What Makes a Website Credible?
Credibility is really the backbone of any website. If visitors are in any doubt over how trustworthy or reliable your site is, you can bet they’ll play it safe and leave – just in case.
Your website’s credibility can directly impact your rankings, too. Google wants to deliver trustworthy websites to its users, and looks for the credibility factors below when assessing how well a site should rank.
We’re going to walk you through 30 of the best ways to boost your website credibility, to help you create a more credible (and successful) website. With our top tips you’ll have an incredible website in the best possible way!
Website Credibility Factors: Top 30
1. No technical glitches.
3. Professional and consistent design.
4. Attractive color scheme.
5. Readable fonts.
6. High quality images.
7. Professional logo.
8. Clear navigation.
9. Easy to understand content.
10. Good spelling and grammar.
11. Up to date contact information.
12. A helpful, human ‘About Us’ page
13. Total transparency.
14. Non-intrusive adverts.
15. Reliable source links.
16. No jargon.
17. Helpful FAQs.
18. Up to date blog posts.
19. Expert content.
20. No forced registrations.
21. Ranking highly.
22. Guest posts.
23. Multi-platform advertising.
24. Real-life reviews.
25. Positive testimonials.
26. External reviews.
27. Third-party trust seals.
28. Detailed case studies.
30. Media exposure.
Before we jump into our list of website credibility factors, it’s worth mentioning the four different types of credibility on the web:
Each one describes a different way that you can earn credibility online – it’s helpful to understand each one to ensure that you’re ticking credibility boxes from all angles. Here’s a quick summary of what each of these terms means:
| Credibility type || What does it mean? || Examples |
| Presumed || The user has existing assumptions or familiarity with your brand. || I’ve seen your adverts |
I trust your domain name because it ends in .org
I read your guest post on another site
| Reputed || The user trusts a third-party approval or referral of your site || My friend told me about you |
I can see this site has won awards
There are lots of positive reviews on this website
| Surface || The user forms an opinion based on appearances and first impressions || I like the design of this website |
This content is easy to read
The colors, fonts, and logo look professional and trustworthy
| Earned || The user bases their opinion on their own experiences over time || I always enjoy using this website and find it very reliable |
The customer support is excellent
This website is updated regularly
You want to make sure you’re covering all four aspects of credibility, so that people have a consistently credible experience with your brand. For example, it’s no good putting in the work for advertising and third-party recommendations if your website design fails to impress.
This list is split into these four credibility types, so that you can create a seamless “credibility journey” for your visitors. Here’s a quick look at all 30 credibility factors, and which credibility type they belong to:
We’ll also label each credibility factor with:
- Design: Credibility factors that relate to your website’s design, appearance, and branding
- Technical: Credibility factors that relate to the technical side of running your website
- Content: Credibility factors that relate to the written content on and about your website
Labelling these categories will help you recognize and action each credibility factor as we go.
#1. No Technical Glitches
Technical errors on your website are a sure way to scare visitors away to competitor sites. Not only are technical glitches frustrating for users, they also affect their confidence in your website, business, blog, or store.
Here are some common technical errors you should avoid:
- Broken links
- Slow-loading pages and images
- Server errors
- Bugs and viruses
To reduce the chances of running into these issues, choose a reliable web host that comes with security measures built-in, and that gives you enough bandwidth to keep your site running quickly and smoothly when dealing with lots of visitors.
Have you ever landed on a website and seen this message from Google?
It hardly inspires trust, does it? To avoid this rather alarming message appearing in front of your visitors, your site needs an SSL certificate.
Most hosting providers and website builders give you SSL for free as part of your plan, but always check as it’s vital for creating a credible website.
SSL stands for secure socket layer, and it works by encrypting information passing between your site and your visitors. In short, it protects information such as passwords and payment details from hackers.
Find out more
#3. Professional and Consistent Design
Did you know that 75% of people’s judgements of credibility come from design? Branding and design choices on your website aren’t superficial – they have a huge impact on your site’s credibility.
When choosing colors, fonts, and styles, make sure you keep designs consistent across your website, social media, emails, packaging, and so on – a study by Lucidpress showed just how important consistent branding is.
#4. Attractive Color Scheme
Have you heard of color psychology? It’s the belief that different colors create emotional responses in people, making colors a powerful tool in branding. For example, red can create a sense of excitement, but it’s also a warning color – too much of it can be overwhelming.
A poorly chosen color scheme will make your website look amatuer and unprofessional, so be mindful when choosing the right color scheme for your site. Don’t throw too many colors at your website, and make sure your chosen colors don’t clash either!
#5. Readable Fonts
Fonts are often overlooked, but they’re just as important as your color scheme – for example, would you hire a wedding planner if they used comic sans on their website? Probably not!
The key thing about fonts is that they must be easy to read – if your font is too complex, small, or doesn’t show up against your background color, people won’t bother to read your text at all.
Five popular fonts to avoid if you want a credible website include:
- Comic sans
- Bradley Hand
Find out more
- Need a hand working out How to Pick the Perfect Font? Our helpful guide will walk you through the dos and don’ts!
#6. High Quality Images
Everyone hates grainy, low quality images. Nothing screams “amateur” like a murky, poorly-lit, low resolution image (just check out the example below), so always make sure all your media is top notch.
If you’re taking your own product photos, make sure you think about lighting, background, and photo quality, and avoid using the flash.
Always compress media using a compressor tool such as Kraken.io – this will help your images load faster. Slow loading images can cause 39% of users to abandon a website, so don’t skip this important step!
#7. Professional Logo
The same principle applies to logos as it does with images – you need a high quality logo to use across your website, social media, and email. This will help with your brand consistency too! You can use a logo maker such as Tailor Brands, which you can use for free or choose a premium plan if you want a really professional logo.
#8. Clear Navigation
People need to navigate your site without having to overthink it. As soon as a visitor has to ask “where is this thing I’m looking for? Why can’t I find it?” you’re in danger of losing them. Name each page in your menu, and make your menu easy to find on every page.
#9. Easy-to-Understand Content
Your website can tick all the credibility boxes out there, but if your content is a mess your visitors will backtrack to Google as fast as the back button can take them.
Use simple, easy to understand language, in short bite-size chunks. Use headings, don’t use complex words, and front-load important information so that readers in a rush can easily scan your content. Oh, and use bullet points – 70% of people pay attention to bulleted lists!
Find out more
- Check out our ultimate guide on Writing for the Web for top tips on writing better online copy.
#10. Good Spelling and Grammar
Proof-read your website copy to make sure there are no typos or grammatical mistakes. The odd error is bound to slip in now and then, but if your content is riddled with confusing and obvious mistakes it’s going to put people off. They’ll start to lose faith in what you’re saying, even if you’re an expert!
Simple spell-check, tools like Grammarly, or even asking someone else to read your work before publishing are all great ways to avoid common typos!
#11. Up to Date Contact Information
Did you know that 44% of users will leave a website if there’s no contact information? Make sure you include a Contact Us page, or even a contact form on your homepage. And make your contact details super easy to find, too!
#12. A Helpful, Human ‘About Us’ Page
People want to know that there are real humans behind your website, so try to create an ‘About Us’ page that removes anonymity and delivers some personality. Photos and bios for you and your team members is an effective and easy way to start!
Find out more
- Read our guide on How to Write an About Us Page for more top tips on connecting with your visitors.
#13. Total Transparency
Hiding information, whether intentionally or unintentionally, will damage users’ trust in you. Be totally upfront with information such as:
- Returns policies
- Money-back guarantees
- Terms and conditions
- General policy information
- Shipping methods and standard delivery times
Give information before your visitors even have to ask – for example, if you’re experiencing shipping delays, whip out an email before your customers can start to worry. This will boost their trust in you, because you’re keeping them informed at all times.
#14. Non-Intrusive Adverts
Too many adverts make your site look unprofessional, and they’ll also annoy your visitors. Adverts block the content visitors have come to see, they can slow load speeds down, and they can also make a website feel “cheap” or “spammy”. Keep adverts non-intrusive and to a minimum – your visitors will thank you!
#15. Reliable Source Links
Imagine you’re on a website and you see this stat: “Choosing a specific shade of blue resulted in an extra $80 million in revenue for Bing.” Wow, you think, that’s impressive. Could it be… a little too impressive?
You might start to wonder if the statistic is accurate. You might want to read more about it. But there’s no source link.
Adding source links for statistics, facts, case studies, and examples provides context for your readers, and increases their trust that your content is accurate and reliable.
Always check your sources to make sure they’re reliable. It’s like being back in college – linking to Wikipedia isn’t going to score you very high credibility marks. Likewise, linking to a low-quality or sketchy website will lose you trust, and can also affect your SEO because Google judges your site from the quality of your links.
#16. No Jargon
Avoid jargon where you can. Many people who use jargon seem to think it will make them seem more of an expert, but really it just alienates the majority of readers. The truth is jargon can impact on your conversions, and it’s best to leave it out.
It’s easy to use jargon without realizing, especially when you’re familiar with a topic. Ask someone else to read your copy and point out any jargon they don’t understand. Whenever you do use jargon, explain it straight away to help your readers understand!
#17. Helpful FAQs
An FAQs section is the perfect place to be upfront, open, and honest with your readers, by answering common questions they’re likely to have. It’s also an opportunity to address negative questions or suspicions, such as “Why should I trust your recommendations?” or “How does your site make money?” or even “Can I get my money back?”
#18. Up-to-Date Blog Posts
If you land on an article or blog that seems interesting, but hasn’t been updated since 2001, are you likely to stick around? Or would you seek out a more recent website? If you run a blog, updating old content and publishing new content regularly is vital to earning readers’ trust.
Find out more
#19. Expert Content
Answer questions and solve problems for your readers using your expertise. This can be in the form of written content, videos, or even customer support. By showing your confidence in a certain topic or niche, you’ll earn visitors’ respect.
Think about things that demonstrate your expertise – for example, your qualifications, your achievements, or how long you’ve been operating in your field. Providing proof of your expertise will help people trust you faster!
#20. No Forced Registrations
Don’t tempt readers with content and then spring a registration form on them – it’ll put them off because it removes any sense of choice. Likewise, if users are filling out a form, give them a choice to unsubscribe from your newsletter as part of the sign-up – people like to feel in control, so give them options.
#21. Ranking Highly
By ranking high up in search results, and always on the first page, people will assume that your page is relevant and high quality, because Google has ranked your website above others.
Use headings, compress images, customize metadata, and make sure your website is mobile-friendly – these are just some of the ways you can start optimizing your website for Google.
The good news is that a lot of the website credibility factors we talk about on this page will also help your website to rank well. Google values trustworthy, high quality websites that are useful to its users – and there’s an increasing focus on expertise, authority, and trust (EAT). So improving credibility should in turn, make your website more attractive to Google.
Find out more
- Discover the Best SEO Website Builders to help your content rank in Google.
#22. Guest Posts
Guest posts are ideal for boosting your familiarity. If someone has seen your name attached to one of their favorite blogs, or reads on your bio that you’ve written for a notable website, they’re more likely to trust you.
#23. Multi-Platform Advertising
This is where strong branding plays a big role in getting people familiar with you before they even land on your website. Good old-fashioned advertising is still a great way of finding new audiences. Places you can advertise include:
- Social media, such as Instagram and Facebook
- Google Ads
#24. Real-Life Reviews
Reviews are important for signalling trust to new users – good reviews show that you provide a great product or service, while bad reviews show that you can handle feedback as long as you respond positively.
97% of consumers say that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, so if you’re running an online store, customer reviews are a must.
Find out more
- Learn more about the power of customer reviews and testimonials in our infographic: How to Use Online Reviews to Market to Different Generations
#25. Positive Testimonials
Testimonials are very similar to reviews, but they’re more one-sided, and you usually choose which ones appear on your website. Testimonials usually tell a customer’s story of how your brand has benefitted them, and sends a positive message to new visitors.
If you’re accepting comments or reviews on your site, monitor activity and delete any that look like spam, containing suspicious links or sketchy content. Comments or reviews like these can put people off, and can even put them in danger of hacks if they click on a malicious link!
#26. External Reviews
What if, when a visitor landed on your website, they’d already heard of you? And not only that – they also have a positive image of your brand. This is the power of external reviews. When another, reputable site gives your brand or product a positive review, it increases your exposure and boosts your credibility.
#27. Third-Party Trust Seals
Trust seals from unbiased, credible third-parties boosts your own credibility by association. After all, if a well-known and trusted brand okays your website, it must be trustworthy, right? It’s also often a quick way to show visitors that you have security measures in place.
#28. Detailed Case Studies
Case studies differ from testimonials and reviews in that they usually have a dedicated page and go into more detail. It shows both sides of the project rather than simply using the customer’s words. For example, you might include information on what your goal was and how you achieved that goal for your client.
If your brand has won (or even been shortlisted) for any awards, shout about it on your website! Be selective, though – don’t enter competitions randomly. You want to be associated with reputable awards if you want to use them to improve your credibility.
#30. Media Exposure
If your brand or products receive press coverage that’s a huge credibility boost – and the more prestigious the publication, the better. This might seem daunting for small startups, but keep contacting relevant journalists and editors. You can even write the coverage for them – by putting the work in, you maximize your chances of getting noticed and accepted!
As you can see, there are tons of ways to make your website more credible!
Some are easy, like adding bios to your ‘About Us’ page, while others take a little more time and effort, such as getting reviews from third-party sites.
However, there is something here for everyone, whatever stage of website building you’re at. Make sure you’re covering a good range of presumed, earned, reputed, and surface credibility.
Website Credibility Factors 1- 30: Recap
- No technical glitches.
- Professional and consistent design.
- Attractive color scheme.
- Readable fonts.
- High quality images.
- Professional logo.
- Clear navigation.
- Easy to understand content.
- Good spelling and grammar.
- Up to date contact information.
- A helpful, human ‘About Us’ page
- Total transparency.
- Non-intrusive adverts.
- Reliable source links.
- No jargon.
- Helpful FAQs.
- Up to date blog posts.
- Expert content.
- No forced registrations.
- Ranking highly.
- Guest posts.
- Multi-platform advertising.
- Real-life reviews.
- Positive testimonials.
- External reviews.
- Third-party trust seals.
- Detailed case studies.
- Media exposure.
Surface credibility factors are the easiest and quickest to implement on your site – make sure your design and content are as good as they can be and it’ll have a huge impact on your website’s overall credibility.
Earned credibility is also easy to achieve through using reliable sources, adding FAQs, avoiding jargon, and keeping your website updated.
Reputed credibility is more of a long-game – start asking for reviews and gather case studies to put on your website. To get started on your presumed credibility, consider writing guest posts for other sites and invest in advertising.
Now you’re ready to win over new visitors with a truly credible website – come and let us know how you get on!