What steps have you taken on your website to establish credibility and build trust with your visitors and prospective customers? The credibility of your website affects whether a visitor takes the next step and contacts you, makes a purchase or whether they simply leave your website and go on to the next.
According to a Stanford study on web credibility, credibility is “perceived trustworthiness + perceived expertise”.
Why is establishing your website’s credibility so important?
- Your website is very often the first stop for a prospective customer
- Can I trust this business? This is the question at the forefront of the minds of prospects when they arrive on your website via search engines, directories or social media
- The credibility of your website has a direct impact on your bottom line and your ability to generate leads and sales
It is up to you to take all the necessary steps to ensure that you are creating a website that makes users comfortable enough to consider doing business with you. It’s up to you to create a website that shows your business is trustworthy.
There are Four Types of Credibility
In the same study by Stanford’s B.J. Fogg he outlined four types of credibility.
- Presumed credibility – A belief based on general assumption. E.g. we see a .org website and believe it’s a non-profit or charity that we count as trustworthy. We see an AOL email address and the company comes across as less credible.
- Reputed credibility – A belief based on someone we view as authoritative or credible, e.g. Oprah’s recommendation of a product. Someone tells us of a bad experience with a company and we are less likely to view that company as credible.
- Surface credibility –A belief based on our first impression. E.g. a website that looks professional is credible but a website that looks confusing comes across as less credible.
- Earned credibility – A belief based on a past experience with the site. E.g. a website that is easy to use increases credibility. A website with broken links is less credible.
Website Credibility Checklist
Here are some ways that you can establish credibility, build trust and show trustworthiness on your website.
1. Ensure your website is visually appealing.
A study by the University of Melbourne shows that “prettier websites gain trust”. This is further backed up by a study by One Poll that found “that 70 per cent of people claim they would not buy from a company with a badly designed website.” These statistics should be taken into consideration when determining whether you should build your website yourself, use a template or invest in a professional quality website design.
2. List a physical street address on your website.
Listing a physical street address on your website helps establish your trustworthiness, not just to your website visitors but to search engines as well. A physical address tells visitors that you are a real, established business. It also gives them peace of mind when doing business with you. The ideal place to list your physical address is either in your website’s footer at the bottom of the site or on a dedicated contact page. This is where your website visitors would most likely look for it.
3. Make your phone number highly visible.
A prominent phone number on your website not only tells your visitors that they can reach you, but it also shows them that you would like to hear from them. Websites that make visitors search for their phone number or hide it send the wrong message. Place your phone number at the top of your website or on your contact page. The key is to always make it easy for your website visitors, prospects and customers to contact you.
4. Include testimonials on your website.
Testimonials and reviews are a key factor in your prospects buying decision. A study by BrightLocal found that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. “72% says that positive reviews make them trust a business more.” Encourage your customers to provide you with testimonials. Testimonials and reviews make great sales messages. An effective testimonial includes the challenge the customer had before doing business with you, and how you helped them overcome those challenges. You can also make your testimonials more effective if you include a photo of the customer or have it in a video.
6. Highlight professional affiliations and memberships.
Do you belong to any professional organizations that are recognizable in your industry? If so, highlight your professional affiliations and memberships by displaying their logos on your website and linking to their website. By aligning your company with other well respected brands you are able to boost your own reputation, credibility and trust.
7. Use trust seals that are verified by third parties.
Trust seals are especially important for websites that collect sensitive information such as credit card information. A trust seal tells website visitors that your website is legitimate and it has been verified by a third party. Hacking of data is becoming an increasingly serious problem for businesses of all sizes. These seals can make it easier for customers to hand over sensitive information knowing that you are taking extra steps to secure your website.
8. Put a human face on your business.
Putting pictures of you or your team members on your business website helps prospective customers get a better idea of who is behind the company and adds a personal touch. Adding pictures to your website becomes even more important if your business does one-on-one meetings and service calls that require going into your customers homes or your customers coming to your office or place of business.
9. Publish your guarantee on your website.
Guarantees are a great way to make it easy to persuade prospective customers to do business with you. It sets you apart from your competitors, and lowers the risk involved in doing business with you. There are several ways you can offer your customers a guarantee such as a refund, a lifetime warranty, satisfaction of product or service.
10. Show social proof.
Do you have social media accounts with sizeable followings? Why not publish your social media feeds on your website that shows the number of followers you have. This helps create instant credibility.
11. Highlight press.
Have you been featured or contributed to notable news or industry publications? If you or your company gets a lot of press, create a press page or highlight the logos on your website to boost your credibility. Press mentions are great for demonstrating expertise.
12. Keep your website content updated?
Have you been to a website where the information is out dated? Past promotions, or event dates still appear on the site even though they have expired, or content that is no longer relevant for today still exists? This does not reflect well. Ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep your website content fresh and updated. It’s good for your visitors and for search engines.
13. Keep good company.
Websites that you link to from your own website can affect your website’s credibility. Ensure that you are keeping good company by paying attention to the website that you link to. Very often if a website is hacked it can direct visitors to adult websites or pharmaceutical sites. Take the steps to prevent this from happening and if it does happen resolve it as soon as possible.
14. Improve your website load time.
Websites that take a long time to load, gives the wrong first impression, according to a NY Times impatient web users flee slow loading websites. A study by Kissmetrics, found that “47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and every second you shave off of load time you’ll tend to boost customer confidence and trust in your site.”
In conclusion, Fogg says, “to improve the credibility of your website, find what elements your target audience interprets most favorably and make those elements most prominent.” I hope you find this website credibility checklists valuable.