Trust Critical For Web Sites, Social Pages, Paid-Search Ads, Content

Computer-Happy-Person-BMarketers should take trust levels into consideration when optimizing a Web site for search queries, as well as paid-search ads. Survey findings released this week show marketers why.

Trust levels are almost the same for .com and .ca domains when it comes to finding solutions for paid relief from healthyou.com vs. healthyou.ca, according to findings from SurveyMonkey. But what will happen toward the end of the year as Web searchers begin seeing .microsoft and .google sites?

A survey to test common SEO assumptions gathered by SurveyMonkey found that brands play an interesting role in consumer perception, at least for the 615 out of 3,000 fielded responses from about 16 survey questions.

The brand may matter sometimes, but not always. When it comes to white-label food in a grocery store, most who have read and compared the content listed on the back of a store-brand cereal box with a well-known comparable brand might say no.

Recognized Web site brands have an edge over generic when it comes to credibility, according to SurveyMonkey. Respondents were asked to indicate the legitimacy of an article on CNN.com and InternetNews.com, both about the International Space Station communication struggles that NASA is trying to solve. Some 87% indicated moderate to strong belief in the CNN.com story, and 71% indicated moderate to strong belief in the InternetNews story.

Not only does the brand matter when it comes to branded Web sites -- it also matters when it comes to staff. Journalists of well-known brands hold more value than a guest writer. When asked to rate trustworthiness of an article on ESPN.com about the dangers of concussions in professional football, respondents indicated much stronger levels of trust for staff writers. Some 88% were moderately to extremely trusting of the ESPN writer, whereas 58% were moderately to extremely trusting of the volunteer writer.

The survey also found that people have a bias toward searching on Google, although Microsoft might view that differently through its Bing It On campaign. Some 18- to-29-year-olds have a strong affinity for Google, with more than 70% opting for that search engine when results were accurately represented as Google and even when results were masked as Bing.

About 64% of 30- to-44-year-olds selected Google results when real but swapped, and 78% selected Google results masked as Bing, which makes you think its not only the brand but a familiarity as to how the engine lays out the content on the page. Those age 45 and older were fairly brand-agnostic, but generally seemed to favor Bing. When Bing was labeled as Google, the results jumped 9%.

The SurveyMonkey Audience self-service platform allows marketers to develop surveys and push them out to a network of email recipients, targeting specific audiences such as smartphone or tablet users.

Come to the MediaPost Search Insider Summit in Amelia Island, Fla., to learn how. 

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