The increasing interest in architectural and document presentation standards for the WWW has produced a variety of fascinating research studies from various sources, primarily in academic communities. In particular the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab of Stanford University has presented the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility; this report is the result of an extensive research project spanning over 3 years and 4,500 participants. The report proposes 10 essential qualities or guidelines that contribute directly to the credibility of a web site.
The problem addressed by this report (web site credibility) directly concerns search engine marketing as all such campaigns are essentially an effort directed towards increasing the perceived credibility (and therefore visibility) of a given web site. I have summarized the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility below:
1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of any information presented on your web site. (3rd party support in form of citations.)
2. Show that there exists a real organization behind your web site. (List a physical address.)
3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide. (Profile authoritative or expert team members.)
4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site. (Find a way to convey trustworthiness through images or text.)
5. Make it easy to contact you. (Build a contact us page with email addresses and phone numbers.)
6. Design your site so it looks professional or is appropriate for your purpose.
7. Make your site easy to use — and useful in a way that is practical to viewers.
8. Update your site’s content often or at least show it’s been reviewed recently.
9. Use restraint with any promotional content. (Ad content should be clearly distinguished from your own content.)
10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem. (Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site’s credibility more than most people imagine.)
These credibility guidelines reveal a great deal about internet user behavior and preference. By taking these guidelines into account when constructing your web site as well as adhering to established Hyper-Document coding standards (as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium) you will ensure not only industry credibility, but also future inter-operability with advancing web technologies; two factors, which from an SEO stand point, contribute directly to a web site’s ability to achieve high rankings for it’s targeted search phrases.
For more information on the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility please visit The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab at http://credibility.stanford.edu/. For more information on hyper-document coding standards please visit the World Wide Web Consortium at http://www.w3c.org.