content posted in content  on 11 April 2007
by Andrew Lang 
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How to look like a trusted website

The more websites you visit, the more accurate your 'trust radar' gets. You can see if a website owner is enthusiastic or not about his business. You can see the signs that a site is no longer being looked after, or conversely if it is being updated regularly. These signs get more and more obvious.

Does your site look trustworthy?

By trust, we mean: you visit a site, and you get the feeling there are real people operating it, who would be quick to respond to your requests, who sound motivated and committed. If you get that feeling, you are starting to trust the site. It's just an instinct, but it keeps you on the site that bit longer.

Before you can be a trusted site that people recommend to others, you need to look and sound like one to the new visitor forming their first impression of your website.

On the other hand, the signs of an untrustworthy website are numerous:-

  • Out-of-date information. Where the last blog entry was 6 months ago and the whole feel of the site is one of the Mary Celeste.
  • Inaccurate information. This often happens when a writer is just too lazy to do proper research into something. The laziness itself is a bad sign that the website owners are not dedicated to their profession.
  • Unclear / jargon-filled text. As Einstein said, if you can't explain something clearly, you don't understand it yourself. Many companies use jargon as a smokescreen to hide their lack of knowledge.
  • Lack of enthusiasm. Are you going to hire a jobsworth, or someone who loves their job? You can spot enthusiasm in text, and you can certainly spot a lack of it.
  • Too many ads. A lot of sites look like their sole existance is to make money from the advertising around the sparse content. Often this is the case.
  • Irrelevant backlinks (this one's about search engine trust). When you have casino, porn and gardening websites linking to your electronic components e-commerce website, you're not winning any trust from the search engines.
  • Unclean/messy website design. An elaborate, complex design - links everywhere, and a front page with 2Mb of images and about 5 literal metres of vertical scrolling. Links to mobile phone and mortgage lender websites all over the place. These people don't care about you or their website. They don't seem to care about anything.
  • No contact information. No contact information = no business. You won't be buying from them.
  • Spammed keywords. A website that is written for search engines isn't written for you.

How to look like a trusted website?

  • Keep your information up-to-date. Run a blog within your website. It becomes like a dialogue for regular visitors (and you will get more regular visitors the more up-to-date your content is)
  • Research your content. Make sure it's right. This means not always going with the flow and writing something as 'fact' just because 5 other websites are sharing an assumption about something.
  • Write in plain English.
  • Write about something you are enthusiastic about. It helps to enjoy your job - this helps a lot actually with every aspect of your business (this point is really directed to those thinking of starting a new business)
  • Keep the ads down to a minimum. Too many adverts make people suspicious as to your motivations.
  • Build up relevant link partners for your link popularity. One relevant link partner can get you more traffic than one hundred irrelevant ones
  • Keep your website tidy. Clean design, with 'don't make me think' navigation. Good web design is about simplicity and usability, not elaborate graphical design.
  • Put your contact details on your site, in an easy-to-find place, if not on the header of each page
  • Write naturally, as if search engines don't exist. You will find your keywords appearing in your text, as if by magic. Even better, your words will sound natural.

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