Building websites and trustworthy relationships with customers should go hand in hand. But over time, this aspect of credibility can fall by the wayside. Scrutinizing rankings and traffic might make you forget the human side of your business and brand. Nowadays, earning a customer’s trust isn’t easy, but working towards that goal is always a necessity. Here are 10 website elements to look at:
1) Display Accurate Contact Information – Do you have an actual phone number (besides an 800 or tracking number?) Customers want to know that you exist and they want to pinpoint that location on a map. Don’t be secretive about your contact information or be stingy with ways customers can contact you.
2) Use Pictures of Real People – Stock photos are great, but not if they’re plastered all over your site in place of pictures of your real staff. And this doesn’t just apply to people. It also means that you shouldn’t Photoshop your company’s name onto a skyscraper or fake awards. Trust me, I’ve seen it all!
3) Participation and Proof by Social Media – Social signals (Likes, shares, retweets and more) are important to search engines. But they’re also good indicators that other like-minded people are browsing your site and finding the information helpful.
It’s important to be active on a few social networking sites that work best for your business, whether it’s LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Customers want to see regular updates and active participation that shows that you’re doing more than just scheduling a tool to push out random updates!
4) Highlight Your Skills with Awards and Affiliations with Professional Organizations – This means using badges, links, awards, articles and other information that showcase your expertise. The best way to showcase your knowledge is to let other people do it for you, and showing your affiliation with respected organization conveys a sense of importance as well as trust.
5) Showcase Real Reviews and User Generated Content – Showing client testimonials and reviews is important but at times, it can also be questionable if all you showcase is glowing reviews. It might be helpful to add a section where visitors can see all the links to your other off-site reviews, such as: Yelp, YellowPages, AVVO, Judy’s Book, CitySearch etc. Let readers read real reviews and not just the ones handpicked for your website.
Another way to incorporate touching UGC is to include hand-written thank you notes from customers, community or other charities that you contribute to. Pictures in the community also show that there are real people behind the brand.
6) Reduce Errors – No one likes bad spelling, grammatically incorrect sentences, dead links and broken images. Visitors should be able to move about your site seamlessly without being stopped in their tracks by an error, no matter how small. This takes away from the professionalism of your site and you definitely don’t want to give off amateur vibes, especially if you’re in the business of making websites!
7) Have a Privacy Disclosure and/or Contact Policy – It’s important to let potential customers know what you’ll do with their info. That you’ll never sell, share or store it and that their secrets are safe with you! This is also important if people might contact you with sensitive information, which will affect businesses in the financial, legal, and medical industry.
8) Navigation Should Be Intuitive and Easy to Find – Having clean, easy-to-use site navigation shows that you are professional and that you mean business. You don’t want to add spammy, keyword-stuffed dropdown menus that hinder user experience just for some SEO “benefit”. A trustworthy site is well-organized and helps users find exactly what they’re looking for.
9) Avoid Overussing Jargon, Buzzwords and Other Complicated Terms – Again with the keyword stuffing and snobbery. You want your content to be easy to read and to digest, not like it was written by a fill in the blank program. The words on your pages should flow naturally and not seem like they’ve been written by someone who has spent too much time with a thesaurus. Increase your credibility by getting straight to the point and not fluffing up content just so you can reach a certain amount of words.
10) Stay Current and Update Often – There are plenty of ways to do this and your customers will appreciate it. You don’t want your website to look like it died in 2005. Whether through a news section, small updates on the home page or blog section, it’s important for visitors to see that your website is current
Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.