Over 40% of Internet users believe that only half the information on the web is accurate. Government websites are trusted by over 70% of people while fewer than 10% find pages posted by individuals to be credible. These are results from a survey carried out by the Center for the Digital Future of the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California.
The message here is loud and clear: your website has to overcome a lot of suspicion and cynicism.
Here are some easy-to-implement ideas that will help bridge the credibility gap.
- Include full contact information on every page, including address, and a telephone number. If possible use a number that's answered by a live person. Stay away from Post Office Boxes: it can look as if you're hiding behind an anonymous address. If you want to use a different address from your physical location, consider a using a company that gives you a street address.
- Add a foto to your site. A picture makes you seem familiar to your visitors. When they've visited your site a few times, they'll begin to feel that they know and trust you.
- If you have a clear brand off line, use it online to continue the familiarity and confidence that people have already developed offline.
- Include testimonials: anything another person says about you is many times more powerful than anything you could ever say about yourself. Ask your best clients to write a few punchy words about their experience with you.
- Make sure all the content on your site is up to date and accurate, especially if you're in a field where information changes often or where there are frequent new developments. Take down the page announcing last month's teleclasses (I've been guilty of this one myself!) Otherwise it looks as if noone's taking care of the site.
- Don't overdo bold, italics or other special formatting. It can quickly make your page look "hypey."