What steps have you taken on your website to establish credibility and trust with your visitors and prospects? The credibility of your website influences whether a visitor contacts you, makes a purchase, or simply leaves your website and moves on to the next.
A Stanford study on web credibility defined credibility as “perceived trustworthiness + perceived expertise.”
Why is it critical to establish your website’s credibility?
A prospective customer’s first port of call is almost always your website. Can I put my trust in this company? When prospects arrive on your website via search engines, directories, or social media, this is the question on their minds. Your website’s credibility has a direct impact on your bottom line and ability to generate leads and sales.
It is your responsibility to take all necessary steps to ensure that you are creating a website that makes users feel comfortable enough to do business with you. It is your responsibility to create a website that demonstrates your company’s trustworthiness.
There are four different types of credibility.
B.J. Fogg of Stanford University defined four types of credibility in the same study.
- Presumed credibility – A belief that is based on a broad assumption. For example, 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.
Checklist for Website Credibility
Here are some methods for establishing credibility, building trust, and demonstrating trustworthiness on your website.
1. Make certain that your website is visually appealing.
According to a University of Melbourne study, “prettier websites gain trust.” This is supported by a One Poll study, which discovered that “70% of people claim they would not buy from a company with a poorly designed website.” These statistics should be considered when deciding whether to build your own website, use a template, or invest in a professional quality website design.
2. Make a physical street address available on your website.
Listing a physical street address on your website helps to establish your trustworthiness, not only to website visitors but also to search engines. A physical address informs visitors that you are a legitimate, well-established business. It also provides them with peace of mind when conducting business with you. The best place to include your physical address on your website is in the footer at the bottom of the page or on a dedicated contact page. This is most likely where your website visitors will look for it.
3. Make your phone number prominently displayed.
A prominent phone number on your website not only informs visitors that they can contact you, but it also indicates that you want to hear from them. Websites that require visitors to search for or hide their phone number send the wrong message. Put your phone number near the top of your website or on the contact page. The key is to make it as simple as possible for website visitors, prospects, and customers to contact you.
4. Incorporate testimonials into your website.
Testimonials and reviews are important factors in your prospects’ purchasing decisions. According to a BrightLocal survey, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. “72 percent say positive reviews increase their trust in a business.” Encourage your customers to provide testimonials for you. Testimonials and reviews are excellent sales tools. An effective testimonial includes the customer’s challenge prior to doing business with you, as well as how you assisted them in overcoming those challenges. You can also improve the effectiveness of your testimonials by including a photo of the customer or including it in a video.
6. Make a point of highlighting professional affiliations and memberships.
Do you belong to any professional organizations that are well-known in your field? If so, highlight your professional affiliations and memberships on your website by displaying their logos and linking to their websites. By partnering with other well-known brands, you can improve your own reputation, credibility, and trust.
7. Make use of third-party-verified trust seals.
Trust seals are particularly important for websites that collect sensitive information, such as credit card numbers. A trust seal informs website visitors that your website is authentic and has been verified by a third party. Data hacking is becoming an increasingly serious issue for businesses of all sizes. Customers may be more willing to provide sensitive information if they see that you are taking extra precautions to secure your website.
8. Put a human face on your company.
Including photos of you or your team members on your company’s website helps prospective customers understand who is behind the company and adds a personal touch. Adding images to your website becomes even more important if your company conducts one-on-one meetings and service calls that necessitate going into your customers’ homes or having your customers come to your office or place of business.
9. Make your guarantee available on your website.
Guarantees are an excellent way to persuade potential customers to do business with you. It distinguishes you from your competitors and reduces the risk of doing business with you. You can provide a guarantee to your customers in a variety of ways, such as a refund, a lifetime warranty, or satisfaction with the product or service.
10. Provide social proof.
Do you have a sizable following on social media? Why not display the number of followers you have on your social media feeds on your website? This contributes to the creation of instant credibility.
11. emphasize press.
Have you been featured or contributed to any noteworthy news or industry publications? Create a press page or highlight the logos on your website if you or your company receives a lot of press to boost your credibility. Press mentions are excellent ways to demonstrate expertise.
12. Do you keep your website’s content up to date?
Have you ever visited a website with out-of-date information? Past promotions or event dates that have expired still appear on the site, or content that is no longer relevant for today? This does not bode well. Make certain that you are doing everything possible to keep your website content fresh and up to date. It benefits both your visitors and search engines.
13. Maintain good company.
Websites to which you link from your own can have an impact on the credibility of your own. Pay attention to the website to which you link to ensure that you are in good company. When a website is hacked, it frequently redirects visitors to adult or pharmaceutical websites. Take the necessary precautions to avoid this, and if it does occur, resolve it as soon as possible.
14. Reduce the time it takes for your website to load.
According to the New York Times, websites that take a long time to load give the wrong first impression. Impatient web users flee slow loading websites. According to Kissmetrics, “47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and every second you shave off load time tends to boost customer confidence and trust in your site.”
Finally, Fogg recommends that “to improve the credibility of your website, find what elements your target audience interprets most favorably and make those elements the most prominent.” I hope you find the credibility checklists on this website useful.