Build a Trusted Brand

How to know if your website is credible: The ultimate checklist

Wednesday, 24 January 2024
ultimate trustpilot credibility checklist

Driving more traffic to your website is one thing. Giving potential customers a trustworthy website experience — and making sure they stick around long enough to make a purchase — is quite another. But how exactly do you do that?

By knowing what makes a website credible. Putting your most trustworthy foot forward is always a good idea according to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer — just ask the 71% of people who say it’s more important to trust the brands they buy from today than in the past. 

But trustworthiness has the potential to make or break brands when consumers’ willingness to spend is low. When it comes to turning site visitors into potential (and then repeat) customers, the first step is a credible and trustworthy website to keep people from clicking the back button as soon as they land on-site. 

Never forget: A high bounce rate tends to come with a low conversion rate. The longer site visitors browse on your website, the more likely they are to make a purchase — or at very least, engage with your brand by subscribing to your emails or following you on social media. 

That’s why we put this checklist together. So your website can help you with proving business credibility.

9 ways to know if your website is helping you by proving credibility

Without further ado, here are nine questions to help you evaluate your credibility today, and pinpoint what you can to do to establish yourself as an even more trustworthy website in the future.   

1. Does your web design make a good first impression? 

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and the design of your website is a big part of that. According to the experts at WebFX, web design is responsible for 94% of first impressions and 75% influence over whether site visitors perceive a website as credible and trustworthy.  

Whether you choose to build the site yourself, use a template, or hire a designer, your focus should be on coming across as a trustworthy website so visitors stick around. To that end, we recommend sticking to the latest and greatest web design best practices like the ones below from Wix:

  • Maintain visual consistency across the website

  • Use a clear visual hierarchy

  • Incorporate white space

  • Prioritize intuitive navigation

  • Steer clear of too much text 

  • Make sure calls to action stand out 

  • Design accessibility and mobile friendliness are key

  • Avoid slow site speeds

2. Are your contact details and business information easily discoverable? 

Let’s just say there’s a reason why consumers are always advised to check for contact details when determining if a website is credible.

While an illegitimate website might use logos and content copied and pasted from a real website in hopes that no one notices their hidden contact information, a trustworthy website has nothing to hide and will make their contact details readily available.  

A street address and phone number imply that you are reachable, and are therefore a real company. Real = credible, at the risk of stating the obvious. So, it makes sense that a recent HubSpot study found that 62% of consumers think contact information is the most important element on a website. Visitors will most likely be looking for it in your footer, and possibly in your header if your business depends on incoming calls. A contact page is a must too, so make sure people can find it easily.

Making your business information and contact details easily discoverable can help you get in the good graces of site visitors and Google alike and goes a long way in proving business credibility. Clear information on who is responsible for your website is one of many criteria in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines — and keeping your contact info front and center can help you tick that box.  

3. Are you making the most of social proof?

In case you missed it, we live in a time where 89% of consumers check online reviews as part of their shopping journey. 

Social proof has been around since the dawn of marketing, and we’d argue that it’s only gotten more valuable as consumers are faced with infinite purchasing options

Proof of happy customers is a big confidence booster when it comes to making purchases, so showcasing any testimonials, customer stories, or reviews you might have will make your website credible and trustworthy. 

If you don’t have enough reviews just yet, rest assured that social proof can take many forms. Consider publishing case studies of existing clients, or link to some of your most encouraging social comments your customers might have left. Highlighting your social media following or any social media posts your customers might have mentioned you in can have a positive impact on your visitors’ purchasing decisions.

Screenshot of Fabletics page showcasing its credibility with user-generated photos and Trustpilot reviews

Example of social proof on Fabletics’ website

4. Do you have pages for your Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use?

In the same vein as sharing your contact information, having a privacy policy and terms of use page improves website credibility by demonstrating transparency to site visitors and customers alike.

Your privacy policy explains what you do with customers’ data and how you protect their details, which is non-negotiable depending on where you’re doing business. No matter where you are, it’s a key ingredient in building trust with the 81% of people who believe the way a company treats their personal data is indicative of the way it views them as a customer. 

5. Are you using third-party trust signals, symbols, and badges? 

Third-party trust signals (also known as trust badges) are something consumers look for when deciding whether a website is credible — especially when the website in question collects sensitive customer information like payment details. 

From recognizable icons and verification symbols, to security certificates and the anatomy of the website’s URL, you’ve likely seen plenty of trust signals that make a website more credible.

The Trustpilot logo, Trustpilot score, and on-site widgets for showing off reviews and ratings all work wonders when it comes to showing off that others have done business with you and had a great experience and proving credibility.

In fact, 73% of consumers agree that a good Trustpilot score makes them more likely to trust a brand — even if they hadn’t previously heard of Trustpilot. 

The Yacht Week home page displaying Trustpilot reviews with a Trustbox carousel

The Yacht Week uses a TrustBox carousel to show its visitors what they can expect

Other trust signals like Paypal, McAfee, or Norton give customers peace of mind when they’re about to complete a payment online. Web research group Baymard Institute conducted a survey asking shoppers which trust signals resonated the most with them when shopping online.

Graph showing which kind of trust and security symbols are best

Trust signals make your website more credible

Norton and McAfee may have been the most popular ones in that study, but new options are constantly coming into play as the landscape changes. 

The secret to finding the most effective trust signal for your customers? Understand the needs and concerns of your target audience, and let those be your guide.

6. Are you limiting advertisements?

Although advertisements may be a nice form of income for your business, keep in mind that there’s a reason why 31% of people use an ad blocker.

Marigold’s Global Consumer Trends Index 2023 found that the pop up ads and banners of yesteryear are as ineffective for marketers as they are for consumers — and if your website has too many ads, whether your own or a third party’s, they might hurt your bottom line more than they help. 

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but listening to consumers is more impactful than marketing to them — and the people have spoken. Trust in advertising is on the decline, so if it’s a big part of your web presence, you might be compromising trust in your brand.

7. Are you relying too much on stock photography?

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and research proves it with 67% of consumers saying the quality of a product image is more important than anything else on the product page.

Sure, there’s a time and place for stock photography — but to make sure your website comes off as credible and trustworthy, stock photos should be used with care. 

The reason behind that is a phenomenon called the picture superiority effect, where people are more likely to remember concepts (think: your products and your brand) through pictures than they are through words. Given that many brands can use the same stock image, it’s more likely than you think that a site visitor will recognize images on your site from a previous experience with another brand. 

It only takes milliseconds for them to project whatever experience they had the last time they saw that stock image onto your brand. And that might explain why studies show that a real picture of a client performs 35% better than a stock photo portrait

If you absolutely need to use stock photography, try to find images that are on brand and avoid ones that are noticeably overused. If possible, tweak the images by adding text or graphics — or even changing the background — to make them your own. 

And if you’re really feeling adventurous, consider taking your own photos. Between smartphone camera quality and the accessibility of mobile photo editing apps, you might surprise yourself with the quality. 

8. Are you auditing website content to keep it fresh, relevant, and high quality?

The written content on your website plays a big role in the first impression you make. According to the 2023 Trust in Marketing Index, 33% of people say stale or outdated content on a website takes a toll on their trust in that brand — so a low hanging fruit is regularly auditing your website to ensure facts, statistics, and even links are all accurate and high quality. 

Beyond the basics of content quality, keep in mind that 42% of people agree that content that speaks to everyone speaks to no one — and 71% expect brands to deliver personalized interactions, including with their content. 

To keep your content hyper-relevant to site visitors, consider incorporating some personalization — like tailored product recommendations or landing pages based on search intent. Just make sure to get explicit permission from site visitors to collect their data. 

9. Does your brand feel human enough?

If you’re like the 84% of business execs who believe consumers highly trust their brand, you should know that only 27% of consumers say the same. 

The reality is that in this day and age, it’s easier for people to trust other people than it is to trust faceless companies and institutions. That’s why humanizing your brand makes your website feel more trustworthy. It’s as simple as adopting a more relatable and personable communication style in your web copy, and steering clear of too much jargon and formality. 

Make no mistake — you can still demonstrate expertise and credibility, and even share technical or educational content, while using a friendly and human tone. The secret is speaking in your audience’s language — oftentimes, that’s just how you’d speak to someone in real life. 

To add even more of a human touch, don’t be afraid to give site visitors a glimpse behind the scenes at the real people behind your brand. 

A trustworthy website turns site visitors into customers

Whether you’re an established brand or new player on the scene, a credible and trustworthy website is a determining factor for success. And while some of the items on our website credibility checklist can be quickly adjusted for an overnight improvement, building a trustworthy website requires consistency and commitment in the long term. 

But if you consider trust to be the first principle of conversion, and your website to be your chance to make a trustworthy first impression — it’s worth it.

Building trust is what we’re here for. Learn more about how this US retailer partnered with Trustpilot to build trust with their customers and increased ROI in the process.


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