Give Your Website a Trust Audit


Several times a week I happen across a company’s website only to question whether or not they are really in business, actually doing any business, or are trustworthy enough to engage with. Companies invest in a web presence and don’t even realize that the site they have may be an indicator that they are not trustworthy.

Trust is a huge factor on conversions. You have to start asking yourself, of the thousands of people visiting our website, how come they aren’t converting? If trust is the issue, you can make some very minor changes that produce some incredible results.

Trust Audit:

  • Branding – Your site’s branding will have a huge impact on whether or not it’s trusted. Too many companies depend on poorly developed logos, graphics that don’t match, and poorly written copy. If your design looks like a million dollars, it will inspire trust in your visitors. If it’s a mashup of clip art and your latest Paint masterpiece, don’t expect much.
  • Dates – Do you have any dates on the home page and common headers or footers that are not current? A © 2009 is a sure sign that a web site hasn’t been updated in a few years, leaving the visitor with a doubt as to whether or not it’s active. Be sure all the dates listed on your sites’ pages are very recent – blog posts, last social engagement, latest press, and the copyright date!
  • Stock photos – While we use stock photos for virtually every client, we avoid using stock photos or styles of stockphotos that we see on other sites. If every one of the people on your site is the same blond-haired person with a headset that the other companies in the industry have on their site, you may not be deemed a credible resource. If you’re a legitimate company, it’s very affordable to have a photo shoot at your company where you can mix up your site with both stock and actual photos.
  • Phone number – If I’m going to do business with someone, I want their phone number. When I arrive at a website that doesn’t have it, I often go to the next one. Whether or not you answer the phone isn’t the question… it’s whether or not your business is legitimately listed as a business with it’s own phone number. And a toll number is even better.
  • Address – Providing a physical business address lets your prospects know that you’ve invested in your business and can be easily found. Companies and individuals are hesitant to do business… especially across the Internet… if they do not know that company has a physical presence somewhere. And a UPS box doesn’t cut it, sorry!
  • Profiles – Do you have actual photos of your employees, their names and their responsibilities up on your site? If you don’t, it’s going to catch your visitors’ attention and they may not do business with you since they won’t recognize you. Putting up real profile pictures is important – providing a face to your company profile.
  • Social Engagement – Along with a real profile picture, you have ongoing communications with folks on Twitter and Facebook. Having an active social network is a great way to ensure people see that your business is trustworthy. Responsiveness and recent activity on your social engagement is key as well.
  • Policies – Public policies or written explanations of payment processes, delivery methods and shipping lay a groundwork that provides your visitors with a solid understanding of your business. This is why ecommerce sites always post return policies and shipping costs up front. You should, too!
  • Certifications and Memberships – Do you belong to any third-party, legitimate industry groups, hold any certifications, have third-party audits, insurance requirements, etc? Providing your customers with the necessary information on third-party certifications and monitoring will put them at ease. Ecommerce sites put up certificates from sources like TRUSTe and McAfee SECURE.

What are some other telltale signs on whether or not you can trust a company by it’s Internet visibility? What would you add to your trust audit?

One comment

  1. 1

    Once I read a discussion about “© 2009” – if that means the site isn’t updated or it’s not change deliberately to show the company has a past. There were a lot of opinions but the one I like best is © 2009-2012 example.
    Also I’d like to add to the list a working email and adequate About us section as things that also matters. All these signs may look insignificant or minor but agreed with Douglas they are an indicator that the site may not be trustworthy. For a beginner like me with our website $earch the responsibility is huge. The are so many details to implement to achieve a reliable look. We chose to show our company face and to put our photos also. I’m pleased when I see this approach on other sites too.

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