The World Wide Web is made up of 1.7 billion websites and this figure continues to grow each second. We visit websites each and every day, so we’ve all seen a variety of them, from good to bad and everything in between.
Most websites offer the user something whether its information, media, a product or service. However, not every website is created the same, some are created to harm you or your computer and some are just outright unreliable. Here are a couple of tips to help you spot an unreliable website when you see one.
This might be a no brainer to some people, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t bother checking a page’s URL. URL is a web address which all websites have. They usually tend to include the company’s name. When you encounter a website which is promoting something too good to be true or something which looks a bit fishy, be sure to have a quick look at the URL to ensure you’re on a legitimate website.
You’d be surprised at how many people proceed to fill out their personal details on a website which claims to be someone reputable, for example, PayPal. In this case, PayPal is offering you £1,000 – no strings attached. All you have to do is fill in your bank details and they’ll send it across within seconds… a quick glance up at the URL and you’ll discover this isn’t actually PayPal, its www.paypal-free-money-for-you.com. Hmmm… almost had me.
This goes hand in hand with what we just mentioned above. An SSL Certificate Secure Sockets Layer) is a small data file which digitally binds a cryptographic key to an organisations details. When an SSL Certificate is active, a padlock symbol or some sort of green safety indicator is shown beside the URL, depending on your browser.
What does an SSL Certificate do?
- Keeps both parties data secure between servers
- Builds trust and credibility
- Increase your ranking with Google
- Builds trust with Google
- Improves conversion rates
Recently, it has become mandatory for websites to have an SSL Certificate. We do not recommend doing business with a website which doesn’t have one.
To add to this, Google now penalises websites without an SSL Certificate by flagging up warning signs and “Not Secure” signs all over the browser. So users are alert to the fact they may be on an unsafe site. Google also credits a poor quality score to websites without an SSL Certificate, making it harder for them to rank high on Google.
Google is your friend
A quick Google search for the company will show the results surrounding the company. From checking if they rank for their own keywords to socials, you’ll be able to check other reliable sources regarding the company.
Google also offers site links to websites they trust. These site links offer a quick shortcut to useful links which they think is relevant to the user. These are automated by Google for pages which are well optimised.
A websites design is one of the primary factors when it comes to judging websites reliability. A well-designed site shows users, the company is serious and has invested in making themselves look good online. Users tend to judge a site within seconds, having a poorly designed website doesn’t do you any favours.
Credible websites look good and that’s a fact. Your online presence is the deciding factor when a customer chooses if they want to do business with you or not.
If you’re seeing a lot of pop up ads appear, it’s not part of the design. The website or its server might be infected with some sort of malware. This can transfer over to your device. So be wary. The last thing you want is harmful malware stealing your sensitive information or ruining your device’s performance.
Images and Videos
Ever been on a website with low-resolution images and videos? It’s a sight for sore eyes. They ruin the look of a website and results in poor user experience. Reliable websites tend to contain high-resolution images and videos. This means:
- The website looks good regardless of the device it’s being viewed on.
- The owners of the website value their customer’s user experience and bothered to take or attain high-quality images – through licencing of course.
If you’re on a website with low-quality images and videos, check all the other signs to ensure you’re on a website you can trust.
Up to date content/Language
Another way to spot an unreliable website is to double-check the content is up to date. A quick read will unravel the truth. Unreliable websites tend to contain numerous spelling and grammatical errors.
Another thing to look out for is the copyright at the bottom of a website and what year it states. We do not recommend doing business with a website that doesn’t at least have the current year in its copyright information. Although this doesn’t guarantee a safe experience, websites which state copyright 2013, for example, should be avoided. This tells us that the website probably hasn’t been updated since 2013. More often than not an SSL Certificate will not be present, so you’ll see more than one sign to help you judge the reliability of the website.
Company Numbers/Charity Numbers
A business or charity website will have its Companies House or Charities Commission, respectively visible somewhere on the website, usually on the footer. This information is a legal requirement and can be used to prove the legitimacy of a website.
A registered UK business number can be verified through:
A registered UK charity number can be verified through: