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If you’ve been immersed in the world of SEO for a while, you’ll be well aware of Google’s EAT rules.
In a nutshell, Google likes to see EAT in websites: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
In an ideal world, websites will have all three, but in the beginning, you need to work primarily on getting Google to trust you.
It can be hard to build expertise – especially if you’re not an expert in your niche – or authoritativeness – because how you can be an authority if no one knows who you are?
Authoritativeness and expertise build over time.
Trustworthiness is something that you can engineer from the beginning, and it will not only make Google trust you, but it will make you more trustworthy to your readers.
Then they’ll be more likely to buy your products and click on your affiliate links.
Why is it important for writers to build trust on their website?
In the beginning, it’s a great way to set you apart from the crowd.
When you apply to an affiliate programme, there are usually no prerequisites in terms of having used the products. I once turned down a freelance writing job that wanted me to do a review on best harnesses for pugs.
I don’t have a pug. I have never tried any of those harnesses, and yet the website wanted me to write a review for them. And they wanted it to rank number one on Google.
This is pretty standard, by the way, but I would NEVER do a review for products I’ve not tried. If I have an affiliate link to a product I’ve never tried, I’ll state clearly that I’ve never tried it.
The internet is full of frauds. Establish trust, and Google will reward you.
Is a blog a good way to build trust between creators and consumers?
Back when I used to pitch to companies that didn’t have blogs, this used to be part of my spiel, because it’s true.
A blog is a great way to build trust between companies and consumers because it makes them more like real people, rather than some Big Company trying to get you to empty your pockets.
If you can read an article about how the creator of the product uses it in everyday life, that will encourage you to buy it.
That you use your own product/teachings should be the bare minimum, not a selling point, btw.
Hilariously, companies try to save money by either writing crappy blogs themselves, or outsourcing this to super cheap writers who will write whatever the company tell them.
This does NOT build trust.
If you publish an article about how swell your product is, and how much you love it, and it’s the best thing ever, then people will trust you less than they did before.
Instead, write articles about how you came up with the product, show them around your offices, write about flaws in the product and how to plan to address them.
A blog can make you into a real, human person, not a faceless company.
No one’s expecting perfection. But they won’t tolerate being lied to.
The strategies writers can use to build trust with their readers:
Blogs are a great way for your readers to get to know you
If your niche is pets (say, you sell pet printables), this is a dream. Write articles about your pets.
All the pets you’ve ever had, that lab of your grandmas that you loved. The products you love, that TV show you love because of the dog, the toy that was great for your beagle, but was destroyed by a husky.
This kind of article isn’t meant to convert users into buyers. It’s designed to build trust, and it’s very powerful. It’s real life, and you can show your users that you’re a real human being, not a fictional person created by marketers.
If your readers get to know you, they’re more likely to value your opinion
And…this can lead them to click on your affiliate links in product reviews.
This is, of course, a double edged sword.
ONLY REVIEW PRODUCTS THAT YOU’VE USED.
Reviewing 10 dog harnesses?
PUT THEM ON YOUR DAMN DOG.
It may mean that you have to buy ten harnesses and wait six months to do the review, but guess what?
That time will pass whether you like it or not.
And your review will be 100x better than 99% of the crap that’s out there.
As well as gaining your user’s trust, the reviews themselves are easier to write. Your only other option is to trawl through dozens of Amazon reviews, and it’s hell.
For every hundred 5* reviews, there’s a 1* star one where the dog got out of the harness and ran away. Could you really recommend that product in good faith?
Also, most Amazon reviews, especially 5* reviews are done as soon as the product reviews. Most of the 1* star reviews are older.
Because, like TripAdvisor, people are far more likely to leave a bad review than a good one. If you buy a good dog harness, and you don’t typically write reviews, you think no more about it.
But if you buy a harness that snaps a few weeks after you’ve bought it, you go and write a bad review. That’s just human nature.
A lot of the 5* reviews on Amazon are prompted by those emails they send out a couple of days after the product is received.
A lot of people will have used the product once and not really have much of an opinion of it.
Yet more people are just happy that the product arrived quickly, and give 5*, despite the speed of delivery not really having a bearing on the quality of the product.
A website gives you the opportunity to position yourself as an expert
This is a weird one.
I started a plant website a few weeks after getting into plants.
My angle was not one of expertise. Instead, I was someone that had formerly been a plant killer that had picked up a couple of tips that (bizarrely) are hard to come by, but life-changing in terms of plant care.
But it doesn’t take long to become enough of an expert.
Because the experts of the plant world are botanists. And botany websites assume that you can not only look after a plant, but you can understand the biology too.
You can still build trust if you’re not an bonafide expert
My users don’t care about actual plant experts. They need an expert at keeping a plant alive without having access to a lab, a load of tissue culture ingredients, and assistants to take care of the watering.
There’s a HUGE gap in most niches. Think about house plants. A lot of websites like Apartment Therapy deal with plants that don’t require much care. And there are botany websites.
What’s less common are sites for people that want to look after plants – they want to learn about them. But they’re not sure what’s important.
You may not think you’re an expert, because there are actual experts out there that know more than you. But you only need to know more than your readers.
And they usually only want to know as much as you. They have no desire to become botanists, they want just to create an indoor rainforest without poisoning their cat..
Offer a vast amount of free, useful information
I give all of my information for free. All of it.
I don’t have any membership-only content, or courses that will teach you more.
A lot of people, especially in the blogging niche, can’t afford to waste money on information they might not be able to benefit from.
A lot of desperate people turn to blogging as a way to make money, and whilst it can be exceptionally lucrative, it is NOT a short term solution.
There’s no such thing as a get rich quick scheme in the online world unless you have a lot of capital.
This doesn’t mean you can’t sell products. You can sell ebooks with the same information that’s in your articles, just packaged up in a different format. Many people (myself included) prefer to read books rather than trawl through hundreds of articles on a website.
You can even tell your audience that they don’t need to buy your books. I do. The people that read my plant blog don’t need my book. But I do ask them to recommend it to people that ask them about house plant books.
If you’re forever holding your content hostage in exchange for money you’re playing a dangerous game. Chances are, at least one of your competitors is selling that information for free.
Identify & solve your readers’ pain points
One of the reasons I don’t like selling products before I have traffic is that I don’t know what my audience needs.
It’s far better to build traffic, and ask. I ask my email list to email me with any problems, but you can ask people to comment too.
If you’re desperate to create a product but you have no traffic, you can always ask in niche-specific Facebook groups, but be sure that your audiences are similar.
Those of you with very narrow niches may have to find more specific groups.
Often if you’re an expert in your niche, you end up leaving beginner groups because you’re sick of seeing the same questions over and over again and people refusing to listen to advice.
(STOP MISTING YOUR FUCKING PLANTS. IT DOES NOTHING BUT ENCOURAGE DISEASE)
Yeah you may have to rejoin them. Maybe keep them muted most of the time.
Prove that you use recommended products
Take a picture of your dog in every single harness. On a walk, in the house, a few weeks in when it’s a bit grubby…
You don’t need to be Annie Leibowitz. A few iPhone pictures with terrible lighting and a messy background are perfectly acceptable.
Your readers will trust you, because you used the product. There’s every chance that they might have a slightly different experience to you, but they’re more likely be ok with that.
In fact, encourage people to leave comments about their experience with certain brands. It’ll add more value to your post without you having to do anything.
Avoid the hard sell
If one dog harness was truly the best ever, the others wouldn’t exist.
Use the harnesses. List what you liked/didn’t like. Pick your favourite and say why. Identify which harnesses you think might suit other dogs.
Don’t pick one product and say how amazing it is.
Definitely avoid the cliched sell
The best way to get ranked on Google is create unique content. When it comes to product reviews, people tend to write reviews with bigger affiliate commissions.
Not only will you have more comptetion to beat, but you’ll have to spend more on the products.
Do reviews for lower ticket items. If your niche is phones, review less expensive products that people are likely to buy – phone cases etc. You may have to niche down to get a less competitive keyword ‘wallet phone cases for women’ or whatever.
Be available to your readers
I encourage people to email me. I also spend a lot of time answering questions on Reddit, because I want people to think of me when they have a problem.
Obviously a lot hinges on me being able to fix their problem, but if I don’t know, I can usually refer them to someone who does.
Be realistic with your ability to help them
I can tell you how to get traffic to a website, but there are limits. I can’t pick your niche for you, and I can’t do your keyword research. I also can’t write your content.
Well, I can, but it’ll cost you. I have to pay for rent and food for myself and my 100 plants.
Don’t be like those people that insist Tailwind will easily bring you money. If that were true, it’s what I’d be doing. It’s not like Tailwind is massively expensive; it’s not. You can just get better results for free IF you write the content.
How to break your readers’ trust
It can take months to build trust, and seconds to break it down, irreparably.
Spam their inbox
I only send my monthly newsletter to my email list. It consists of recent blog posts, new plants I’ve bought, any new tips I’ve picked up, and a fun article (usually involving a tree growing through someone’s house).
No clickbait subject lines, or anything like that. Leave people’s inboxes alone.
Try to transparently entice them with freebies
SIGN UP TO MY EMAIL LIST AND GET THIS FREE EBOOK.
Stoooooooop. I hate this so much.
Have a blatant and dodgy agenda
Don’t drag specific people and gurus in an attempt to make your readers buy your products instead. It’s ugly.
This is also for anyone that wants to build a website to promote MLMds. They prey on vulnerable people and I hate them.
Promote crap products
You’d think this is obvious, but a lot of people can’t say no to a high commission.
Have a wildly inconsistent image across social media
If you’re trying to build vegan brand, don’t flood Instagram with pictures of you eating steak.
I know, it seems obvious, but it happens every. Damn. Day.
Be condescending to your audience
The thing I’m thinking about specifically is this one:
‘If you’re promoting your blog on Pinterest, you’re an idiot’ or ‘why are you wasting your time on Facbook, when you could do it my way?’
Or having a popup that makes you click ‘I don’t like free products’ instead a simple ‘no thanks’ when you don’t want to sign up for some crap email list.
At best, it’s incredibly annoying, at worst, it’s gaslighting.
Do not tell people they’re being stupid if they don’t do things exactly like you. DOn’t treat them like they’re kids.
Simply share your ideas, and present your findings, like a normal human being.
Provide them with wildly inaccurate information
This especially relates to health and fitness, but also niches that could have different implications in different countries, like plumbing and DIY.
Make sure you’re clear about where you’re operating from, and where you found your information if you think there could be any confusion.
Health sites are the WORST for that. You will not automatically lose weight on a vegan diet. It’s not automatically healthier. It can be. But it’s not a forgone conclusion.
Promise them the world without being able to deliver
Don’t claim things are easy when they’re not. Don’t say that everyone has to have the product and it’ll solve all their problems.
Undersell and overdeliver.
Final thoughts on using your website to build trust
The prospect of making money can turn us all into sales reps, but we’re not.
We’re providing a different service – one of providing information. People don’t come tp us to spend money; that’s what stores are for.
Try to be stay as neutral as possible, but share your experiences and tips.
Once you’ve built trust with a reader, they’re far more likely to return to your site, and that’s not only great for your traffic, but it can benefit SEO. Repeat users must trust you, so Google will rank you higher.