our web-based tool. You, the web site operator, are in control of all this information. So it's entirely up to you.

SiteTruth. Search, with less evil.

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