19 Effective Ways to Build Online Trust With Your Website
We do business with people we know, like and trust. Decisions all start with trust, though.
Once trust is established with an audience, they'll decide if they like you and want to know more about your business.
You can start building online trust with honesty, empathy and consistency, but you still need to show why your business is trustworthy. Telling isn't enough. Website visitors need proof if they're going to be converted into customers.
In this post, I’m going to share 19 effective ways to build online trust with your website.
1. Domain Name
Websites should have a reputable domain name that clearly indicates what a business is about.
Use a custom domain (e.g. example.wordpress.com ➙ example.com). Avoid confusing domains (e.g rad.io ➙ radio.com). Avoid spammy-sounding domains (e.g. 123-r2f.com) and avoid domains that could be potential trademark conflicts (e.g. ephone.com, loneyplanetinsurance.com).
Additionally, ensure your site is secure with SSL (e.g. http://example.com ➙ https://example.com). Sites that aren't secure lower trust, especially since Google now marks all HTTP sites as “not secure."
Just as readers often judge a book by its cover, visitors do the same with websites. In just 50 milliseconds, they’re deciding if they can trust and respect a business. A website might look and feel untrustworthy if the branding is low-quality, the site is poorly organized or if there's auto-playing video/music. Outdated stock photography, excessive drop shadows, reflections, animations and pop-ups on every page don't help either.
Evaluate the aesthetics of your site and enlist colleagues, test groups and friends for constructive feedback. If you're still unsure about the aesthetics, start with a FREE Website Audit.
Trustworthy sites have few or zero usability issues. They load quickly. They're responsive. They’re easy to navigate.
Ensure your site is easy to navigate and doesn't have any usability issues. If you’re unsure how to evaluate your site, study competitors’ sites. What are they doing right, wrong or not doing?
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An untrustworthy site might appear in the SERPs (search engine results pages) as a site warning or a browser warning like Web of Trust's browser extension (see image) that warns of potentially malicious sites that may contain malware, phishing or scams.
Use Google Search Console to learn if there are any security issues that threaten your website's trust.
5. White Hat SEO
White hat SEO (search engine optimization) techniques provide website visitors with quality content that's accurate, relevant and well-organized whereas black hat SEO techniques penalized websites and damage online reputations.
Learn more about building trust online with a FREE Website Audit.
6. Spelling & Grammar
A typo, misspelled word or poorly worded sentence isn't going to lead to distrust, but it won't help either, especially if it occurs frequently. For example, if a proofreading service often misspells words like "grammer" instead of "grammar" and uses two spaces after a period instead of one space –– the audience isn't going to trust the business is an expert on the topic of writing.
Use tools like Grammarly to spell check and grammar check, but also hire an editor to proofread and copyedit.
7. Ratings & Reviews
Potential customers want to know what previous customers think of a business and its products/services. Ratings and reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp or other relevant and authoritative sites help to build online trust.
Start encouraging –– not bribing –– customers to rate and review your company on authoritative sites like Google, Facebook and Yelp. Add those testimonials (with photos) to sales pages.
8. Business or Publication Logos
Showcasing influential companies that have used a business's products/services or featured its products/services in an article adds instant legitimacy (see image). Not only does this position a business as trustworthy, but it also signals the business's success.
Collect the most influential company or publication logos of companies that use or have featured your products/services. Then, set them to grayscale, so the colors don’t clash with your own branding.
9. Business Bio
Why did a business start? How did the founder grow the business? A short business bio can elicit positive emotions with the target audience and cement a company as the preferred choice.
Invite your target audience into your story and take them on a compelling journey that shows why they should trust you.
10. Founder & Team Bios
Founder/CEO and team bios that contain brand-matching professional photos and short, friendly introductions connect the faces of a company with its target audience.
Include bios of the founder/CEO (see image), executive team and employees who make your company successful.
Photos of real employees and photos of a business's location are essential to building online trust whereas stock photos of models and offices a company doesn't own adds zero trust (see image).
Take high-quality photos of your employees and business's location. Plan the photos ahead, then shoot the photos with use a modern camera or hire a professional photographer.
12. Awards & Certificates
Awards like Yelp's Bizzie Awards and certificates like ConvertKit's Certified Expert build trust with target audiences because they position the business as an authority or expert. A website visitor will trust a business more when it has been officially recognized by a relevant and authoritative third party.
List any relevant awards or certificates (with images). If you don't have any awards or certificates, set SMART goals and begin working toward achieving the outcome you desire.
Statistics reveal the facts and figures behind the success of a business. McDonald’s did this for years with their slogan, "Billions and Billions Served” and many internet marketers like Pat Flynn do this by sharing their income reports.
Website visitors are attracted to numbers because it gives them a quantifiable reason why a business is trustworthy.
Brainstorm a list of statistics that build online trust and sell products/services. Then, shorten the list to the best ones. After that, add the statistics to your homepage or sales pages.
Customers are more willing to trust a business that provides a guarantee because it lowers the risk of losing their investment and ensures satisfaction. This is why Costco's return policy is a huge part of its success. Costco guarantees satisfaction on every membership and every product with a full refund.
Offer a liberal return policy, money-back guarantee, etc.
15. Contact Information
An accurate and accessible NAP (business name, address and phone number) builds online trust simply by being available. Contact forms and chat boxes also convey a readiness to help audiences succeed.
Use a professional email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of a free email address (e.g. email@example.com) for anyone who emails customers (see image).
A healthy balance between content and advertisements is essential to earning trust. Websites need to provide enough value without bombarding and annoying audiences with excessive advertisements, pop-ups, third-party ads, etc. Customers like to shop, they don't like to be sold.
Ensure you're providing enough value. Then, locate logical areas to place advertisements. Guide visitors to accomplish the goal on your page, not drive them away in the process.
17. Legal Notices
Legal notices like the cookie banner for websites that are accessed in the European Union, copyright notices, terms of service and privacy policies are critically important to inform and safeguard businesses against potential lawsuits. Legal notices also build online trust by following industry standards and being compliant with internet laws.
Consult with an internet business lawyer to ensure your site is compliant.
18. Social Media
Businesses with active social media accounts can position themselves as authoritative and trustworthy by posting regular, non-offending, compelling content.
Brainstorm a list of content ideas that your audience would likely share online.
Whether a company is building community by responding to blog post comments, engaging social media followers, hosting a meet-up or something else –– building trust starts with showing up at regular times and being open and honest.
Be consistent. When you begin to show up regularly, your audience will begin to show up too. Trust works both ways –– online and offline.
You just learned 19 effective ways to build online trust with your website. Remember, you can start building trust with honesty, empathy and consistency, but you still have to show why your business is trustworthy.
Now, go master your website.
19 Effective Ways to Build Online Trust with Your Website first appeared on the Bento Sites Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.