How to Improve the Credibility of your Website
In 2014, credibility is a huge factor when it comes to doing business, especially online. On your website, you do not have an innocent-looking, struggling 20-year old student named Carla at the checkout to make the customers comfortable to hand over their credit card information to. Your site needs to do that on its own (along with your name/brand).
Credibility not only brings you more purchases, but also higher rankings in the SERPs. Why? Because that’s the actual business model of search engines: serving legitimate, relevant results to their users.
Similarly to the young woman at checkout, there are some factors (or if you prefer, signs) that tell the search engines that you are indeed legit.
Here are some factors that contribute to making your site more credible (There are thousands, but I’m only going to list 4 here):
Low-quality content (for example articles with spelling mistakes) will limit your credibility. If I would find that shady, why would Google not?
I think we all know about backlinks here, but in short, the more links you have from other trustworthy web pages, the better. If you have a technology-related website and have a link from Gizmodo for example, search engines take it that you are more credible than someone with no links or links from an article directory.
Ever saw Wikipedia linking to a shady, or irrelevant page? Me neither. And these guys rank pretty high in the SERPs for A LOT of keywords. Just like a link to you is like the source is “vouching” for you, an outbound link from your site works the same way (well, opposite). So if you have a blog about healthy smoothies and “vouch” for a site offering free Viagra, your rankings may be affected.
I’m going to take the example of Wikipedia again here. Go on any Wikipedia entry about any topic that comes to your mind. The article is FULL of internal links…THAT WORKS. Broken links may cause damage, and so do a lot of 404 errors. Make sure to build a perfect internal linking structure.
The ‘New’ Kid On The Block: Social Media
This makes so much sense that I wasn’t even sure if I had to write an article about it, but I saw that people were interested in talking about it in the blog-o-sphere, so here we are!
– “Hey man, nice watch! Where’d you get them from?”
– “Armani Exchange”
A week later, I saw an Armani watch on my friend’s wrist. Not the same one, but still an A|X.
There are tons of fashion brands, but he chose this one just because it came out of my mouth. Word-of-mouth is STILL the most powerful form of marketing. And the closest to that online is Social… Wait for it… Media! People see people recommending stuff and trust is established. Search engines see people recommending stuff and guess what… Trust is established here as well!
People who have a higher authority in their niche will be given “special treatment” pertaining to the content they publish.
How is Individual Authority Measured? It Depends on the Platform.
For someone who has a blog, the author’s authority can be measured by the traffic he receives. A higher amount of traffic is likely correlated to more authority. It can also be measured by the level of activity on the blog. A fitness blog receiving an average of 100 comments per post looks more solid than one with only a couple or none.
As for a Google + profile, +1s and shares count. The number of people who have you in their circle also does. Typically, authority figures have a lot of people that have them in their circles.
On Twitter, these would translate to followers. Retweets matter as well. Let’s say you have a site about fitness, make a tweet about an awesome blog post you just published, and have it retweeted by Bodybuilding.com’s Twitter account. People and search engines WILL notice!
And on Facebook, it’s the same thing (but in terms of friends, fans, likes, shares and comments).
Getting social with previous and potential customers builds credibility. No one can deny that. And it looks like this is the future of SEO as well!
BUT… It takes time, folks
You cannot really “buy” credibility. It takes time to BUILD that. If you are just starting out, you will have to invest in the beginning. People won’t just retweet your tweets like that; you’ve got to create content that people want to share. Most of them won’t ‘Like’ your blog post on Facebook even if they do like it in real life, just because you haven’t asked them to or did not make it easy for them to (My point is, ask them to ‘Like’ it, and put a button right there so that they don’t have to deal with multiple tabs to do that!).
But do take your time. There is no real way around this now (unless you have the money to invest on national TV and events!). This is marketing everyone can afford, so why not just do it?