Trust is a funny thing. You know when you feel it, but you’re less able to pinpoint exactly why you do. Website visitors are skeptics first and evangelists second: Everything must pass a digital gut check before they hand over their payment information. But an increased awareness of online safety among consumers isn’t a reason to get defensive: It’s an opportunity for reputable websites to ensure that they make a strong first impression.
Website credibility is an intangible metric with very real implications for your business. In this article, you’ll learn why website credibility is a key factor for retention and conversion, and you’ll find ideas for improving the perception of your site.
What is website credibility?
Website credibility is a measure of how trustworthy your site feels to visitors. This is the outcome of an array of factors, from technical functionality to more superficial elements like images and wording.
There are four types of credibility:
Earned credibility is the result of an ideal customer experience: They enjoyed their time on your site, found it easy to navigate, and saw value in the information they gathered (or the products they purchased).
Presumed credibility comes when other sites or sources a customer trusts speaks highly of you, either through media coverage or sponsored content. Though they haven’t yet investigated for themselves, these customers are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Reputed credibility is the prized word-of-mouth referral: You are deemed credible thanks to a positive review from friends, family, or reviewers.
Surface credibility is what users think of your site’s credibility at first glance. Is the layout consistent and logical? Are the graphics inviting or erratic? In the world of websites, appearances matter.
Why is website credibility important for ecommerce stores?
Website credibility is important for ecommerce stores for two reasons: customer retention and conversion rates. A website’s credibility not only factors into lower bounce rates, which encourages more visitors to convert (and tell their friends), it also contributes to brand affinity (when customers feel that a brand’s values aligns with their own), which can translate into repeat sales and long-term loyalty.
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How to build website credibility
- Post up-to-date contact information
- Be thoughtful about posting seals and certifications
- Create modern, easy-to-navigate design
- Prioritize website performance
- Highlight social proof
- Use a legitimate domain
- Highlight your team
- Create quality content
Website credibility is just as much about consistency of performance, as it is about the consistency of appearances. A brand’s website, social media channels, brick-and-mortar locations, and other elements such as packaging and advertising, must look consistent as well as perform their intended functions to be credible to consumers.
Here are a few ways to establish credibility on your ecommerce site:
Post up-to-date contact information
It’s easier for customers to trust you if they can easily contact you about any issues or questions, because it shows there are real people behind the business. Depending on your brand or business, you can list a physical address, PO box, phone number, email address, contact form, or social media links.
Be thoughtful about posting seals and certifications
Though they’re important to have, trust seals (like those from McAfee and Verisign, for example) or SSL certificates (indicated by a padlock icon in the address bar) are not always a strong indication of credibility: Research shows that many consumers either don’t recognize them or know to look for them. Quality seals, certifications, and charity affiliations, on the other hand, have been shown to boost credibility. Post any applicable emblems or icons on your footer, alongside your contact information.
Create modern, easy-to-navigate design
Consumers equate good design and elevated-looking websites with a base level of legitimacy. A clean interface with high-quality images is a welcoming signal to new audiences. Appearances matter, especially when online shoppers form opinions in a matter of milliseconds.
Prioritize website performance
A site is considered credible when it’s easy to find and functions as expected. Slow loading speeds and unstable connections make it more likely for website visitors to click away. Ensure your website is glitch-free, and use technical SEO so your content is streamlined to appear and rank on search engines.
Highlight social proof
A site with no reviews can seem suspect to consumers. Devote space on product detail pages for customer reviews or feature a social media carousel of tagged posts. If your product has appeared in mainstream publications, say so! Reviews and recognition from credible sources go a long way.
Use a legitimate domain
Most consumers recognize domains ending with “.org” or “.edu” as belonging to government agencies or educational institutions, respectively, while “.com” is a standard domain for an ecommerce website. Make sure your website has a domain that matches its content and is recognizable to your target audience; unconventional or unfamiliar domains may hurt your credibility.
Highlight your team
An About Us page is a great way to build trust: By showing the expertise of the real people behind the brand or organization, your audience feels more connected to your services.
Create quality content
Oftentimes, the simplest errors raise red flags. Double-check your site for correct spelling, grammar, and phrasing and make sure all relevant information is clear, concise, and in your brand voice.
Website credibility FAQ
What makes a website credible?
Credible websites instill trust in their visitors. This trust is the product of many details working in tandem, like accurate descriptions, reliable contact information, social proof, reviews (legitimate ones) reflecting personal experiences, and easily surfaced warranty and privacy policies.
How can a credible website benefit your company?
Web credibility has many benefits for ecommerce companies, including lower bounce rates, fewer abandoned carts, and increased chances of conversion. Critically, consumer trust builds brand loyalty, which can benefit your company in the long term.
What can damage your website’s credibility?
Broken links, typographical errors, a lack of reviews, and missing contact information can hurt your site’s credibility. Avoid language, domains, and design features that users may perceive as untrustworthy, unregulated, or suspicious.