77 Trust Signals to Increase Website Visitors and Conversions

Image of Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell

"Trust signals," broadly defined, are the evidence points that inspire confidence in your brand online. The term goes back to the early days of Internet commerce and has become even more relevant today.

The first trust signals, described in an article published in the March 2000 edition of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,  were "trust badges" or "trust seals" from organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and TRUSTe on e-commerce websites. Twenty years ago, many consumers were skeptical of providing their credit card information and other personal details to a website -- any website. Trust signals helped visitors to overcome their fears and build e-commerce trust.

Today, not just e-commerce but all commerce is largely conducted online, thanks to the ascendancy of inbound marketing. The trust signal remains vitally important to attracting and converting website visitors who are not yet familiar with your brand.

Trust signals are important to Google as well. Virtually every trust signal is a ranking factor in determining your site's search position. That's why SEO professionals and software use terms like "Trust Flow," "TrustRank" and "MozTrust" to describe what they do. They know that Google is trying to determine how trustworthy your site is in the same way that potential customers are.

In current digital marketing parlance, a trust signal can fall into three major categories:

  1. A trust signal on your website that encourages visitors to complete a purchase or take an action;
  2. A trust signal elsewhere online that drives visitors to your website via inbound marketing; and/or
  3. A trust signal that visitors might not notice, but that Google uses to rank you in search.

Following is a comprehensive list of trust signals. Keep in mind that for trust signals like star ratings, newsletter subscribers and products sold, the signals only work if your numbers are impressive. If your reviews are mediocre or your e-commerce sales are poor, be sure to improve those numbers before using them as trust signals. 

Please note: the links in this list are to blog posts that describe specific signals in greater depth. We encourage you to go deeper on any trust badge, trust symbol, trust indicator, website trust signal, landing page trust signal, SEO trust signal or e-commerce trust signal you'd like to know more about.

Trust Signals: Onsite

Neon Trust Sign

  1. Top-level domain (TLD) - Visitors trust brands with .com domains most, although alternatives can work well in certain sectors, such as .io with technology companies. Some TLDs (such as .live and .buzz) are highly correlated with spam sites, and those should be avoided.
  2. Professional design - Invest in a quality, custom design. If your website looks like it was slapped together with little care and attention to detail, that's exactly what a visitor will think of you and your product.
  3. Clean navigation - Deliver a  simple, intuitive user experience with easy conversion paths. This suggests transparency to your visitors and makes them more comfortable filling out a form or completing a purchase.
  4. Page loading and site speed - One way to make a good first impression is to have a site that loads quickly. A responsive website suggests a responsive brand.
  5. Personalized experience - Where possible, deliver personalized experiences to visitors based on browsing behavior and other clues.  
  6. Frequently updated content -  Visitors notice when a site's content appears out of date. It makes them wonder whether your customer service is as spotty as your blog's publication schedule.
  7. Quality, relevant content - Your content should make visitors feel like they've come to right place. Website content that is overly salesy, or blog content that is overly vague, will simply drive them away. Spelling and grammatical mistakes are a trust-killer as well.
  8. Custom photography - It's ok to include stock photography on your website, but balance this with your own photographs to create trust. Include pictures of your offices, products, employees and customers to help your visitors get to know you better.
  9. "About Us" page - Share your company's origin story in a personal way, as you might tell it to a friend at a party. Add names, events and little details that make your history feel authentic and unique.
  10. "Leadership" or "Team" page - These pages are among the most-visited, particularly in B2B marketing, because potential customers want to see who they are buying from or who they will be working with. Build rapport with your visitors with colorful biographies and team pictures that show your personality. 
  11. Employee certifications - Add certification badges to leadership and team bios to communicate instant credibility in your industry or role. 
  12. "Contact Us" page - Make it easy for visitors to reach you by offering multiple modes of contact: phone, email, live chat and form fill. 
  13. Physical address - Add your location, along with photos or a map, for those who want to visit you in person or at least know where you can be found.
  14. Case studies - Case studies serve three important purposes: (1) they show a use case of what you do; (2) they show concrete results and goals met; and (3) they include an customer endorsement. You should publish at least one case study for every major use case, and make it easy to find for your visitors. The more case studies, the better.
  15. Testimonials - These are endorsement quotes from customers and other third parties. They don't go into the same level of detail as a case study, but for a visitor scanning your website, they are a quick way to showcase your happy customers. As with case studies, the more testimonials the better. 
  16. Celebrity/influencer endorsements - If respected public figures endorse your product, feature their photos and endorsements prominently. 
  17. Embedded reviews - Many review sites, such as Tripadvisor, G2 and TrustRadius, enable you to embed customer reviews on your website. You earn trust with your visitors in two ways: (1) by providing third-party validation and (2) by pulling this validation directly from a respected neutral source.
  18. Embedded star ratings - Just as you can embed full reviews from review sites, you can also embed your aggregated star ratings from a variety of sources. For those scanning your site, seeing five gold stars from reputable review sites is a great trust-builder.
  19. Icons linking to active social media channels - Few things cause visitors to question your trustworthiness more than abandoned or nonexistent social channels. Be sure to post regularly on the social channels that matter to your customers. 
  20. Social media follower statistics - Showing the number of followers your company pages have on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is an indicator that you are an established brand.
  21. Product sales statistics - Share and frequently update how many customers you have and/or the number of products purchased ("over 100 billion burgers sold") if you are in a higher-volume business.
  22. Subscriber and download statistics - Let visitors know how many people have subscribed to your blog or newsletter or downloaded your latest ebook or white paper.
  23. Real-time social proof notifications - Particularly for ecommerce sites that have good sales, displaying customer actions like downloads and purchases as they happen can have a real bandwagon effect on site visitors. They feel the momentum and want to be part of it.
  24. Client/customer logos - For B2B companies, one of the most valuable trust signals is client or customer logos. Prominently display the names and logos of well-known brands on your site to attract more of the same. 
  25. Logos and links to media outlets where your brand is featured - One of the longest-standing forms of third-party validation is news coverage ("as seen in ..."). Visitors are more likely to believe your company is doing something right if it has attracted the attention of industry publications, local TV stations, or other outlets.
  26. Industry association logos - Being part of well-known industry associations can carry a lot of weight, particularly for smaller companies and consultants. Display these logos to borrow the authority of the groups your customers know and respect.
  27. Partnership and co-branded logos - Earn trust with badges and logos that highlight your status as an official partner with well-known brands. In B2B technology, for example, the partner networks of Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco confer authority on member companies.
  28. Industry awards - Display award badges prominently on your home page, "About Us" page or payment page.
  29. Better Business Bureau accreditation - The Better Business Bureau has been around since 1912 with the express purpose of building trust between businesses and consumers. Adding a trust badge to your site touting that you are a BBB accredited business with an A+ rating still carries weight.
  30. Payment assurance - When selling products online, offer multiple payment methods with trust badges from PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Amex and others.
  31. Charitable donation - Giving a portion of each sale to a nonprofit make customers feel good about your brand and about their purchase. 
  32. Guarantees and warranties - Standing by your product with a guarantee or warranty increases buyer confidence and conversions and is a popular trust badge.
  33. Shipping and returns policies - Increase online product sales by prominently displaying your shipping and returns policies with trust badges. Policies that are reasonable, lenient and specific work best.
  34. Security trust badges - Add seals from McAfee and Norton to certify your site is safe to use and free from viruses and malware.
  35. SSL certification - Make sure your brand's url starts with "https," which indicates SSL encryption. If you don't, visitors may be faced with a Google warning that says, "This site is not secure! Go back to safety?" E-commerce sites may wish to add a "256-bit SSL encryption" trust badge as well.
  36. Copyright with current year displayed - Put in place a copyright notice that updates the year automatically so your site doesn't look out of date.
  37. Privacy policy - Your visitors may never read your privacy policy, but most sites are legally required to have one.  Required or not, not having one is a red flag.
  38. TRUSTe seal - The granddaddy of trust badges, TRUSTe, verifies that your privacy policy meets high standards of data governance.
  39. Terms and conditions - Unlike privacy policies, terms of use aren't legally required, but you are still wise have have them. They show that you have thought through how your site should be used and want to be clear and straightforward with your visitors.

Trust Signals: Offsite

Neon Customer Satisfaction Sign

  1. Google My Business (GMB) profile - When people search for your brand by name, think of that first page of results as your "second home page," with your GMB information box as its centerpiece. GMB is a must for any business with physical locations customers can visit. 
  2. Google knowledge panel - In addition to the GMB profile, which you control, Google may choose to create a knowledge panel on your company, product or executives. This information box can be claimed by you, but the content is controlled by Google. Much like a Wikipedia entry, earning a knowledge panel signals notability.  
  3. Google Maps listing - When you search for a business, the top three local results will appear with a map that includes your location, office hours, phone number and link to your website. Securing your place in this "Google 3-Pack" is great for trust and even better for traffic.
  4. Google reviews - These reviews and star ratings appear in Google My Business and Google Maps results, making them arguably the most important reviews of your company online.
  5. Glassdoor reviews - When people search for a company by name, Glassdoor is often one of the top three results. Earning five-star reviews is important not just for recruiting; it's key to winning new customers as well. Potential buyers are more likely to trust you if you treat your employees right.
  6. Customers reviews on relevant sites - Review sites have become a key part of the evaluation and decision-making process across virtually every product and industry. See which review sites come up in your first three pages of branded search results and focus on adding reviews by reaching out to happy customers.
  7. Reference site presence - Some sites, such as FeaturedCustomers, are not review sites but customer reference sites. They scrape and re-share your case studies and testimonials to reach buyers seeking validation on third-party sites.
  8. Star ratings in search results - With a little bit of extra coding, you can tell Google to include your star rating from Google Reviews or other sources in your search listing. Seeing five gold stars is always a good thing. 
  9. Media coverage - Few forms of third-party validation are as powerful as coverage in well-known media, such as daily newspapers, national business publications, and respected trade journals. This is why so many brands invest in PR agencies for media relations
  10. Press releases  - Press releases can be helpful in establishing credibility, especially if they are distributed by major wire services such as PR Newswire and Business Wire, which have higher standards for acceptance. Wire releases are also be more likely to appear in Google News results. 
  11. Special-access media - Today, publications like Forbes, Ad Age, and local business journals have paid programs that give you special access to submit or be quoted in stories. These often appear in Google News results. 
  12. Bylined articles in business and industry publications - When you submit an article that appears in a business or industry publication, you earn credibility as a thought leader with potential buyers.
  13. Guest posts on relevant blogs - Many bloggers in your field may be open to you providing a guest post, which can achieve similar benefits to a bylined article. But tread carefully: if Google decides you are spreading keyword-stuffed guest posts willy-nilly across the web, you may be penalized for it.
  14. Celebrity/influencer mentions in social media - Especially in fashion, beauty and food, but now across virtually all industries, influencer endorsements -- whether paid or unpaid -- carry weight with buyers.
  15. Social media accounts - An active presence on the major social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, is advisable for most brands. Your customers and prospects expect to see you in these places and, if you're not, they'll wonder why.
  16. Social media responsiveness - Many buyers check out your social channels to see whether customers are tagging you with complaints, and if they are, how well and how quickly you respond to them.
  17. Social media content-sharing - An active YouTube channel is a must for many brands. Having a presence on other content-sharing sites, from Medium to LinkedIn SlideShare, also builds visibility and trust. 
  18. Participation in online forums - From LinkedIn and Facebook groups to industry-specific forums, your company's team can build relationships and gain credibility for your brand by joining the discussion.
  19. Participation in industry events - When you participate in trade shows and other events as a speaker or exhibitor, you often receive a mention on the event's website or press releases, generating trust online and off.
  20. Directory listings - Local and industry-specific business directories are an easy, typically free or inexpensive way to increase authority and visibility. But be warned: some business directories are scams. Check the site's Domain Authority on Moz as a quick way to see if a listing has value.
  21. Wikipedia listing - A listing in Wikipedia signals authority because the site's editors carefully screen entries to ensure they meet "notability" criteria. Gaining media coverage and other forms of third-party validation are prerequisites. Editors also forbid companies from adding themselves to the site. 
  22. Community involvement - Sponsoring or volunteering for local nonprofits typically earn visibility on their website and social media channels, as well as building goodwill in your community.
  23. Top ranking for branded search queries - A high percentage of Google queries are searches for brands or specific websites  ("youtube" and "facebook" are the top two Google searches). When someone enters the name of your company or product in search, make sure your site comes up first in results.
  24. High ranking for industry keywords - Ranking among the top results for common search terms in your market segment (e.g., "eLearning software") not only greatly increases your website traffic, it also confers authority on your brand.
  25. Google featured snippets - When you earn a snippet, your website is not only the top search result, but an excerpt from your website is prominently displayed. This confers authority on your brand. 
  26. Google featured videos - Perhaps the only more prominent search placement than a featured snippet is a featured video. It's the holy grail for visibility and authority on a topic.

Trust Signals: SEO 

Neon SEO Trust Signals Sign

  1. Domain age - Google figures you are not a fly-by-night operation if your domains has been around a long time
  2. Length of registration - When you register your domain not for one year, but for five or 10, that tells Google you plan on sticking around.
  3. Backlink quality - Backlinks are hyperlinks from other websites to yours. Just as customers are influenced by news media coverage of your brand, Google trusts you more when authoritative sources link to your site. 
  4. Backlink quantity and diversity - The more quality backlinks you earn, the better. Google also prefers the links to come from a diverse range of sites. This suggests you accumulated the links organically rather than through nefarious means, such as buying them.
  5. Reputation history - If your site has been penalized for violating Google's webmaster guidelines, consider yourself on probation when it comes to earning the search giant's trust. Stay on your best behavior.
  6. Branded searches - In determining your site's authority, Google factors in the number of times people search for your brand by name. The more branded searches, the more trusted the brand.
  7. Brand-plus-keyword searches - Google looks at searches that combine your brand name with keywords to assess the topics and industries in which you have the most authority.
  8. Click-through rate - Google analyzes the percentage of people who click on a link to your website after seeing it in search results. The higher the CTR, the higher the trust.
  9. Mobile friendliness - Google now uses the mobile version of your site for most indexing and ranking, so making sure your site works well for smartphone users is critical.
  10. HTML and architecture signals - Google trusts sites with concise, relevant titles, descriptions and headings. Google also looks at site speed, accessibility, clean url structure, 404 errors and the presence of an HTML or XML sitemap.
  11. Website visitor engagement - Individual visitors are influenced by the quality of your site's content and navigation. Google factors in their collective experience by monitoring the average time your visitors spend on your site before leaving, along with other engagement metrics.
  12. Social media engagement - Individual visitors will be more likely to trust you if you have recent activity on social channels. Google goes deeper, analyzing how much engagement you receive on sites ranging from LinkedIn to Twitter to Glassdoor. 

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