If the objective of your SEO campaign is to generate leads and convert sales, an important first step is earning the trust of a visitor through the development of “trusting beliefs.” Trusting beliefs increase the likelihood of someone entering an email address or completing a purchase on your website. I’m sure that’s no shocker.
What might be interesting, however, is the discovery that “online information seekers” (or “searchers”) judge the trustworthiness of a website differently than, for example, “social media browsers.” The action-oriented nature of an online searcher makes them more likely to be influenced by website signals that communicate ability.
Before I make any practical recommendations, let’s quickly cover the basics of trust development.
How Trust is Developed Online
To put it simply, website visitors form trusting beliefs using the following three criteria:
A website that aims to earn the trust of visitors will use specific signals to communicate ability, benevolence and integrity.
Research has found that website visitors with strong trusting beliefs are more likely to take “trusting action.” A trusting action could be entering an email address, applying a piece of advice or completing an online purchase.
Why Information Seekers Judge Trust the Way They Do
An info seeker’s goal is to find the right information with the least amount of effort possible. This action-oriented approach leads information seekers to use performance-based indicators to determine whether or not they can trust a website.
5 Ways to Earn the Trust of Information Seekers
Now that we know that the trusting beliefs of information seekers are most influenced by ability signals, let’s dig into specific signals a website can use to communicate its ability.
1. Display Images/Videos that Signal Size
This can be accomplished by a video tour of the office, photos of the staff or even an image of a staff member speaking at a large event. This increases a website’s trustworthiness by showing that you have physical assets, you have a lot to lose, you have been around long enough to acquire these physical assets and you aren’t going anywhere soon. These types of visuals make an organization more trustworthy in the eyes of a visitor.
2. Be Open and Transparent
From the moment someone lands on your site, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Being open and transparent will give visitors the information they need to answer the innate questions they have.
3. Share Detailed Information on Past Performance
It’s tough to fake confirmable results and website visitors know it. Detailed information on past performance will give information seekers confidence in the content they are consuming.
4. Aesthetically-Pleasing Design
In 2006, research discovered a strong link between trust and website design. Visitors attribute high-quality design to a substantial investment of time and money. Consequently, visitors believe if someone has the ability to invest time and money into a website, they will also have the ability to deliver on their promises.
5. Free of Errors
The belief is, if you present an error-free website, again, you have the ability to deliver on your promises. Of course, we aren’t all grammar snobs, so there’s some leeway here. But there’s a fine line between too many errors and an acceptable amount.
As the Internet users become more connected and more sophisticated, creating a trustworthy online presence is becoming more important and more challenging.
These are just a few ways a website can earn trust and increase conversions of information seekers. What are some of your ideas for earning trust?