You can have helpful content written by legitimate authors, but if your website looks shady AF, it probably won’t do as well as it should on Google’s SERPs. As stated on the Big G’s Quality Rater Guidelines, trustworthiness of information is a core characteristic that a high-ranking webpage must possess.

We’ve heard it all before: E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. The thing is, most of the discourse on this subject seems to focus on the two E’s, while trustworthiness is often talked about like it’s an afterthought. As such, a lot of websites fail to hit their full SEO potentials because they continue to  ignore this crucial element.

Trust is defined as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” It’s something that’s earned through a good first impression followed by multiple positive interactions between two entities.  In this post, we’ll discuss 15 things that make a website look more trustworthy and what you can do so yours can start exhibiting them en route to better rankings. Let’s begin:

1. Invest in Professional Web Design

Professional web design creates a strong first impression and fosters credibility. A clean, intuitive layout with high-quality graphics and mobile responsiveness is essential. This not only makes your site visually appealing but also sends thepsychological signal that the business behind the website takes itself very seriously. Furthermore, good web design is essential for pleasant user navigation experiences. A well-thought of UI scheme helps visitors find information easily, reducing bounce rates and improving dwell tomes, all the while signaling to search engines that your site is home to a very engaged user base.

Consistency in design elements, such as color schemes and typography, reinforces your brand’s professionalism. Investing in user-friendly features like fast-loading pages, accessible contact information, and clear calls-to-action further enhances trust. Using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla allows for flexibility and easy updates, ensuring your site remains modern and functional.

Regularly updating your design to reflect current trends and user preferences keeps your site engaging and relevant. We also know from the May 2024 Google API leak that refreshing webpages is a positive ranking signal. Incorporating visual elements that align with your brand’s identity, such as custom icons and branded imagery, can also enhance recognition and trustworthiness.

2. Use HTTPS URLs

Switching your website to HTTPS is a crucial step in building trust and improving SEO. HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) encrypts the data exchanged between users and your website, ensuring that sensitive information like personal details and payment data is protected from interception. This security measure is especially important for e-commerce sites or any platform that handles confidential information.

Google made HTTPS a ranking signal several years ago, meaning that secure websites are more likely to rank higher in search results. In addition to the SEO benefits, using HTTPS reassures visitors that your site is safe to use, which can lead to increased trust and higher conversion rates. For example, e-commerce sites that display HTTPS are more likely to see reduced cart abandonment rates because users feel confident that their payment information is secure.

If nothing else, using secure URLs sends a signal to users that your website is legit since many fly by night operators don’t even bother with this due to the costs associated with SSL usage. If all of that isn’t enough, you should also keep in mind that modern browsers like Chrome actively discourage users from accessing non-secure webpages.

3. Avoid Keyword-Focused Domain Names

While it might seem beneficial to choose a domain stuffed with keywords for SEO purposes, it can actually appear spammy and reduce trust. Instead, opt for a brandable, memorable domain name that reflects your business identity. For example, “bestplumbingservices.com” might seem advantageous for search rankings, but a branded name like “PlumbMaster.com” is more likely to be perceived as credible and professional.

Keyword-focused domains often come across as less trustworthy because they can give the impression of being low-quality or solely focused on manipulating search engine rankings. A unique, brandable domain name not only improves your site’s credibility but also helps in building a strong brand identity. This, in turn, makes your site more memorable, encouraging repeat visits and direct traffic.

Moreover, brandable domains can support long-term SEO strategies better than keyword-heavy domains. As your brand grows and gains recognition, a distinctive domain name can become a significant asset, helping to attract organic backlinks and mentions. By choosing a domain that reflects your brand rather than a collection of keywords, you enhance trust and set the stage for sustainable SEO success.

4. Invest in Brand Awareness

Speaking of branding, building strong brand awareness is essential for establishing trust and credibility online. A well-known brand tends to be perceived as more reliable and trustworthy, which can significantly impact your SEO performance. To invest in brand awareness, consider the following strategies:

  • Consistent Messaging: Ensure that your brand’s messaging is consistent across all platforms, including your website, social media, and marketing materials. This consistency helps reinforce your brand identity and makes it more recognizable.
  • Content Marketing: Create high-quality, valuable content that addresses your audience’s needs and interests. Blogging, video content, and infographics can help position your brand as an authority in your industry. For example, a tech company might publish detailed guides and tutorials on the latest technologies, showcasing their expertise and building trust with their audience.
  • Public Relations: Gain media coverage and backlinks from reputable sources. Being featured in well-known publications or blogs can enhance your brand’s credibility. For instance, a positive review or feature article in a major industry publication can significantly boost your brand’s reputation.
  • Partnerships and Sponsorships: Partner with other reputable brands or sponsor events and initiatives relevant to your industry. These collaborations can enhance your brand’s visibility and credibility by association. For example, sponsoring a local community event can show that your brand is committed to giving back and supporting the community.

By investing in these brand awareness strategies, you can build a strong, recognizable brand that instills trust in your audience and improves your overall SEO performance.

5. Display Social Proof Badges

Social proof is a powerful tool in building trust and credibility, especially in the early stages. Displaying badges and endorsements from reputable sources reassures visitors that your site and business are trustworthy. Here are some effective ways to incorporate social proof into your website:

  • Customer Reviews and Testimonials. Featuring reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers can provide potential clients with the confidence they need to make a purchase. For example, integrating a Trustpilot widget that showcases real-time customer reviews on your homepage or product pages can enhance credibility.
  • Awards and Certifications. Display any awards, certifications, or industry recognitions your business has received. This could include badges for being accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or industry-specific certifications. For instance, a healthcare provider might display certifications from recognized medical boards, reinforcing their expertise and trustworthiness.
  • Media Mentions. Highlight any positive mentions or features of your business in reputable media outlets. A “Featured In” section that lists logos of well-known publications can significantly boost your site’s credibility. For example, a tech startup might display logos from Forbes, TechCrunch, and Wired if they have been mentioned in those outlets.
  • Influencer Endorsements. If your product or service has been endorsed by influencers or industry leaders, showcase these endorsements on your website. Influencers have loyal followings that trust their opinions, so their endorsement can carry significant weight.
  • User-Generated Content. Encourage customers to share their experiences with your products or services on social media and display this content on your site. This could include Instagram posts, tweets, or YouTube videos featuring your brand. This not only provides authentic social proof but also engages your community.

By prominently displaying social proof badges and endorsements, you reassure visitors of your business’s legitimacy and reliability, which can increase trust and improve your SEO efforts.

6. Display Your Business Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP)

Consistent and accurate display of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) across your website and other online platforms is vital for building trust and improving local SEO. Here’s how to effectively manage your NAP information:

  • On Your Website: Make sure your NAP information is easily accessible on every page, typically in the footer and on a dedicated contact page. This makes it easy for visitors to find and contact you. Don’t forget to incorporate Schema.org localbusiness markups for good measure.
  • On Your Google Business Profile. Keeping your Google Business Profile up-to-date with accurate NAP details enhances your visibility in local searches and builds trust with potential customers. Ensure that the information matches exactly with what’s on your website and double check if the pinned location on Google Maps is precise.
  • On Local Citations: Consistency is key when it comes to local SEO. Ensure that your NAP information is the same across all local directories and citation sites, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and industry-specific directories. This consistency helps search engines verify your business information and boosts your local SEO efforts.
  • On Press Releases: Including your NAP in press releases ensures that journalists and potential customers can easily contact you. This also helps in distributing accurate business information across multiple platforms.

By maintaining consistent and accurate NAP information across all platforms, you enhance your business’s credibility and improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results. This consistent presence also reassures customers of your legitimacy and makes it easier for them to reach out to you.

7. Offer Genuinely Good Products and Services

The foundation of trustworthiness lies in offering high-quality products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations. Here’s how you can ensure that your offerings build trust and enhance your SEO efforts:

  • Quality Assurance. Implement rigorous quality control processes to ensure that your products and services are consistently high in quality. For instance, an e-commerce store should thoroughly inspect products before shipping to avoid customer dissatisfaction and returns.
  • Honest Marketing. I know there are folks out there who preach that all marketers are liars, but those clowns can speak for themselves. In a world where honesty is rare, you can make it an attractive selling point. Avoid exaggerated claims in your marketing materials while providing accurate descriptions and specifications for your products and services. For example, if you run a skincare brand, ensure that your product descriptions truthfully represent the ingredients and benefits without overpromising results.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Focus on delivering excellent customer service. Address complaints and issues promptly and professionally. For example, if a customer reports a defective product, offer a hassle-free return or exchange process to resolve the issue quickly.
  • Feedback and Improvement: Encourage customers to leave reviews and feedback, and use this input to continuously improve your products and services. For instance, if customers frequently mention a specific issue with a product, take steps to address it and communicate these improvements to your audience.

By offering genuinely good products and services, you build a loyal customer base that trusts your brand. Satisfied customers are more likely to leave positive reviews and recommend your business to others, which enhances your online reputation and boosts your SEO performance.

8. Use Social Media to Connect With Your Market.

se Social Media to Connect With Your Market

Engaging with your audience on social media platforms is a powerful way to build trust and improve your online presence. Here’s how to effectively use social media to connect with your market:

  • Regular Updates. Post regularly about your products, services, company news, and industry insights. Consistent updates keep your audience informed and engaged. It also shows that your business is alive and well. For example, a clothing brand might share new collections, fashion tips, and behind-the-scenes looks at the design process.
  • Interactive Content: Use polls, Q&A sessions, live videos, and stories to interact with your audience. For instance, hosting a live Q&A session on Instagram can allow your customers to ask questions and get real-time responses, fostering a sense of community and transparency. Besisdes, people are more likely to buy from businesses that they have rapport with, making social media a prime synergy for your sales efforts.
  • Respond to Comments and Messages. Actively monitor and respond to comments and direct messages. Prompt and helpful responses show that you care about your customers’ opinions and inquiries. For example, if a customer tweets a question about your product, a quick and informative reply can enhance their trust in your brand.
  • User-Generated Content. Encourage customers to share their experiences with your products on social media. Repost their content on your channels to show appreciation and build a community around your brand. For instance, a beauty brand might share customer photos using their products, showcasing real-life results and endorsements.

By leveraging social media to actively engage with your market, you can build a strong, trustworthy brand presence that positively impacts your SEO. Social media interactions also drive traffic to your website, increasing your site’s visibility and authority.

9. Join a Local or National Association in Your Industry.

Becoming a member of reputable industry associations can significantly enhance your credibility and trustworthiness. Here’s how:

  • Industry Standards. Membership in associations like the Chamber of Commerce or industry-specific groups signals that your business adheres to high standards and best practices. For example, a dental clinic that is a member of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) demonstrates its commitment to the standards of ethics, competence and professionalism that the group stands for.
  • Networking Opportunities. Associations often provide networking events, workshops, and conferences where you can connect with other professionals, learn about industry trends, and share best practices. This can also lead to valuable partnerships and collaborations which fosters trust among peers.
  • Use of Logos and Badges. Displaying the association’s logo or badge on your website and marketing materials adds an extra layer of credibility. For instance, an IT service provider might showcase their affiliation with CompTIA, indicating their adherence to industry standards and continuous learning.
  • Access to Resources: Membership often grants access to valuable resources such as research reports, training programs, and advocacy efforts that can help you stay informed and improve your business operations. The same information will translate into website trustworthiness when it eventually finds its way to the content in your webpages.

By joining local or national associations, you align your business with recognized standards and best practices, enhancing trust and credibility in the eyes of customers and search engines alike. This membership can also provide additional backlinks and mentions, contributing positively to your SEO efforts.

10. Showcase the People Behind the Business.

Showcase the People Behind the Business

Humanizing your brand by introducing the team behind your business can build trust and create a personal connection with your audience. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • About Us Page. Create a comprehensive “About Us” page that features profiles of key team members. Include professional photos, bios, and their roles within the company. For example, a tech company might showcase its developers, designers, and customer support team, highlighting their expertise and contributions.
  • Personal Stories. Share personal stories and experiences of your team members. This can be done through blog posts, videos, or social media content. For instance, a founder’s story about how and why the company was started can create an emotional connection with your audience.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Content. Provide a glimpse into the daily operations of your business. Share behind-the-scenes photos or videos of your team at work, team-building activities, or company events. This transparency helps build authenticity and trust.
  • Professional Achievements. Highlight the qualifications, certifications, and achievements of your team members. This could include degrees, industry certifications, or notable projects they’ve worked on. For example, an architecture firm might showcase awards or completed high-profile projects by their architects.

By showcasing the people behind your business, you humanize your brand and build a connection with your audience, enhancing trust and credibility. This personal touch can positively impact your SEO by encouraging engagement and sharing, which in turn improves your site’s visibility and authority.

11. Follow Laws on Browser Cookies.

Compliance with cookie laws is crucial for building trust and protecting user privacy. It’s also good for not getting sued. Here’s how to ensure your site adheres to regulations in territories where this legislation applies:

  • Cookie Consent Banner. Implement a clear and user-friendly cookie consent banner that appears when users visit your site. This banner should inform visitors about the types of cookies used and provide options to accept or manage their preferences.
  • Detailed Cookie Policy. Create a comprehensive cookie policy page that explains what cookies are, how you use them, and why they are necessary. This page should be easily accessible from the cookie consent banner and your website’s footer.
  • Transparency. Clearly explain how cookies are used for analytics, personalization, and advertising. Transparency helps build trust by showing users that their privacy is respected.
  • Regular Updates. Stay updated on cookie laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States. Ensure your cookie policies and practices comply with these laws.

By following laws on browser cookies, you demonstrate your commitment to user privacy, which enhances trust and credibility. This compliance not only builds user confidence but also helps avoid legal issues that could negatively impact your reputation and SEO efforts.

12. Set Proper Expectations

Set Proper Expectations

Satisfaction is where reality meets expectations. Constantly meeting audience expectation is the bread and butter for trust building. When you run an online business, make sure to set proper expectations on the following areas:

  1. Packaging. Clearly describe how products will be packaged, including materials used and any special considerations. Providing detailed information helps customers know what to expect upon delivery, reducing surprises and building trust. For example, mentioning eco-friendly packaging can appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
  2. Shipping. Offer transparent and accurate shipping information, including estimated delivery times, shipping options, and costs. Providing tracking information and updates can further reassure customers. For instance, stating “Ships within 24 hours” or “Free shipping on orders over $50” sets clear expectations.
  3. Return Policies. Clearly outline your return and refund policies in an easy-to-understand format. A straightforward and fair return policy can alleviate concerns and increase purchase confidence. For example, offering a “30-day no-questions-asked return policy” can significantly boost trust.

By setting proper expectations regarding packaging, shipping, and return policies, you demonstrate transparency and reliability. This not only builds customer trust but also reduces misunderstandings and potential disputes, contributing to a positive user experience and better SEO performance.

13. Use Trusted and Secure Payment Gateways

Implementing secure and trusted payment gateways is crucial for building customer trust and ensuring secure transactions. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Reputable Payment Processors: Use well-known and trusted payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, or Square. These platforms are recognized for their robust security measures and reliability. For example, displaying logos of these payment processors during the checkout process can reassure customers that their payment information is secure.
  • SSL Certificates: Ensure that your entire site, especially payment pages, is protected by SSL encryption. This not only secures data transmission but also helps improve your SEO as Google favors HTTPS sites.
  • Payment Options: Offer multiple payment options to accommodate different customer preferences. This can include credit/debit cards, digital wallets, and bank transfers. Providing various options increases convenience and trust.

By using trusted and secure payment gateways, you enhance the security of transactions, build customer confidence, and improve your site’s overall trustworthiness and SEO performance.

14. Don’t Allow Intrusive Advertising.

Don’t Allow Intrusive Advertising

Intrusive advertising can significantly damage user experience and trustworthiness. It’s hard for users to feel at ease on a website where ads constantly scream for attention. Here’s how to manage ads on your site:

  • Non-Intrusive Ad Formats. Use ad formats that do not disrupt the user experience. For example, opt for native ads that fit well with your content even if they’re clearly marked as ads. Well-placed banner ads are also fine, as long as they don’t obstruct the main content.
  • Limit Pop-Ups. Avoid excessive use of pop-ups and lightboxes, especially those that are difficult to close. If you use pop-ups, ensure they are easy to dismiss and do not appear too frequently.
  • Relevant Ads. Display ads that are relevant to your audience. Irrelevant ads can frustrate users and reduce trust. For example, an online bookstore should display ads related to books and reading materials rather than apparel or bike accessories.
  • Ad-Free Experience. Consider offering an ad-free experience or a premium version of your site without ads for a better user experience.
  • Avoid Illicit Product Ads. Ads for porn, cannabis, vapes and weapons can turn off your audience and dismiss your website as a spammy or offensive actor. Unless you’re dealing in one of these industries, it’s better to avoid ads for them altogether.

By minimizing intrusive advertising, you create a more pleasant user experience, maintain trust, and improve your site’s overall credibility and SEO performance.

By focusing on these strategies, you can significantly enhance your website’s trustworthiness, leading to improved SEO performance, higher rankings, and increased customer loyalty.

And there you have it, 15 ways to improve website trustworthiness. Follow the ones that apply to your specific case and watch your rankings as well as your organic traffic grow over time.