WEBSITE CREDIBILITY: ITS CRITICAL TO ACHIEVING MARKETING BUSINESS GOALS

A SIMPLE CHECKLIST OF 34 KEY FACTORS YOU SHOULD HAVE.

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Many companies “miss” the website credibility factor, and therefore miss significant opportunities to create customers through their website, which is typically cited as their websites primary purpose.

Credibility is that split second user “perception” that your messaging, layout, and immediate solutions are a good option, worth considering. Most potential buyers are extremely skeptical, and begin every search and brand relationship in a state of total disbelief. They have no information or trusted advisor to validate your brands claims, but their neutrality is negated by their likely inherent skepticism.

    FACT: Most studies state that 80% of website traffic comes from Search Engines (prospects you don’t know)

    FACT: The typical web user spends less than 2 seconds on any web page while considering search engine or social media links

    FACT: The top listing in Google’s organic search results receives 33 percent of the traffic, compared to 18 percent for the second position, and the traffic only degrades from there.

    FACT: It’s highly competitive out there, and most organizations cannot afford to lose potential customers through a lack of credibility.

If you have a large web team, you likely have the time and resources to create a highly credible web presence, with A/B testing to scientifically validate, but most companies are challenged at creating highly credible web pages, and this also includes many web sign companies.

Website Visitor Credibility Checklist

Here is a 25 point checklist you can use to determine if your site is maximizing its ROI and performance.

1.     Design. Your website needs to be well designed for the likely target audience. A rapid (2 second) immediate initial perception is critical to a visitor spending any time on your page, or clicking out and looking for an alternate option. The site needs to have immediate draw, must have an obvious direct relationship to the search engine keyword they likely used to get there, and must have an obvious hierarchy of page features and messaging to entice the visitor to spend some time. If your website is not highly professional, and the best in your industry, you should rethink.

2.     A Fast Loading Page. No matter how well your site is designed, if it does not load within 2-3 seconds most people will abandon the search and never see your site. This is a very low ROI. Fast load times will create improved search engine rankings, but more importantly, 40% of people will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. In addition, every delayed second it takes to load your page, you will experience a 7% decrease in your conversion rate.

3.     A Clear Primary Page Purpose. The page should be professionally designed to ensure the visitor is crystal clear on what your solution is, and how you can help them. Use bold images and headlines that clearly state what your solution is, but also have supporting evidence such as case studies, portfolios, relevant blog articles, client list, testimonials, white papers, videos, demos, social media links, brochure and other supportive content that justifies your claims as a highly credible option.

4.     A Responsive Site. Mobile & iPad Compatible. 46% of people now use a smartphone or tablet to search. The way a web browser presents information on a desktop or laptop with a large 16” screen, is considerably different to the way that same site is presented on a 3” wide smart phone screen. Data runs at different speeds on different devices,  devices are now intelligent and offering choices based on demonstrated personal preferences (geo proximity, previous  search criteria), and information is best presented based on the best user experience and graphical interface.

 5.    Navigation. Make sure it is easy to find where to go within your site. Navigation should be simple, bold and easy to read, large enough font (for older eyes), and obvious as to where you would like them to click for further information.

6.    Know the Design & Purpose Differences Between a Home Page, a Secondary Page, & a Landing Page. They each serve different purposes for a Website, and it is important to get it right for high credibility and conversion.

7.    High Impact, Relevant Imagery. An image can state a 1,000 words. It also creates interest, impact and brand credibility. Best to work hard on selecting images that are interesting (think of a newspaper image concept that is supporting the purpose of the news story).

8.     Simple, Concise Language. Everyone is busy. Nobody likes to read much to find the answer to their needs. Make it easy to find your solutions and services. No flowery or long-winded copy. Fewer words are better. Keep it below 200 words. Use bullet points where practical.

9.     Professional Copywriting. Work hard on great copywriting.  When words are well written, concepts and value propositions are easy to understand. Keep paragraphs and sentences short. Use bullet points where you can.

 10.     Use bold Headings. Capture the essence in what you want to convey, much like a newspaper headline. “Think” about what you want the visitor understand quickly in the larger font.

11.     Use a simple & professional font. Sans (no) Serif font is considered more contemporary. Use good (ample) line spacing. Use different size fonts for headings, sub headings and general content.

12.     White Space. Not cluttered. Space (where there is nothing) is considered a valuable design component for websites. Cluttered web pages are difficult to quickly determine solutions, and provide poor credibility. Think of a cluttered living room or office versus a non-cluttered version. It is heavy going and constraining.

13.     Consider the age of the Website Visitor. Most people over 45 have vision challenges. I am always amazed that (typically young) web developers often choose a font size that is too small for many middle age people to easily read. With the new responsive platforms (HTML 5) and designs it

14.     Contact email & Phone Number Visible at All Times. This is a strong user experience feature that allows people to contact you (what you want for conversion) without having to find a contact page.

15.     Detailed Product or Services Information. Sounds obvious, but many websites are not at all clear about what they are offering. Matrix’s, grids, checklists, charts and other bullet pointed comparison layouts are often best for rapid visitor comprehension.

16.     Brochures, Demos or Videos. Demos are excellent at providing credibility for solutions, just ensure they are professional, relatively short & concise, use section or page headings to ensure the person viewing is keeping up with the concepts and advantages you are explaining.  Video is typically best for someone who has more time to understand a concept. Printable options such as .pdf’s or Slideshare (Power Point) are often better for faster viewing. Additionally printed demos can be easily printed for a decision maker or boss making it more simple to promote a solution. Keep brochures professional and non-cluttered.

17.     Case Studies. Great for demonstrating solutions capabilities and creating high credibility that you are an excellent option.

18.     Testimonials & Customer Reviews. Demonstrates high credibility on a website, that you have customers you are prepared to show as people who support your solutions. Use quotation marks to create awareness on the page.

19.     Social Media Links. Social media is excellent at providing legitimacy to an organization, as a visitor can immediately see peer and public interaction with your organization, along with thought leadership content, and contribution to the industry as a whole. Many organizations overcommit to Social Media participation. It is better to have 2-4 social media sites that have regular content, then many more that have very little activity.

20.     Thought Leadership Content (Such as a Blog). Blogging (like this one), demonstrates that you know your stuff, and that your organization is an industry leader and understands important aspects of your client’s needs. Blogs are a high credibility factors, and are highly revered by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines, who reward Sites by moving them up the page hierarchy.

21.     Lower Quick Link Nav Bar. Most user friendly websites today, use a lower, Quick link nav bar. As a result, many people look for this to navigate your website.

22.     Link to External Websites that Reference your Organization. Links provide high credibility that your website is an authority site with strong content. Search engines rank this capability very highly to improve your search engine rankings.

23.     Easy to Contact. Use form fields on secondary and landing pages to allow the visitor to easily contact your organization. Excellent tool for visitor database capture. Keep information needed (number of fields) as short as possible. Preferably only name and email or phone number.

24.     Pricing Options. Ensure visitors can easily understand your pricing model. It is proven that visitors who not have an approximate pricing range understanding, will often go elsewhere to find pricing.

25.     Clear & Visible Refund Policy. If you are selling products online, this is a key element to conversion. Typically a link to your policy.

26.     Industry Credible User Reviews and Ratings. Industry user rating sites such as Yelp, Google Places, Angie’s List and others is the ultimate in brand and solution credibility.

27.     Visible Trust Marks. A member of the Online Chamber of Commerce? A+ Rated? Take credit card payments? Use The Verisign Seal, Truste Seal or equivalent. Have people opt-in to your email list? Place a TRUSTe privacy seal or Symantec Seal  within the page to provide trust and credibility.

28.     Proof of Activity & Visitors. Signs of community. If you can demonstrate the visible signs of an active blog with numerous comments, strong social media networking, or active comments on forums your website will come across more credible.

29.     No hype, flashing banners or popups. Design on high credibility web pages needs to be based on the best of the web. Content & messaging should not be in the hype zone. Keep it simple and to the point. Hype is not a strong brand attribute for most organizations, and it seen as annoying and low class.

30.     No Spelling or Grammar Errors. A spelling or grammatical error immediately diminishes credibility to those who can spell. Always use spellcheck, for any copy, and have a second person read copy or check creative to give a second opinion.

31.     Security Protocols for Credit Card Transactions. Provide detailed security information about your transactions, including SSL, 256-bit encryption, data loss prevention, and other elements. Prominently display security solution logo and link to information about security protocols.

Ranking in Google. If you can achieve the majority of the checklist above, you will likely achieve high search engine ranking. The higher you can get key pages ranked by the search engines on your website, the more credibility you will create.

      a.     Privacy Policy Accessible. In this age of increasing data security breaches, especially personal data, web users are becoming more concerned that their data is safe from hackers, and from being sold to other parties. Ensure you have a page that outlines your data privacy policy.

      b.     Site Map Accessible. Many sites have a page linking to every page on the site. There is demonstrated advantage for search engine ranking (spiders), but many people will go here to see their options all in one place. This link is typically at the bottom nav on each page.

      c.     Rapid Response Time to Visitor Inquiries. The faster you can respond to visitor requests the higher credibility you create, and the more likely you are to be considered a preferred provider. Many websites still think 24 hours is reasonable response time, but many sites today have instant chat, upping the game for those who don’t.

 

Peter Ashworth is the CEO of Ashworth & Company, a Business Consulting & Marketing Agency. We are a group of smart people with the unique ability to take complex concepts and ideas, and move them from ambition to achievement. We work collaboratively with our clients, combining smart strategies, strong design, complex data and content architecture, with best-in-class marketing campaigns, to create an outstanding ability to achieve business results. http://www.ashworthandcompany.com

Please contact us if we can be of any assistance.

LINKS:

http://projects.ischool.washington.edu/credibility/Metzger%20skills.pdf

http://www.websiteoptimization.com/speed/tweak/psychology-web-performance/

http://chitika.com/google-positioning-value

http://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/?wide=1

http://www.webhomes.com/blog/the-new-web-the-4-key-elements-that-should-make-you-rethink-your-current-web-strategy/

http://www.yelp.com/

https://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/

http://credibility.stanford.edu/

http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/

http://www.angieslist.com/

https://www.verisignc.com

http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/5303-e-commerce-trustmarks-do-they-matter

http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/prove-it-what-makes-you-trust-a-website/

http://info.truste.com/

https://www.symantec.com

http://marketing.yell.com/web-design/why-visitors-trust-some-websites-more-than-others/

What makes a website credible?

Attack Resistant Trust Metrics

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