When it comes to marketing your business online, building trust is a big deal. It’s something that not only will help you get more customers, trust is extremely important because if you don’t have it–it could be devastating. You could lose traffic to your website and you could lose sales. It’s possible that you don’t even know that you’re losing out on potential sales. More importantly, the search engines use trust factors as a part of their algorithms to determine your website’s positioning in their search results.
From the search engines’ perspective, their goal is to please their users (people who search). If one of their users searches and cannot find what they’re looking for, they’ll go use another search engine. And if they search and find what appears to be a shady, untrusted, or unreliable business, they may also stop trusting the search engine. It’s in the best interest of the search engines to list trusted, reliable business in their search results.
Let’s explore why building trust is a important for any business–but especially a big deal for local businesses who want to show up well in the search engine results.
As a local business, it’s extremely important to make sure you’ve done everything possible to earn a visitor’s trust–before they visit your website and during the time that they’re visiting your website. How do you build trust? Here are some major trust-building factors that users (and the search engines) take into account:
– Customer reviews and testimonials
– Photos and descriptions of your website
– The search results for a “company name” search query
– Your website’s appearance in the search results
– Your website, especially it’s web design
– Display of licenses, partners, associations, and media coverage on your website
Customer reviews and testimonials
Nowadays, customer reviews and testimonials aren’t typically viewed on your website (although you may have them on your site). Potential customers can read reviews even before they click on through to your website. If they see anything negative, they might not visit at all. At the same time, only having a few reviews or not having any reviews can hurt, as well. People might think that you’re not an established business, or you haven’t done enough business to warrant reviews.
Photos and descriptions of your website
Especially for local businesses, Google’s search results and their local listings will display photos of your business. Having a good photo or photos of your business will help build trust and show your potential customers that you really care about your business. Well-written descriptions, titles, and other information about your business can go a long way towards earning the public’s trust.
At the same time, poorly written or no descriptions and no photos of your business will, in fact, not encourage someone to do business with you. While it may not stop them from doing business with you, it doesn’t help build trust.
The search results for a “company name” search query
What shows up when you search for your company name or the CEO of your company’s name? Are there positive search results or negative ones? Are you in control over what shows up in the search results, meaning that you own the social media accounts or other listings that show up towards the top? If not, you should be if you can–working on having good social media accounts that are updated on a regular basis should help.
Your website’s appearance in the search results
It all starts with the first time a potential customer sees your website in the search results. Well written title tags, meta description tags, the parts that make up your search engine result listing, counts. Other results, such as Google’s Site Links, the links that show up under your listing, should be pointing to your preferred web pages on your site.
Your website, especially it’s web design
Once visitors do come to your website, making sure you don’t have an old, outdated web design is important. While I am not suggesting that you need to change your site design every year to keep up with the latest web design trends, it’s certainly important to make sure it doesn’t look like it was designed back in the 1990s.
Nowadays, websites that have a responsive web design (sites that work well on mobile devices as well as laptops) are important. If you haven’t updated your site’s design in 3 to 5 years, you might want to revisit it. Fast loading websites, making use of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) is important, as well. There are a lot of easy ways to speed up the loading of your website, and Google’s very keen on us doing that–they will send us more traffic and visitors. Fast-loading images and photos are important, as well. I’ve seen websites who’s images “scroll” when they load, even using a faster internet connection. If that’s the case, the visitors will notice it and lose trust quickly.
Display of licenses, partners, associations, and media coverage on your website
Are you showing any licenses, partnerships, associations you belong to, and media coverage you’ve received on your website? There are several “easy” ways to subtly prove that your business is trustworthy by adding these to your website, typically in the form of logos or links:
– List strategic partners, affiliates, and partnerships
– List associations you or your employees belong to
– Show media coverage and where your site or company has been mentioned in the news
– List your largest customers (with their permission).
– Add customer testimonials and reviews on your website.
– Add logos and images that show you’re a trusted or verified business
– Add images that show awards you’ve won or your employees have won
Your customer testimonials and reviews should be unique to your website, as in they shouldn’t appear on another website at the same time they appear on your website. Simply don’t copy and paste them from other sites and add them to your website. Strategic partners, affiliates, and other partnerships should be well displayed, as they will prove trust, as well. Listing the images of the Better Business Bureau and other associations will help, as well. If you’re a member of a trade industry or association, that is important, especially if you have to have a license in order to do business in your industry.
Recently, Advice Local announced a new trusted business seal that local businesses can show on their website, which is another good example of how you can prove to your potential customers that your business is trusted.
When it comes to search engine optimization, building trust is really a big deal because the search engines themselves look to many of these signals to trust your website, as well. Not only are links from other websites important and a trust factor, all of these factors that I’ve mentioned here help build trust, as well. And if your website visitors see these as trust signals, so do the search engines.