Is That Website For Real? Website Trust Signals To Look For

With all the fake news and security threats out there today it’s important to know how to tell if a website is trustworthy or not. Generally-speaking if you have any doubts it would be in your best interest to not believe the contents of or engage with any given website. If you want to investigate though there are several things you can look out for that will give you a better sense of the safety and reputation of any given website. The following are several website trust signals to look for next time you question the authenticity and/or safety of any given website.

Alexa Rank

How much traffic does Alexa think their website receives?  An Alexa Rank less than 100,000 overall or in your country is a good sign. Just because a website receives lots of visitors doesn’t ensure that it’s reputable, but it does make it more likely.

frsecure.com's Alex Rank

You can check any website’s Alex Rank via the Alexa website or the Chrome Extension.

Website Encryption

Is their website encrypted using an SSL certificate? Many malicious websites have SSL certificates installed too, but nonetheless it’s a good sign when a website is using one.

Ensure your visit is encrypted by looking for the following green lock and green https:// on every page visited in Google Chrome:

Secure Website Connection Chrome SSL

Watch out for mixed content errors, which look as follows:

Watch out for mixed content errors

You can check for an SSL certificate on any website using this SSL Checker.

Archive.org History

Take a look at what the website used to look like. If there’s no history it’s probably a newer website, which is a bad sign. If the site used to be used for a wildly different purpose than it is now it could also be a bad sign.

frescure.com archive.org history

You can lookup historical versions of any website using the Wayback Machine.

Link To Website Uses A Generic Short URL

If the link to the website uses a generic short URL service such as bit.ly ,goo.gl or t.co it’s a good idea to be cautious. Rather than immediately clicking on the shortened link you can find out where it will take you before doing so.

You can copy and paste any shortened URL into the HTTP Status Code Checker and it will tell you what URL it ultimately redirects to as follows:

bitly http status code checker

Otherwise if it’s a bit.ly link you can simply add + to the end of the URL to see where it goes. For example this bit.ly link (http://bit.ly/2uUTd2c) goes to the FRSecure.com home page and when you add a + to the end (https://bitly.com/2uUTd2c+) it shows you it links to https://frsecure.com/ and tells you how many clicks it has received.

Google Transparency Report

Scan the website with Google’s Transparency Report Safe Browsing site status tool to see if Google has detected any unsafe content on the domain.

Google Transparency Report Safe Browsing site status

Physical Address

Do they list a physical address on their website? Is it a real address? With Google Maps street view it’s pretty easy to verify the address is real. This is a very good sign of authenticity.

The People

If the people behind the website are not listed or referenced anywhere on the website that is a very bad sign. If they are some quick Google research on them may be in order if you’re still unsure about any given website’s authenticity.

Non-Branded Email Addresses

If there are email addresses listed that don’t share the domain of the website it’s not a very good sign. Authentic websites are more likely to utilize branded email addresses.

WHOIS Record

Look at the domain WHOIS record.

  • If they are hiding their registrant contact information the reason may not be an innocent one.
  • If the creation date is very recent it’s not a good sign because the website hasn’t existed very long.
  • If the expiration date is in a year or less it’s also not a good sign since it implies they aren’t necessarily planning on sticking around.

FRSECURE.COM WHOIS RECORD

Domain Name: FRSECURE.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1406799585_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Update Date: 2017-05-18T19:22:07Z
Creation Date: 2008-02-20T20:59:37Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2026-02-20T20:59:37Z
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: [email protected]
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4806242505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID: Not Available From Registry
Registrant Name: Kevin Orth
Registrant Organization: FRSecure
Registrant Street: 5909 Baker Road Suite 500
Registrant City: Minnetonka
Registrant State/Province: Minnesota
Registrant Postal Code: 55345
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.9524421709
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: 
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email: [email protected]

You can check any website’s WHOIS record with register.com’s Whois Lookup.

Other Website Trust Signals To Look For?

What other signals do you look for when you do your website trust check? What did I miss? Please share your wisdom.


Andy Forsberg on GoogleAndy Forsberg on LinkedinAndy Forsberg on TwitterAndy Forsberg on Wordpress
Andy Forsberg
Digital Marketing Director at FRSecure
Andy Forsberg works at FRSecure as the Digital Marketing Director. He is known for his Analytics, SEM, SEO & WordPress expertise.

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