"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 "trustmarks," "trust badges," "trust seals," "trust markers," or "trust symbols" 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 to build e-commerce trust and, more generally, brand trust.
Today, not just e-commerce but all commerce is largely conducted online, thanks to the ascendancy of inbound marketing. Trust signals remain vitally important to attracting website visitors, creating website trust and converting 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:
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. Also, be sure to watch our "What Is a Trust Signal?" video at the end of this post.
Here's more on trust signals from Nik at our Trust Signals video channel.
Scott is founder and CEO of Idea Grove, one of the most forward-looking public relations agencies in the United States. Idea Grove focuses on helping technology companies reach media and buyers, with clients ranging from venture-backed startups to Fortune 100 companies.
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