Getting Strangers to Trust You — 7 Ways to Build Website Credibility

Two friends of mine, Jon and Sarah, walked into a bar …

Seriously, they really did.

Unfortunately, the first thing they saw was red-velvet upholstery COVERED by cigarette burn marks. Gross. Jon and Sarah should have walked out then and there, but they had made a trip out of their way to get to this place, and were in an unfamiliar part of the city, so they decided to give it a shot.

What was bad to begin with only got worse. It was like something off of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. As they sat at their booth, they got glimpses of the kitchen, piled high with dirty boxes.

Then when Sarah went to order from the menu, the establishment was out of the first two items she picked. Her beer came out lukewarm. Even worse, her server spilled some of it and didn’t bother to clean up the mess for 15 minutes.

When my friends finally left, they vowed never to come back, because their experience was so, so bad.

This bar lost their trust completely. The experience they thought they were going to have was completely different from the experience they did have, and not in a good way.

When you lose trust with your prospects and clients, your whole business suffers.

This is just as true online as it is offline, so here are seven trust elements to consider when putting together your website — or when helping a client to put together theirs. Because you want your prospects and customers to have a way better experience than Jon and Sarah.

1. Use proof elements about your experience

It always pays to remember that when people first visit your website, they are basically strangers. They don’t know you from Adam. So it helps to give them a few credentials so they know you are for real.

It’s always great if you can say, “as seen on Dr. Oz,” or “interviewed by ABC News,” but only if those things are actually true. Media proof is always worth listing if you have it.

If you don’t have media proof, here are a few other ways you can include proof that you are who you say you are:

  • Use your associations to show you are an expert. Are you part of any trade organizations or professional groups? Let people know about it. (Editor’s Note: For your own website, you can mention associations with Wealthy Web Writer, AWAI, and The Professional Writers’ Alliance.)
  • Show how long you’ve been in business. If your business has been around a while, then stating that fact on your web page can really help to build trust with people. It shows that your company is stable and not going anywhere.
  • Use your professional credentials. If your client is a doctor, or lawyer, or hairdresser, and has professional credentials that they had to earn, make sure you show that.

2. Keep your content relevant to the solutions they are seeking

This is important for every part of your website, but it’s even more important for your lead magnets.

Remember that people are on the Internet for two reasons. First is usually entertainment. Second is to find answers to questions or problems they are having.

One of the easiest ways to gain trust with your customers is to “get in their heads.” If you can figure out what the problem is that they are having and then offer a solution in the form of information, then your new prospects will automatically trust you more.

3. Social proof — Even without testimonials

Let’s face it, even those of us who “march to the beat of our own drummer” don’t want to be the only ones doing something new. So, social proof is important. It tells people, “Hey, others are doing it, you can too.”

Amazon is a master at social proof. Their rating system instantly shows you what products are popular with other people and what they think of them.

But what if you don’t have reviews or testimonials like Is it still possible to get good social proof?

Yep. Here are three ways to do that:


Why do Air Jordon’s sell so well — even now? It’s because of the endorsement of Michael Jordon, right? Of course it is. Otherwise, they would just be another sneaker.

If you don’t have testimonials yet, but you know other people in the industry you’re in, then getting endorsements from well-known figures can be the exact starting point you need.

You don’t need someone as famous as Michael Jordon, either, it can just be someone who is well respected in your industry saying they would recommend you. It doesn’t have quite the power of a testimonial, but it sure is close.

An origin story can work wonders

If you are an expert at something, it probably is because you worked to gain that knowledge or had a pivotal moment when you got your a-ha. The story of how you got where you are can be very powerful, and very motivating to other people who haven’t figured it out yet.

This may not seem like social proof, but you’ll be amazed at how well it works.

Give away your product or service for free (for a limited time only)

The purpose of this is to get a case study on how your product or service helps a real person. Case studies are one of the most powerful forms of social proof and people eat them up.

So if you are just starting out, consider giving away what you normally would sell in exchange for documenting how well it worked. A case study can be a powerful trust builder.

4. Damaging admissions can make you real

What is a damaging admission, really? It is simply a statement that you make about yourself that displays you aren’t perfect.

Ryan Deiss likes to tell a story about how he got caught with a $250,000 tax bill and had no idea how he was going to pay it … then he sent out a bunch of emails and WHOOSH … the bill was paid. That’s when he knew he had something special.

That’s also a good example of a very effective damaging admission. You need to let people know that you are human, too.

5. Help them rely on you

Humans have a natural tendency toward reciprocity. This means if you do something nice for someone, they are more likely to do something nice for you.

So it’s a good idea to always create value on your website. Help people out with their problems and they’ll keep coming back. They’ll also recommend you to others, and that’s powerful stuff.

6. Take all the risk on yourself

If you offer something for sale, it’s always a good idea to offer some sort of guarantee. A guarantee is an easy way to make sure that your customer doesn’t feel like they are assuming risk. And guarantees greatly increase trust.

7. Remember — people are tired of the hype

If you’ve ever scrolled through Facebook, Reddit, or Buzzfeed, then you know that the Internet is full of hype. It’s kind of crazy how much hype there is, and people are sick of it.

So if you are a straight shooter and don’t over-promise, but really deliver, you can get quite a following going simply because people trust you.

Including trust elements in every part of your website is super important. It allows you to make friends with visitors who are skeptical because they don’t know you and it keeps people coming back for more.

This article, Getting Strangers to Trust You — 7 Ways to Build Website Credibility, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.

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Published: May 20, 2015

1 Response to “Getting Strangers to Trust You — 7 Ways to Build Website Credibility”

  1. I just finished reviewing the Copywriting Crash Course. I really would love to begin my new career as a copywriter. I do not have the money at this time to register for another program, am I still able to submit articles for review?
    I seem to recall a free publication to start up my website, but cannot find it now.
    Can you offer next step suggestions to get this ball rolling?
    Thank you!

    Holly R

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