Blogs by its nature are INFORMAL online information medium and way too often don’t pay appropriate level of attention to credibility and trustworthiness and yet – we should! Being a webmaster I always used to put establishing trustworthiness at the top of my list of key tasks to be completed on launch. What happened you might ask?
While I have followed some of the basics even with my blog – the core fact that blog is less formal always managed to interfere and perhaps even made me ignore what I know has to be done. This post is designed to be as much of a guideline to myself as a form of benchmark you can use to determine just how trustworthy your blog is.
First of all I want to separate 2 concepts I have already used several times: CREDIBILITY and TRUST. In fact establishing credibility is what contributes to a trust generated by your content. I know that I fail on at least a few points but still will outline them here …
Credibility is a key factor and greatly determines how your content is PERCEIVED. You can write greatest post in the world but if you fail to establish personal credibility – it will never amount to much and will not produce the results you might have been expecting. When I personally read someone’s blog and find post particularly engaging I always look for information on author and if I don’t find it easily accessible – my personal perception of the author is shut …
… nothing kills credibility faster then About page that simply states blogs “mission”. Sorry, this is not what I was looking for!
Which brings me to point 1 – Make information about you easily accessible!
- While you don’t have to provide your picture and short summary about yourself on every page of your blog as I do by using sidebar – it helps. It shows my visitors clearly that there is a real person behind the content and provides ASSOCIATION. Picture in this case serves one main purpose – remove anonymity so often associated with web. It’s close to a difference between a phone and face-to-face conversation. A person they can easily engage …
- Using Contact Me form provided either as separate form or as part of your About page. Allowing people comment on your posts is great but providing an easy way to send you a personal message is very important. ACCESSIBILITY of the author is second major aspect of building credibility and can be done easily and securely using Dagon Design Mailform plugin I mention on my WordPress Web 2.0 Guide page.
- And just as important in building credibility would be establishing your EXPERTISE. When people look for solution they need to know that advice offered comes from a person who actually knows what he or she is talking about. This is where your About page comes into full play. Use it to list your professional expertise and knowledge to display your ability to speak on subject from a standpoint of expert in your field.
- List CREDENTIALS and ACCOMPLISHMENTS to reconfirm your personal claims. Nothing makes other people feel better then easily recognized logo of a known organization that you are a member of or feedback provided by people well known within your industry to establish that. It is very same concept using in Internet Marketing on sales pages. People love to see feedback from easily VERIFIABLE sources. Even if they never use it for verification, fact itself that it exists makes people more comfortable and helps you establish credibility.
With all above done correctly – you are half way where you need to be because now we need to consider the blog itself …
Point 2 – Make Your Blog Easy To Access And Read
- LOOK and FEEL of your blog can be very easily accomplished using one of the free themes available. Just modify it to fit your needs and your niche but don’t forget the most important point – blog has to be easy to navigate and find information on! Theme is great ways to bring your personality out and provide that personal touch so common to blogs but whatever you do – don’t forget about your readers. No matter how “nice and hip” it might look if people can’t figure out how to navigate it you will lose your readers.
- QUALITY of CONTENT is what brings people to your blog and what it is all about. Allow yourself to shine and fully display your personality but don’t forget at least basic spell check. This is the part I fail the most since English is my second language. If MS Word fails to catch my mistakes I’m left to dry in a public view until someone kindly points out my mistakes. I can only hope that information I share sprinkled with these mistakes worth the visit.
- ADS USAGE might not be an issue if you don’t even intend to earn anything from your effort but if you are like me and do enjoy returns on your time investment – be conscious of ads on your blog. Make sure ads don’t overpower your content and test placement. Very same ad placed in different location can produce a lot better results without increasing number of ads shown to your readers.
- ACCURACY and VERIFIABILITY of information provided by you has to be on your priorities list. Just as was the case with your credentials it helps people to feel better about reading what you have to share and has an additional benefit – LINK LOVE. If you speak on a subject and make reference to elsewhere in blogosphere – link to it and you will be rewarded.
Please keep in mind that is not all encompassing list but guidelines for myself and something that will put your blog on the right road, if you choose to implement any of the tips provided.
Point 3 – TRUSTWORTHINESS Begins With Credibility But Build Through Consistency
- Content CONSISTENCY is absolutely crucial part of this effort. While we all stray in our blogs and discuss issues that are off main topic once in while – providing information that engaged readers in first place is a must. Meaning that if you are blogging about dogs don’t just switch to posting on real estate and expect to maintain your readers trust.
- Content REGULARITY is another aspect that contributes to building consistent trust. I know it is hard at times but whatever your posting schedule was established you will need to stick to it. Your readers TRUST to receive information from you on specific topic and on regular bases – don’t betray their trust. I’m actually trying to post at least 5 times a week and take weekend off but sometimes it is simply not possible and as such – another one of my failings.
Now that I have criticized myself enough I want to open a floor to you. What do you think?
How CREDIBLE and TRUSTWORTHY is your blog?