10 Scientifically-Backed Ways To Increase Sales By Making Your Website More Credible
Anyone can publish a website these days. Unfortunately, not everyone who publishes a site has good intentions. Some sites are set up for the sole purpose of making a quick buck; even if that means throwing up deceptive, inaccurate, or questionable content.
This leaves legitimate business owners with a difficult task: to somehow prove to visitors that their business and site are credible and trustworthy.
A site that lacks credibility can have a significant negative impact on the business in the form of:
· Higher bounce rates
· Less time on site
· Lower conversion rates
· Less credibility for sponsors or advertisers
On the other hand, when users find a site to be credible, they’re more likely to take any number of desired actions: like sharing their email address, clicking on ads, sharing your content on social media, or making a purchase.
This article will outline 10 strategies to increase the credibility of your site. Many of these are inspired by Stanford University’s Web Credibility Project.
While much of their research was done in the early 2000’s, the principles still hold true today; in fact, arguably even more so given the sheer volume of content on the web today.
1. Include the physical location and contact info for your business
Prominently displaying your address and phone number adds legitimacy to your business. Include this information in your website footer, contact and about page.
You should also give visitors a way to easily contact you via email. If you don’t want to display your email address prominently on your site, you can always use a simple contact form which will provide an added layer of security.
2. Include credentials of your writers
In Google’s most recent Quality Rater’s Handbook, they stress the importance of having authoritative sources write or vet content. This is a signal to both Google and your readers that your content is trustworthy and high quality.
Particularly for content that can potentially impact the health or financial wellbeing of your visitors, prominently display your authors’ credentials. This might include a link to their professional website, any degrees or certifications they hold, or any other reasons they’re qualified to be giving advice on the topic. For a summary of insights from the Quality Rater’s Handbook, see this infographic.
3. Have your website professionally-designed
Research suggests that visitors evaluate your site by its design within the first few seconds. If your site is clunky, out-of-date, or otherwise unprofessional-looking, it may hurt your credibility, leading to high bounce rates and lower time spent on your site.
In a study out of the University of Melbourne, researchers found that online consumer trust is intricately linked with site design. Just as in real life, online shoppers are drawn to aesthetically-pleasing things.
The author of the study, Dr. Brent Coker writes, “As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behavior and inclinations translate to our online existence.”
4. Clearly mark any affiliate or sponsored content
The Federal Trade Commission requires that all businesses properly disclose sponsored or affiliate content. Not doing so can not only destroy your credibility with your audience, it can get you into serious trouble with the FTC.
Whenever you post or share affiliate or sponsored content, disclose your relationship with the advertiser.
5. Profile the people behind your company
People want to know they’re dealing with other real people. On your about page, add photos and bios of your key employees to show the faces behind your brand.
Another way to improve both external communication and credibility is to include a company directory on your site. If your site is built with Wordpress, you can use free plugins like Employee Directory or Simple Org Chart to help your visitors easily find relevant contact info.
6. Keep your content up to date
We know that Google looks at the freshness and diversity of content as a ranking factor; but your visitors also want to see that your content is current and relevant.
If you add new blog posts regularly, make sure to use date stamps so visitors can see how often you post. The same goes for your older content. To increase credibility, update your old content to include the most recent statistics, research and data whenever possible.
7. Make sure your content is free of typos and errors
Most readers can overlook the occasional grammar mistake or typo, but content that’s poorly written or that contains many mistakes or broken links can destroy your credibility.
If needed, hire a freelance writer to create content for your site. If you’re on a tight budget and can write passable content yourself, hire a freelance editor to proofread your content for any typos or grammar mistakes.
8. Make sure your site is easy to navigate and user-friendly
Research out of Stanford has been able to directly connect website navigation with credibility. The study’s author writes, “While information structure is often associated with usability, the comments here show how information structure has implications for credibility. Sites that were easy to navigate were seen as being more credible.”
Make sure to use text-based navigation (clickable links), including breadcrumbs to help visitors better understand your site’s hierarchy. Incorporate an on-site search box, and test it to make sure it returns relevant results. Include an HTML sitemap to help users quickly find pages relevant to their needs.
Regardless of whether you’re selling a product or service or are a content publisher, testimonials can increase your site’s credibility. For products or services, include testimonials from real customers (use pictures to increase the impact of the testimonials).
If you have a content-based site, include testimonials from readers who have solved a problem through reading or viewing your content. Wherever possible, include a link back to the person’s website or social media profile to show they are indeed a real person.
10. Social Proof
Include social counters alongside your content, especially for content that has received a large number of social shares. For products, include ratings and reviews to help reduce the risk your prospects feel in making a purchase.
Customer or client counts can also help increase credibility. This could be something like “8,459 satisfied customers and counting” or “Join the 15,000 subscribers who are already enjoying our email newsletter.”
More than ever before, consumers and Internet users face the difficult task of evaluating the credibility and trustworthiness of the sites they visit. As a business owner, this puts you in the position of having to quickly prove to each and every visitor that your site and business are legitimate.
The 10 strategies above will increase your website’s credibility, and should lead to increased conversions and sales.
Does your website currently have a credibility problem? Have you found some additional tricks that have helped improve your credibility? Share with us in the comments below!
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!