What Makes a Website Credible? Top 5 Credibility Signals

We’ve all been there. You head to Google for a quick answer to a question or problem, click on a website and say to yourself “something’s fishy here” and you head back to the search engine  to browse through additional search results until you find a reputable website. There’s something “fishy” about non-credible websites – consumers know it when they see it, but most times they can’t put their finger on what makes them want to high-tail-it back to the search results.

With Google’s latest algorithm update dubbed “Google Panda” website quality and credibility are a factor in search engine rankings – in fact, the two are synonymous on the web. Following a few guidelines will help tell visitors that your company is up to snuff and in return, it may also assist in your search rankings.

#5 – Keep ads to a minimum

Lots of distracting ads say to your visitors “we’re desperate”, “we don’t care how annoying our website is” and “we value clicks on our ads more than we care about you finding what you need”. While this rule mainly refers to adsense, banners and pop-ups for affiliated products and services. Ads which point to your own website can go overboard too. Banners and such that promote your own services/products are okay in moderation, but should be used sparingly.

#4 – Update content regularly

Stale websites say to visitors “we’re lazy”, “we don’t care” and “we really didn’t want your business anyway”. It’s important that your website be updated regularly with information that reflects your current business. We all know that we should keep our contact information updated (we do right?), but what about those “about us” pages and service pages. Things change and your website should reflect the latest information on your company.

If you really want to say – “we keep up with the latest trends” and “we know what we’re talking about”, start a blog and update it often. Blogs do a fantastic job of lending credibility to your company’s offerings and they are great for getting traffic to your websites via search engines – gratis.

#3 – Design and ease of use

See #4 to find out what ugly websites say about your company. If your website looks like it came from a 1990’s time capsule, it’s not a good thing. While the 90’s don’t seem that long ago; on the internet it may as well have been a century ago. First impressions can last forever online and if the impression that your visitors get is one that comes from an outdated design and frustrating navigation – you are definitely sending people running (to your competition). The best course of action is to use a clean layout that’s not overly trendy (unless you like redesigning your website every couple years).

#2 – Transparency (Showing off the REAL you)

If your website makes it hard to find out who is behind the curtain, you’re telling visitors “we’re shady”.  Your company is run by people right? (if not, I suppose you can skip this one.) It’s okay to put a human touch on your website even if you are a large company. People want to know they can trust your company and that means the people behind the scenes that they can hold accountable if God-forbid something goes wrong.

People also want to know who is behind the scenes; Don’t leave it to their imagination because they won’t stick around long enough to figure it out. Create an “about us” page with real people (not stock photos) or a staff listing page and infuse it with your company’s vibe and personality. Also, be sure to make it easy to contact the people on these pages, as this will put visitors at ease and tell them “we’re available”.

#1 – Make it easy to verify claims

If your website has loads of testimonials, certificates, guarantees and promises with no way to verify the accuracy or validity of your claims, you are really telling visitors “we’ll say anything to get your business” and “you can’t trust us”. If you are talking about how awesome you are – be prepared to back it up. If you have certifications, link to the certification company. If you have good reviews, link to the offsite reviews. The key here is – don’t be afraid to link out to other websites if it lends itself to your goal of backing up your claims.

There you have it – the 5 most important factors that help you convey trust online

There aren’t any super-complex equations involved in telling your visitors “you can trust us”. In fact, most of what’s listed here is probably common sense, but now you’ve got it in black and white. Keep these rules in mind, print them out if you have to – but keep them close, because a website without credibility is not only holding your company back, it’s also missing opportunities to get new business.

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