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Making Web site more credible to visitors.

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When potential customers are looking to establish a relationship on the Internet, credibility is a major factor in their decision. Big companies are very effective at creating powerful brands and name recognition by investing in marketing practices. While the Internet certainly allows small entrepreneurs and midsize companies to compete side by side with the big multinational companies, smaller players need to work harder to establish that sense of trust. So what can you do to accomplish this?

Design: The first thing visitors see when they visit your site is the design. If your site looks old and dated, you could lose a lot of credibility. Make sure your design is up-to-date for your industry.

Reviews: Third-party endorse-ments in the form of testimonials and media coverage from industry publications can go a long way to establish credibility.

Awards: Web site awards are also very good for your credibility. When a visitor sees a logo from a well known award program, they know the site has been reviewed and meets a certain level of standards.

Search engine rankings: Not only will high placement in the search engines drive traffic to your site, it will add credibility as well. Conversely, not being listed in a search result for an important keyword—like your company name—can damage your image.

Page rank: Google PageRank is an algorithm Google uses for ranking Web pages based on the number of incoming links and their importance. A PageRank toolbar can give visitors a quick indication of how Google views the page. If your site does not have a PageRank or it is below 5, invest in search engine optimization to help improve your scores.

William Rice is president of the Web Marketing Association and has judged Web sites as part of the annual WebAward competition (www.webaward.org) for more than a decade.

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