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The Keys to Credibility

Some will say that business all comes down to money, but we’ve gone a long way since then. In today’s business environment, companies thrive not only on profit but on the long-term possibility of making profit. And with the cutthroat competition of the online marketplace, more importance is being put on credibility. Say what you will about technology, but the honor system is far from being obsolete—yes, even (or especially) in online business.

Internet marketing experts have identified five keys to building online credibility:

1. A professional look:
Perception is everything, especially on the Web. If at first glance your site looks like a 13-year-old designed it, that impression stays—even if you overhaul it the next day. Just as you wouldn’t buy a car from a rusty little shack in the middle of a farm, nobody would do business with a site full of dead links and blinking text.

2. Regular content:
On more than one occasion, I’ve gone through the whole buy now/add to cart process only to find that the company has ceased to exist. Don’t waste your readers’ time—give them a sign that you’re still up, running and ready for business. Start a corporate blog, get news feeds, or put up a small updates section.

3. A comprehensive portfolio:
Think of your business as a person who’s constantly in the job market. You’re always looking for someone who likes your work and wants to pay you for it. An online portfolio serves as a free-for-all resume that potential clients can use to evaluate your business. Show links to previous clients, complete with contact information—because yes, some people will go so far as to call them up for feedback.

4. Good writing:
Bad writing is a ticket to failure. You may be able to get away with a typo or two, but it’s a whole different matter if your page is crawling with errors. It takes a mere five seconds to run your text through a spell check—and if item 1 above is any indication, it’s probably well worth your time.

5. Accessibility:
Semi-savvy users won’t part with their money unless you have proof that you’re not some boiler-room operation. Even those that operate entirely online need to put a human face to their business. Provide a working phone number and a real street address.

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