Regardless of whether you’re providing crucial information or selling products, it’s not just important to make sure your website works well and is easy to use. You should also make sure you’re meeting the current legal requirements, and conveying an image of legitimacy. It’s crucial to make sure that your website has all the right legal information, since leaving it off may leave you at risk of criticism or even prosecution.

On the other hand, having all the proper documents helps cement your image as an established business. Here’s how you can tell if your website is legit — and a few other ideas you can do to build trust and credibility in the eyes of your visitors.

Ensure you have the correct legals

If you are doing business online, your website almost certainly requires a Privacy Policy. This is mandated by Australian consumer law if you collect any private information from your visitors (including their email addresses). At the same time, it’s also strongly encouraged by Google (who actually do check if you have one, and may drop you from their search results if it is missing). On top of all this, having a privacy policy helps your customers understand what you will do with their data, which makes your website more legit. (source: Legal123 video)

Besides a Privacy Policy, you should also have a Website Disclaimer if your publish any kind of advice or information on your site. This ensures people do not rely on your information incorrectly, and protects you from being sued.

In the event you sell your goods or services online, you also must have a Terms and Conditions statement providing information about shipping, refunds, and warranties, as well as stating you comply with Australian Consumer Law.

How to be sure your website is legit

These are the three most common legal documents you’re required to have for your website to comply with the law, but there are more. You may need a Terms of Use for Advertisers (if you allow advertising), a Terms of Use for Contributors (if you allow people to post on your site), or an Active Release (if you let 3rd party companies market to subscribers on your site). When in doubt, consult your attorney.

Post a real world address on your website

Google is known to give a ‘bonus’ to websites which post a real world address in public and in their ‘Whois‘ information. A post office box is not sufficient, you should post a physical street address. Of course if you work from your home then you may not want to publish your home address. Instead, look at a local mailbox rental facility or a ‘virtual office’ (sometimes called a business centre) which will give you an address for a small fee.

Ensure your email address is professional

Using a free email account such as Gmail or Hotmail for your business in this day and age is not professional. The price of a domain name (yourbusinessname.com.au) is minimal and setting up an email account (you@yourbusinessname.com.au) can be done in a matter of minutes. You can even arrange to have these emails forwarded to your personal email, if you like. Nevertheless, without a company address your customers will tend to assume you’re simply too lazy to set one up — and that you may be lazy elsewhere in your work as well.

Photos of you and your team

Especially if you and your customers don’t interact much in person, posting photos of you (and your team, if applicable) is an excellent way to show who you are and that you are credible. People want to do business with people, and being able to see whom they’re working with is a powerful trust building tool.

Logos and testimonials from your customers

A powerful way to demonstrate your legitimacy is to show off your existing base of clients. Of course you should get permission from those clients first, but if you can show on your website that you already have a number of clients then new prospective customers will see instantly that your firm is legitimate. They want to work with companies whose services or products are in demand, so show that yours are!

If your customers have emailed you or posted to social media about how wonderful you are, then get permission from them to post those testimonials on your website. Very little speaks louder than the satisfied voices of your customers!

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