We’ve all been on websites that bombard you with special deals, pop up ads and tons of stock imagery. Instinctively, you will feel that the website in question perhaps isn’t one to be trusted – especially if you are making an online purchase.
However, click on a site with an SSL certificate, honest reviews and an active social presence, and you’ll feel more confident in your browsing. These subtle cues, also known as trust signals, can make or break a website, both terms of conversions but also rankings. Websites and content must primarily be made for humans, and not search engines. So, it is imperative that as a website owner, you consider what makes you trust a website.
The more trustworthy your website- the better chance it has of ranking highly. This is due to the importance Google places on searcher satisfaction- they do not want to provide users with untrustworthy results. Therefore, without the right trust signals, you may find that your other SEO efforts (such as link building) will not be as effective.
? To investigate what makes a website trustworthy, we, as a digital PR agency, conducted a survey of 1,322 internet users to reveal the 10 most effective trust signals.
An active social media page is a quick way to judge how successful a company is. Most browsers won’t have access to tools that reveal things like domain authority- and will therefore rely on social following to measure the legitimacy of a business.
? Almost half of users surveyed chose social media activity as the most important trust signal on a website.
Social following tends to indicate how many people trust the website and are interested in the business. Interestingly, 45% of participants said they would not use a website that isn’t active on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Managing Director of Reboot, an SEO agency, Naomi Aharony comments about the importance of social media for businesses:
“Social media is such an integral part of our online ecosystem; it’s hardly surprising that it’s a top marker for trustworthiness when visiting a site. Findings confirm that its very common practice for a searcher who lands on a website that he/she has never heard of to double check its authenticity. And what better way of checking than to jump on their social media channels and check recent activity? A site with lots of buzz and followers can easily seem more authentic than one that has no such activity.”
47% of users surveyed stated that seeing recognised trust seals such as McAfee, VeriSign and TRUSTe makes them more likely to trust a website as it verifies legitimacy; especially if the badges are from trusted companies.
?️ We found that 56% of internet users stated that trust seals are incredibly important in making them stay on your website and follow through with a purchase.
Having your items stocked somewhere trustworthy that people are familiar with, or having collaborations with other known websites, are both great trust signals.
Placing another company’s logo on your website makes users more likely to view your website as credible. They have the perception that if a recognisable company trusts them, why shouldn’t they?
? 45% of those surveyed said that they’re more likely to trust a website with links and connections to other credible websites
Google sees your website much in the same way – the more backlinks (or ‘connections’) you have from high-authority sites, the more credible yours becomes.
The majority of users surveyed said they would not be interested in purchasing from a website without an SSL certificate, stating that they would view it as lacking reliability and honesty.
? A whopping 43% of users believe that it is one of the top five most important trust signals, as pre-existing data online leads them to believe that a secure socket layer shows their dealings with the site will be safe.
Having an address and active phone number listed on your website suggests that you are transparent with your audience and willing to communicate and establish relationships with those interested. Not to mention it shows that you’re contactable, and open for business.
☎️ Displaying adresses and phone numbers is a top trust signal for 40% of our survey respondents.
First impressions matter, and studies show it takes 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website - deciding whether they stay or go. A professional web design layout encourages users to continue browsing as information is easily accessible and unrestricted. This makes the users overall browsing experience a lot more straightforward .
? 38% of people surveyed believed this was a crucial trust signal for any business.
Great UX (user experience) is important for ranking too – not only should your site look professional, it should be speedy too, to avoid people bouncing back to the search results. Make sure your website speed is optimised.
Payment methods such as PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and American Express are very well-known and widely used. Having these options available provides the user with a sense of familiarity and confidence in your website, as once they have seen this, they know that they are protected if anything were to go wrong.
? With a quarter, or 25% of online browsers worrying about payment security it is no wonder that out of the 1,322 users surveyed, 93% said that they would not trust or purchase from a website that uses unfamiliar payment methods.
Stock images lack originality and believability according to 36% of users. If you’re able to add your own personal images, then a user will consider the site a lot more authentic and legitimate.
? 15% of internet users believe that the use of stock images deters them from trusting a site.
Reboot conducted an experiment and discovered that using unique images on your website does have a positive impact on organic web rankings as well as image rankings when compared with equivalent sites using duplicated images across the web. You can read more about it here.
? Including Ts and Cs is an important trust signal for 31% of internet users.
An about us page allows users to get to know you, humanising your brand, making their experience a lot more personal. As soon as visitors see a real face and genuine story behind your business, they become less sceptical of your intentions.
? 31% of website browsers stated they had more trust in a website with an about us page.