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The C-Word: Credibility

The C-Word: Credibility

Recent things I've seen while surfing:
  • "1,000,000 hits guaranteed!" - right above a hit counter which said 37.

  • "Join this program - I make thousands with thousands with it" - on a free hosted site

  • "I personally recommend this marketing course" - on another site which very obviously had no traffic, and was clearly making no money.

  • "Specialising in Fruit Juice, Internet Marketing and Airline Tickets" - I didn't actually know such a specialisation existed - or could be the publisher had only found 3 affiliate programs so far?
I could go on indefinitely, but I think you get the point. We've all seen sites like that. Usually they're also littered with spelling mistakes, dozens of banners, bad layout and a dozen other faults.

You don't believe it when you read these claims for very obvious reasons. The webmaster is just lying, exaggerating - or in the last case probably using an off-the-shelf advert for a product, which he has no experience with and judging by his results, hopefully hasn't really bought.

What's the common factor?

All these sites are lacking in one thing. The C-Word: Credibility

You can see it immediately when you look at these extreme cases. The question is, do visitors react the same way when they look at your site? Even if you think you're immune to this particular syndrome maybe you better check for warning signs.

Take a look at your site right now, and see if you see any of these red flags:
  • Extravagant claims - like the "1,000,000 hits guaranteed" example. Even if they're true - and you personally can verify them to be true - maybe you ought to either tone it down a little or actually give some proof? Especially covered by this, are any statements which are flat out contradicted by the evidence on your site - if you can't afford your own domain name, don't claim to be in the same league as Bill Gates!

  • The same standard recommendation of a product. If you're shopping for around for a product and you see the exact same "personal recommendation" on a dozen different sites, are you going to buy it? Would you keep surfing until you saw a review by somebody who had actually bought and experienced the product? Don't bother with "personal recommendations" unless they really are personal recommendations.

  • Hiding behind your web site. Would you do business with somebody who wasn't prepared to tell you his name? You ought to be prepared to at least include you name (or company name) and e-mail, and preferably your address and phone number on your site. For extra credit, consider including your picture on at least one-page, and maybe visitors' or customers' testimonials. Finally if you're not prepared to publish this information at all, then you ought to take a long hard look at your business and make sure it's something you'd be proud to tell your mom about.

  • The obvious grab for cash. Does your site actually have a focus, or at least some kind of logical organisation? I can trust you on fruit juice, but should I listen to your airline recommendations? Yes, I am making a joke of it, but the serious point is without some kind of structure - visitors can see immediately that you're just after their money, and they won't trust you - and if they don't trust you, don't expect them to buy from you. If this applies to you - the best thing to do is to have one site per topic - and if you can't manage that, at the very least, different pages for each topic.

  • Bad spelling, grammar or layout are always warning signs - and doubly so, if you're promoting a professional, quality, technical or high-priced product or affiliate program.
When you're finished with the review and edit process, ask a reasonably knowledgeable friend to do a second review. Ask them "Why wouldn't you buy from this site?" Don't sit watching them over their shoulder, but give them a pen and paper, leave them to it, and go take the dog for a walk. By the time you come back they should plenty for you to think about.

The bottom-line.... Can I trust you?


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