Trust is undeniably the most valuable aspect in a relationship. A blog or company site that's trusted will receive more visitors, build an audience faster, develop a brand and possibly become more profitable. But trust has to be earned.

Those running their own blog might benefit from projecting a persona that people can relate to and by giving a face to the name. Anonymity, even if unintended, can be a big hindrance in invoking trust and empathy. (I personally hesitate to connect with LinkedIn profiles lacking a photo; it makes me wonder if the person is real or hiding something.)

Demonstrate that you truly care about your audience’s well-being by building a repertoire of content that aims to provide useful solutions with personality and character.

Here are five ways to help your site gain and maintain the trust of its audience:

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1. Remain genuine. Keep your voice authentic and let the passion come through in your words. Even someone who's not the most renowned expert on a given topic can earn readers’ trust via a website that respects their sensitivities and intelligence. Use your voice to stand out, offering a unique perspective and eliminating the predictable. Remember, readers of blogs like to get to know the author behind the posts as well as consume information.

2. Initiate two-way conversations. Reader comments on a blog post are excellent indicators of the health of a website. They serve as endorsements of the site for newcomers who will view the comments as a positive sign that others are actively reading and engaging with the content. Encourage a dialogue by soliciting opinions from readers, responding to comments or having someone from your company post comments on other sites.

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3. Share testimonials and social proof. Earning praise from other websites, scoring lots of page views for a specific article or reaching 5,000 visitors a day for the entire site are just a few achievements that can serve as social proof for a site. Accentuate, celebrate and share these positives. This third-party validation is extremely important for attracting more eyeballs and building trust.  

4. Be transparent. Honesty will go a long way in helping a site gain a reader’s trust. If your blog or business site displays a paid review or a sponsored post, then inform readers. Let your audience know if your blog carries affiliate links, meaning it is being paid to send traffic to another company's site. Take criticism on the chin and if your site makes a mistake, acknowledge it.  

5. Create visibility. Use social media to boost the visibility of your site and reach out and make connections. Your site's followers on social media are not only potential customers; they are also potential teachers and sources of information, knowledge, feedback and life lessons. Engage with them; really get to know the individuals involved, build relationships, take online conversations off-line and build your network while acculmulating trust.

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