As of March of 2022, the internet is home to just under 2 billion websites. And probably less than 1% of them are worth visiting. How do you make sure your business website falls into that 1% bucket? By establishing credibility.
The key to both building trust with online customers and gaining strong rankings in search engines starts with credibility. And when you think about it, it’s not hard to understand how to start establishing that credibility. You have to create content that shows both readers and robots that you’re worth trusting.
Let’s take a closer look at how content sets the tone for your credibility online, as well as how your credibility will affect your SEO efforts. Read on.
SEO experts are not just guessing that search engines consider website credibility in their algorithms and internal processes. There’s documented proof. In fact, Google discusses this topic prominently in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:
To save a few syllables, the “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness” business gets abbreviated to E-A-T. This is just one of many important guidelines and considerations Google applies to its search engine technology and processes, but it’s the most important one that relates to website credibility and SEO.
Basically, E-A-T tells us that Google wants websites to demonstrate the following:
Their content is expertly written (expertise)
They have the authority to discuss the topics they discuss (authoritativeness)
They can be trusted (trustworthiness)
To be clear, content is not the only factor that may affect Google’s perspective on your website’s E-A-T. For example, your backlink profile may play a part in your perceived authoritativeness, and the age of your domain may have an impact on perceived trustworthiness.
However, content will always be one of the most important ways search engines understand and categorize the internet, so it’s more than reasonable to believe that your blog posts and landing pages are one of the key ways to bump up your E-A-T scores. It’s also reasonable to believe that doing so will correlate with a bump up in the rankings.
Stanford Research on Web Credibility
Despite how it may feel, Google is not the only arbiter of how the internet works. But since we’re talking about credibility here, let’s stick to the players who actually have the authority to discuss how the internet works. In this case, let’s look at what some Stanford researchers have to say.
Years ago, Stanford researchers published the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility based on a study of more than 4,500 people over three years. A lot has happened to and on the internet since 2002, when the guidelines were published, but the 10 guidelines they contain still serve as a basic playbook for establishing credibility online.
How to Build Trust with Content, According to Research
Let’s look at the Stanford guidelines, as well as how to implement them on your site, one by one:
Make it easy to verify your site’s information.
Link out to the sources you use to write your content. If you include a fact or figure, include your reference.
Prove that your site represents a real business.
List your business address in the footer or on the contact page of your site. Link out to verifiable review sites or social profiles that represent your business.
Give your credentials.
Whether it’s on your blog posts or your about page, show why you are qualified to talk about what you’re talking about. That often means including the letters after your name or describing your experience in a relevant industry.
Display the real people of your business.
People trust pictures. If you have pictures of your business and the people who run or work for it, put them somewhere easy to find on your website.
Don’t hide your contact information.
Make it easy for website visitors to contact you. Include a phone number, email address, online contact form and address on your contact page, and consider adding some contact methods to your website’s footer and in the concluding sections of your blog posts.
Make your site professional.
You can have the best content and the most credibility in the world, but if your site looks like it’s from 1993 or doesn’t work, people may not trust you. Many out-of-the-box website templates can look professional and work well with a little tweaking. And if you have the budget for a professionally designed website, it’s worth considering.
Push for usefulness and ease of use.
Your site should serve a purpose. Yes, it’s like a business card for your business, but if you publish blog posts, for example, they should actually inform the reader instead of existing only to check the SEO box. While you’re at it, make sure your navigational menus and other website features are clear and easy to use.
Update or review content regularly.
The world changes fast, and that can affect the accuracy of the information on your website. Review your existing blog posts and other content for accuracy regularly, and make additions when necessary. It’s also helpful to add a note near the top that displays the last time the content was reviewed.
Go easy on promotional content.
Most business websites have no business running ads, but you do see it from time to time. If you do need to have promotional content of some kind on your site, minimize it as much as possible. People don’t like being sold to — the feeling immediately undercuts the trust you’re hoping to build. Try to limit the selling to a reasonable degree.
Don’t allow errors.
Even the smallest typo can look and feel really sloppy to a potential client or customer. You and everyone else might forgive little errors in social media posts and text messages, but on business websites, we rightfully expect precision and accuracy. Don’t just write and publish — outline, write, edit, revise, publish and then review to make sure no errors get through.
Get Credible Content That Crushes KPIs
Great content builds credibility, and credibility leads to not only better search engine rankings, but better relationships with those who visit your website. This is an investment with ROI potential that is hard to overstate.
So, invest in great content — the kind the Hire a Writer team does. We’re ready to create content that will crush your KPIs. Interested? Reach out.