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How to Build a Credible Blog

Credible-BlogBuilding Credibility is something that is well worth working on as a blogger. We live in a world where people are increasingly suspicious of information that they’re presented with (particularly online where there’s a lot of dubious information going around) so when people find a credible source of information they tend to become very loyal to it (and they will pass it on to others).

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of building credibility as a blogger and last year wrote a six part series on the topic which looked at Longevity, Experience, Expertise, Blog Design and 7 other factors that build blog credibility.

Today I came across a slideshow presentation (below) on building credible websites which I think is well worth taking a few minutes to look through. It picks up on some similar themes (and adds others). Thanks to Ankesh from BlogClout who I found this through.

I particularly liked it’s equation of credibility as being:

Perceived Credibility = Perceived Trustworthiness + Perceived Expertise (two big things to work on working on).

Also useful where the 10 Guidelines for Designing Credible Websites (slides 14-24).

What do you think makes a blog or blogger credible?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Kirk Warren says:

    Sourcing information. If I find out a blogger is posting something as if he came up with it or was the first to discover it, I typically start to ignore him and his site. Not sourcing or giving the link back to what you are talking about is just a touch above plagerism in my opinion.

  2. First to be credited, you need the facts, resources and good backup.

    This way people and your blog visitors will trust you.

    Second you need experience, for example I can not write about trucks if I don’t have clue about them, I know how to drive one I know how one looks like, but I don’t know more beyond that.

    Now if you ask me something about seo, blog traffic, blog advertising and anything hardware software related question I can always give you an answer to that.

    My whole point is, to be credited make your blog look like it comes from experience not just copy paste other sites/blogs.

  3. Ben says:

    To Kirk: This is what I thought about, too, but from a different point of view. It’s exactly the same discussion as “citation needed” over at Wikipedia. People do come up with new and genuine ideas. Credit where credit’s due, of course.

  4. Marko Novak says:

    I think blogger must be constant in his writing to be credible. The quality of his posts should not vary.

  5. CompuWorld says:

    be honest (proper linking)

    try and be unique..

    focus on niche..

    don’t just run into writing news news news which is available everywhere..(once again be unique)

    get a better template which differentiates your blog (this might require money though…even I am working on that and wanted to talk to Darren related with that as he is related with the stuff..)

    concentrate on your niche..

    learn from the experienced people..

    be patient..

    DON”T GIVE UP!!

  6. James says:

    This was really useful. I can tell that I need to make changes to some of my sites that can increase credibility.

  7. The information shouldn’t be made up for the sake of writing a post. Readers are smart and your reputation could suffer. Credibility comes with being honest with your reader and posting the truth.

  8. Michael says:

    Credibility is something that is earned. You to have crank out quality content that is in your own words. Readers will see right through you if it’s not.

    As I was heading up to my home office this morning at 6:30, my girlfriend asked me if I was going to post a new blog. I looked at her and said: “No, I’m not interested in writing something at the moment… quality is more important than quantity.”

    You have to have your own voice and write when you want to write.

    I think most of your readers would concur.

  9. Michael says:

    Oh – and btw – I posted 30 minutes later after I had some coffee :)

  10. A couple of days ago I wrote an article asking other bloggers if they consider themselves to be experts and by what standards they are experts in their field/niche. It ties in well with the “perceived expertise” question because I often wonder if it is the blogger him/herself that decides they are an expert or the readers or an outside influence like 20 years of real world experience and 8 years of schooling.

    http://www.ablogaboutnothing.com/experts

    As for your question -

    Honesty – I noticed other people put that as well and I’d go beyond being honest about your linking. I believe it is honesty in general regarding what you write. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said something like “I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I’m going to talk about it anyways”. People love honesty.

    Quality of posts – It goes without saying if you can’t the time to write a quality post what makes me believe you’ll have taken time to actually present relevant and informed information in that post?

    Being consistent – Posting with regularity. If you post 20 times a day then post 20 times a day. If you post once a week then post once a week.

    A track record – I should be able to go to your comments on any particular article and read testimonials from other readers who agree that what you say is true because they’ve tried it on your advise or had done it before. I might not find that testimonial on everything you write, but it shouldn’t be non-existent.

  11. Shane says:

    I agree with the others about citing your sources, being consistent, and giving people a way to interact with you.

    Interaction is a hard one until you build up traffic. For example, no one is going to vote on a poll when you only get a couple thousand hits a day…

    If we just keep posting a prove to everyone that we are not just spamming and bloggin solely for the money…

    Good luck.

  12. Travis says:

    For those starting out, I think it’s important to focus on trustworthiness. It’s hard to demonstrate expertise when you’re new, but you can show signs of trustworthiness – a good about page, links to your profile on various social networking sites, etc. For a lot of people, transparency = trustworthy, and that can be a halfway-decent substitute for expertise starting out.

  13. I noticed this on my own site. Adding little things like a contact me page with my real name made users trust me more. Rather than hide behind some screenname, I was putting myself out there and I think this made me more trustworthy.

    I know that I personally have a harder time trusting a blogger when I don’t know who they are. They seem to be telling me “trust what I’m saying, but I don’t trust you to know my own name.”

    Gal

  14. Another great example where integrity in who you are, giving credit to sources and simply being honest can and will pay huge dividends in the long run!

    Great post!

  15. Interesting points and I agree that web credibility is an important area that is little studied. However, I’d disagree with some of the suggestions that trustworthiness + expertise = credibility. There is research (offline, I admit) that suggests that perceived expertise actually lowers credibility. In other words, people don’t believe experts as much as they do people who are not “obvious” experts. Experience and caring are much more important factors than knowledge. You do not have to be an expert for people to trust you and believe you. However, you do have to show care for the audience, which requires experience, empathy and understanding.

  16. Chris says:

    How you handle affiliate recommendations is important to me. If a blog has a new great product they’ve got to tell you about every week on the dot, I have to doubt their motives.

    Also, if a site is too eclectic in the range of topics it covers, I’m less likely to take the author’s advice seriously. Does he really know what he’s talking about?

  17. Allowing alternate viewpoints or perspectives and giving them equal footing with yours.

    Credibility does not have to live or die with one blogger.

    Sometimes allowing for intelligent debate from responsible sides can bring many facts to the table.

    The readers can then comment and make the final judgments

  18. Blog Helper says:

    Weird I posted couple hours ago here and it’s still not showing up

  19. Travis says:

    @Graham: That’s certainly the case in some areas. For instance, a lot of people probably care more about the user reviews on amazon than reviews by “experts”. However, for blogging, I think expertise (or perceived expertise) can be important in some areas. If Darren didn’t seem to be an expert, I doubt many of us would bother reading problogger, much less posting comments.

  20. Truthiness says:

    Writing original articles is essential to establishing oneself on the net.

    I agree that one should specialize in a niche and examine what your competition is doing and not doing. Don’t become another me too site, as readers will lose interest fast if they find the same articles from other sites on your blog.

    Invest in a speed typing program (like Mavis Beacon) which will help speed and accuracy. Work with editors to proofread your work before posting. If you run out of things to say, hire a ghostwriter to help create an interesting article.

    Post at least 3 times a week and no less than 300 words so that you can retain readers interest and keep them coming back for more.

  21. Joanna Young says:

    Thanks for sharing this resource.

    I guess bloggers have an advantage in that they can demonstrate to readers that they are credible by being trustworthy and expert over a period of time. (Cuts both ways though as you can lose people if you’re not)

    So consistency comes into it too.

    I guess your site needs to be ‘sticky’ enough for readers to follow in the first place but if you can write with credibility, honesty, humility over a period of time… there’ll be a stronger relationship of trust than there would have been with a traditional website.

    Joanna

  22. Roosevelt says:

    As I have been blogging for little over a year now, credibility is somehting I am trying to develop. I always try to display the links to whatever material I display on my posts, I also constantly emphasize that such and such an observaiton is just “my opinion” or viewpoint. I don’t pretend to be an expert or “guru” of anything. I just love sharing ideas, information and inspiration, whether from me or other sources. I believe my credibility lies in my obvious love of blogging.

  23. Maki says:

    Credibility can be developed easily through social proof, which elevates both perceived expertise or trustworthiness.

    Marketing studies have shown that people usually come to purchase a product/service through word of mouth, i.e. the direct recommendations of someone they trust.

    The approval and patronage of others can be used to your advantage on websites. I covered this issue of building credibility for your blog or website in an old article of mine:

    http://www.doshdosh.com/social-proof-optimization/

    :)

  24. On the surface, it is pretty easy to tell if a blog is going to be worth your time and if it has a shot at being credible. Sorry to say it, but sometimes you do judge a book by its cover and make that initial judgment about a blog by its initial appearance.

    In order for a blog to be truly credible, it must be written in an authoritative voice and have something unique to bring to the blogosphere. So many blogs try to replicate something that has been successful, that they will never have their own identity, never mind credibility.

    We agree with Chris about a blog posting obvious affiliate review products so that they can make a quick buck. A blog that does this quickly loses credibility with us as they certainly appear to be in it for all the wrong reasons.

    A credible blog comes from an author that is genuine and passionate about what they blog about. Find a subject of great interest for yourself, write unique, compelling posts, and your audience will grow and you will become a trusted, credible source.

  25. Ades says:

    I think if you want to be successful or retain the success that you have achieved in the long run, credibility is the one thing that one should pay attention.

    I believe not credible blogs can only survive so long…

  26. Mike King says:

    Two points mentioned I agree with most:
    1. Citing references
    2. Making your own information and contact available.

    Personalizing your blog so that you do openly discuss things with your readers is important and shows you care about how your blog is perceived, and its not just your way to get some words out.

    Also, if you gain references from others to help demonstrate your own blogs content through reference, that is more valuable than doing it yourself. So, posting to others’ sites and having references back to your own original ideas, gains a lot of respect and credibility with others.

  27. Dana says:

    I’m just a little blog, but I noticed how differently people reacted to my blog after my first article was published in a magazine related to my area. Rather than just some conversation, I began having people email asking my opinion and wondering if I had posted on certain topics or was planning such posts.

  28. Yong Kiong says:

    i agree that to have a creditable blog or website is very important. It is about providing quality information which is not copied from elsewhere. I agree with Mike King on his point on Citing references.

    1) To have quality information
    2) To be trueful
    3) To interact with your readers

  29. Thanks Darren for some link love :)

  30. I think your credibility comes as time passes and you have proven yourself time and time again with accurate information in your posts.

    I also believe people can spot a fake very quickly. With proven credibility comes an unblemished and excellent reputation which I feel is very important.

  31. Kelly DuMar says:

    Off the top of my head – the quality of the writing is first, and maybe second and third as well! Are the ideas well thought out, intelligently presented? Are the thoughts cohesive and are the ideas behind the words creative and inspirational? Is there substance behind the style? But, beyond the writing – is the blogger saying “I think” versus “I know” – when it’s opinion versus fact? Then, I go to the gut – the gut always signals me when I’m being manipulated.

  32. Consistency is important as others have said – including being consistent about your own rhythm of posting (“a blog about nothing’s” point above)

    Focus on offering something of value to your readers

    Talk about what you know – it allows you to write with more confidence, helps to keep your feet on the ground, sound credible, maintain rapport with your readers.

    It would be interesting to know what reader perceptions of credibility are when asked to compare blogging and static sites…?

    Joanna

  33. Travis makes an important point in response to what I said. It is perception that matters, not actual expertise. For all we know, Darren is not an “expert” blogger. We have no actual evidence simply by reading this blog that he, actually, really is an “expert”. I’m not suggesting he isn’t…but what he writes and does makes us believe he is an expert. And it is our belief about him that then allows us to give him credibility. Research shows that the people we perceive as experts often have less expertise than the real experts. Indeed, there has been research where audiences have been specifically “fooled” into believing they were with an expert, when in fact they were with an actor. What these studies show us is that we perceive someone to be an expert if they take care of our needs. In other words, we perceive Darren to be an expert because he writes about what we are interested in, what we like to know about and gives us helpful hints, tips and links. There are probably real “experts” who know much more about blogging than Darren – it’s just they don’t care about us and so we don’t perceive them to be experts (even though they are).

    Hence actual expertise is not related to the credibility factor of a web site (as the original posting her might have us believe). Instead, it is about perceived expertise – and that’s altogether different.

    By the way, Darren, I’m sure you are a real expert as well….!

  34. Carla says:

    Great post, I’ll have to bookmark it.

    It’s also a great example of how cutting corners on your site design and development can cost you in the long run.

  35. Graham,
    Like the commercial in US for Holiday Inn Express.
    The person is tending to the patient, and the patient says, “Thanks Doctor”, and the person says, “Doctor?, I’m not a doctor, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

    Back to the discussion. Several times in my life, I have been perceived to be an expert on something, either because my audience knew less about it, or the presentation. In a way, I was, but I always knew people in my field who were much better, or more knowledgeable than I was.

    These areas that come to mind have been cake decorating, (teaching, and doing wedding cakes), director of youth (in a church setting), and at the present, real estate investing. Though I have a degree of expertise in these areas, I am far from what I consider an expert, but I have been able to meet a need in any of those areas for some people, thus was considered an expert.

  36. Nancy says:

    I think the operative word there is ‘perceived’. The important thing seems to be how you appear…which should accord with how you are of course. Expertise is perceived if you provide help, value and good quality content. It doesn’t matter if you are the ‘best in your field’.

    I guess that means provide whatever you can to your audience, be authentic and keep communicating.

  37. Jimson Lee says:

    Put your full name, city and country in your About page.

    No need for phone numbers (especially if you are not selling anything) and if you do not want to publish your email, it is easy to use a Contact form page.

    People like to hide behind the computer screen.

  38. Eliza Amos says:

    The whole point of blogs is that *anyone* — expert or not — can have one. It’s the easiest, most approachable form of self-publishing that there is.

    Which is to say, I think we’re all about equally credible.

    Anything beyond that is perception, as others here have noted–which comes from self-marketing, not actual credentials. Why do we buy the most expensive fabric softener on the shelf? Because it looks the prettiest.

  39. I think it’s the passion that can be read between the lines which show me the credibility of a blog.