The 9 Elements of a Trustworthy Website
Nowadays, if you want your business to be taken seriously, you need to have a website. This has become common knowledge for nearly the last two decades. But simply having a web presence doesn’t mean that visitors will automatically trust you.
We can all relate to times we’ve opened a website only to take one horrified look before clicking the back button. In fact, this is something that SEO expert Rand Fishkin mentioned in his appearance on The Rankings Podcast. In internet marketing terms – that action is referred to as a “bounce”. And bounce rate is an important metric as it measures how many people leave your site immediately after arriving. So really, you want that number to be as low as possible, meaning more people stick around to check out what you have to offer.
So what do you need to consider when creating your site to make it welcoming and confidence-inspiring? Well, whether you’re making it yourself or hiring someone else to build it, these are the nine elements to keep in mind.
1. Domain name:
Your domain name is one of the main ways potential clients will find you. It is the address people use to access your website, for example, www.rankings.io. A good practice is to keep these relatively short – 2-3 words – and around 20 characters. They should ideally be (or closely resemble) your practice name and shouldn’t include any confusing numbers or special characters.
2. SSL Certificate
SSL certificates basically make the information a visitor gives your website private by encrypting it. This means that any data they hand over (like contact information on a webform) can’t be viewed by anyone eavesdropping. You’ll know if a website has an SSL certificate if it has an ‘s’ in the URL after ‘http’. For example, https://rankings.io/. You’re usually able to purchase an SSL certificate alongside your domain name for a few dollars per month.
3. Clean Design
This is where you can start getting more creative with your site. However, you need to be mindful of making a good first impression. According to bluecorona.com,
“48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.”
That’s a staggering number. Things to look out for regarding design include:
- Text – is the font appropriate? Does it exceed any borders or margins?
- Logo – is the resolution high enough or does it look pixelated?
- Header – does it contain clear links and menus to make the site easily navigable?
- Footer – does it display the additional content that might no be present in the header? For example contact information, social media links, copyright information, etc.
- Menu – if there is one, does it easily let you find the information you want.
You will also consider color schemes and branding. But these will depend on what you’ve already established at your firm, so try to keep your image consistent.
4. Reviews and Testimonials
You can post feedback you’ve received on your website, or you can link to a review site like trust pilot. The idea here is to show that other people – real people – have used your services before. This makes the new visitor feel like they’re not stepping into unknown territory or taking a gamble on your firm. And as many of you will know, some of your best salespeople are your previous clients – so show them off!
You can also link to your social channels. Here visitors will be able to find even more reviews and see your interaction with followers, validating your site further.
5. Clean Copy
There’5 nothiNg moore suspic1ous th@n copy tha’ts fu11 0f Errors. It’s the first thing that tips you off to a phishing scam when you get those emails from “your bank”. So don’t let errors creep into your website. The occasional typos are bound to occur – so double-check and check again. If you’re not too confident in your ability, you could hire a copywriter or you could even hire a freelance proofreader to check over your work. Just don’t let a rogue apostrophe sabotage your credibility.
6. Limit Ad Content
It’s unlikely you’ll host any ads on your law firm’s website. But if for some reason you do have any (maybe you’re an auto injury lawyer that has a partnership with a vehicle recovery service), keep the number of ads to a minimum. Maybe you could place a small ad in a border or, even better, opt for advertorial instead. Advertorial content is basically an ad disguised as copy. So rather than being paid to host a garish banner, you could instead write some thoughtful and flattering blog posts about your amazing relationship with your preferred vehicle recovery service and their low low prices. And whatever you do – never host a pop-up ad.
7. Contact Information
Make sure visitors know how to get in touch with you. A good idea is to have an address, email, contact number and your social media (more on social media for lawyers here) somewhere discrete but logical (in the footer for example). But also have a dedicated contact page that lists all of that information and maybe has a contact form or chat feature too. After all, why optimize the website to bring down your bounce rate if you can’t convert your visitors?
8. Be Human
If you’ve got the money it can be tempting to splash out on graphics, animations, illustrations and chatbots. And while these have their place, too much of them will sterilize your site. You need to put visitors at ease and show them that there is a person (or people) behind the website. Have a team photo in the ‘About us’ section, add portraits to your attorney profiles. Reassure your visitors that when they get in touch there will be a human being on the other end to answer their query.
9. Great Media
Building on point 8 – absolutely make sure you have photos and maybe even some videos. Try to avoid stock photography. Even though they might show people, visitors could still feel that the human connection is missing because they can tell when it’s not original content.
Try to include a video too. This is something that previous guest of The Rankings Podcast, Michael Mogill absolutely advocates for. Videos can help your visitors form an emotional connection with your site and your firm, giving some just enough of a nudge to fill out a contact form and convert. And you don’t have to make a blockbuster quality feature either. Just try to make something authentic with some sort of story that can engage your audience – like your reason for wanting to help people as a lawyer. You can even use our article on the importance of storytelling in video as a guide.
So whether you’re about to make a new website or just want to check yours is up to scratch, hopefully, this guide will have given you a few pointers on how to keep it looking trustworthy and a lot less bouncy.