The Purpose of photographerlistings.org
The purpose: we want to highlight signals of trust we find in the sites we review, in turn helping these sites show they are reputable businesses that visitors can trust.
Trust is perhaps the most important currency online. Search engines look for signs of trust to identify if a company is worth ranking high in their results, and actual website visitors look for signs of trust to see if the company is worth spending their time and money with.
Search engines tend to over-rely on inbound links as the major signal of trust, often to the frustration of the reputable company whose website doesn't naturally gain links, even if they're a company that's been operating for 50 years or more, and have a service or product that has gained them an excellent reptuation offline, and have served and continue to serve many happy clients. Even if you're a brand new company, you may have jumped through a lot of hoops to establish yourself - been accredited/certificated by various organizations, invested in a bricks and mortar presence, employed people and have gained a great offline reputation in a short space of time. And yet, a search engine algorithm is oblivious to all of these signals of trust simply because they can't be measured automatically / algorithmically. It takes a manual review of a website to really get a closer look at the ACTUAL company itself - its history, past work, testimonials, accreditations and certifications earned, whether it's regulated by a government body, to understand its offline operations and also its future plans. These are all great signals of trust and they should be reported on when they're found. That's exactly what we do.
The kinds of signs we look for (and the kinds of things you should be adding to your site) include:-
- Case studies / portfolio - a chance to show off your excellent work
- Client list - show which companies already trust you
- Testimonials - get honest feedback from your customers to add to create an authentic insight into your products / services
- Full company contact address - an obvious one, but you'll be surprised how many websites don't list a physical address
- Accreditations - if your company has been accredited, let your visitors know
- Associations - list any associations you've joined, or partnering businesses
- Certifications / qualifications - this should also be obvious, but list any relevant certifications / qualifications
- Delivery information - something every shopper looks for when buying tangible items - make this information super-easy to find
- Returns policy - same again for shoppers - make it easy to find
- Details of your high street premises - if you also run a high street shop, let everyone know - take a video walk-through of it, pictures, description etc
- Terms and conditions - every business should have these in an easy-to-find place, and for the trust factor, they should be written in plain English - very few people speak legalese
- Office in various countries - perhaps not a boast that many companies can make, but if you do have offices in other countries, show then in detail - show how established you are
- Details of complaints procedure - many companies don't like to even mention the potential that a problem might even occur(!), but having a complaints procedure means you take complaints seriously
- Detailed 'Meet the Team' info found - show us who you are - photos, descriptions etc
- Strong online social presence - if you're popular on one or more social networks, show it!
- Regularly updated blog/news - don't make your site look stale. A regularly updated blog/news section shows you're active and over time, is a sign of your longevity
- Details of your company mentioned in popular press publications / media outlets - any press mentions, let everybody know
- Company established in...let people know when your company was established. Even if it was "only" a couple of years ago, let them know.
- Add videos - introduce yourself
- Over X years' experience - just because your company might only be six months old, it doesn't mean you can't let people know about your overall experience if it's relevant to the site.
- Company is regulated by X regulatory body - if you're regulated, say so.
- Show off your other, more established sites - if you've launched a new site but have had successes with other more established sites, say so - people like to know you have a reliable track record.
- The last point is more personal, but it's quite straight forward: be honest. That might include admitting to some mistakes you've made and how you've learnt from them. It's daring to speak in a candid voice. Remember you're not speaking in front of an audience, you're speaking to one individual at a time. You don't have to tell your life story, but admitting to mistakes (and what you learnt from them) isn't a sign of weakness or failure. It's refreshingly honest and helps win people over.