Increasing Site Trust Value

Let’s say you are walking down the sidewalk, and some random person comes up to you and says, “Hey, you want to buy a new iPhone? Only $40 bucks.”

Would you buy it?

The product looks legitimate and new, it’s definitely a good price. But you probably wouldn’t start pulling out your wallet.

Why? Because you don’t trust him.

…does it work? Is it stolen? What if it breaks the next day? Why so cheap? What if he robs me as I try to pay? You’ll get all these doubts in your head and since you don’t know the person, you’ll most likely keep walking.

There are four reasons why people won’t buy from you:

  • no money
  • not necessary
  • don’t need it right now
  • seller is not trusted

Most of the time you can’t do much to do about the first three reasons as those are not in your direct control, but we can help build trust. Which begs the question…

What makes a visitor trust a website?

There have been many psychology studies about trust and credibility, one of them by the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab and another by NNGroup have done great jobs of breaking down the main components.

Even though design trends change over time, the underlying human behavior that directs choices does not.

So increasing the trust value for your website will be a long term strategy that will continue to work despite any changes that the internet might have in the future.

The list presented is not in order of importance, to maximize trust and ensure the maximum amount of sales/calls/form submissions/etc, you need to get all of these components down. The basic factors used to gauge site trustworthiness are essentially the same, across cultures.

Make the information on your site easily verifiable.

Build website credibility by providing third party support for the information you are presenting to a reader, especially if you link to this evidence.

Even if people don’t follow any of the links on your page, the reader can see that you are trying to help them by adding relevant material and sources for your content. The use of and linking to citations, testimonials, articles in well-known publications, all help the credibility of the site.

You’ll notice in the footer of my site a box showing my star ratings that I have received on my Google business listing. It’s an easy win to add some ratings or testimonials from previous clients to various pages to help raise the trust value of the site.

Show that there’s a real business behind your site.

It’s easy to be anonymous on the internet, and it’s easy for some shady business person to setup a good looking site. But by providing supporting information that we would expect to see as a normal business practice, we can help a visitor trust the site a bit more.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by listing a physical address, usually on a contact page, or in the footer of the site. Having a physical address listed displays that you are not trying to hide.

Adding other contact information such as a phone number and email contact obviously goes along with that thought.

Other features such as posting photos of your office, photos of your employees, listing a membership with the chamber of commerce can help as well.

Connected to this idea is to setup the appropriate social networking accounts. Photos on Facebook, or Twitter will go a long way in showing the faces behind the company and give a connection for a visitor to see who you are.

Highlight the expertise in your organization.

Basically, make it clear that you know what you are talking about. Are you, or do you have any experts working with you? Are you affiliated with a respected organization?Are your contributors or service providers authorities on their subject?

Be sure to showcase their credentials.

Again as an example, you will see in my footer that I provide my certifications to make it easy for everyone to see that I know what I am talking about when it comes to optimizing websites and local SEO.

Don’t bury your credentials on some low traffic page. Make them stand out so visitors can immediately see you are an expert in what you are selling.

Conversely, linking out to low quality sites will lower your trust value. You are judged by the company you keep so make sure that even when sending them to another site, that it is of high quality.

Make it easy to contact you.

Don’t appear to be hiding. Not only is providing easy ways to contact you a good way to get more leads, it also boosts the trust value that a visitor has.  A simple way to boost your site’s credibility is by making your contact information clearly visible.

Add your phone number, physical address, and email address, as well as contact forms throughout the site. As well, make sure that all of this information is visible for mobile users.

Have a professional looking site.

Every industry will have it’s own designs that they gravitate to depending on the function of the site. But people will quickly evaluate a site by its visual design.

A shabby looking site tells a visitor that you do not care about your online presence. It begs the question, if the business doesn’t care about its own site, then how much do they care about its customers?

When designing your site, pay attention to the layout, typography, images, consistency issues, etc. A good SEO consultant will be able to point out design issues. especially if they are undertaking a competitor analysis and will be able to compare your site to other businesses such as yours.

Make your site useful & easy to use.

Research shows that sites garner trust by being both easy to use and useful to the visitor. Think about what potential customers want when they land on the various pages of your site.

Make it easy for them to find the information they need by choosing the right menu options, making the content easy to read, and placing contact information and buttons in expected areas.

It’s also important to make sure the pages load quickly. Consumers abandon websites if they take too long to load, with 40 percent leaving a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.

Update your site’s content often.

Sites that are updated frequently, or show more recent dates on articles will be  more relevant to a visitor. If you have a blog or a news section, make sure they’re updated regularly otherwise it may look like the site has been abandoned.

Although other information throughout the site may be still be accurate, a visitor to your site may still question the relevancy of your site if he/she thinks that the site hasn’t been recently updated.

Don’t use too  many ads.

The more ads you have on your site, the less credibility it will have. Google grew in popularity because ‘back in the day’ the other search engines had all kinds on links and ads on the page. Google came in with a clean page and let the search user do what it wanted to do without cluttering the screen.

Nobody likes dealing with too many ads, popups, popunders, and flashing banners. People associate it with low quality. If you must have ads, separate them from your content or clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own.

Lastly, if you are placing ads throughout the site, try to find products or services that will be relevant and can possibly help your visitors.

Avoid errors of all types.

Details matter and things like spelling errors and broken links hurt a site’s credibility more than most people imagine.

If you can’t be bothered to check the writing and content on your site, why would a visitor or potential customer trust you in taking care of the details in they choose to interact with your business.

Website Trust – The Bottom Line

A credible website makes people:

  • trust what it says
  • feel comfortable sharing their personal data or financial information
  • feel confident that the product or service is worth the cost

A good SEO consultant not only tries to get traffic to your site, but cares about what happens afterwards. There is no point in delivering quality traffic and visitors if after they land on your site they just click away because the credibility of the site is low.

I encourage you to have someone not associated with your business take a look at your site to see how it fairs on the trust factors listed in this article. It is difficult to be impartial on your own site, and the website designer may not have incorporated all of the trust elements.

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