21 Tips for Better Online Credibility
1. About page
Show your history. “…since 1945? looks real nice to someone wondering if your legit or a drop shipper with a markup and no customer service. People are going to skim online. Don’t waste words and highlight the most important things.
2. Pictures of REAL people
Even if you’re kinda fugly show your smiling mug. Using Photoshop for zits is okay.
3. An 800 number
Preferably with someone that actually answers it (at least during business hours).
4. Contact page with physical address
If you can show your building even better. Just on your contact or about page though please. If I’m never coming to your business I really don’t care about your beautifully landscaped water garden no matter how immaculate it is. Your physical local will not DRIVE your online business.
5. Quick responses to customer service requests
You can build a reputation that will drive an entire company on just customer service alone. Many have done it before.
6. Confirm transactions or sign ups
Auto responders are some times annoying, but what’s even more annoying is if you buy something or sign up for something and about the time you’re expecting it to arrive you get a call from Cletus the drop shipping monkey telling you that you didn’t fill in your fax number. If someone accomplishes an action on your web site, let them know you received it, and that you understand the ball is in your court, and you are taking care of it.
If you can talk a real good client into allowing you to publicly post them as a reference it adds huge credibility. No matter what you do, if you have a third party that is willing to spend some of their time helping to sell you on your account – then you’re doing something right and prospects will recognize that.
8. Citations of brilliant people on your site
I don’t mean Albert Einstein needs to be quoted on every site on the web, but cite the brilliant people WITHIN your industry, and write articles that backup what they are saying, or expanding on ideas that you though were exceptionally creative. Demonstrating that you know your industry and the latest changes adds HUGE creditability for any site, and is fundamental part of most successful sites on the web.
9. Guest authors
If someone is willing to help assist you with your work just to associate themselves with you then you are on your way to success. Successful people surround themselves with successful people.
10. Site last updated tag
Simple, silly, and effective. Have something that page last modified date. It works.
11. Go light on the ads
This is a tough one, as ads generally bring in the money. Too many advertisements lowers your credibility with users. Have a dedicated advertising/ editorial policy page, and tell people that are interested about how you select and treat advertisers.
12. Please update your homepage.
If you have something static on your web page you need to climb out of 2001, and throw a blog, news feed, or the like on your homepage. No matter what you do there is SOMETHING that you can update weekly and easy ways to set it up. This is your direct link to reach many of your customers (and cut down on the e-mails you have to respond to). Don’t act like you’re too good to talk to them.
13. Sign up with some credible folks
Join organizations, donate some time, and show that you DO care about more than just the bottom line. There is a reason most good businesspeople display some altruism. Karma comes back to you, etc. etc.
14. Link to good people.
Link to other good places with topically relevant information. You probably don’t want to link to competitors, but if you’re really GOOD, and you DO, that definitely adds some serious credibility. There are a handful of “SEO buddies” that I’m happy to send prospects over to and vice versa. Most the time we have too much work, and we all depend on one another for a variety of different things. Find people in your industry to count on and link to them.
15. No 404’s
One of my biggest pet peeves is the default IIS 404 page. It drives me crazy that people don’t create custom 404 pages because it’s very easy. This is one of the first things I do on nearly any site. You’re bound to goof up, and tell people when you do. Don’t make them feel stupid by giving them some crazy technical looking page that was written by the same person who programmed the OS for your web server. Ugh. Get like this.
18. Speel correctly
Okay, I’m a hypocrite…I don’t use spell check on my site, but my urge to use a conversational tone and my sheer laziness of not wanting to copy and paste to word outweigh my desire to preserve my site’s credibility. If you’re a grammar/ spelling Nazi, I’m sorry that I suck at this one. I also don’t sell a highly specialized product or service with a high ratio of intelligent people purchasing my service…errr…time to get that plugin working right.
If you really want to be a filthy bum that sells e-mail lists, then at least create a page with really tiny typeface for those that are willing to spend an hour and a half figuring out what it really means. Be sure to have your lawyer write it so that even if someone DOES try to read it they will give up in frustration and just fork over their e-mail so you can give it to every pharmacist, pr0n site, mortgage lender, and Nigerian prince that you know. If you don’t sell your e-mail address to others, then you should probably tell your users that in a simple conversational tone as well.
20. Display a contact e-mail prominently.
This way if you sell their e-mail address, at least they can get back at you. Be sure to use a mail that you can turn off or change like “firstname.lastname@example.org” and just forward it. You really don’t want to clean out junk all day, and every six months or so you can change it to ease the load.
21. Have a freakin’ sense of humor
When you start joking around you will definitely offend someone. That is everyone’s fear. You know what…who cares? You’re only going to offend the people you probably didn’t want to work with anyway. There’s also a line between offending someone and being a jerk (please let me know when I cross this line). When you do offend someone apologize and find out why.
Sometimes making someone laugh is the best way to get their business. If you enjoy your work, and your web site, and your visitors, you will improve your credibility, and your overall happiness. Take time to laugh, poke fun at yourself, and make others laugh as well. Show people that you’re human and not a corporate drone. Not only is it good for your soul…it’s good for credibility and your business.
Do I do all this stuff on ALL my sites? Nope. But you can bet if I had only ONE site, or even a couple for that matter I would be doing every little thing like this that I could find to improve my credibility and conversion. As users get smarter…you had better too.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
– Desiderius Erasmus, Adagia