How to build trust in your website

Want people to see your site as more trustworthy and real? SEO Executive Katie McKelvie explains how you can build trust in your website in just a few steps.

What do the BBC, Techradar and KPMG have in common? They all have informative sites that people know they can trust. These sites consistently provide content that people know will be accurate, up to date and (largely) unbiased. But it takes a long time and sometimes a lot of money to try and be recognised by Google as trustworthy. In this guide we will go through some of the actions you can use to enhance your website’s trustworthiness for people visiting your site.

As nobody wants to spend any time on a poorly built site with badly written content, Google is continually evolving its approach in order to provide the highest quality content in the search engine results. One objective of the huge, complex algorithms deployed by Google is to assess which sites can be regarded as the most authoritative. Google is on record as saying that hundreds of signals are taken into consideration when they are making these assessments, and that it regularly recrawls sites to take into account all the adjustments that you make to improve your site.

Search Engine Land has identified trust as an off-page SEO factor, but there are a variety of on-page solutions that you can implement to improve your trust, mainly through better web design and developing engaging content that educates and improves the user experience for people visiting the site.

Let’s take a look at a number of these factors in more detail, exploring how they can improve the effectiveness of your site and drive better customer engagement and ultimately, generate leads and sales.

Authority

Building a website’s authority is more than just waiting for people to link to your site. And while it may have been iterated a thousand times over in the SEO world, generating high-quality original content is by far one of the best ways to not only build your site’s authority, but also establish it as a leader in your industry. By providing content that is better than your competitors’ and works to educate and inform your audiences, you can ensure that your site is ranked higher in search results. It isn’t easy however; you have to invest the time and resource to develop good content that has your customer firmly in mind.

‘How to’ guides are great opportunities to prove yourself an expert in your field. The best guides go into granular detail, with examples that go into depth on the relevant topic. There is an undeniable link between building trust, establishing authority and displaying knowledge in your industry. By consistently providing insightful and useful content, you will ensure a steady stream of traffic and sales.

Engagement

Engagement can be measured by how long someone spends on your site or what your bounce rate is. One way to improve your engagement is by boosting your social proof. There is a lot more to social than just Twitter and Facebook – as the Conversation Prism highlights. Social proof is a combination of ensuring that you are on the right platform for your audience, frequently producing relevant content, and receiving engagement for that content. Including a feed on your website that shows your current social posts or the amount of followers you have can give your website further credibility.

Naturally, if you are building longer, better quality content you should expect engagement on your site to be positively affected.

History

The age of your domain is also important. Typically, a business that has been around for longer can be considered more reliable. It gives an indication that they’re good at their work and have a strong customer base. However, people have exploited this by selling established domains to businesses that wanted to artificially raise their own profile. This was somewhat abused in previous years and has been clamped down on by Google. It’s definitely not a recommended tactic.

However, with a new website there are multiple ways in which you can show your credibility Testimonials and case studies are an effective way to sell your key messages and track record of delivering to your customers’ needs. A customer who provides an independent review of your business has much more credibility and - provided it's a positive review - shows that you can be trusted.

Within a B2C environment, having a feature like Review Pro can be a powerful signal to potential customers. It combines all online reviews and satisfaction surveys to present a global average star rating that your service has received. After all, independent reviews make sense - one of the reasons sites like eBay and Amazon have become go-to places for online purchases have been the feedback that buyers and sellers receive from engaging in transactions.

For B2B, listing the clients you work with is another way for a business to quickly showcase a proven track record of high-quality work that doesn’t need all the detail of case studies. Having a few established clients can go a long way to helping you secure further work, as it can show your range of experience.

Identity

Identifying the writer of a blog post can be a good way to reiterate the authenticity of your work – having real people contributing to your site helps reinforce that you are a genuine business.

Simply putting a face to a website or blog can be a powerful tool in humanising your business, driving greater transparency. . Not only does it create a sense of accountability but it will also allow your employees to increase their own profile and reputation in their industry.

Invest in taking high-quality images of your employees and images of your workplace. Images of real people and places naturally helps create a sense of your business culture and can be a building block for your brand. Another technique would be to avoid stock photos as these can create a fake/phoney feel to a website that leaves a generic, forgettable experience.

A strong 'about us' page helps create an identity for the business and gives you space to delve into the company’s ethos. It’s the ideal place to detail your corporate social responsibility and green credentials, and reassure potential clients and customers that you're integrated within the local community.

Security

Google confirmed in 2014 that moving from HTTP to HTTPS gives your site a small ranking boost. Although HTTPS carries less weight as a ranking factor, there's still no reason not to have a secure site. While a HTTPS site is a surefire way of increasing trust in your site, you should also make sure your site is BSI certified and offers secure payment options.

Adverts

Using the Google Display Network should allow you to target your audience on the most relevant sites without going overboard. Having a heavy amount of ads above-the-fold is an indication to Google that your site is low quality. It is typically used by spammy sites that aim to move you from their page to another.

So, while it’s tempting to try and play the system, if you break Google’s trust and their principles of their search engine optimization guide – you’re in trouble. Follow the steps outlined above and you should have optimised your website for trust in search results.

Are there any other steps you would take to build trust in your site?

By Katie McKelvie, SEO Executive