Trust signals on websites can help to improve conversions, sell more products, attract more traffic, and even get better search rankings. But, how you go about this can determine just how effective your results are.
Not every website trust signal applies to each business and overdoing it can have the opposite effect. The following is a list of signals and tips to help you better understand how to use them.
What Are Trust Signals?
Trust signals are essential since you need new visitors to trust your product, service, or opinion to convert into paying clients.
Trust signals are features or qualities both on and off your website that help to inspire trust for visitors who are still unfamiliar with your product, service, or brand.
These trust signals are essential since you need new visitors to trust your product, service, or opinion to convert into paying clients.
The types of trust signals that each business needs may be different.
Niche and authority websites monetizing primarily through affiliate links may be more focused on establishing the website as a trustworthy place for information.
In this case, the trust signals needed will be focused more on the credibility of the writers or website persona, a focus on providing helpful solutions to people without emphasizing sales or money, and trust in the overall website.
Ecommerce sites may be more focused on establishing the website as a secure place for customers to enter their personal payment information. This means adding trust signals such as an SSL certificate, signs that payments are encrypted, and reviews from other users.
Website and Content Trust Signals
These trust signals are crucial for quickly establishing user trust in your website and content. They are necessary for all websites regardless of their purpose.
1. Professional Design
Professional website design lets people know that you are serious about your business. It also helps to inspire trust that other aspects of the website are also professional.
One additional benefit is that professional website design is more likely to create a user-friendly experience on your website.
2. Frequently Updated Content
It’s essential to regularly update your content to ensure it is still applicable and relevant to current circumstances. This will also let people know that your website is still updated and information is accurate.
3. Contact Page
Contact pages ensure that anyone having difficulties with your website, product, or service can quickly have their issues resolved. This can increase the likelihood that people buy from you, use your service, or follow your advice and make it easier to address customer concerns.
4. About Us Pages
About Us pages should be visible either in the footer or header. These pages are excellent places to establish trust by letting people know facts such as:
How long you’ve been in business
What prior experience you have
What makes your business unique/better
Check out our guide on how to write an About Us page.
5. Quality and Relevant Content
Content is the driving force of the internet, whether it’s video, articles, eBooks, quizzes, or anything else meant for people to consume information. Having high-quality content that goes above and beyond to solve the user’s problem can establish trust and set you apart from competitors.
6. Icons Linking to Active (and relevant) Social Media Channels
Active social media channels let people know you’re still in business. It’s essential to only link to relevant social media channels your target audience uses.
Don’t just add icons for every social media platform to your website. Also, make sure you’re displaying social media links in an easy-to-find but a non-obtrusive place.
7. Logos and Links to Media Outlets Where Your Brand/Website Has Been Featured
Humans have multiple biases that cause entities, such as websites and brands, to hold higher value when connected to another entity of higher value. Let people know if your website has been listed on other websites more authoritative than yours.
9. Terms and Conditions
10. Article Bylines With Real People
Having article bylines from real people makes your content more trustworthy. People often trust real people more than brands, which is why influencer marketing is so successful. Have a face for the person behind each article you write, even if it’s ghostwritten content attributed to you.
11. Personalized Experience
People appreciate products and services tailored to their specific needs and likes. The better you personalize your website to your particular audience, the more people will trust your business or website. Consider using personas to help inform your branding and design process.
12. Google Knowledge Panel
Knowledge panels are one of the many SEO trust signals that you should focus on regardless of your type of business. You will often find these panels when people search for people, places, organizations, or things.
They typically show up on the right side of the search engine and usually convey information in an intuitive and quickly communicated format. Capturing these knowledge panels can be difficult and take a bit of time so make sure and be patient and stick to SEO fundamentals to improve your odds.
Technical and Security Trust Signals
These types of trust signals let visitors to your website know their information is safe and your site stores data securely. It’s also a significant signal for search engines that prioritize secure websites in the rankings.
13. Security Trust Badges
More than ever before, people are aware of the risks and dangers of sharing personal information online and using websites that are not adequately secured. Ensure you display any trust badges such as VeriSign or McAfee Secured to help inspire trust.
14. Domain Age and Association
Use aged domains associated with high-quality websites when creating a new site. Your domain can let people and search engines know how long you’ve been around.
It’s also possible for both visitors and search engines to see past websites on a domain using a tool like the Internet Archive.
Backlinks coming into your website can help search engine crawlers and even people learn a lot about your website. Having a clean link profile from reputable websites can make your website seem more professional, authoritative, and trustworthy.
Just as you want backlinks from quality websites, you want large quantities of backlinks from many different sources. Five hundred highly trustworthy links from 400 websites are better than 500 links from 2 or 3 non-trustworthy sites.
Most people use their phones throughout the day to access various websites. Making sure your website displays and functions correctly for these mobile users will help inspire trust and build customer confidence in your brand, product, or service.
This means having a proper mobile site header and ensuring your site displays images correctly on mobile devices.
18. HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure
HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS for short, is a method of encryption that ensures data is transferred over a secure channel. This is essential for protecting your visitors from rogue listeners seeking to steal their data or other nefarious purposes.
19. Padlock Icon
The padlock icon next to the search bar in internet browsers lets people know your website is secured. This icon shows that your site is forcing HTTPS and transmitting information encrypted using Transport Layer Security, formerly Secure Socket Layers, or SSL.
Ecommerce Website Trust Signals
People visiting an eCommerce site want to know their payment information is safe, the products are good quality, and their products are likely to arrive on time and in good condition. Having trust signals that contribute to these goals can help you earn more money.
20. Multiple Payment Methods
Having multiple payment methods makes it easier for your customers to pay using a comfortable method. It also lets people know that your website or service hasn’t been blacklisted from payment processors.
21. Mentions From Celebrity or Expert Influencers
People are more likely to trust your website if it receives positive customer testimonials from someone they trust. Most people have celebrities or experts they trust and actively accept recommendations from. Try and find the people your target audience looks up to.
22. Website and Product Reviews
People want to know that others have used your products and haven’t had any problems. That said, don’t start displaying customer reviews that are fake to boost your credibility, as this can backfire in the long run.
23. Guarantees and Warranties
As with traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, people want to know they can return a product or get their money back if something goes wrong. Have clear guarantees and warranties to provide your potential customers with extra assurance.
24. Realtime Social Proof Notifications
Ecommerce websites commonly use tools like Live Sales Notifications for WooCommerce to show prospective customers that other people like them are actively buying products. This social proof can help inspire trust when used correctly and sparingly.
25. Top Ranking For Branded Search Queries
When people search queries relevant to your brand, it can inspire greater trust if your website shows up at number one. This demonstrates that search engines like Google find your site credible and relevant to service these results.
26. Shipping Policies
Clear shipping policies inspire trust and help set proper expectations for shipping timelines for your customers. This can help you avoid a lot of bad reviews from people and protect you from problems caused by the shipping company.
27. Star Ratings on Product Pages
Make sure that every product you sell has a way for customers to leave reviews and actively display those star reviews in an easy-to-see location. This helps on your website and in search engines as these star ratings can appear in search results whenever your products are listed in the SERPs.
28. Product Sales Statistics
Consider showing product sales numbers on your product pages to help establish trust and give social proof. This lets people considering purchasing your products know that others have made the purchase. You can use this in conjunction with reviews for better effect.
Niche and Authority Site Trust Signals
Niche and authority websites typically are focused more on content and establishing authority. This can lead to a different set of challenges when trying to establish trust with your visitors.
29. Bylined Articles In Business and Industry Publications
When large, authoritative websites publish articles you’ve written, it’s a sign to people that you are a credible expert in your field of choice. If you are posting content on your niche or authority site under your name, this can be critical for helping people trust you and giving you solid backlinks.
30. Website Visitor Engagement
The average website visitor will only spend a few seconds to a minute on your site. To search engines, this can indicate that your website isn’t meeting their needs.
You want people actively engaged on your website, clicking on other articles, affiliate links, etc. This indicates that your site provides solutions to people and meets their needs.
31. Social Media Engagement
Social media engagement is another signal for site visitors and search engines that your website is authoritative and trusted by others.
These are called social signals and can help to demonstrate trust quickly. Having links to your social media pages or embeds on your website can help accomplish this.
32. Reputation History
Just as in life, your reputation will precede you. This means that anywhere your website is mentioned negatively, people can read that and base their initial judgments of your site on that bad information.
Ensure that you have plenty of good reviews and that people speak well of your site on social media to establish trust.
Business Website Trust Signals
Businesses, especially those with brick and mortar locations, have their own unique trust signals in addition to the standard website trust signals listed above.
33. Physical address
A physical address is a trust signal for visitors to your website and search engines like Google. For search engines, it establishes that you are a real business, and for visitors to your website, it makes it easier for them to find your location.
34. Embedded Reviews
If you have reviews from websites like Google or Facebook, consider embedding these on your website in a place easy to see so it displays positive reviews. This allows people who don’t use Facebook or go to your Google Business Profile to see the good reviews others have left about your company.
35. Client Customer Logos
For service-based businesses especially, having well-known and trustworthy clients can be a way to establish trust.
If you’ve worked with high-level clients well known to your potential customers, add their logo to your homepage. Also, consider creating case studies around these clients for added trust.
36. Industry Association Logos
Being a member of known and reputable industry associations can be a great way to establish trust with your customers and others in your industry. Consider adding any industry trust badges or certifications to your website to let customers know which associations you’re associated with and establish that you are a legitimate or accredited business.
37. Industry Awards
As with industry association membership, awards can establish trust with your clients, vendors, and other companies in your industry. These should be added to your homepage and prominently displayed to let people know that you are an award-winning company.
38. Better Business Bureau Accreditation
While I have my reservations about the Better Business Bureau, this can be an incredibly effective trust signal if you work with older clients.
The BBB is a review site where people can leave complaints about businesses. They are a private company and not a government agency. However, the BBB still has a lot of credibility with older generations.
39. Have A Google Business Profile
Google Business Profiles are the knowledge panels that show up about businesses whenever you search for them using web search or maps. This profile displays information about a company, such as its name, address, phone number, description, website, etc.
These profiles are also where reviews about a business are listed. If you have a physical business where users visit, make sure to have a Google Business Profile to help people find information about your business more efficiently.
40. Google Reviews
If you have a Google Business Profile, make sure you have people leave you reviews. Ideally, you want reviews from satisfied customers who are happy with your business.
However, it’s critical that you respond to all reviews, preferably within 24 hours after receiving them. This is true, especially when you receive negative customer reviews to give you more control over the narrative.
41. Glassdoor Reviews
Glassdoor is a website where people can review what it’s like to work for a company. Remember that anyone can see these reviews, even if they are not employees or potential employees.
The last thing you want is prospective customers to see many bad reviews on Glassdoor, so make sure you’re staying on top of any reviews you receive on the website.
42. Brand+Keyword Searches
Brand+keyword searches are any search terms your brand can be put in with an industry-relevant keyword. An example of this would be Nike shoes, Wells Fargo savings account reviews, or Apple iPhone 12 hard cases.
You want to ensure that your website shows up in the number 1 spot for these results. Also, you want to ensure that any other results in the SERPs are favorable and paint your business or service in a good light.
43. High Ranking For Industry Keywords
The more industry keywords your website shows up for, the more authoritative your business or brand will appear. This can work for local businesses just as much as larger multi-location or multi-national companies.
One of the best ways to rank for these search terms is to create content tailored toward each term. Don’t just create a bunch of short articles. That may have worked in the early 00s, but it doesn’t anymore. Instead, create high-quality content that thoroughly answers people’s questions about the topic.
44. Directory Listings
Directories are the modern-day version of phone books. These are good indicators to search engines that your website is credible in your industry and trustworthy. It’s also an excellent indicator to customers that you’re a well-known and legitimate business.
Examples of this are restaurants listed on Yelp, contractors listed on Angie’s List, etc. Focus on industry- and location-relevant directories and ensure all information is accurate and consistent.
The largest and most authoritative companies in the world spend millions each year donating to the local communities where they have a presence. Think Walmart or Amazon and the various local charities they contribute to in each city in which they have a presence.
Regularly participating in community events and donating to local charities can help establish your company as a trustworthy and compassionate business that cares about the community.
46. Participation in industry events
Industry events, such as trade shows and conferences, are a great way to establish trust and authority. If you regularly participate in these events, create a page on your website or a video of your participation.
Also, ask the organization in charge of each event if you can contribute something that can be listed on their website as a way to get an industry-relevant backlink.
47. Social Media Responsiveness
As a business, you must remain highly responsive on social media. However, you don’t want to post on every social media platform.
Instead, focus only on the platforms relevant to your industry and where your target audience is likely to hang out. Ensure that you respond to comments, reviews, and keep people updated about your business.
48. Partnership and Co-branded Logos
Partnerships, especially those with other trustworthy companies, are a great way to establish trust with people who may know the other company.
Any time you partner with other businesses or companies, make sure to add this to your website. You can add the other company’s logo and then link back to them to help establish trust through association.
Other Offsite Trust Signals
Not all website trust signals will be located on your actual website. You need to make sure that any reference to your site, even on another platform, is positive and helps establish trust.
49. Customer Reviews On Relevant Sites
There are tons of industry-specific review sites or directories that allow people to post reviews. An example of this is Yelp for restaurants or Clutch for marketing and website design agencies.
Focus on getting good reviews on these sites. These online review sites typically have a lot of traffic and can help drive new online customers to businesses.
50. Media Coverage and Press Releases
Positive media coverage can be a great way to connect with a broad audience and establish trust in the mind of your audience and help prospective customers feel reassured.
Ideally, you want your website mentioned in any media coverage when possible. This is true even when that coverage is offline, such as video interviews or newspaper articles.
One way that you can get tons of media coverage is through press releases. When done right, press releases can gain you access to tons of online publications and generate a lot of solid and relevant backlinks.
51. Participation In Online Forums
You may think forums are a thing of the past, but hundreds and maybe thousands of active forums are targeted toward specific hobbies or industries. Make sure that you aren’t spamming forums for links and comments, though.
This can be an excellent place for niche and authority site owners and even an eCommerce site or local business owners to show you’re an authoritative source. It can also be a good place to obtain relevant backlinks when done sparingly.
52. Wikipedia Listing
Wikipedia has become a de facto authority for many people looking up information on a particular subject. Having a listing on Wikipedia can provide numerous benefits for establishing trust signals regarding your business or website.
Be warned, getting a listing on Wikipedia is notoriously tricky. You can’t just put up a listing and add some links. Instead, everything needs to be created organically and approved by Wikipedia editors and moderators to stay up.
53. Google Featured Snippets
Google featured snippets are the different bits of information that appear when you search for informational keywords. These snippets are designed to quickly convey information that may answer a query and help establish your website as an authority on a topic by capturing them.
Whenever you create content, make sure to optimize each article to capture these featured snippets better. This means formatting things such as lists or numbered steps properly and ensuring the information in your article is intuitive and easy for both search crawlers and people to understand.
Why is Customer Trust Important For eCommerce Sites and Websites In General?
If your website visitors don’t trust your site, they won’t stay for very long and definitely won’t convert into customers. Just as with selling things in person, whether you are selling products, services, or information, customer trust is crucial to making the sale.
This doesn’t only pertain to eCommerce businesses, either. Any website made for people to visit must have relevant trust signals for visitors, blogs and authority sites included.
In addition, people are increasingly becoming more aware of what makes a website trustworthy and secure. This means that people are actively looking for these website trust signals to ensure they make the right decisions regarding where they buy products and consume information.
The Effects of Customer Distrust
When people visit your website and don’t find the relevant trust signals they have been conditioned to look for, you start on shaky ground. The more people don’t trust your website, the quicker they will be to bounce and go to one of your competitors.
Not only is this bad for your bottom line, but it is a signal to search engines that there is something wrong with your website or content that isn’t meeting visitors’ needs.
Over time, these higher bounce rates can play a part in your content ranking lower in your site’s search position.
When people visit your site, failure to establish trust is guaranteed to lead to lost sales, fewer conversions, and dwindling traffic numbers.
Tips for Using Trust Signals Effectively
As with most everything in marketing, website trust signals are best when used effectively and with purpose. This means you don’t want to rush out and add 8 secure trust badges to your footer or sign up for every social media platform.
You want to strategically think about which signals apply to your specific website type. Then, you need to think about the website security signals that you already have in place.
Website trust signals are best when used effectively and with purpose.
Go through the same process your site visitors go through, from searching on Google to their final interaction with your site.
For an eCommerce site, this means going through the entire product selection and checkout process and ordering 1 or 2 of your products.
Niche and authority websites or blogs should search a term they are ranking for, then go through the process of reading an article to the end and following through on a conversion such as signing up for an email list or clicking an affiliate link.
During this review, you want to look for anything out of place, or that might cause potential users to distrust your website, products, service, or brand. Look for opportunities to remedy this or add further trust signals that are appropriate and relevant.
Put trust signals to work for your business
Be smart about how you build your site and market your brand. Creating relevant trust signals on a site requires careful planning to stay consistent and establish trust.
Nobody wants to visit a website that seems untrustworthy or that doesn’t look authoritative.
This is one of the reasons mega-companies spend millions each year on things like website security, professional design, high-quality branding, and influencer marketing.
While you may not have the same budget that Nike does for their website and marketing, it doesn’t give you a pass to skip on establishing clear website trust signals.
Instead, it’s more important to establish this trust when you are a smaller website since potential visitors are less likely to know you. This will help you retain visitors, convert them into customers, and build a solid and profitable brand or business.