Trust in online shopping is important to every consumer out there. With that in mind, it should be twice as important to shop owners! Being able to project trust not only helps with conversions but ultimately, it can help boost traffic to your website as well.
Today, we’re going to look at how building brand trust can help boost your website’s SEO.
As e-commerce has become part of our daily lives over the past 20+ years, most consumers can fairly quickly say if a website gives them a “trustworthy feeling” or not.
Some trust elements are more obvious, while others work on a more subconscious level. When it comes to search engine rankings, trust can help matters for a few basic reasons. Before we look at what you can do to boost trust, let’s have a quick overview of what kind factors affect search engine rankings.
Search engine ranking factors
The topic of search engine ranking factors could easily be its own article, so we won’t dig too deeply here. For an in-depth discussion, check out this article on SEO ranking factors.
By now, you’re probably well aware that Google’s ranking algorithms aren’t exactly public knowledge. However, SEO experts around the world generally agree on a few of the factors that go into Google’s process of ranking websites for specific search queries.
Improving these factors can have a positive influence on your site’s perceived trustworthiness and vice versa.
It’s for good reasons that Google weighs these factors before rewarding websites with those coveted top spots in the search engine results pages (SERPs) – they are often signals of good website structure and engaging content, among other things. In fact, ranking on the first page for important keywords helps those sites appear more trustworthy in and of itself.
Although we won’t get into the details of those rank factors now, we’ll touch on them again throughout this article. You can also check out this article for an overview of SEO KPIs you should be tracking for a deeper look at the statistics you should be paying attention to.
How to build brand trust and boost SEO simultaneously
In the sections below, we’ll look at some actions you can take to boost trust on your website while also boosting your SEO!
#1 Follow good design practices
You’ve all heard the expression: you can only make one first impression. As important as this is in our social lives, it is equally true in e-commerce.
Good design builds trust
We now live in the 2020s. If your website looks like it was built in the 1990s, visitors are going to feel that right away, especially in the B2C market. Good design doesn’t just speak to a brand’s style; it’s also a reflection of the effort and mindfulness of the company.
Cluttered images and content along with too many colors, banners, and pop-ups are trademarks of bad design and can repel shoppers like a dog during bath time. In other words, poor design is simply a turn-off. It goes without saying that turn-offs are conversion killers.
Instead, you should go for a “clean” design like a neutral background (often white/light-grey) with plenty of space between the elements. Easy-to-read fonts and easily digestible content (i.e. no super long chunks of text) can go a long way as well. High-quality images are especially important in ecommerce (more on that later), but make sure their file sizes aren’t too big or else the page will take too long to load.
The structure of your site counts as well. It should be easy for shoppers to navigate your site and find what they’re looking for without having to click around too much.
Another design element that has really shot up in terms of ranking importance is your site’s mobile design. Websites simply have to look good on mobile these days. After all, more than half of the world’s internet traffic occurs on mobile devices (excluding tablets!).
All in all, it comes down to the user experience. Visiting your site should be a smooth, easy, and aesthetically-pleasing experience.
Good design boosts SEO
Good design makes for a pleasant (and longer-lasting) shopping experience.
This ties back to what we mentioned above about the user experience as a ranking factor. Google can track your site’s click-through rate (how often your link is clicked in the SERPs), but it can also keep track of your site’s bounce rate (the percentage of people that leave your website in just a few seconds), and the dwell time (how long users stay on your site).
These are all signals to Google about how relevant your page is relative to the keywords your page shows up for in the SERPs. Again, the more people click on and the longer they stay on your site, the stronger the signal is to Google that your website is providing users with what they are searching for.
#2 Improve product pages
Your shop’s product pages are obviously very important as they can rank in the SERPs individually. With Google’s most recent announcement about products appearing in organic searches, it’s even more vital that your product pages are optimized.
Side note: If you haven’t heard, Google has introduced a new section in their SERPs (only in the U.S. for now). This section will appear if Google determines the user is searching for a product.
This new section, called “Popular products”, is very similar to the Google Shopping results that appear in the SERPs. However, this new section is all about organic results, not paid ones (although you will need to upload your products into the Google Merchant Center).
Back to the topic at hand: improving product pages. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on two main factors: images and texts.
Product images build brand trust
In the section above, we talked about how good design helps build trust. Part of the design includes product images. For starters, your product pages should have enough images. Is there anything worse than visiting a page with a product you think looks cool, only to find out that there is only one image to look at?
Make sure you give your users plenty of angles and images to get a feel for your product. Don’t let shoppers think for a single second that you have anything to hide. When you look at some of the e-commerce giants (like Amazon or eBay), the most successful sellers offer lots of high-quality images.
Remember, such images should be zoomable as well. For a great overview on some easy-to-implement ideas as well as some more advanced techniques for improving your product pages, check out this article from Landingi.
Product images improve SEO
Besides having high-quality images, it can also be extremely helpful to produce your own images. After all, unless you produce your own products, there’s a good chance that someone else is selling the same products as you – and also using the same manufacturer’s images in their shop.
Why is that relevant?
Google loves original content. Therefore, it’s advantageous to take your own images. For some tips, Shopify has created a guide on creating beautiful product images.
From an SEO perspective, more images mean more room for on-page SEO tweaks. It makes sense to be mindful when it comes to image file-names and alt texts. On top of explaining to Google’s algorithm what is on the picture, alt texts and image descriptions are used by screen readers (browsers for the blind and visually-impaired).
At the end of the day, careful image optimization could help your images get discovered for the relevant search terms in Google image searches.
Good texts build trust
A good product description (the same goes for most of the texts on your site) can also help build trust. Similar to product images, many shop owners leave uninspired texts that the manufacturers wrote up in their product descriptions.
The texts on your pages are an opportunity to separate your shop from the competition. You should know your audience and speak as they speak. If your audience is a niche market, make sure you use all the lingo that the community uses. It shows that you’re an insider; one of them.
Good texts improve SEO
The points for images and texts are quite similar: Google loves original content. More importantly for SEO, more text again means more room to sprinkle important keywords throughout your product pages.
#3 Display customer reviews
The need for customer reviews (a.k.a. online reviews) might be the most obvious point when it comes to building brand trust. However, it’s worth pointing out that there are multiple kinds of reviews that you should familiarize yourself with.
Reviews are generally categorized into three types:
- Shop reviews: feedback given by customers about the particular online shop (i.e. ratings based on delivery, customer service, etc.)
- Product reviews: feedback given by customers about the particular product that was purchased (i.e. ratings on the quality of the product)
- Local reviews: feedback given by customers about a physical shop (i.e. the shop on Oak Street)
Let’s have a look at how trustworthy online reviews are:
Customer reviews build brand trust
Having real customers sing your praises is a really important thing. Did you know that 91% of 18-34 year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? That means that online reviews are essentially the modern-day equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing.
Having customer reviews displayed on your site also shows shoppers that you have nothing to hide and even pride yourself on your service and your reputation. Hosting them on your site also solves the issue of shoppers leaving your website to google your reputation.
Customer reviews improve SEO
The fact that customer reviews help build trust might be fairly obvious. However, they can help boost your SEO as well (and in more ways than one).
For starters, online reviews (particularly product reviews) can have a great impact on product page rankings in the SERPs. Having a constant flow of new reviews not only boosts the perception of your brand, but they also tend to increase the number of relevant keywords on those pages.
If you participate in Google Ads (or Google Shopping), then collecting customer reviews with a Google partner will allow you to display your star-ratings in your ads. Product reviews can also show up organically in the SERPs. This can have a significant effect on your click-through rates (up to +17%), which can help reduce the costs of your ads as well.
Trusted Shops released some UK consumer survey results recently, and the results really reflect the importance of online reviews for both trust and SEO:
- 76% of customers are likely to visit a shop that ranks highest on search engines
- 97% of UK consumers will most likely visit a shop they’ve bought from before when searching for a specific product
In essence, search engine ranking and brand trust go hand-in-hand when it comes to consumers’ online shopping habits.
Thus, if you can rank highly in the SERPs and have customer reviews openly displayed, there’s a good chance you can convince users to complete their purchases with you. There’s even a good chance they head directly to your website next time.
#4 Invest time in content marketing
The concept of content marketing can be confusing for some. In short, content marketing refers to the creation of content (i.e. company blogs, infographics, etc.) in order to rank highly for your audience’s keywords and drive traffic to your website.
Content marketing builds brand trust
Although you are creating content in order to drive traffic to your website, this concept shouldn’t be seen as misleading or anything. In fact, if you’re actually creating relevant content that can help/inform your audience, you should really see it as something positive. After all, you’re giving them a real value they can benefit from.
This strategy works particularly well in niche industries as there is a relatively high demand for quality content, but perhaps a low supply.
If you can manage to build bridges between the topics you write about and your product pages, you can include links to your product pages in your posts. Be careful not to come off too sellsy if you attempt this.
The secret is in providing actual value to the readers.
For example, let’s say you have a post on 5 unique and cheap ways to clean carpet stains. If you write a post that shows 5 awesome ways that really work and one of those tips pushes the product you are selling, visitors won’t mind that.
On the other hand, if you provide 5 generic tips that only kinda work, shoppers will conclude that you are just trying to sell a product. And that is not going to work well for your brand trust.
Here are a few additional ways on how you can use content marketing to build brand trust for your online shop:
- create transparent contests you can promote on your social channels that can generate a buzz about your brand
- publish content that promotes positive experiences other shoppers had with your brand (case studies/video testimonials/user reviews/positive comments)
- feature in-depth explanations about your shipping/stock issues/return policy and other things customers care about
- publish content your target audience can use to solve their problem(s)
- feature personal stories about your brand and employees
Content marketing improves SEO
Just like with customer reviews, there’s a good chance that any content you produce will be filled with important keywords relevant to your audience. Creating unique content that is filled with both quality and quantity (Google likes longer blogs) is a great way to improve your on-page SEO and increase the number of organic visitors.
Including links to your product pages in your blog articles also produces internal links, which is a signal to Google that those particular pages are important to your site, thus helping those pages rank higher as well.
Additionally, promoting the content you published your blog can lead to many blog comments and social shares which boosts your online presence and improves your engagement signals.
The concept of brand trust is interesting. It is both extremely fragile and carries enormous strength. It can be built up through both aesthetics and words, and one rarely works without the other.
In many cases, improving the trust elements on your site will improve your SERP rankings, so take some time and work on it, and you will undoubtedly see your conversion rates and customer loyalty increase!
Alon is the Content Manager at Trusted Shops. He was raised in New York and graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications. Alon loves to write about many things ranging from e-commerce to education.