It seems like all of digital marketing is run by “hidden algorithms” that lurk in the internet controlling the success or failure of our businesses, and the only way to appease them is for you to do very complicated and expensive things. With this mindset it’s easy to want to give up, stop wasting time and money and just hope for the best.
The truth is we do know what makes the algorithms work, and even better, it’s very simple and even intuitive. The machines are more like us than you’d think.
Even more surprising, the fundamentals haven’t changed in 20 years! It’s a list of 10 very simple guidelines for boosting your website’s credibility, published by Stanford in 2002. Here’s what they are, and what to do about them:
1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site – This is why having accurate directory listings are important, they help Google verify that what you say on your website is true.
2. Show that there’s a real organization behind your site – Social media and Google Business Pages are key for this. Posting photos of your storefront or trucks, work you’ve done, employees etc. all help prove you’re a real company people (and Google) can trust.
3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide – Do you have special licenses, memberships, titles or certifications? Make sure you’re talking about them on your website, and putting any visual proof as well to show you and your team are experts in your field that deserve to be shown more prominently.
4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site – Remember, It’s About People. Show your employees in action, talk about their connection to the community and even their other interests. Any charitable affiliations would be great for this.
5. Make it easy to contact you – Seems obvious, but so many websites make it confusing or difficult to contact. Have phone numbers and contact form buttons at the top of the website, don’t make your forms too long to want to fill out. Make sure your address is listed as well so people can find you.
6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose) – People are increasingly intolerant of poorly designed websites, illustrated by the stat that people only spend an average of 54 seconds on websites. They’re not reading, they’re scanning, and thus your design is the key initial indicator of trustworthiness to your customers. It’s worth paying for something nice, especially if you plan to run ads.
7. Make your site easy to use — and useful – There is such a thing as over-designed though. Your fancy website design may look flashy, but if it’s confusing your customers who are used to more standard website designs, you’ll lose them. Make sure customers can quickly find what they need to know to decide to do business with you.
8. Update your site’s content often (at least show it’s been reviewed recently) – Websites are never “done” even if your bookkeeper wants them to be to get the costs off the books. They should be updated regularly with new content or revisions to show you’re keeping up with changes in your industry. A great content hub can display authority as well as help you rank for key terms and drive business with no advertising budget.
9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers) – Yes, call to actions are key to ensuring your customers know what to do next. But too sales-y, or too many pop ups and ads make you come across as fake and disingenuous. Keep it clear, direct, and sincere.
10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem – Your website is a reflection of your business. If it has errors, broken links and pages, it speaks to a disorganized business with a lack of attention to detail. Put your best foot forward and you’ll get more business.
The concepts are simple, intuitive really. But execution is time-consuming, and thats where a marketing partner with proven processes in place to address all 10 items can help you handle this while you continue to focus on your business.
If you think your website is not giving you the credibility you deserve, we can help. Schedule a website review call with us to get your website working as hard for you as you do for your business.