Credibility is a word that gets a lot of use, but may not always be well-understood. According to one online dictionary, it refers to ‘the quality of being believable or worthy of trust’. In terms of running a profitable business, credibility is therefore paramount. Unless people see your business as being credible and trustworthy, you are likely to struggle to reach your goals.
Of course, having good credibility is not enough in itself – you also need to communicate it to the right people. This is especially important now, with word-of-mouth feedback becoming increasingly trusted online.
The starting point
Naturally, the basis of being credible and trustworthy is to be the best you can. After all, it will be impossible to spread the news of your great credibility unless you have it! This starts with understanding your target market really well, providing a great product or service and delivering on promises, and also building a top quality website that has great SEO – such as meta titles and tags and awesome relevant content with a judicious use of search terms. (This may seem a little obvious, but it does bear repeating).
You also need to be able to stand in the shoes of your audience, to see what they see when they look at your business – in terms of first impressions, and also what lies beneath. While a good first impression is vital, people now have the tools to delve a little more deeply to find out if businesses have real credibility, and are not just all fluff and no substance!
Credibility also goes beyond getting those four and five star online reviews. You need to leverage your great reviews so they are visible to people, and don’t get lost among all the other information out there on the web. There are a number of ways of spreading the word about your great business cred.
- Google’s My Business – having a My Business page helps to make your business more visible to the right people, by quickly providing location information and star-ratings to people doing searches through Google, Google Maps or Google+. This type of information may be particularly relevant for people searching for local businesses on their mobile devices while they are out and about. Other benefits of My Business include the building of reviews, +1’s and star ratings, options for connecting face-to-face through hangouts, and for responding directly to feedback. It also makes your credible content easier to share, helps your business to stand out more on G+, and, to refer to an old term, puts you on the (Google) map.
- Content sharing – amplify your credible content through linking to it from your social media pages, and also through video offerings, infographics, media releases, links in your email signature, and content-distribution channels such as Outbrain.
- Testimonials – If you have received great testimonials make them visible on your website, by displaying them on your main page or linking to them clearly from there.
- Case studies – these go beyond brief reviews, star ratings and one-paragraph testimonials. Case studies can be used to provide a rich and detailed account of the way a customer benefited from your business service or product. For instance, let’s say you run a business coaching or accounting service – in this case you could do a detailed write-up of a willing customer whose own business benefited from your service.
- Social media – like My Business, social platforms also provide a way to amp up your credibility. Business pages on Facebook for instance can include reviews and star ratings, and enable you to post interesting and relevant information, link to content on your site, participate in conversations and respond to feedback – showing that you care about your customers and that you mean serious business.
- Regular blog posts and other content – for instance, while Google Authorship is no longer used in SEO rankings, that’s no reason to ditch it altogether. Authorship still provides a means to build credibility through posting rich content, to build a following and become known as an authority in your field. Regular blog posts on your own site and other credible sites also show that you are an expert in your field and help to build your reputation.
- Pay-Per-Click options – if you use PPC, you can connect your account to the ratings you receive so they are visible in your paid listings.
- Other options – these may include quality backlinks from other credible sites, guest blogging, local listings, ebooks, and white papers.
The important thing is to develop a strategy for increasing and communicating your credibility. If this is not something you can do yourself, professional small business internet marketing services can help you to get started on making your business cred more visible to the people who need to see it!