The ability to gain trust and likeability from your customers and creating an online presence with your brand or company is essential for being successful, growing your circle of influence, and building sales. How can you stand out from your competitors and attract new business or fans? Building your brand and establishing yourself as an honest and trustworthy source online is the key. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to build trust. I have put together a list of 20 top things you can do to gain more confidence online and influence relationships:
1. Eliminate Broken Links with Free Software
It’s not uncommon after any given period of time for links on your website to break. If an interested person clicks on one and pulls up a 404 error page, you can lose credibility, so be sure to keep up on your links. The Broken Link Checker in Word Press will check your posts, comments, and other content for broken links and missing images and notify you if any are found.
2. Pick a Good Domain Name
Your domain name says so much about your brand; therefore, it needs to be catchy and clever as well as easy to read and pronounce. Avoid hyphens and hold out for a .com or .org. You can log on to www.bustaname.com, which is a free tool that lets you enter words relevant to your brand and will help you come up with every possible combination and check for availability. This will save you a lot of valuable time and frustration when it seems that all your ideas are taken.
3. Show Yourself
Don’t be afraid to get a little personal with your About Us page. Let your readers know who the person is behind the face. Inviting your audience into your world builds trust and authenticity. Don’t be camera shy either. A colorful, friendly, and professional photograph is worth a thousand words and builds trust.
A dead giveaway that you are still in amateur status is the forbidden typo or grammar mishap. Give caution to auto-correct, as sometimes it automatically replaces a word, whether spelled correctly or incorrectly, with the wrong one, thus confusing your readers. Be sure to check it one last time before you hit Publish. I always print out my article. If there are any typos, they seem to pop off the page when I review them in print.
5. Nix Auto-Playing Audio/Video
There is nothing worse or more embarrassing than sitting in a quiet coffee shop when you click on a webpage and media automatically blares out of your laptop and everyone stares at you. Don’t be that website––it’s interruptive and discouraged by your readers.
6. Get a Professional Logo
Your logo is your main image to everything about your brand, so it’s best to get it right. Shell out a few bucks and hire a professional. Your logo will be on every thumbnail of all your social networks, your website, and your business cards. When people see a professional image, it resonates with expertise and authority.
Here’s an example of a professional logo for a small business:
7. Allow Comments
Incorporating a comments box below your posts might seem a bit risky, but it’s worth the reward for all the positive and supportive comments you’ll get (assuming you’re posting good content). Of course, from time to time, you’ll get some nasty comments, but your true fans can see past the unscrupulous remarks and take notice of the encouraging comments. Be timely and respond to comments, both the good (thanking them) and the bad (graciously and tactfully acknowledging those) and determine what needs to be deleted. Don’t back down from the opportunity to start a conversation—communication is reassuring and a great way to build trust.
8. Get Press and Feature It
If you’re lucky enough to get mentioned in the news or media, the header of your website is the place to gloat! Post logos and commentary from reputable and viable sources right under your viewers’ noses! Documenting that you’ve been acknowledged and promoted creates a sense of security, especially if you’re selling or endorsing a product online. If you’re just getting started, check out www.createyourownpressrelease.com.
9. Keep Your Copyright Year Up to Date
If your copyright date at the bottom of your website still comes up as the year you created your site, people might doubt the trustworthiness of your site and think it’s outdated. Make it a best practice to update your site on the first of every new year.
10. Implement Testimonials
When designing your website, create a page dedicated to testimonials, and don’t be shy about asking satisfied customers to write you a recommendation. You’d be surprised how many people are happy to do it and feel important when submitting a testimonial. If you’re looking to get across a specific message on your testimonial page, e-mail your customer three very specific questions so that their answers will tailor-fit your message.
Here’s an example of a great testimonial for a realty company:
11. Don’t Make Promises that You Can’t Keep
When you keep to your promises, you practically build trust without doing much else. If you claim that you’ll follow up within three hours, you’d best keep to your word. Making apologies for not keeping promises will deter all possibilities of generating trust.
12. Show Your Trophy Rack
Sidebars, headers, footers, or the About Us page is a prime spot to highlight any awards, honors, or certifications that you may have received.
13. Keep Ads to a Minimum
Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all have advertising on their sites, and it’s acceptable to have them on yours as well, as long as they don’t overpower your content and purpose. As a matter of fact, Twitter has officially given its thumbs-up to publishers who want to use their Twitter background as advertising space. Twitter has its own advertising products called Promoted Products. It allows advertisers to bid on tweets, trends, and accounts that will appear more prominently in users’ timelines.
Below is an advertisement on Forbes.com for Citrix
14. Do Your Research
Providing accurate material is the name of the game. Anyone can write and post stuff, but those who take the time to really dig deep and research the topic will be able to hold authority and establish believability.
15. Don’t Overreach
Be straightforward with your experience and skill set. There’s nothing worse than embellishing your knowledge of a field or a topic and then be caught under fire and not be able to deliver on your promises. Honesty is always the best policy for building trust.
16. Get Certified
To add complete trust and credibility, get your website verified for security and quality. The benefit to adding seals to your website will get visitors to spend more time on your site and feel confident about your content. Here are a few examples you can check into for good practice seals (with links):
SSL Security certificate providers (with links):
17. Admit When You’re Wrong
What’s worse than making a mistake? Trying to cover it up. It happens in politics all the time, and you know what people think of politicians, right? Fess up to making a mistake, whether it’s as simple as a typo or as potentially serious as a misquote or an inaccurate reference. Setting the record straight will show your viewers that you have integrity and you care about getting things right (even if at first you messed up).
18. Get Social
Creating a Facebook widget on your website sidebar is very powerful when it comes to showing your circle of influence and trust. If you really want to get creative, you can go to www.widgetbox.com for fun and interesting widgets that you can place on your website, blog, and social network.
19. Use Specific Statistics
Put your stats out there for all to see. Even if you are small and growing, people like numbers and they can witness your popularity rise.
20. Out with the Old
Take the time to check for expired content. With so many new apps and updates, processes and how-tos change rather frequently, so what you had posted a year ago could be irrelevant; therefore, you should take it down and replace it with current information that’s helpful to your followers.
Your website can either make or break you, so making a strong first impression is vital to the success of your business online. You might be surprised how simple but successful these 20 tips are at building trust online.
Matthew Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Adam. Matthew is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @matthewtoren