By Bernadette Coleman, CEO, Advice Local
Trust is the stepping stone to a healthy relationship – any kind of relationship, whether a friendship or a business relationship. In the offline world, a person or business can build trust by proving to be reliable, honest and straightforward. In the online world, building trust is not so simple – when it comes to consumers and search engines alike.
If a business wants to build trust online, they also have to prove themselves as reliable, honest and straightforward. If they publish content about a specific topic, they must prove that they are knowledgeable in the subject. When a plumbing business posts information on their website about computers, it’s likely they won’t be subject matter experts. Would you consult your pharmacist if you need to hire a restoration company? Probably not – and neither would Google.
1. E-A-T Right
In order for search engines, like Google, to trust that a business is the subject matter expert, the content on their website needs to demonstrate what Google calls E-A-T. Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are the three main characteristics that Google is looking for when deciding if a web page should be featured higher in search results – or even make it all the way to the featured snippet. But what does expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness mean? In a nutshell, it means that businesses should avoid keyword stuffing, filler & invaluable content. If Google realizes that a business is adding filler content that provides zero value to the readers just to target specific keywords – and trust me, they will realize it – the business’ rankings will likely suffer. 93 percent of searchers never go past the first page, which means that a business’ content lacking E-A-T will most likely not get found online.
2. NAP Often
Another way for businesses to gain trust with search engines and consumers is to make sure they maintain accurate citations. Their name, address and phone number (NAP) should be current and correct in every source, from Google My Business and Bing Places, to listings in business directories and data aggregators. Did you know that 80 percent of consumers lose trust in a business when they find an incorrect or inconsistent contact detail or business name? That’s right! It’s time for businesses to clean up that bad data – and keep their business listings updated.
3. Reviews Matter
Perhaps the most important way to earn consumers’ trust online is with reviews. After all, 91 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much a personal recommendations. A business with no reviews will likely generate distrust with consumers – and with search engines – particularly if it has been around for a while. Not having reviews is even worse than having bad reviews. A bad review can be explained by the business owner, but how could they explain a lack of reviews? It translates to a lack of trust among search engines and consumers alike.
Online trust is built by doing things right! Are you accomplishing this?