We would all like to think that our websites look honest and reliable, but establishing trust isn’t always easy. People are bombarded by so much information these days, they tend to be on the defense when they use the internet. A well-meaning pop-up ad can be bothersome and send a user away for good. A website that is outdated or has slow loading pages can jeopardize trust. It doesn’t take much for users to bounce off your website and cross you off the list for good.

A recent HubSpot Research study found that only 3 percent of people trust salespeople and marketers, compared to 49 percent that trust doctors and 48 percent that trust firefighters. While it’s nice to see that nearly half of people trust our first responders, it’s not so nice to see that our profession is on par with investment bankers and stockbrokers. The only professions lower than ours are stockbrokers, politicians, lobbyists and (surprise, surprise) car salesmen.

Don’t get yourself down just yet. We’re not telling you to switch jobs. What we want you to realize is that people aren’t going to trust you just because you have a pretty website. Trust comes from a much deeper place, and you need to have all the right ingredients to make it work. If you’re diligent, patient and committed, you’ll get there. Trust us (no pun intended).

Let’s go over some of the steps you can take to ensure that you have a trustworthy website.

Your images are beautiful, original and authentic.

Stock photos are everywhere. Some are good, some are terrible, but most are just OK. While there is nothing wrong with using stock imagery in certain places, it’s much better to work with images that come hot off the press.  

A few photos of your employees hard at work or engaging with each other is a wonderful way to instill trust. Visitors want to see photos of your employees, your office and your products – not those of random people. Too many images of that sort gives visitors the impression that you have a high turnover rate or you don’t place importance on your staff members  

It’s acceptable to take pictures on your own and use editing software to enhance them, but you may want to hire a professional photographer at least one time around. This way, you can get a decent amount of high quality images to place on your website and also use for content.

To complete your website, use stock photos to fill in the gaps. There are many great online libraries of stock photos that you can use, but we do recommend editing the images so that they align with the rest of your photos.

You have undisputable social proof.

Social proof is a key component in developing trust. The best way to get regularly updated social proof is by asking customers for their feedback after buying your product or using your service. The easiest way to do this is by sending them an email asking them a few questions. You may also request that they rate you on a scale of 1-10.

For customers who were very impressed with their experience, take things a step further and ask for a photo of them. Photos add authenticity to testimonials because they demonstrate that a real person is using your product or service. It’s much more powerful than posting “Anonymous” or “John D.” next to a testimonial.  

Your content is informative, helpful and valuable.

Constant sales pitches are not a good way to earn trust or credibility. In fact, if you drive your sales pitches too hard and too fast, you’re going to lose potential customers early on in the cycle. Instead, focus on providing prospects with helpful, valuable content that softly shows how your product or service can make their lives easier.

To be effective in this department, you will need to identify some of the most common problems that your customers face. You might be able to recognize some of their pain points by simply putting yourself in their shoes, but there’s probably other stuff that you’re missing. Talk to your customers and learn from them. What is it about your product that helps them?

Many of your prospects will be looking for similar information, and they will relate to the pain points that past customers have had. This is an effective way to connect customers and build a community around your product without screaming, “Buy me now!” Also, incorporate case studies from past customers to show how you’ve made a difference for them.

You have social proof via media, partner and client logos.

A quick way to get a feel for the trustworthiness of a company is by the people, companies and organizations they are associated with. If you’ve landed yourself some good press, make sure that the logo is posted on your site.

Also show visitors who your partners and allies are. If your brand is small but you are partnered with a larger, more recognizable brand, let visitors know it. This way, they will associate you with the larger brand and its willingness to do business with you.

Of course, visitors don’t need the details of every relationship you have with a partner or ally, so a simple logo is enough to convey your message. Post the logos on the top, bottom or sides of your website so that they can be consumed in a single glance.

Your microcopy puts any fears to rest.

If everything is looking good so far, it’s time to check out your microcopy – the fine print of your website. Your microcopy should settle any doubts that visitors may have when clicking on a tab, link or call to action. Remember, visitors have their guards up, so if anything looks fishy, they won’t follow through with it. Providing your visitors with the information they need to make informed decisions is the best way to win over their trust.

Some things you definitely want to look over on your website include:

  • Disclaimers

  • Calls to action

  • Labels below buttons

  • Privacy policy

  • Returns policy

  • Signup information for newsletters, subscriptions, etc.

Make sure that everything is complete and leaves no questions unanswered, and also that it matches what your business says. If you say that you will send out no more than one newsletter a month, stick to that promise.


A trustworthy website has all the goods and delivers on what it says it will. While it takes time to form meaningful, trustworthy relationships with customers, there are steps you can take to speed the process along and ensure that the trust building process is not interrupted.

As you look to improve your website without doing a complete overhaul, check to see where you stand in terms of authentic images, resourceful content, social proof and descriptive microcopy. These changes are small but mighty and can make a huge impact on how visitors perceive your brand.