Fake news is everywhere, clogging social media feeds with clickbait headlines. So it should come as no surprise that in 2017, trust took a huge hit all around the world. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, the general population’s trust in business, government, NGOs, and media all experienced the largest-ever drop in trust, falling to an all-time low in 17 countries.
With trust at an all-time low, brands need to value consumer trust more than ever, putting a focus on appearing credible to consumers by providing evidence to support claims. Fortunately, the Internet provides you with the data to back up any claims that you make, if you do your research.
Here are a few suggestions to help you protect and improve your brand’s credibility:
Linking to credible websites
Linking to information on trustworthy websites can help you to verify the claims in your content, as well as help your SEO efforts. Sourcing your information can show your readers that you’ve done your research when writing content. However, it’s important to consider whether the source you are linking to is credible. Linking to an established industry expert will give you more credibility than a link to a blog by someone unknown. It can also be helpful to prioritize linking to .edu and .gov sites, which can appear to be more credible.
When selecting a website to use as your source, here are a few tips:
Link to websites that your readers are familiar with
Avoid linking to websites that your readers will not recognize. Aim for sites that are trustworthy, popular, and relevant.
Avoid controversial websites
You want to link to sites that your reader will agree with. It might be beneficial to avoid linking to controversial sites that could harm your credibility.
Select relevant anchor text
When linking to another site, always hyperlink in the body of your text on a relevant phrase. This improves user experience because your readers will have an idea of what to expect when they click the hyperlink.
Send your readers directly to the evidence
Don’t link to the source’s main webpage and leave your readers to find the specific page that your evidence is on.
Link to the original source
Avoid linking to summaries of the original source. If the website you’re planning to link to is just a short blurb about the original source, link to the original source instead.
Utilize research studies
Research studies can be valuable tools for content marketers. Every year, companies and private organizations conduct research studies on a variety of subjects. Use them to your advantage to help you back up your claims with scientific data. Utilizing research studies in your content can help you ensure that the claims you are making are accurate.
Research studies can also help you come up with ideas for new content. Browse recent research studies to identify new trends or things that might be changing within the industry to give your readers more content.
Ask an expert
Borrow an expert’s knowledge and credibility to gain your audience’s trust. Quoting an expert can be a powerful tool for data interpretation because it removes the implied bias that your reader might perceive that your brand had.
You could also ask them to author a piece of content for you. You can find experts through industry journals and conferences, or search for influencers who have reputable blogs about the industry.
An expert doesn’t need to have a Ph.D. in the topic. You want to recruit someone who understands the industry and your customers. You could also ask a customer who fits the characteristics of your target market. Per the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, peers are now viewed to be just as credible as experts.
It’s important to remember to verify the credentials of any expert that you quote. Avoid quoting any “experts” without credentials or with questionable backgrounds.
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes
When you write, try to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Try to figure out what questions someone might have while reading your site and how you can answer them. If you read something that sounds questionable, try to find evidence or data that could help to satisfy any objections that your reader might have.
Read what you write before you hit “publish”
Reread what you write before you hit “publish” to check for inconsistencies in voice or typos.
You want to maintain an authentic writing style, but you also should make sure that you are writing in a voice that your audience wants to hear. For example, if your target audience is business professionals, you might want to use a more formal voice.
You should also check for any obvious typos or grammatical errors, which can impact your credibility.
Everything that you write should help you continue to build a foundation of trust with your audience. However, if you are publishing false information and not fact-checking what you write, it could harm your credibility, rather than boost it.