In all of the websites we have reviewed and rebuilt over the years, we have seen some terrible loss of opportunities within communities. We have seen some businesses that have been prominent leaders in their communities in the beginning but been passed over by new competitors coming into the community. These new competitors don’t start out with word of mouth referrals. Most all of them start out with a website.

So we put together a list of 9 guidelines that you should use to ensure that your business’s website is putting the right foot forward in gaining credibility.

Guideline 1: Make It Easy For People To Verify Your Claims

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.

While reviewing websites, I regularly see testimonials that are text only from people with names like “Greg G.” I’d suggest that most people, when they see this kind of testimonial, don’t find it as convincing. Use testimonials from Facebook, Yelp, or other review sites with a link back to the original review. If you don’t have an external source to link to, you can show photos of the people leaving the testimonial.

If you’re showing news media logos to claim that you’ve been mentioned in those sources, you need to link to those sources.

Guideline 2: Demonstrate Your Expertise

Do you have experts on your team? Thought-leaders or authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Make that clear. 

Across your website, you need to show expertise. Mention years of experience, qualifications, industry or community recognition and more. Show things like time spent working in the community. This time of activity shows an acceptance of your business by 3rd parties.

Conversely, don’t link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

Guideline 3: Show That Honest and Trustworthy People Stand Behind Your Site and Business

Show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text.

As a basic must, you need to show the owner’s photo and name – something many websites fail to do. The next step is to have About Page content that is engaging and trust-building. A bunch of random history information that isn’t going to help new clients purchase from you is not helpful.

Guideline 4: 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.

This comes back to Guideline 2. We’ve seen all manner of variations when it comes to contact forms. One mistake is particularly glaring is overloading website guests with unnecessary form fields.

Wanting to contact you doesn’t mean they’re ready to become a member. Give them a clear avenue to reach out to you and, instead of asking a bunch of questions about what their goals are, and what type of membership they think might work for them, keep it as simple as possible.

Guideline 5: Design Your Site So It Looks Professional and Not Intimidating

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.

How to Apply This? Start right here

Guideline 6: 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 business owners 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.

The importance of following this guideline cannot be overstated. Think about removing old Flash elements, making your site usable on mobile devices, and making sure the opening headline of your website is clear. If people can’t navigate your site easily to get to where they are trying to go, they will move on. There are too many competitors out there today for them to try so hard to become a customer.

We strive to make our layouts painfully simple to use and navigate. This raises average time on site and reduces bounce rate.

Guideline 7: Update Your Website Often

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

Upcoming seminars, webinars, social events, etc. all show that your business is active and running.

Remove dates from your blog posts, especially if you’re not blogging much. An out of date blog looks inactive and makes you look substandard compared to your competitors.

A site looks like it was built over 10 years ago will lose access to new members. Just a fact. How are people meant to know whether you’re alive or not? Call you on the phone? Many if not most people hate the idea of calling a business if they’re not sure what’s going to come on the other end.

Guideline 8: Be Mindful of your Promotional Content

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.

If you’re one of the few business’s with ads for other businesses (it happens), take it down. To work so hard to get a visitor and then send them to another website is… well odd. Remember that these people, more often than not, searched to get to your site. So Google Ads is going to show them ads relevant to their search history, you know, your competitors.

Guideline 9: 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.

To fix grammar or spelling is important and cheap. You can easily hire someone through a number of online resources to edit your website for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.

In order to identify broken links on your site, look into services like Broken Link Check which will work through your entire website to identify broken links.

Wrapping Up

Making sure that you are hitting all 10 of the above points is something that you should be taking care to focus on before moving on to other things like Facebook marketing. Your website is usually the 1st or 2nd thing that people come into contact with when they hear about or look into your company. Making sure you nail all of these will only help you turn more of those people into new members.

Let’s have a quick 15 minute chat to discuss your business’s goals and what you are trying to accomplish. Complete the form below to schedule a quick call.

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