Information Credibility at a Glance: Does Your Site Look Thin Affiliate?

Dec 14th

Many Thin Affiliate Sites Look Real

Some of my friends publish fake review sites which organize product recommendations by using the following quality measurement and rating system (affiliate payout per conversion * conversion rate). If people buy it, it must be good. ;)

I have other friends who do real in-depth reviews, but they use such poor formatting that their content looks less trustworthy and more advertisement-like than fake review websites.

Adding Signs of Trust

Smart affiliates know how to convey a sense of trust and look editorial to enhance conversion rates. Editorial rating systems, privacy policies, headings, subheadings, security symbols, pricing data, reviews, features, a clean site design, and consumer generated content increase conversion rates. Assume I am only skimming your page. Assume the little things matter.

A Well Done Affiliate Site

While I do not agree with all the reviews, I can appreciate how well done Mike's Marketing Tools is. Most of the reviews look impartial. And some of the reviews, like the Optilink review, even link out to a thin affiliate site owned by Mike that passes as the official site after Google banned the official site!

A Poorly Done Official Site

Take a look at how spammy and thin affiliate AnnualCreditReport.com looks. It is the official site (required by law) but it looks like crap because Experian does not get paid if you use it. In fact, it even kicks you over to the Experian site before seeing results, requires you fill out identity verification surveys, and tries to upsell you on a paid reporting service before showing you your free report.

Compare its drab look and nasty conversion process to the look of FreeCreditReport.com. Which one looks more trustworthy? Yup, its the one that is charging your credit card recurring for something that is "free".

Does Your Site Look Legit?

Thin slicing information credibility is often about evaluating appearance. Unfortunately many of the people creating real content don't put as much effort into formatting and marketing as the people creating fake content do.

Published: December 14, 2007

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Comments

December 14, 2007 - 8:47am

AnnualCreditReport.com look especially bad if you're from outside the US:
"The AnnualCreditReport.com website is only accessible through ISPs (Internet Service Providers) located within the United States and its territories."

I mean, an affiliate site only available in the US?
*sigh* Someone is lacking some business sense...

/SoerenS

December 14, 2007 - 8:55am

Hi Soeren
Actually that is the official site - not an affiliate site. What happens to an American in the military who is overseas? Your comment is a perfect example of how they go out of their way to NOT make that site accessible.

December 14, 2007 - 7:11pm

I believe that the credit reporting agencies were forced by law to provide a "free" credit report to consumers. It does not surprise me that AnnualCreditReport.com is so poorly done as the credit agencies have no incentive to want to make people use it. FreeCreditReport.com is much better because it is a for profit endeavor.

Just my 2 cents ...

Aryeh

December 14, 2007 - 8:08pm

Hi Aryeh
That was precisely the point I was trying to make. Because they do not want to promote it they intentionally gave it a bad name, make it look cheesy, and offer poor usability. And I know that site will probably stay that way for a long while, so I don't have to point people to archive.org for the example or wonder why it changed anytime soon. :)

December 14, 2007 - 8:38pm

Aaron:

It's good that you mention the credit report site. Earlier this year I used the official site to ask for the yearly report I'm entitled to by law, and I almost break my computer screen in frustration. Finally, I was able to get my report after jumping through hoops, but when I wanted to come back within the following 30 days to see my report online again, it was virtually impossible to find the link to log on. It took me almost an hour and a half to find it, only because I'm stubborn. Somebody else would have just thrown their hands in the air and go to the paid site... Somebody should get back at those slime balls and make them redesign their site to be more useable.

December 20, 2007 - 12:33am

Clearly your respondents have had trouble using the official site, but purely from a home page POV I'd say they were much of a muchness. Neither one of the stands out - they're both glossy - bland, with the FreeCreditReport site having a touch of Web 2.0 but still cluttered above the fold.

Nearly every financial site, every corporate site I come across looks similar to these two.

Incidentally, youhide.com did a great job of allowing me to see AnnualCreditreport.com from the UK

My old metalwork teacher said something along these lines: 'You can put 90% of the effort in, but it counts for nothing unless you put in the 10% of finish', meaning that you get no credit for all the hard work that goes into designing and making an item unless you also put in the necessary effort to making it look good (the 'finish', meaning the final touch, the final polish)

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