By now we all know the general qualities of a good site versus a bad one. We know how to make use of SEO practices, we know the importance of quality content, and we know what Google does and does not want to find on a website. That much we know.

But what is it that a website really needs to be successful? What overlooked factor contributes to the long-term prosperity of a website? How can a website go beyond earning just clicks and generate a following of loyal users who return time and time again?

The balance and upkeep of a website is a demanding job. When you're trying to maintain content management with social media posting and engagement with outreach, the finer necessities of website health can fall through the cracks. But at the foundational level of your website is a make or break factor that is always worthy of your attention and efforts: trust.

Trust is the backbone of websites that last. In a digital world that's populated with scams, sources of misinformation, and fraudulence, user trust is the chief indicator of how successful a website will or will not be. Your site could have the best content in the world, mobile pages that load instantly, and a carousel of beautiful product pictures, but if your trust signals are lacking, your bounce rate will sky rocket.

Think of trust signals as fertilizer for the growing plant that is your site. Could it grow without fertilizer? Sure. But will it be strengthened and thrive with fertilizer? Definitely. A present and easily identifiable sense of trust is particularly important for the marketing strategies of e-commerce sites and B2B sites, all of which have a unique customer journey requiring extra user consideration.

Ensuring a healthy number of trust signals on your website is a relatively low maintenance task, and the returns are well worth your effort. Make sure your website is earning the trust of users by addressing and providing the most common elements of consumer trust.

Trust Checklist for Websites

·         Keep a clean and functional website design. The harder your website is to navigate, the more likely users are to abandon the page. Overly complex website architecture can hinder user friendliness, and even slow down your load speed. As a goal, try and structure your site's pages in a way that keeps users 1-3 clicks from what they need at all times.

·         Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. A big part of trust entails meeting users where they're at, and research says they're on their phones. Having a mobile-ready website shows you're up to date on consumer behavior and tells gives users the convenience necessary to browse with ease, thereby fostering trust.

·         Clearly list your company contact information on your website. This includes phone numbers, addresses, emails, and social media links. Having clickable contact information enhances the legitimacy of your business and gives visitors a clear pathway of communication. Similarly, showing your business's consistent presence across multiple platforms gives consumers the option of connecting where they're most comfortable, and comfort is essential for trust.

·         Add security seals. Given the abundance of scams, fraud, and theft that exist online, users are naturally cautious about dolling out personal information on websites. This is problematic, because most all websites seeking subscribers and contact information to build a loyal following. Adding security/business verified seals to your website not only drives your traffic, but gives users the assurance needed to stay on your website.

·         Allow product and service reviews. Consumers look to the experiences of others when searching for goods and services, so it should come as no surprise that having accessible reviews and testimonials is paramount to user trust. Reputation transparency is wildly effective when it comes to consumer trust, and accumulating positive, authentic reviews from satisfied customers will brand your business website as trustworthy and genuine.

·         Post polished copy/content. On a topical level, it's really important to have complete and accurate information on your website. Editing new and existing writing on your website for spelling or grammatical errors will inspire trust from the trained eye of experienced users and add to your site's credibility as an authority.

As the old adage goes, the devil is in the details. Keeping these baseline technicalities in check will prevent your site from being flagged as untrustworthy and distinguish your business from the rest.