The importance of trust signals for building your brand

The importance of trust signals for building your brand

Who do you trust? In a world of AI-generated product reviews, Photoshopped images and ‘fake news’, the answer might be: “No one.” 

Trust is important in business not only to convince customers to use your company’s services but also to get your company seen in the first place. 

With Google now including trustworthiness as a core part of its ranking system, it’s essential to consider the ways in which you can build meaningful relationships with key figures in your community. This is where trust signals come in. 

What are trust signals?

A trust signal is something that proves to prospective customers that you’re reliable and credible. 

Examples of a trust signal could include: 

  • Testimonials from real users 
  • Positive PR coverage in print, online or broadcast media 
  • Awards or accreditations from credible industry bodies  
  • Speaker slots on podcasts or at events, or guest posts for other companies 
  • Sharing expertise that prospective customers find useful  
  • A case study of your latest success story 
  • Positive social media engagement from your audience 
  • Quality backlinks and a strong domain authority on your website 
  • High-ranking positions for branded and non-branded keywords  

Trust signals can inform different sections of a business growth strategy including inbound marketing, outbound marketing and your website. For example, a genuine positive review from a client on your social media can act as an inbound route to your website but can also be used as an outbound tool with a mention in your company’s weekly newsletter.

Why trustworthy content is important

Have you noticed that traffic to your website has suddenly gone up or down significantly? It may well be down to Google’s September 2023 “Helpful content update.” 

This was a change to Google’s search algorithm that, it said, would bring “helpful, reliable, people-first content” higher up the search engine results pages. 

Google said on its website: “The helpful content system aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectation won’t perform as well.” 

Getting on the right side of the algorithm

Google’s search quality guidelines E-E-A-T (which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) are all things to consider when creating content that is deemed helpful.  

Sites that are filled with unhelpful content, such as articles stuffed with keywords to try and improve SEO but not actually giving new information to the reader, will plummet down the Google rankings.  

On the other hand, if you’re providing relevant, useful content that’s created with the reader in mind, you’ll be ranked better. 

Using relevant long-tail keywords in your content can help attract quality leads, rather than a quantity of visitors you’ll never do business with.  

Make sure you keep up with Google’s guidelines as they change to ensure you continue to be recognised as trustworthy and have your website at the top of the search engine results page. 

Building trust through public relations

By using trust signals in the right way, through a good PR strategy, you can help your business stand out against its competitors.  

PR can ensure you maximise your content as proof points through a number of methods. This may include securing coverage with backlinks from reputable websites or entering your business into awards that will put you in front of your sector media. 

Another way of building trust is to be transparent in terms of business ethics or your supply chain. A PR agency will be able to help you communicate these effectively so that potential customers are clear on where you stand. 

If you’re open and honest it’s simple for your audience to check whether your values align and trust you with their custom. 

Growing brand reputation proactively

With every trust signal, it’s important to make hay while the sun shines. 

The more positive PR you can generate while things are going well, the more of a buffer you’ll have with prospects against the negative news that inevitably happens for all businesses at some point. 

PR coverage is also important in relation to search engine optimisation. The more frequently you’re mentioned on third-party websites, the more credibility it adds to your own website and the better your chances of appearing further up the Google rankings. 

Third-party proof-points

You can take out all the ads you like saying your offering is amazing, but as consumer trust in adverts is low, you may find this tactic doesn’t bring a good return on investment.  

If, on the other hand, you get someone else to say you’re great, that’s worth far more when it comes to building trust. For example, an independent journalist or an industry awards judge may well repeat exactly what you’ve told them about your work in your press release or award entry form, but it’s far more credible now that it’s coming out of the mouth of a third party. 

A PR agency with expertise in your industry will also know how your other companies and competitors are trying to position themselves and be able to help you carve out a share of voice e.g. by commenting on wider developments within your area of expertise to reach new audiences. 

They can also help you make use of storytelling to better connect with your audience and stay front of mind. By leveraging their existing contacts within the trade or national media, good public relations specialists can help you achieve maximum impact with any PR campaign you run. 

The value of reviews

When you can, give potential customers the gift of going second. If they can see a raft of reviews from happy customers, or case studies detailing how working with you has benefitted someone similar to them, then it’s easier for them to make the leap from browsing to purchasing. 

If you’re a B2B business, reviews can offer benefits for both parties. Another business can leave you a review, but at the same time improve their own brand trust and signals. They benefit from the halo effect of working with a trusted business, and you benefit from clients being able to check out who that company is to reassure themselves that your reviews or case studies are legitimate. 

Of course, persuading customers to leave a review, however satisfied they are with your business, is not easy. People are busy and there’s usually no benefit for them to spare time to write about their experiences. 

Consider incentivising reviewers, for example by giving away time or product in a prize draw that all reviewers are entered into. 

Trust signals and social media

Social channels can be a fantastic way to gather lots of testimonials, as well as create and increase brand visibility to a wider audience. 

However, it can be a double-edged sword, because negative feedback on Facebook is likely to be seen more quickly than it might be on your website. 

It’s vital to monitor social media and marketing channels well – both the ones you have a deliberate presence on and those you don’t, where people will still comment about you regardless – in order to be able to swiftly respond to queries and comments before they have a chance to escalate. 

Measuring the impact of trust

There are many ways you can measure the success of your trust signals to track whether your efforts are having the desired impact. 

For example, the number of visitors to websites, your Google rankings, and what consumers are saying about you on social media platforms or surveys. 

A PR agency can also help you monitor brand awareness, your market share and share of voice – how often you’re mentioned compared to competitor brands in, for example, media coverage. 

Why trust signals will continue to be important in the future

Businesses and consumers get caught out every day by scams, false reviews and fake news. The introduction of AI such as ChatGPT has reduced trust that anything people read is genuine, and the use of AI chatbots to replace customer service departments can lead to frustrating experiences for customers. 

Prioritising building different types of trust signals brings back the human, people-first aspect Google is now looking for, as well as attracting and retaining customers. 

 

PR plays a valuable role for companies in building trust signals with your audience. It can drive continued support to your company and prove to prospects that your brand is reliable and credible, while at the same time making your content more valuable for the long-term. 

Get in touch today to find out how we can help grow your business’s trust signals and get your company seen.