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Check Website Reputation and Trust

It’s taken a while, a few decades in fact, but the message about internet security finally seems to be hitting home with consumers. This is good news for all legitimate “netizens” but it does pose an interesting challenge for businesses. With so many malicious websites out there, how do you prove that your website is legitimate? The key to this is understanding how people check website reputation.

How to check web reputation?

The first way people check website reputation is by seeing if a website is flagged up in their security software and/or by a search engine. Assuming it gets past both of those, they will then apply the same sort of common-sense checks that they use in the real world. Here is a quick guide to what this means in practice.

Check a Website’s Reputation with Security and Search Engine

Security software essentially looks for technical indicators that a website is malicious. Effective security software will use indicators from a wide range of sources. Some of these might not be immediately obvious to users.

Check Website Reputation

For example, if a website is identified as being the source of a lot of complaints about unauthorized payments on credit cards, it may find itself being reported to the security companies and blocked. This block might be temporary. For example, the website itself may turn out to be legitimate and the issues caused by a hacking attack on it. Alternatively, it may be permanent.

Search engines also look for technical indicators that a website is malicious, although their range of sources tends to be restricted to what they can identify on the website itself, plus the main internet authorities.

Search engines can, however, analyze user behavior in a way that anti-malware software cannot. They can, therefore, identify when people are reacting negatively to a website and sometimes they can identify the exact reason for their negativity. This is why security software and search engines make such a good partnership.

3 Common Website's Reputation Checks

Assuming that the website passes the initial, technical, checks, customers will proceed to apply “common sense” checks. Basically, they will assess the website in much the same way as they would assess a stranger in the real world. Here are some of the points they will typically check.

The padlock

Implementing the padlock sign and publicizing it widely was, arguably, a stroke of genius on the part of the key stakeholders in internet security. Trying to teach the average internet user about HTTPS was proving challenging for three main reasons. Firstly, the average internet user often doesn’t really want to know how the internet works, they just want it to work and work safely. Secondly, it relied on internet users remembering to check the whole address bar when they visited a site. Thirdly, it could easily be gamed.

The big problem with “raw” HTTPS is that it can be implemented in various ways. A basic implementation of HTTPS only provides a very minimal level of security. What’s more, the fact that you can implement a basic level of HTTPS for free has led to malicious websites becoming HTTPS compliant to try to fool customers.

Switching to the padlock symbol solved all of these problems. It is easy to understand and easy to see. What’s more, the fact that the padlock is generated by the browser means that it can be restricted to more intensive implementations of HTTPS. This rewards companies that put in that extra effort and puts a stop to criminals hijacking HTTPS for malicious purposes.

The look and feel of the website

At the end of the day, a website is a sales and marketing tool. It may serve (many) other purposes as well, but it will be seen as a representation of the business behind it (in just the same way as their office is).

Reputable websites are well laid-out and easy to navigate. As a minimum, their content is created to a high standard and addresses the information customers need and want.

Contact details and privacy policy

Knowing that a company has a real-world presence can be very reassuring. That said, it’s important to strike a balance between reassuring your (potential) customers and maintaining an appropriate level of privacy for your workers. Obviously, the way this works will depend on many factors, but if you don’t want people visiting your premises (without invitation), then consider using a PO Box.

Similarly, customers are increasingly likely to check a privacy policy and are more likely to have faith in it if they think they will have recourse to real-world legal-action if a company fails to make good on it. This is one of the reasons why contact details are important.

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