Knowledgebase: Tips & Tricks
10 Strategies to Optimize Your Online Credibility
Posted by Support on 05 March 2008 10:45 PM
Introduction

In this article I'll show you some quick and easy ways of instantly boosting your website credibility. This will help your run a better website, sell more online or receive more leads. Either way, you'll be adding an extremely simple and effective skill set that your you and clients will appreciate.

The first 10 tips I've suggested come from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University – I've added my own suggestions at the end of each tip.

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site. You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don't follow these links, you've shown confidence in your material.

Linking to highly credible information and data helps increase your client's website credibility due to the laws of association. If someone you know recommends a great resource then you'll hold them in higher regard. The same goes for your client's website.

2. Show that there's a real organization behind your site. Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.

Before someone buys from you they want to make sure you're an established company and that you wont suddenly vanish overnight. By showing people you have a real office, real employees and a phone number you're answering the "what if…" questions that all new visitors to your website will be asking themselves.

3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide. Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don't link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

The easiest way to do this is by writing articles or starting a blog on topics that relate to your business. If you're a web designer then get your articles about design published on popular websites and in related magazines.

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site. The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.

On top of this you can give each employee a blog. Let them post about their likes, holidays, hobbies, etc. This helps to convey that you are in fact people and not simply a website or business.

5. Make it easy to contact you. A simple way to boost your site's credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.

I'm still surprised at the number of websites I see that don't contain clear and concise contact information where the only way to contact someone is through a website form.

6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose). We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site's purpose.

If your design skills aren't the greatest (even if you're a web designer) then it literally pays to hire a professional graphic designer to do the work for you. Your website will look more credible which will result in more trust and thus more customers.

7. Make your site easy to use -- and useful. We're squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company's ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.

One of the best ways to make sure your site is useable is by copying the big guys in the way that they layout their website navigation, pages, links and images. Look at Microsoft.com, Yahoo.com, Google.com and CNN.com to name a few.

8. Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently). People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

Again, a blog is a great way to do this. No matter how unimportant you think something is, it's always better to post something over nothing. Post news about your company, talk about new clients/products/services and even events taking place in your local area.

9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers). If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don't mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.

This is one of the most important pieces of advice for anyone involved in the world of online marketing and sales. Keep the credibility of your website high at all times, avoiding annoying anintrusive ads at all costs.

10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem. Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site's credibility more than most people imagine. It's also important to keep your site up and running.

It's easy to run your site through a spell checker – even if you copy and paste into Microsoft Word. It takes just a few minutes and can make all the difference during those important first impressions.

Conclusion

I hope this article has inspired you to develop your websites into credible sources of reliable information. Once a website has credibility there's no end to what you can accomplish, and credibility is worth more then you can imagine – especially online when it seems everyone is simply out to make a quick buck.
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