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Search Engine Optimization April 4th, 2012
By the time someone lands on your website for the very first time, it’s usually because they have a specific problem, need or want. Let’s assume for now that your offer is exactly what they’re looking for. Unless you’re Amazon.com or another proven online brand, they’ll likely have questions about you or your company, your service and the ability to deliver before taking the next step. Remember, they haven’t spoken to a live person yet or walked through the door of your bricks and mortar store. It’s just them and your site, both separated by a graphical user interface.
But let’s assume for a moment that your site does a good job of answering their questions and providing the exact product/service they need. You may be thinking that the sale’s in the bag, right? Well, don’t start counting your chickens just yet.
The next step, whether consciously or unconsciously, is whether they feel they can trust you. As so often happens in the offline world, this decision will be made in an instant. Intuitively, the decision will be made on what they initially see and read.
Sites that are able to convey trust and confidence on the web tend to have greater success, turning visitors into consumers. For those sites that want to convert more, read on…
The internet is rife with DIY web design sites. They’re often cheap and usually free. These are perfect for a web start-up on a tight budget, right? Wrong. You get what you pay for and cheap or free, looks cheap or free. Whether it’s online or offline, first impressions are critical. Investing your money with a professional web designer will make your first impressions count.
The quickest way to kill a site’s credibility is with a typo or spelling mistake. Studies performed by the Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab reveal that even the smallest mistakes can affect people’s trust in what you have written. While errors are likely to slip by even the most professional proofreaders, take every precaution to eliminate typographical and or spelling mistakes. In doing so, you will earn the trust and respect of your readers.
If you want people to purchase your products or invest in your business, you have to explain your credentials/expertise/education and relevant experience up front. Too often I have been confronted with vague bios that contain fluffy marketing speak instead of relevant information to the offering at hand. It’s more important to share specific education, degrees, documented achievements, awards and the number of years in business. Venture capitalists will tell you that they invest as much in the people leading their projects as in the ideas themselves. Your customers think the same way.
It’s obvious to a visitor when a website hasn’t been updated. When that happens, the organization or individual behind it loses credibility. The world changes as time moves on and the web changes even faster. We tend to trust those who keep in step and stay current. Reading something that is visibly outdated such as a date or information such as citing Jean Chretien as our current Prime Minister is jarring and readers instantly discount the rest of your content as outdated and not credible.
There’s no argument that it is a great challenge to provide updated and original content for blogs or social media sites on a regular basis. Sometimes it can be a chore, especially if you aren’t an experienced or talented writer. So while it may seem easy for some website owners to cut and paste content from other sites onto their own to appear current, Google knows! More importantly, it’s easy for your visitors and the people/company that owns the copyright to find out. If you’re going to ‘borrow’ content, at least rewrite it. Big Brother is watching.
If you talk to writers new to SEO copywriting they like to discuss ‘keyword density’. What they mean is that for every certain number of words written, you need a proportionate amount of keywords. For example, a keyword density of 10 percent would mean that for every 100 written words, ten must be keywords. While that may sound good in theory, it makes for a very stiff and formulaic read. When you focus too much on following this theory, you stifle any creativity and flow to your copy. That may appeal to search engines, but not to consumers.
American Express said it best with their tagline, “Membership has its privileges”. That sentiment is as true today as it ever was. By adding your affiliations to recognizable organizations specific to your trade and/or to well-known entities such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or your local Board of Trade (BOT), you are adding instant credibility to your site’s reputation. This is called the ‘halo effect’ in marketing speak. Why not let your visitors know that you’re a member in good standing and bask in their glow?
Is there an opportunity to build more trust and make yours a more credible site? Go through the above 7 step checklist. Implementing even one of these recommendations can have a dramatic effect on the success of your site.
Yours in Trust,