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How to Prove Your Credibility in the Online Realm

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 23 million small businesses in America and they account for 54 percent of all sales in the U.S. That means there is a lot of opportunities for small businesses, but to be successful, you need to have a credible online reputation. So how can you improve your credibility online? Consider the following tips.

Design a Website That Makes People Want to Stay 

Once a visitor opens your webpage, the first thing that he or she will see is the design of your site. If it looks poorly designed or unprofessional, it's likely the visitor will click on back without a second thought. For this reason, it's worth the investment of a professional graphic designer to create the look and feel of the site and to ensure that content, products and other information is easy to find and navigate through. 

Along with a professional design of your site, you should also engage the graphic designer in creating a professional logo. This will increase the level of professionalism for your site. Well-designed logos are easily recognizable, and graphic artists with experience with logo design create designs that represent the company and will fit well with the intended audience.

Include Valuable Content 

Depending on your business, consider including content on your site that relates to your business. Content can help increase traffic to your site, which can translate into sales. Content also increases your credibility by demonstrating your knowledge of the industry, products, and services that you provide.

For example, if you're a plumber, articles about basic plumbing repairs like unclogging toilets and fixing a drippy faucet, can show visitors that you're knowledgeable and bring across a feeling of trust between you and visitors to your site. Along with articles, how-to videos help prove your credibility and give visitors value.

Provide Credibility With an Online Portfolio and Testimonials

For photographers, bakers, and artists, an online portfolio shows off what you've done in the past. It will give potential customers an idea of what they will get when hiring you. For services such as a carpet cleaning business or a yard and lawn service, before and after photos can show off your skills.

Testimonials are another great way to gain credibility by showing that you have satisfied customers who are happy with your services or products. You can get testimonials by sending out an email to customers after they've received your product or service (make sure to let them know that you will include this feedback on your website). And of course, make sure that you provide your customers a product worth raving about!

Improve Your BBB Rating

Many consumers use the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to check out companies they are unfamiliar with to ensure that the business is credible and can be trusted. These ratings are given on a letter scale from A+ to F. For businesses that want to improve their rating, the BBB has given advice on how to improve their scores.

These include things such as responding to complaints with what actions you will take to resolve these issues, providing the BBB with information about your business (when it was founded, what industry it's in, and so on), and honoring commitments made to the BBB to arbitrate and mediate disputes. Businesses wanting to know how to raise their grades can contact the BBB and talk to a staff member about what they need to do. 

Get Help From Professionals

For those who feel lost about how to improve their online credibility, sometimes getting the help of professionals that specialize in this field is the best course of action. One such site is Reputation.com, which provides products and services to help users increase their online reputation and credibility. Services such as this one can be used to monitor your online credibility and address any issues that arise such as poor reviews.

This is helpful also because sometimes what people are saying, however negative, is also true. Understanding what people are saying about your business can help you see what you need to change. By incorporating this feedback from your customers, your business will naturally increase in positive reviews and improved credibility will follow.

According to Search Engine Land's Local Consumer Review Survey (2012), 85 percent of consumers find local businesses by searching online and 72 percent of consumers trust the reviews they find there. So you have to ask yourself, can you afford to lose your online credibility through poor reviews or a poorly designed site?