Trust: The Universal Search Engine Marketing Key

by Dennis Miedema October 12th, 2012 

trust

No matter what industry you are in or where your target audience is located, it is common sense that earning trust on your website is the key to success. So, search engine marketing for your products or services should be molded around gaining it and taking advantage of it.

Your search engine marketing strategy shouldn't just be about traffic, rankings, and page rank. The bottom line is: all of that fancy stuff is absolutely useless if it doesn't help you get more sales. Your online marketing strategy should be well rounded and cover all bases. That means dot your I's and cross your T's. You can do SEO, build links, and add content to your site all day long, but all of that effort is done in vain if consumers and search engines do not see your site as being trustworthy.

A Common Internet Marketing Mistake

Although gaining trust should be at the very top of every site's priority list, this is a topic that so many search engine optimization firms and business owners totally overlook. Again, you can focus on all of the things that will help improve search engine rankings, but what good does it do you to have a million visitors a month if it doesn't result in any sales?

The point is, earning and keeping your visitors trust should be the starting point for every single search engine marketing campaign. You have probably heard of on-page SEO and off-page SEO at some point, but have you ever heard of on-page trust and off-page trust? The answer is probably no, until now anyways.

What is On-page Trust?

On-page trust is simply the impression you make on a visitor that determines whether they trust you or not. With such a vast number of industries and niches on the internet, it is impossible to provide a universal blueprint that will work for everyone. However, there are several things you can do to gain the trust of consumers for pretty much any product or service you are marketing on search engines. Here are a few of the easiest ways to help earn your customer's business

  • Have an easily accessible privacy policy: Privacy is a big concern for allot of internet users, so you should tell them exactly how you will use their information. Not only does this protect you legally, but it also is a good indicator that you are responsible with your visitor's personal information.
  • Include a visible phone number: As a consumer, you would want to be able to call a company to speak with a live person if you had a problem with their product or service, wouldn't you? Sites without a visible phone number are definitely not as trustworthy as ones that do.
  • Include an address: Do you think that scam sites would openly give out their physical address and risk having a confrontation with unpleased customers? No, they wouldn't. So, if you have a legitimate company with a quality product or service, why not make your address easy to find by putting it in the footer of all your pages?
  • Display trust seals: Trust seals are small pictures that represent a company's effort to provide a quality product or service. These include things like a commitment to privacy, memberships in organizations such as the better business bureau, and anti-malware or virus scanning.

What is Off-page Trust?

Off-page trust is the impression you give consumers on sites other than your own. It is human nature for a consumer to be suspicious or sceptical of a website and do some due diligence before making a purchase. Before a visitor whips out their credit card, what do you think they do to find out if you are a legitimate company or a scam artist? Nine times out of ten, they are going to look for information about your company on other websites. The doubtful consumer will likely go to Google and type in a search phrase such as "your company name scams", "your company name reviews" or "your company name rip-offs".

You might think, "So what? There is nothing I can do about that". Wrong, yes there is! It is called reputation management, and sadly, this is another search engine marketing service that is often forgotten or swept under the rug. You might have heard the expression "bad PR is better than no PR" before. As a business owner, do you really buy that?

Why do so many search engine marketing agencies not offer this service? Well, cleaning up bad PR associated with a customer's site does not bring nearly as much glory as an extra hundred visitors per month. However, from a business owner's point of view, wouldn't you agree that an extra hundred visitors is an extra hundred chances to give off a negative impression of your company if they can easily find tons of bad PR?

So now that you know about it, how can you implement reputation management into your search engine marketing arsenal? Here are a few steps that you can take to protect your brand and reputation online:

  • Interact with customers on social media sites: Everyone in the search engine marketing industry knows the importance of likes, shares, and bookmarks from social media sites, but this is often the only thing businesses focus on. Ironically, we forget to be sociable on social media sites. Interacting with your customers not only increases the almighty links that everyone is after, but more importantly, it builds trust with current and future clients. Do you really think that scam sites participate on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+? No, doing that would just provide a place for them to be exposed by consumers who have been ripped off. So, if you have a legitimate company, what are you afraid of? Get out there and get sociable.
  • Always resolve disputes with customers: Regardless of how great your business ethics are, your company is composed of human beings, who make mistakes. When this happens, you always need to make things right with the customer. We have all heard the clich "the customer is always right". Although most would agree that this is not always the case, from a search engine marketing standpoint, you better learn to adapt this approach. All it takes is a few rip-off reports, BBB complaints, or negative blog or forum comments to experience a major decrease in sales. Angry consumers will even develop an entire site for the sole purpose of voicing their displeasure of your company. The only way to protect yourself from an online assault of upset clients is to immediately make things right with them.
  • Respond to negative comments on blogs or forums: As a business owner, you should definitely be concerned if someone is talking negatively about your company on a blog or forum. Many times, the comments aren't even legit. Your competitors can easily create a fake profile and start hammering away at your reputation. You should get in there and get in the fight, but always maintain a high level of professionalism when doing so. If there are fake comments, post your response and then ask the site owner to remove the false allegations. If it is a real customer with a real complaint, then follow the above mentioned tip and resolve the dispute with the offended individual. You may be surprised how willing they are to remove negative references to your company after you apologize and address their issues.

Search Engine Marketing: Walking In Your Customers Shoes

One of the easiest ways to not get off track with your search engine marketing campaign is to put yourself in your customer's shoes. Forget what you know about your company. Just look at what consumers see. With that approach, you will probably notice that your priority list will change, but the long-term result is a more trustworthy reputation, which ultimately leads to an increase in sales.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy 9 Trust Symbols You Can Use to Increase Conversions and Customer Confidence

Dennis Miedema

Dennis Miedema is the founder and CEO of Motriz Marketing and crazy passionate about online marketing. Whenever he's not ranting about internet marketing, Dennis loves to watch movies or The Dog Whisperer and playing games on his Xbox 360 like a total geek.

Motriz Marketing Blog

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4 Responses to “Trust: The Universal Search Engine Marketing Key”

  1. Elena Anne says:

    Thank you for this! I was hooked by the headline alone, and love the whole piece. I couldn't agree more. There are some companies that have managed to gain top ranking in the search results, but just underneath their company listing there are links to bad reviews and customer complaints about them on other sites. Putting yourself in the customer's (or potential customer's) shoes is a sage piece of advice. This strategy of trying to look at things from another's perspective is valuable in just about every aspect of life! :)

    • Elena Anne: I cannot agree more. That's why I recommend setting up some Google alerts for things like company name(s), employee name(s), and product name(s) so you can see if someone is saying anything negative about you and then respond to it a.s.a.p. Result: avoiding things like people or companies dedicating entire pages (or even websites) to complaining about you. This ensures there won't be any negative pages when people do a brand search the majority of the time. Another gem: type in company, employee, and product name(s) into Twitter Search so you can respond to complaints. It's also a great way of doing customer service btw!

  2. Alison says:

    Some really good advice in there Dennis – it's quite interesting seeing differences in conversion between pages with obvious signs of trust – particularly the physical address and real land-line number (as opposed to a free phone or cellphone only)

    We wouldn't have believed it – but 2-3 times conversion over not having that type of doubt-doing-away-with information is typical – so we now stick a physical address writ large, association and trade body certification etc in ALL footers – plus it's nice getting schema code in there too ;)

    Footers get quite big, but heck!

    • Alison, just out of curiosity: have you tested using trust signals/logos and so on not in the footer but directly underneath or next to a call-to-action yet? That could also boost your conversion considerably!