A web site is a must have for any small business in today’s digital age but to stand out among the crowd you need to build credibility. That is, you need to come across as a company that can be trusted to do business with. When your website visitors trust you, you are more likely to convert those visitors into paying customers. Here are 20 tips that have worked for our company and I believe that will work for you as well:
1. Find a Good Name
The company name is usually the first impression the customer gets of your business. If you’re going to plaster it all over the internet, be sure the name is easy to remember, spell, and more importantly is relevant to the products or service you are selling.
2. Have a professional looking website
Tasteful simplicity is usually the way to go. Something too flashy or sales-oriented will drive customers away while an attractive but straightforward layout will denote professionalism. Also make sure you have your own domain name (www.yourcompanyname.com) and a blog that links from the site. Try Weebly for easy, tasteful website building.
3. Showcase Press Coverage
Press coverage is a valuable badge of credibility. In the physical world we see restaurants displaying positive reviews on the door; why not do the same online?
Keeping a well-maintained blog is simply the standard these days. It’s an opportunity for you to engage customers, as well as to demonstrate your vast knowledge of the industry. As stated previously, match the blog to your site for a unified brand feel.
5. User Testimonials
Testimonials go a long way in reassuring visitors that you indeed have happy customers. Reserve a prominent place on your site for users to share their praises, and include pictures to prove these are real people.
6. Find a logo
Similar to your name, a logo can define your business as professional and established. Try to come up with a clean, tasteful stylization of a common word or image relevant to your business. If you need some help, you can consult Logoworks and they will come up with one for you.
7. Video Content
When it comes to web content, eyeballs tend to gravitate toward pictures and videos. Produced videos of reasonable length will grab the attention of browsers, and establish further your web credibility. For help producing a professional looking business video visit Pixability.
8. Social Media
Also a new standard, sites like Twitter and Facebook are now integral to a respectable web-presence. Build out your own social media pages, engage the community, and include link buttons on your main site.
9. A Friendly About Page
Often overlooked, your site’s about page is the first stop for many internet-goers. Speak in a relatable voice about what your company does, and include pictures and employee bios for personality.
10. No Errors
If your site is riddled with typos and broken links, who’s to say your product isn’t flawed as well? Attention to detail is the mark of a professional business.
11. Mention Company News
Customers will always prefer an active company to a stagnant one, and sharing company news and updates is a great way to establish yourself as the former.
12. Update Content Often
Changing the content of your site (even a little) shows that there is a living company behind the webpage, a fact vital to your credibility.
13. Establish yourself as an authority
This means engaging in the community surrounding your industry and showing you know your stuff. Leaving informed comments on relevant articles and forums will help you and your company be known as a credible resource and business.
14. Provide Helpful Information
By offering genuine, unbiased information relevant to your industry you show both that you are knowledgeable in your field, and also that you aren’t just trying to sell something.
15. SEO Optimize
Customers obviously need to find you , but Google and the like are also important to your web credibility. If people have a hard time finding you on major search-engines, they assume something is wrong.
16. Make Contact Easy
Phone numbers, email, address, and any other forms of contact should be made painfully obvious. Showing customers that you’re open to talk improves trust and professionalism. Your own 800 number is also a mark of professionalism, and can be easily set up with Grasshopper.
17. Show Affiliations with Credible Sites
If you are somehow associates with or work alongside sites that have already established credibility, let that be known. Conversely, do not link to or associate with less than credible ones.
Awards act as a shiny badge of credibility that customers can take comfort in. If there are any industry or other awards your company has won recently, be sure it’s clear on your site, and if not, enter to win some.
19. No Gimmicky Interruptional Advertising!
Honesty is the best policy, and gone are the days that anyone actually fell for the “you’re the 5,000th visitor!” trick. If anything flashes or pops up on your site, you can bet you aren’t going to be taken seriously.
20. Highlight Experts on Your Team
If there is anyone on your team that would qualify as an expert, find a way to include this on your site. It gives customers that personal feel, and makes them feel that they are in good hands.
As you can see, building web credibility takes a lot of work and patience, and that is precisely why you should do it. Your competition may not be up to the challenge leaving you standing above the crowd.
What things do you look for when you are visiting a potential vendor’s website? How do you try to help your website visitors feel confident in your company?
I realize that having a great website is the key to getting people virtually, but having a good brick and mortar store is also key to keeping them coming in physically. To outfit your store for the right price, please check out http://www.storesupply.com – it has everything stores could need from shelves and hangers to bags and more. Take a look for yourself.
You make a very good point. A storefront is no different from a website. A well-organized store with wide and cleanly marked aisles could make all the difference.
Great article with well thought out points, and thanks for the mention!
Not sure I concur with your mention of Weebly. While it a nice drag and drop web builder, it lacks the versatility, functionality and stability of WordPress.org built sites. Moreover it puts your primary online business collateral in the hands of someone else rather than something that you control.
WordPress.org is a great blogging tool and we use it at OfficeDrop (http://blog.officedrop.com) but it is not designed to be a website building tool that you can use out of the box. If you want to host a website on WordPress you need to customize it considerably and it is not for the faint-hearted – IMO.
What is the best way to have a professional looking call to action on your site? Is a phone number enough?
Rog: A call to action typically refers to something on your site encouraging action from your visitors such as “Download this Whitepaper” or “Register for our Webinar.” When you only have “Contact Us” as your call to action, you’re not going convince many of your visitors to fill out your form with their contact info…think about it, when’s the last time you filled out a “contact us” form? The key is to have interesting downloads that will interest your visitors and to market them with good calls to action.
That is a really good question and answer to that could take a whole new blog post. In any case, there are number of great web resources that answer this question. Anand Rajaram, Chief Product Officer at OfficeDrop suggested this great post: http://conversionroom.blogspot.com/2010/05/7-ways-to-improve-your-call-to-action.html
Thank you Michelle for the great answer!
Video is definitely the one area I want to explore more. I’ve noticed how others are using video to instill trust with potential clients by offering helpful tips. Accountants have generally lived off of referrals, but now that more people are searching the internet for service providers you have to be able to instill trust in other ways.
Videos are definitely the way to go. Here are some stats from my friends at http://pixability.com:
“You are 53x more likely to appear on page 1 of Google’s search results if you have video on your website.” – Forrester Research, January 2009
“More and more research shows that video improves your marketing efforts significantly: – Video in email marketing increases click-through rates by 96%.” – Implix 2010 Email Marketing Trends Survey
“Shoppers who view video at Onlineshoes.com are 45% more likely to buy – Internet Retailer, February 2010
“Press releases that include video components receive a 500% increase in views” – Eloqua, April 2010
Great tips! For a small business website, I would try using http://webs.com, which is not only free and easy to use, but it also has many social media marketing components which is quickly becoming one of the most efficient ways to generated qualified leads for your business.
For a quick and inexpensive logo, consider using http://www.fiverr.com. You’ll only spend $5 and have it done within two days. I’ve used it on multiple occasions.
Thanks for the tips, as I run a Virtual Assistant business I always update my blog page with links to it.
I agree to Paige: the continuous interest in online marketing should not affect, nor diminish the concern for the physical look. This is even more important for starting businesses.
Thank you for posting a great How-To list.
If a website is stagnant, and never has updated content, not only is it kind of boring, but the search engines won’t take it as seriously either.
The Franchise King
Great tips! This is a very informative article. Thanks for sharing it.
I agree that website creators like weebly and Jimdo (where I work) are a horse of different color. I’d issue the challenge that Jimdo is even easier to use the Weebly… Give us a try, I’d be very interested to hear your feedback.
This is whole post is great advice for small businesses — too often even the basic website is missing or too difficult to use.
Blogging is a good way to show the online community that you are highly knowledgeable in your business. Thanks for sharing this post. If you get the chance, feel free to visit my site.
These are great tips Prasad. Since basically every business does have a website, it’s important to make yours stand out. Luckily there are a lot of services that will really help you build your website and make it look good. Reading up on the latest SEO practices is also important and there are a lot of free guides out there on how to effectively improve SEO.
You are right that internet is full of scammers but you cannot even rely on customer reviews. Companies are hiring or paying peoples to make reviews for their products or services. What can be done in such a situation?
I love creating websites that work well to add credibility to small businesses. I have been using WordPress.org and have figured out an affordable process to create customized sites that match business cards, logos and brochures for my own online businesses and for my clients.
I teach my clients to add articles themselves on a regular basis so that they become an authority in their field.
WordPress rocks for all the great plug ins that are available too. There is not anything you can think of that can not be accomplished with a WordPress customized website.
Look up http://www.FiveStarSiteMakers.com for more details
Thanks for sharing. Sounds like BJ. Fogg and the Stanford Credibility guidelines. Do you know about them?
Grace, thanks for pointing out the Stanford Web credibility project. There is some overlap, but I think Prasad has given us a more comprehensive list.
For anyone interested, Wikipedia has a decent recap of the Stanford 10 credibility guidelines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Web_Credibility_Project
Fantastic thanks so much for this gives me a really good business model guide to follow, nice easy steps I have listed them and will use this nice one.
The best point of this post is the comment about “you’re the 5000th visitor”. There is nothing worse than reading that.
It tells me the owner of the site wants to manipulate and I don’t have time for places like that. I just avoid that site totally.
The second thing it does is make me remember that site, in a bad way. I can remember a few sites that irritate the heck out of me and I’ll avoid them.
You never want to be remembered that way, and doing that 5000 thing does that. lol. Thanks for this post. 🙂