Your website is an important part of your toolbox for promoting and selling your business. But remember that many people that see your website might never have seen you face to face.
The internet is a big place, so it’s crucial you make it easy for people to trust you.
If they’re searching for what you’re offering, then you’re already in a good position – they’re looking for someone they can buy from, they can trust. Make the most of it and ensure your ‘credibility rating’ is rock solid with these dos and don’ts:
- Include a geographical address on your website – would you want to do business with a company which didn’t publish its location?
- Include reference to real people in your team, with real photos. I know this isn’t always appropriate, but in the vast majority of cases, it makes people feel a whole lot more comfortable if they can put a face to a name, and a name to a company.
- Regularly update your website – and make it obvious that it’s regularly updated. If the last update was June 2008, people are going to start wondering whether you’re still going…
- Include genuine, named testimonials – perhaps with links back to the author’s own website.
- Manifest your knowledge and expertise through the content on your website, and back this up with links to external material/sources – make it easy for people to verify the information you’re giving them.
- Be open, honest! I believe this is as, if not more, important than any of the above. People buy from people – so be honest about who you are, what you stand for.
- Include unsubstantiated claims of amazing, unrealistic results – as the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if it sounds too good to be true, but is actually 100% fact, give your visitors some way to verify what you say.
- Have dozens of broken links – frustrating, unprofessional.
- Include typos. I’m guilty of this – blogging in haste and not proof reading sufficiently. Suffice to say that it doesn’t look professional.
- Oblige web users to log in – unless absolutely necessary. Understandably, people will often treat requests for personal information with suspicion – particularly on a first visit to a website.
As usual – no rocket science here, but these points make a huge difference to how easily people will come to trust you.
Many of the ideas for this post came from research conducted at Stanford University: http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html. The research was conducted some time ago now, but a lot of the findings remain valid.